Random

Random Conversations: A guy on the subway hitting on me

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I love randomness. I love when people talk to me on the bus, the subway, walking down the street. I love when people hit on me because we always end up in these fabulously strange conversations. The universe is a swirl of chaos and I find my moments of random connection with strangers to be exciting and fascinating. To that end I’ve decided to start writing down my conversations with strangers and publishing them on my blog. Perhaps you can get a laugh, or a bit of insight about human nature from them, just as I do.

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Random Conversation #1: A guy on the subway hitting on me

Guy: Are you married? (points at my tattoo wedding ring)

Me: Yup.

Guy: That’s a good deterrent for guys hitting on you.

Me: Well that certainly wasn’t my intention when I got it, I wasn’t like…hmm…should I tattoo a wedding ring on my finger to deter guys? That would be commitment.

Guy: You should put some bling on that fingers…like Tiffanys…a big diamond…(shows his hideous Tiffanys gold bracelet with diamonds—probably fake)

Me: Why would I want diamonds? Do you know how common compressed carbon is? There are whole planets made of diamond!

Guy: Yeah but it’s expensive! Me: So? Boring!

Guy: (laughs) You’re like that’s ADT commercial, you know with that guy on the lawn saying ‘don’t even try it’…that’s what your tattoo says ‘don’t even try it’.

Me: Well that certainly wasn’t my intention.

Guy: I’m thinking about being a stripper you know.

Me: Really?

Guy: Yeah, but I’d need to get tats all over my arms, like all done up. (points to his his arms)

Me: Well go for it!

Guy: Yeah my mom would kill me though, she’d kick me out of the house. But I could be a jiggalo, you know, or a stripper for sure.

Me: I bet you would make more money stripping for dudes.  I bet more dudes would pay more for that than ladies would.

Guy: What!? Fuck no! I don’t swing that way…(pulls cross out of shirt—as indication of homophobia(?))

Me: That’s okay, I’ve met guys who work at gay bars that aren’t gay, just eye candy.

Guy: No way…

Me: (shrug) I’m just say men would probably pay more…

Guy: My mom would kill me anyways, she would hire assassins and shit.

Me: Wow that’s some mom!

Guy: Maybe I’ll just be a bartender…

Me: That’s safer. Because assassins.

Guy: Yeah safer…

Me: Okay how about this: you be a bartender at a strip club! Then you could work your way up to stripper, you know, upward mobility!

Guy: Oh yeah, bartending at a strip club, that would be good. Strippers are hot!

Me: No I mean a guy strip club…where guys strip.

Guy: I told you I don’t swing that way…(clutches cross—to further reinforce homophobia(?))

Me: No I’m not saying a gay strip club…

Guy: Hey! I said…

Me: No listen, I’m trying to optimize your career path here.  Okay you know there are strip clubs where guys strip for women right?  Well you should bartend there and work your way up.

Guy: Bah, my mom would kill me.

Me: Oh well, what are you gonna do?

Guy: With all those tattoos on your arms you should be a chef.

Me: What?! I’m not gonna be a chef, I’m a writer… I’m gonna go home and write about our conversation.  Thanks for the inspiration…bye!

Guy: (looks bewildered)

Me: (gets off subway)

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Random

I want to write what I know

New view of the Pillars of Creation — visible

(This post is meant to shed more light on the writing explanation for my cosmorphosis)

Since I officially decided to become a writer about three years ago I’ve written five books, three of which I love and want to publish. But in the summer after I had finished my fifth book I had a dilemma. I had enough practice writing novels from ideas that just came from nowhere (dreams, conversations with Ben, new articles online) and I wanted my next book to reflect the story I really wanted to tell. So I sat down and made a huge, sprawling mind map chart to outline all the things I was most interested in. Then I tried combining different concepts to make a full idea. It was a painful process (mostly because I often worry an idea will never come) but finally something presented itself.

An idea I loved.

An idea I felt could truly represent a lot of the things I cared about most and struggled with.


But then I realized that although the emotional aspect of the story was something I could definitely authoritatively write about, the technicalities of the story weren’t within the scope of my knowledge. I wanted to write a story that was essentially a love letter to the universe, but I didn’t have the understanding of the universe I needed/wanted to really get my point across.

I wanted to write what I know, but I didn’t know what I wanted to write.


So I decided to go back to school. Specifically to audit a course in astronomy and when I got there I realized it wasn’t enough. Sure it was nice to have a basic understanding of certain astronomical phenomena, but I wanted to know everything I possibly could about the birth and future death of the universe. How can you write a love letter to someone if you don’t know the person you’re writing to?

So I’m going back to school.

Maybe it’s taking the idea of research for a novel a little far, but obviously I have other reasons for doing it too. I’m not satisfied with the basics, I want to know the whole story. I want my love letter to the universe to encompass more than just one novel. I want to write thousands of stories in thousands of different ways to illuminate the mystery, wonder and sheer insanity of the cosmos.

I want to write what I know and I’m excited to figure out how.

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(Image from the Hubble Space Telescope depicting the Eagle Nebula’s Pillars of Creation)

Random

Happy New Year!

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Ben and I were on the beach last night when the clock struck midnight. It was cold, but the stars were shining bright and the moon was smiling at us. People set off fireworks and a group of people walked by with glasses of champagne. I said happy new year to the stars and they twinkled their old light in return. Ben and I talked about how the universe didn’t care that it was the new year. An arbitrary Wednesday night, cold and dark. It’s important for us to have these times though, when we can call out to other people on the street and wish them well. When we can think that we get a fresh start, a rejuvenation. It’s good for us to look back and remember what was great and what was hard and then turn ourselves to the future. It’s good to believe in new beginnings.

Happy New Year to the stars and to everyone else because, arbitrary or not, it’s good to start fresh every once in awhile.

Random

Writers are not their characters

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When I was younger I used to write all the time. Then I got sucked into a terrible relationship and I stopped writing. Aside from being clinically depressed and being made to feel worthless on the whole in the relationship, the real reason I stopped writing was because the people I was involved with believed that every character I created was a representation of me. They used my characters against me. Every time a character in one of my stories did something wrong, I was blamed. If I wrote a character they perceived as sexist, I was sexist. If they thought a character was irresponsible or thoughtless, I was too. They focussed on the negative every time and slowly chipped away at my self-esteem until I just gave up on writing altogether because I was so terrified my characters would make a mistake and I would be found guilty.

It was a shitty way to live.

Now that I’m free of that relationship I’ve taken up writing again full force, but the thought that I’m intimately connected to my characters still lingers and sometimes it scares me so much I’m tempted not to explore taboos or subjects that could be seen as ‘risky’.

I sometimes get scared, but then I push on through with the mantra of ‘I am not my characters’.

As a writer it is vital to distinguish yourself from your characters, or else you’ll take on the burden of their mistakes and be tempted to keep your writing in a safe zone. But writing, and art in general, is not about being safe. It’s about taking risks, putting yourself out there and exploring the deep dark places where other people won’t go. As an artist I feel I have both the privilege and responsibility to rip myself open and show my inner conflicts to the world. Through our artists, humanity has the chance to examine ourselves and others and that is so important. Sometimes I hate my characters and disagree with them, but I write them anyway because art should be a place to explore anything and everything that’s in your mind.

Lately though, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of people out there who think in the way I was conditioned to think: that writers are their characters. I’ve seen writers torn to pieces by politically correct activists because they dared to explore something that was taboo or because they presented a sensitive situation in what others consider ‘a wrong light’. Some people seem to hold the opinion that writers are personally responsible for the views of their characters. If a character in a novel or TV show is sexist, racist, homophobic, weak, stereotypical or any number of other perceived issues, then the writer is directly to blame and clearly holds all of the same values or flaws as their protagonists.

This is wrong.

If this was really true, why wouldn’t more writers be personally lauded for creating wonderful, heroic characters? When was the last time you heard a review of a book that included the idea that the writer personally must be a true hero because they wrote an amazing character? It never happens.

If this was true wouldn’t every murder mystery writer be a psychopath?

We can’t just cherry pick what traits an artist gets endowed with because we’re angry or upset about a certain piece of art.

My (unverified psychological) theory is that people look for the bad before they look for the good and when they find the bad they want a scapegoat, someone to blame for the fact that they’re upset or don’t agree with something a character has done. But unfortunately this is just a quick, easy way to alienate writers and make them scared to explore concepts or look at angles that might not otherwise see the light of day.

As a society we need our writers and artists to feel free to express themselves without fear of personal attack. We need them to plumb the depths of their souls and expose their dark places without a band of angry villagers with torches and pitchforks banging down their door. We need to adjust our view of fiction to see it for what it is: a fictional story with fictional characters.

Sure we can infer things about writers from what they chose to write, but to make assumptions and rage against the individual for making a piece of art and being brave enough to put it out there is nothing but a subtle form of personalized censorship. We should be better than that. We should understand that fiction is not necessarily indicative of a person’s beliefs and disagree with the characters and their actions instead of the writer who created them. Criticize the art not the artist.

Writers are not their characters and it’s a dangerous thing for the freedom of art to suggest they are. If we condemn our artists for their creations they might stop creating altogether, like I did once upon a time, and then where would we be?

Random

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