Emails from Father, an excerpt

Sometimes, my father sends me amazing emails.

dadmail 1

dadmail 2

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Day 2.5 of writing experiment

I changed up my theme because the other was starting to feel stuffy. Gotta freshen things up every now and then, help get the creative juices flowing. Maybe I just made that up, but it seems like change promotes creativity. Part of this idea to write every day was to work on my abilities to come up with ideas and articulate them, because I think that is fundamental to the creative process. If you cannot translate your thoughts to some other medium they stagnate. But now I think I’m starting to sound trite, or just like I don’t know what I’m talking about. That’s a problem when I get to writing past midnight on a Tuesday. I’m bogged down with the seriousness that plagues the first half of the week. Towards the weekend it’s all whimsy and fluff—looking forward to that.

And now the time for bed is come. Good night, netizens.

Day 2 of writing experiment (already not consecutive)

We’ve made it to the second day!

I am exhausted. Not because of this project, but because I did not sleep until the birds of the dawn (larks?) were singing their morning-song. Oh happy little birds, nothing gives me a sinking feeling more than when I realize I have squandered nighttime in a waking state. Though many fun and interesting conversations often occur in the darkness. I once read something, an article or in a book, how the intimacy of a shared nightspace makes people more prone to telling secrets.

And I had another nice little paragraph about my own personal experience to illustrate this tendency to share under cover of darkness, but it was lost due to negligence and I faulty internet connection. Suffice it to say that I was recalling an era of my youth of which I have many fond remembrances. It was the summer before I entered into that most horrible prison of adolescence, junior high (technically I went to a middle school, but I prefer “junior high” because it sounds less sweaty and gross). I spent my time with my sister and her nearly-of-age cohort, the disparity in years making them infinitely more interesting than anyone within my underage demographic. They happened to enjoy my company, too, and I probably considered them my closest friends. We would stay awake until the dawn, playing, of all things, The Game of Life, baking Funfetti™ cakes, and talking about everything. It was all very silly and goofy and wonderfully personal, though it might’ve ruined me a little for the middle school social scene, which was terribly banal.

But that’s a topic for another day.

Day 1 of writing experiment

Hello. I am writing every day now.

Is what I intend to do, anyway. If I write it, it becomes real, correct? Envision your goal and you can achieve it. Books, people write lots and lots of those. Some get lost and some make it to the top of the Oprah book club list.

I’ve had the idea that I want to write a book for several years now. I’ve brainstormed on different topics, but the one I keep coming back to, the experience that could be extrapolated into an extended short story or novella, maybe a really meandering novel, is the experience I had road-tripping a few summers back. I guess it’s not necessarily original, but it’s true. That’s what people look for, right? Truth. Especially when we are young, the search for what is true and real and worth our time is cripplingly important. Truth has meaning, after all. But wait, something can be meaningful without it being true; the Legend of Zelda series carries a lot of meaning for me on a personal level, but sadly it is a fantasy.

Anyway, I think my first goal is to be less careful in my writing. I hated going back and editing my work for undergrad. It was akin to plucking eyebrows out with your fingers—I did that the other day and cried—so I avoided it by sitting for thirty minute chunks at a time mulling over one or two or three sentences in my head, making sure everything was just so before committing it to paper. In short, it was a very demanding and inefficient process. Sure, I guess I only had to make one go of the thing, start to finish, but it always felt like a little piece of me had died by the time I was clattering out the last sentence. I wanted to sound smart and clever and have SUCH GRAND AND ORIGINAL IDEAS that would blow away my professor, who then, being so overwhelmed with my genius, would invite me over for dinner where s/he would pontificate on the finer points of whatever topic and I would pander. The undergraduate dream.

I know, of course, I never wrote (or will, perhaps) anything that amazing or thoughtful. My biggest strength was my inability to focus, which I think professors saw as endearing. Here was this eager soul, chomping at the bit for knowledge, needing guidance to refine all the thoughts swirling through my brain. And my professors, bless them with their generosity of heart, would try their best to lead me; and I, like the proverbially horse, would still do all the dumb things I ever did in my writing: attempt drawing improbable connections between disparate topics, get bogged down in the form, use prolix writing patterns to dress up simple ideas. To make another animal comparison, I was peacock-in’. Yeah, peacocks have fantastic plumage, but they don’t make great writers (never mind the fact they don’t have opposable thumbs).

Nah, I wanna be a bandersnatch. Also, people do really cool drawings of bandersnatches:


Bandersnatch
by DaveAllsop on DeviantArt

jan-ken, or how to make decisions like adults

Jan-ken: the adult way to make decisions.

In one of my infrequent wikipedia meanderings I came across this lovely bit on the historical application of the Japanese version of rock-paper-scissors.  These are the types of moments in human history I most enjoy reading about, the arbitrary and idiosyncratic, the things that as a person I can understand and relate to.

I’d like to start resolving most of my disputes through rock-paper-scissors.  It’s a clear-cut, decisive game that leaves no room for ambiguity: a leveler of the field in this murky existence of ours.

Of course, what really amazes me about this wikipedia blurb is that the outcome of the game was honored.  No takebacks or brushing it off as mere play; no, this was a match fought in the sphere of reality with all the authority of a notarized contract.  Over the past few years, I’ve begun thinking more and more about human relationships and the use of contracts, formal and informal, and why exactly we are both inclined and agree to them.  Do we use them to temper the perplexities of our existence?  If so, the irony there is that formal contracts are often so abstruse as to be meaningless and informal contracts so infrequently honored that both only contribute to the confusion.

I have to keep in mind that I might also be experiencing an ongoing existential crisis, so social contracts and the like seem especially pointless.  Fascinating, yet pointless.  So why not have some fun with it and jan-ken all your problems away?

For the betterment of [a thing]

I have a thing about lofty goals and aspirations. Making them is like slugging back an espresso: instantaneous energy boost followed by inevitable disappointment when the effect fades, but feeling really cool about yourself in the moment. In this world, and by that I mean the world of the online, it is especially difficult to refuse an opportunity to pet one’s ego by offhandedly remarking that you’ve started your training to climb Mt. Everest or are learning to see with your third eye.

These kinds of utterances in the nebulous webspace are like secrets whispered into a hole in a tree. Vocalization gives credence to otherwise fanciful wishes. But hey, maybe there’s a squirrel or a wizard hanging out in that tree waiting to reward boastful types with a high five or “Right on, guy!”—the facebook like, in other words.

Before I give too much of the wrong impression let me be clear: I think boasting is fine. You’ve done something cool, go ahead and tell people; you’re about to do something few other sane people would dare undertake, proclaim it to the metaphorical mountains (or real ones, if you’re geographically situated to allow for that). To me, when you say you’ll do something to a crowd, you’re giving yourself that crucial touch of social pressure to see you through to the end.  Sure, other people might get irritated reading about your uh-mazing life, but it’s probably because they (read: this person) are incredibly envious of your ability to put yourself in a potentially dangerous (physically and/or emotionally) situation for the sake of self-improvement.

The furthest I’ll take humble bragging is with food I’ve made. The reason? I’m still in that fledgling stage of the culinary arts where if something comes out tasting like anything other than slightly burned oil it’s a beautiful victory. The more I share my successes, the more encouragement I get, the better I get with my cooking.  The positive feedback loop.

And on that note, time to get a second round of some pretty tasty fried rice I made.