expectations dashed

I have, after returning to read the entire (modest) corpus of my writings in this virtual locale, come to realize that some of it actually appears to be quite good. I am almost, but not quite, astonished. Perhaps "startled" is more appropriate.

Perhaps I missed something, but I think there are only two LJ accounts that have commented on any of these entries still active enough to have 2014 entries of their own (and neither has had any new entries for months). By this, I am not so much astonished, startled, or surprised, as I am feeling a trifle sad. Reading comments here has been a nostalgic exercise for me, and I do indeed miss some of those readers and commenters.

I would not give up what I have gained in the intervening years, but I still miss what I have lost.
  • Current Music
    the central climate control system's fan

haiku: moon, friendship

A relatively new friend asked what I'm good at. I mentioned a few things, one of which was writing. I learned from his wife that he now thinks I'm good at a lot of things, though it really does not feel like a lot to me.

He asked me to write a story about the moon. He amended that to a story about friendship. I said I would.

A few days passed. I was busy. He asked me if I had written a poem about friendship yet.

. . . poem? Evidently, the request had changed from story about the moon (I thought of writing a love story of sorts, about a werewolf and the moon) through the idea of a story about friendship (my idea started to shift in line with that, so that it became something about the friendship between a werewolf and the moon) to a poem about friendship.

I finally got around to writing something, with elements of both "friendship" and "moon" in it.


a deep silence;

in chill illumination

closeness giving warmth



It feels half-assed.

Traditionally: haiku are made up of seventeen on (roughly, syllables); they are arranged in three lines of five, seven, and five on, respectively; one of those on is a "cutting word", which is essentially a form of punctuation that serves to conceptually separate two parts of the haiku; it makes at least oblique reference to the season; it draws upon imagery of nature; it expresses some insight. Some of these traditional characteristics are difficult to strictly apply in English and, while I am very slowly learning Japanese, I am nowhere near the point where I might write haiku in the language.

Friendship means many things. It means shared interests and easy conversation, for instance. The best part of a good friendship, I think, is the part where once in a while everything comes together to somehow bring comfort, contentment, and warmth to the friends, where the most important communication between them is not just nonverbal, but essentially undetectable in any empirically measurable manner.
  • Current Mood
    mellow mellow

Martian Revolution - Unknown Soldier

I haven't touched this thing since 2005. Holy cow.

I've been doing some writing in the interim -- both professionally (nonfiction, information technology articles) and fiction. I haven't really touched poetry to speak of. I may have written one or two poetic pieces, but I don't even remember for sure whether I did.

I'm getting involved in a new writing project where I need to turn out at least 250ish words a day (average-ish), where the drop-dead times for getting caught up come once a week. Unfortunately, after a week's worth, I've already hit a spot of writer's block. I think I may need to rewrite a little bit of what I've done, to get things moving in a direction I can work with.

Then again, maybe all I need is to try to get my mojo back by trying to write something else entirely.

It was an act of desperation, and we knew it. The fighting had been going against us almost since day one, and we just couldn't pretend there was any hope of winning any longer without some kind of miracle or crazy gamble that paid off. Sixteen of us volunteered for the gamble, and there we were, waiting our turns to get the injection.

Davey told me it should be perfectly safe, that the development team built in safeguards to ensure the nanocytes wouldn't cause the kind of problems that led to the international bans on suborbital deployment of propagating nanotech. No matter what they told us, though, I knew each and every one of us was trembling inwardly, trying not to imagine the horrors that we had always been taught to expect from nanotechnology -- and we were getting this stuff injected into our bodies. From a certain perspective, this seemed like the very definition of insanity, or maybe just stupidity.

. . . or desperation.

The injection took all of five seconds for each of us. We spent three hours under observation before the first of us left, though. They said they'd keep each of us there until we were needed on the front lines again, and monitor our "progress". For those first three hours, I felt like my skin was just on the verge of developing an itchy feeling, but on the underside. I told Olivia about that when she checked my vitals for the second time, but she told me I was just imagining things, that there was no way I could be feeling what I said I was feeling as a result of the nanocytes. I frowned, and waited, and read a book on my v-reader.

Marcus was called out by his unit leader before any of the rest of us. The techs protested, said it would be a couple hours still before they'd see any effect of his "upgrade", but it didn't matter; it was an emergency. His unit leader wasn't planning to get him for a week, but things had changed. They needed every guy they could get for defense of a settlement arm, and Marcus was on his list of available people. He went willingly, and the techs told him to try to stay alive for eight hours or so before he started thinking he was Superman. He chuckled with them at the weak attempt at humor, then left. I never saw him again.

Perry was second to go. It was just over twenty five hours later, a Martian day plus about three dozen minutes. By that point, Sid hadn't shown any changes at all, but the rest of us were already feeling different, and we were all undergoing testing. Some of us were getting performance testing, but not all, because they wanted to be able to monitor progress under differing physical stress conditions.

The call came as we were eating, spooning a gritty yellow high protein gruel past our teeth. Davey came through the door and said "Perry. Your unit's calling you in." He didn't look happy to deliver the news.

We never found out exactly what it was that prompted them to call Perry ahead of schedule. Unlike Marcus, though, Perry's call didn't come as a surprise. We didn't expect her to be called that early, but we expected some people to get called away early -- just not as early as Marcus.

I spent that night with Sid. We held each other and confessed our crimes, sharing our guilty feelings. We were locked up within these white walls, feeling trapped within some kind of sterile mockery of a boarding house, and we had a lot of time to dwell on things. Dwelling, for Sid and me, eventually led to guilt. Sid felt guilty because he wasn't in the field, with his unit; he felt guilty because he chose to come here, and wondered if that made him a coward. I felt guilty because, the longer I was here, the less I wanted to go back to my unit and rejoin the fight.

The third person that got called wasn't called away. It was about four hours after Perry that Davey told Sid he had a call, and Sid looked back at me with a shy smile. I realized that now he felt guilty for leaving me, but he didn't need to bother with that. Forty minutes later, he found me on my bunk, reading a book on my v-reader, and spilled out the whole story. His eyes were rimmed in red, and bloodshot, and as the words each chased the previous past his lips he started to cry again. His face was buried in my lap and I had to strain to make out the sobbing words by the time he was done telling me what he knew about how his unit was caught in the open by Corp forces, torn down by barrages of heavy slinger fire, a horizontal rain of hypersonic ball bearings thrown from the nozzles of drum-shaped rotational accelerators.

It took him forty minutes to get back because he watched the satellite video of the ambush six times. I didn't get too many details from his hitching, sobbing description, but apparently his unit was surprised by a group of mechanized sentry systems, repurposed for jobs like this. Once they were picked up by satellite, the sentries were doomed, of course; hunter teams would have been dispatched, and taken them out from kilometers away using ECT rifles. Corp forces didn't give a damn, of course, because they could always make more sentry systems. Our lost personnel were much more precious, though, because we were already so badly outnumbered.

I cradled Sid against the pocket of my shoulder, and waited for the crying to run its course. Eventually, he slept. I knew the guilt would be worse for him when he woke up.

I never got the chance to see it, though. They hadn't even rotated me into performance testing yet when my call came less than two hours after Sid fell asleep. He looked at me with wide, sad eyes, his new fears obvious in his gaze. I'm sure the fear was mirrored in my own eyes when I looked back at him before following Davey to the comms room, but my fear was for myself. I was positive I was going to end up going out with my unit on some kind of nearly suicidal mission. It was a hunter team, after all, and I was one of its marksmen.

"Don't worry," Davey said when he clapped me on the shoulder and left me in the comms room to take my call. "If the people we had in performance testing are any indication, your survivability should be up more than three hundred percent now."

I blinked at him, wanted to ask how that was even possible, but he shut the door on the comms room -- really more of a closet stuffed with SPIRE gear -- and left me alone. I'd have to learn to deal with whatever life handed me, and do my job. I still believed all the ideals that got me into this war in the first place. I just needed to relearn how to be willing to die for those ideals.
  • Current Mood
    mellow mellow

working title: foo

I started a new story today. I don't know what to call it yet. For now, it's "foo".

As of a little under two hours ago, it's NaNoWriMo. I'll be trying to write a novel of no less than fifty thousand words in one month. It's a good motivator for writing, I find. Until about four in the afternoon on Halloween, I had no idea what I was going to write. I think getting 1776 words written in an hour is pretty good for such a late start on developing the story concept.

Here's what I've got so far:

It was a dark and stormy night.

The lights flickered. The lights never did that before. It startled me out of sleep, and at first I did not know what had woken me, but I knew that something was wrong.

I rolled over in my narrow cubby. This was an operation that took some time. The cubby wasn't designed for rolling over, not at all. It was fifty centimeters square, and two meters long. With the padding on the floor, that made it just over forty centimeters of height, which did not make it easy to roll over. I did it, though, so I could look out through the window a little more easily. I struggled to roll over, trying to figure out what was wrong, what had woken me up, and stared through the glass door into the white hallway. Then. . . .

It happened again. The lights flickered. Suddenly, I knew that was what happened the first time. This time, I heard something, and I soon saw one of the labcoated men run down the hallway, past my cubby. I wondered if any of the others had woken up. I knew that there were others with senses more acute than mine, but they were more susceptible to the depressants, too. They might not have woken up. Some were hardier than me, and recovered more quickly from the depressants, but their senses weren't as sharp as mine, so they may not have noticed the flicker even if they were awake. The flicker probably wasn't detectable at all to the labcoated men, but something was going on that they could detect, probably by watching the system monitors.

Another labcoated man ran past, and a third moved more slowly in the same direction, checking data on his walktop display. He had one of those systems with a monitor screen built into the wrist unit that covered the back of his forearm. From my acculturation sessions, I knew that some offworlders had walktops that interfaced directly with the visual cortex of the brain, but that was still very rare here on Earth -- even if you were part of the ASHES project.

That's what I was. I was part of the ASHES project. You could even say that I was the project, because I was one of the demonstration prototypes. It's difficult to keep that kind of information from someone whose brain has been engineered to maximize synaptic efficiency and multi-node parallelization, whose auditory capabilities have been enhanced so much, and whose natural tendency toward environmental awareness and observational attentiveness has been augmented both genetically and chemically. I was a constructed man. One of the labcoated men called us Golems.

My name is epsilon.



The epsilon prototype pressed against the inside of the glass door, experimentally, and with a very faint "pop" its hermetic seal came open. The door swung wide, and he began to crawl out of the narrow space he had called home for the better part of eight years. He had to lower his torso toward the floor, bracing against it with his hands, to finish dragging his legs out of the cubby, which was situated a meter high in the wall of the corridor. As his feet finally came free, he twisted, balanced on his hands, and lowered his feet softly to the floor. He straightened, looked around curiously, then pushed the door closed. The lights flickered again, this time visibly even from the point of view of the lab techs hurrying around trying to keep the power backup systems from crashing. For the moment, nobody was in the corridor used to store the prototypes while they slept.

He made his way in the direction from which the labtechs had come when they hurried past his cubby. He walked slowly, casually, in an easy saunter. Some of the prototypes had been trained to walk with military bearing, of course, but epsilon trained toward a relaxed posture, and it showed. His dark eyes roamed over his surroundings, taking in every detail. Nothing much was out of the ordinary, but he was noticing just a little bit of condensation forming around the edges of some of the glass doors on the rows of cubbies set into the wall. He decided he had not merely been imagining the stifling stillness of the air in his cubby before he pushed the door open. The environmental controls for the cubbies must have shut down, and now the prototypes with the fastest metabolic rates were beginning to suffocate. He knew it would not take long for some of them to die. At the other end of the spectrum, there were some who might take days, even in those sealed, confined spaces. He wondered if perhaps some might even dehydrate before they suffocated. He was not a scientist, though, and knew too little about the design specifications of his fellow prototypes. All he knew for sure was that, with every passing minute that they remained asleep, the displacement of oxygen in their lungs made it less likely they'd be able to awaken to notice there was something wrong.

He reached the end of the hallway, a silently moving figure in a full-body charcoal grey bodysuit with steel valves scattered at seemingly random intervals across its surface. Mostly, it was symmetrical, despite the apparently random distribution on one side of the body, as though someone sprayed a few shining steel valves over one half of a human body in a dark bodysuit, then held up a mirror. There were a few that were off-center, however, and not duplicated on the other side. Overall, it made for a strange picture. He paused when he reached the door at the end of the hall, looking at his own reflection in the clear door. He began to reach a hand toward it, wondering why it didn't open for him, but jerked back when he saw someone approaching the other side. He stepped back, and stood against the wall beside the door, so that he was not in the line of sight of the approaching lab tech. After a moment, the door cranked slowly open, and he realized that the control systems for the doors must have had their power cut. Prototype epsilon looked up at the lights set into the ceiling, just a quick glance as he wondered why they still worked, then back down at the door that was opening beside him. The lab tech stepped through.

The tech stood, frozen, for a long moment before he reacted to the sight of epsilon standing in the hallway. "What are you doing out of your slot?" he asked, surprised. Prototype epsilon did not hesitate. He heard the expectation in that voice, and knew suddenly that he did not want to go back to his cubby. A quick ridge-hand to the throat later, the lab tech crumpled to the floor. The prototype stared down at the writhing, gasping body for close to a minute before he knelt, then, and stripped away the labcoat. The tech was not yet dead, but his writhing about was growing weak already. A purple-black color was staining his neck as a carotid artery hemorrhaged beneath the skin.

Epsilon shrugged into the white garment quickly, then turned and stepped over the threshold into the next room. It was populated by lockers. He had never been this way before, had only gone down the other end of the hall at a lab tech's bidding, to make his way to physical training, or acculturation, or chemical treatment, or one of a dozen other day-in and day-out routines. There were two long, low benches in the middle of the room, and there were two other doorways. One had a simple sliding clear door like the one whose threshold he had just crossed, and the other was an empty doorway of some sort that led into a darkened area. He padded across the floor in bare feet, toward the closed door. Again he reached out to it, and this time touched it. Nothing happened, but it was the first time he'd felt one of these doors, and it was cool to the touch. He pushed against it, but nothing happened. He pressed harder, and started to see polarization ripples in the surface from the stresses of the pressure. He heaved, and it shattered outward, spraying shards of its material, something other than glass, into the corridor beyond. Calmly, casually as always, he stepped over the jagged edges of the door's remains and walked carefully across the scattered pieces.

There were opaque doors with keycard slots lining both walls of this corridor, and he ignored them all. He headed directly for the door at its far end. Something told him this was the way out. When he reached it, the door slid open of its own accord, perhaps sensing motion. Beyond it, he found a stairwell leading downward. It also led upward from the landing, but down was the direction he chose. He wound down the stairs, from landing to landing. Three floors, six landings, found him facing what must have been an exterior door. It did not open when he drew near, and did not seem to have any obvious controls. He touched it, then looked at a red square about sternum-high on him in the center of the door, just big enough for a hand. He pressed against it with the tips of four fingers on one hand, and it opened. At that moment, the lights in the stairwell went red, and an alarm began to sound. He glanced around, realizing this must be an emergency exit linked to some kind of fire alarm. He stepped outside, into the cool autumn air, and breathed his first breath of air not carefully scrubbed and balanced by the environmental controls of the ASHES project's facilities.

He stood outside, looking around, for thirty seconds or so. He had no idea what to do now. It was not long, though, before he settled on a course of action: run.

He started at a loping jog, but quickly accelerated to a full sprint. For prototype epsilon, a sprint was much quicker than for a "normal" human. The ground passed beneath his feet at an incredible pace, and he found himself exhilerated. Never before had he been able to try an extended sprint that wasn't on a treadmill. The rough surface of the paving outside, the air rushing past his face, the changing scenery as he passed between walls in city alleys -- all of it was new and exhilerating. The burn in his lungs invigorated him.

He ran.


Okay, so the first line (It was a dark and stormy night.) is a bad joke. You can ignore that one. I was trying to shake something out of my brain to get started. I think I'll leave it there just for word count for now, though. It'll get deleted later, I'm sure.
  • Current Music
    Peter Gabriel - Come Talk To Me

we are

We are more than what we eat.
We are not merely our base desires.

At least, we shouldn't be. It's up to you.

There's so much more to be than empty hunger, empty desires, but you're sitting there in front of your televisions staring at the latest Surivor retread thinking about who you want to be, or be with, and what you want to be eating while you're there, and the television drives you to the refrigerator with only one imperative in your mind: Consume.

Consumption isn't just an archaic term for tuberculosis — it's a malaise that afflicts all the people you think of when you hear the word "human", wandering around in their suburban semi-urban $80 sneakers pursuing their next meal. We don't connect any longer, and we don't really do anything. Well, maybe we do lunch. Have your people call mine.

I'd tell you to go read something, but I'm afraid it would go in one eye and out the other without leaving a mark on your brain. You'd just come back here and pick a fight on the Internet with someone and misuse the buzzwords you've gleaned from your latest reading of Rousseau, Marx, Rand, Voltaire, Jefferson, Paine, or whoever you flog in pursuit of your prejudged prepackaged notions of what it means to be "deep".

Open your minds, but not so much that everything falls out. Grasp this: You can judge without prejudging, come to conclusions without jumping to them, feel without shutting down your brain, and learn without buying into the dominant paradigm.
  • Current Music
    Pot City - Kanno Yoko

So.

Here it is, past eleven in the pee-emm. I have to get up at the crack of OH MY GAWD in the morning. I'm going to get a shower before bed, though. I swear. I really am, because taking one in the morning will NOT be much of an option.

I'm sitting here, staring at the time, not getting in the shower. I'll have a full day tomorrow, and it'll be important for me to be at my best all damned day, and yet I'm sitting here. I'm tired, and yet I'm sitting here.

I'm kinda remembering what it's like to be falling in love, lately. I'm not actually feeling that feeling, so far as I can tell, but I remember what it feels like. On some level, I want to conjure up that feeling, and I've even got a potential target of such an emotional farce available to me, but it isn't actually happening. On another level, of course, I don't want to start falling in love with anyone in my life right now, particularly the one possible candidate for such a thing, since she's crazy, dangerous, bad for me, and (probably most importantly) taken. With that in mind, I suppose it's a good thing that I'm not really falling for her.

On the other hand, that doesn't mean I won't, I suppose. Who knows what the future holds? I might fall in love with the next woman I meet, for all I know. I might never fall in love again. I might actually next fall in love at age 32, like the mathematical progression I worked out a few years ago actually predicted.

Love is on my mind, though, for some reason. I'm not sure why. Other strong emotions haven't been, lately. Aside from a creeping feeling of dread, and the usual riot of fun that comes with meeting and hanging with new people whose company I enjoy, I haven't really been feeling much of anything lately.

A creeping feeling of dread. That's all I'm actually feeling now. It has been here for about four or five hours. It has been doing a lot of creeping in that time. I don't really know why. I'm sure it does, though.

This creeping feeling of dread is a big chunk of the reason for my inertia, for my immobility in the face of things I should be doing. It's why I'm typing this tripe instead of getting on with life.

It'll be gone in the morning. Hopefully, I'll have a good day tomorrow. Maybe I'll hook up with my new drinking buddy and get schnockered again some time in the next two days. To judge by the fun had by all last time, that would be grand.

---

I wish I was falling asleep on my new drinking buddy's couch right now, blasted out of my wits, with nowhere to be in the morning. That would be far better than my evening here.

No offense, gentle readers.

poetry and inspiration

I haven't written any poetry for some time now.

In the midst of ponderations on that subject, in trying to figure out the whys and wherefores, and whilst attempting to sort out my feelings enough to compose something original, I think I've hit on the cause of my well's dry state. Y'see, something I've never really been any good at is manufacturing poetry. I might struggle with it from time to time, searching desperately and at length for the correct turn of phrase to lay an image in my mind to paper, to best exemplify what lurks within me, but I certainly haven't been one to set about the task of creating through conscious, calculated artifice a poetic writing behind which I don't suffer true emotional investment. I've written when inspiration reached out its blooded talon and gripped me by my tender throat, pulling me inexorably into the page. I've not written poetry when I just thought I had a nifty idea, really.

In short: It seems, at the moment, as though I might finally actually be becoming the cold-hearted, standoffish bastard I've been accused of being by an ex-girlfriend or six (pick a number, any number). While I certainly do have feelings about things, of course, they all seem inordinately shallow in terms of their penetration of my being. When I stop to think about it, as I might have done in the process of writing poetry in the past, what happens now is this: I simply recognize that underneath it all, my supposed emotional reaction is about 80% or more "going through the motions" out of habit, like some wind-up tin soldier. Click click click. Whirrr. Ping.

Ack.

I haven't decided yet whether this is a good thing for me.

(no subject)

Few if any of you who may still have me on your friends lists may know that I lost a friend recently. She passed away three days after being rear-ended by a truck in freeway traffic. I feel compelled to say, somewhere, that I'll miss her smile the most, and that it's surprising how much I'm reminded of her by mundane events in life. I hadn't seen her in person for fourteen months before she died, because I moved about three thousand miles across the country, but she was still one of the more positive influences in my life over the last year or so. I miss her, and I will for some time. I miss the people we knew in common as well, the group of friends we both had, that she left behind when she left this world and that I did last year when I moved.

I have another LiveJournal where quite a few people that friend-listed me know her, but this didn't feel either like something that should be made "private" or something that should be broadcast where I have high readership. On the other hand, I still haven't decided whether I'm going to delete this when I'm done.

Life is too short. Live it. Love it. Realize that there are people that care about you. You might be surprised by some of the people you thought cared but really only care about themselves, and you might also be surprised by some of the people you aren't sure care that much about you that actually love you dearly. I know I've been surprised. I'm also surprised by how much I care for some of the people I know and love. Cherish your friendships and their influences in your life. Never take your loved ones for granted. Recognize their value.

Remember to smile. Someone out there may love your smile and never think to mention it. I know I never did.

reminder to self

"To begin depriving death of its greatest advantage over us, let us adopt a way clean contrary to that common one; let us deprive death of its strangeness, let us frequent it, let us get used to it; let us have nothing more often in mind than death . . . We do not know where death awaits us: so let us wait for it everywhere. To practice death is to practice freedom. A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave."

– Montaigne

  • Current Music
    Yes - Shoot High Aim Low