I’m Onto Something Here

This is really just a post because I am excited and full of inspiration for the book I am starting. I have only really started working on characters, but the plot is starting to come together as I work on them. (Right now I’m painting, and maybe that is helping to get my creative juices flowing but awesome.)

So, a little history on my writing. I started around the sixth grade, but looking back I’ve noticed that all of my writing from that and through my teenage years was very much fueled by hormones. Hormones everywhere! When I finally got out of that stage in my early adulthood (which I guess I am still technically in maybe… I’m not sure when people generally start being just an adult.. I know it’s not really an age thing but more of what you are doing in comparison with others as other people might view it, and that that effects your view on it, but that there are also several billion other factors… does anyone ever really reach adulthood??) I started basically just writing down stuff as if they were happening to me… mostly thought up when telling myself stories for a sleep aid or something….

Having described that to the full extent I can with my mind facing ahead I will say that this is different…. Vastly… In this I feel a lot more developed as a writer, as well as a person, which I think has a lot to do with the composition of a book or series. I feel really good about this and am thinking that it definitely has a lot to do with my development merely as a person.

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Us vs Them

From a very young age, we are socialized in various ways. This is generally not intentional, and is not something that will change because it is the primary way that we learn. Often we are socialized in various negative ways as well as the positive. The negative socialization is not really intentional, and is often a residual effect that is in many ways a reflection of the society we are brought up in. One problematic way that seems to be common in this socialization is an us vs them mentality.

It’s me vs the world. Good vs evil. The ethnicity I’m in vs. a different (or all different) ethnicities. My gender vs not my gender. My nation vs another nation or group of nations. People my age vs people who are older/younger. People with my preference (in clothing, sexuality, religion, moral code, interests) vs people who prefer other things. People with my beliefs vs people with other beliefs.

Apart from the obvious problems with each of those us v them mentalities, there are several other problems. The most prevalent/ worrisome trait of this mentality is the dehumanizing of the other side. In many cases, it is hard enough for many people to remember that other people that they see as on their side are people in the same sense that they themselves are people. This can be seen in cases where someone gets bitter because of the actions of another without thinking about what their reasons for doing it are. I’m not talking about the really bad or obvious wrongs in this case, but things like not calling on your birthday, relying on another person to pay for food when they go out on a regular basis, or just not visiting for a long period of time. People, in general, often forget that other people’s lives are often just as complicated as their own. Even people who do remember that on a regular basis, often slip up and forget in the heat of the moment. I am guilty of this a lot more often than I would like to admit.

Now, having established how hard it is to remember this fact, let’s put it in the us vs them mentality. If it is so easy to forget that the people who are “on your side” are people, how much easier is it to forget that the person “on the other side”, who you don’t see or experience their life, is even a person. Think about how often you have heard a story on the news of someone who is subconsciously categorized as an “other” because your country is at war with them, or because they are on the other side of some moral debate, doing something you find negative and how easy it is to demonize them for something small. Now think about when you hear about something bad happening to someone who is categorized as “other”. How often do you justify it somehow in your mind? How often do you hear people justifying it? How often is this justification based entirely on their appearance or on some assumed quality they have because they are in this group of “other”?

Another damaging aspect of this mentality is what it does to you. It leaves you alone to face the challenges of life on your own. It impedes your willingness of asking for help, almost always especially when you need it most. This leads to a feeling of needing, not only to do things without help, or that if you need help you are somehow lesser, but also that you have to prove that you can. I have personally needed quite a bit of help to get where I am in life (pretty much to the point where I am almost self-sufficient… still not quite there yet though). Every time I have gotten help, asked for or not, I have felt guilty. I have worried that it is impossible for the people I want to be proud of me to in fact be proud of me. Often I feel like this guilt is the reason that I have to rely on others so much. This is because I feel like there are things I need to learn about it, including being able to easily and happily be there for others in the way I have always believed I should.

Getting back on track, having a me vs the world mentality is exceedingly stressful and lonely existence, and in an us vs them mentality, everyone is going to be in some way a them. It impedes connections that can be made between people. It impedes people supporting others who may be going through an issue that they could really help with. It is a dangerous mentality that everyone at some point seems to gain.

I think it is important to further explore where this mentality originates and why. I think it is important, especially in this age of globalization to do everything within our power to put a stop to it. This is important because with an us vs them mentality we will be in constant conflict with each other, and will not be able to help each other get through this life.

Idioms: an (un)original poem

All the Etceteras...

In so many words,

I can’t have an original thought

to save my life.

I put all of my eggs in one basket,

and end up walking on eggshells.

I put my foot in my mouth

to hold my tongue.

And I try not to beat around bushes,

or bark up trees,

but it’s no walk in the park,

and drastic times call for drastic measures.

And I heard through the grapevine that

every cloud has a silver lining,

but I’m feeling a little under the weather,

and it’s hard to see eye-to-eye

with the wool over mine.

And it might be the best thing since sliced bread,

and a piece of cake,

but i’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

I’m trying to stay on the ball,

but it’s in your court,

and I think we can all agree,

you are out of my league.

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Speaking Out When Hurting

Today a couple of things happened that brought up memories I haven’t spoken of very often. The first one was that a friend of mine was reading a book for class and was discussing it with me. He is taking a violence against women’s class and the book was a harder one to read. One of the lines in it that he told me about was after the main character got raped for the first one and tried to talk to her friend about it. It was a segregated school (the book takes place back when this was the norm) and her friend was African- American and kept trying to tell her to talk to her later so that they wouldn’t get in trouble. They got in trouble anyway and both of them got suspended, the main character for one week and the friend for two. Later the friend asked the main character what it was she wanted to talk about. It had been about the rape (she had not spoken to anyone else about it and had felt the need to get it off her chest before) but she instead told her friend that it was not important and didn’t end up telling her. The line that hit me came after this, and it went along the lines of “That was when I felt I had put the last brick in the wall I was building around myself.”*

Later on tonight I was on the internet and came across an article that a woman wrote about the sexual assault she had years ago and how it has stuck with her through the years. How just seeing stories of it and how painful it is she can feel the pain from when it happen. She sees how people react, how they blame the victims of sexual assault and accuse them of ruining the lives of the attackers. She describes how she gets overwhelmed by all of this to the point where she just wants to sit in a corner and stay there forever. **

These each reminded me of a separate and, while similar, completely different instance in my own life that is difficult to talk about. I noticed, while my friend and I were discussing the book, that though I really wanted to talk about my negative memory, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I desperately wanted to share my feelings and confide in him, but my self-consciousness kept telling me that what was going on to the main character in the story he was reading, that my experience wasn’t severe enough to be talked about a decade later, and many similar thoughts attempting to degrade my experience.

I hear people talking all the time, complaining about how people often try to steal the spotlight, play the victim, exaggerate their experiences to try to make someone look bad, or outdo someone else’s experience. Maybe this is why I often feel like if I share my experience people will put me into one of these categories of people. I worry that people will think I am a downer, that I dwell on the past, that I can’t get over the wrongs that have been dealt to me, that I am no fun, that I am a liar, that I am egotistical, and a myriad of other negative things. Because of this I have a very difficult time talking about any given event in my life. I am pretty sure that I am not alone in this.

Later on tonight, after reading the article I was a little shell-shocked as it brought up another memory, this one being one I don’t think I have actually discussed with anyone though it happened a couple of years ago. Something about my demeanor must have given my feelings away because I was asked if I was OK. I have been making an attempt to always answer this question honestly within the last few months or year or so even if I don’t really wish to discuss what is going on instead of just saying that I am fine or good, so I answered with “Not really.” I was then invited to talk about it and inside I had a burst of panic. A mini-battle waged inside of me. Yes! I did want to talk about it, but all of these fears surfaced.

I froze up a bit. I have been doing that during stressful conversations as long as I can remember. When I look back on being a child it is the same. I know my parents had to have been frustrated with me for it, but I have never been able to express that I was actually just as frustrated. “Why didn’t you clean your room?” Insert silence as I struggle to find an answer and unfreeze my brain for the rest of the conversation while panicking and getting frustrated that my brain seems to have stopped working on me at a crucial moment.

I have gotten slightly better about corralling my thoughts and herding them through my mouthpiece, but the difficulty doesn’t end there. The whole time I am speaking the same worries run through my head. When I finish after what feels like a long and constantly pausing story or set of stories I fall silent. There is the relief of having said it, but also the doubts as I watch and wait for a reaction of some kind. I don’t/ didn’t speak for a reaction of course, but I am trying to see if I did the right thing by telling this other person about something that happened to me. Sometimes I never really find out if I did the right thing. If there is even a right thing when it comes to talking.

* Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinburg

** http://www.huffingtonpost.com/abby-rosmarin/why-every-assault-matters_b_7061562.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000046

Music Night

Just quoting lyrics that are speaking to me right now.

Duran Duran, Ordinary World

“There’s an ordinary world, somehow I have to find.”

“Papers in the roadside tell of suffering and greed. Fear today, forgot tomorrow.”

James, Destiny Calling

“Don’t believe the adverts. Don’t believe the experts. Everyone will sell our souls”

“Tell us when our time’s up, show us how to die well. Show us how to let it all go.”

Kimya Dawson, So Nice So Smart

“Always seriously joking, and rambunctiously soft-spoken”

Kimya Dawson, Loose Lips

“We won’t stop until somebody calls the cops, and even then we’ll start again and just pretend that nothing ever happened”

“If you want to burn yourself, remember that I love you.”

“If you want to cut yourself, remember that I love you.”

“If you want to kill yourself, remember that I love you.”

“Call me up before you’re dead, we can make some plans instead. Send me an IM I’ll be your friend.”

“And ask you what you think cause your thoughts and words are powerful.”

“They think we’re disposable, well both my thumbs are opposable”

Skillet, Monster

“I feel it deep within, it’s just beneath the skin.”

Skillet, Awake and Alive

“It’s getting harder to stay awake, and my strength is fading fast. You breathe into me at last.”

“Stand back up and never back down.”

Skillet, Hero

“Just a step from the edge, just another day in the world we live”

“It’s just another kill, the countdown begins to destroy ourselves”

“Save me just in time”

“Who’s gonna fight for the weak?”

“I’m gonna fight for what’s right. Today I’m speaking my mind, and if it kills me tonight I will be ready to die.”

Flyleaf, Fully Alive

“All my complaints shrink to nothing. I’m ashamed of all my somethings”

Thousand Foot Krutch, Phenomenon

“All freedom fighters, let’s unite.”

“Open your soul, let yourself go”

“Show them all how you move to this phenomenon.”

Rise Against, Swing Life Away

“Are we getting closer, or are we just getting more lost?”

“Let’s unwrite these pages and replace them with our own words.”

“If love is a labor, I’ll slave til the end.”

“I won’t cross these streets until you hold my hand.”

Breaking Benjamin, Follow

“I chase the sun, it chases me.”

John Rzeznik, I’m Still Here (Jim’s Song)—— (Treasure Planet)

“I am a question to the world, not an answer to be heard or a moment that’s held in your arms.”

“How can you learn what’s never shown? Here you stand then, on your own.”

“I want a moment to be real, wanna touch things I don’t feel”

“I wanna tell you who I am”

“Wanna hold on, and feel I belong.”

“How can the world want me to change, they’re the ones they stay the same.”

“They can’t tell me who to, cause I’m not what they see. Yeah, the world is still sleeping while I keep on dreaming for me. And their words are just whispers and lies that I’ll never believe”

Relationship Advice

Relationships are hard. They take work and compromise. In order to work correctly they need good communication above all else. Good communication will assist in all other aspects of the relationship, however it is not the be all end all of advice for a good relationship. This post is mostly advice for the young, though it can also be used by anyone in a relationship.

The first aspect of being in a good relationship that I will discuss is the motives behind it. Motive is key when it comes to any relationship. Why do you want to be in a relationship with this other person? It is advisable not to be in a relationship for relationship’s sake. This is not something that is easy to avoid because even if you are aware of the problem with being in a relationship to be in a relationship, it takes a certain level of self-awareness to know that that is why you are desirous of the relationship. It is hard to step back and examine this.

Another thing you have to look out for is if you are using the relationship as a safety. Are you trying to escape the living situation you are in by getting into this relationship? Are you trying to fend off loneliness? Are you trying to get in a relationship because you feel like you need the other person to protect you from something specific or just in general? Are you doing it because that is just what people do and you feel as though you are expected to be in one in order to have self worth? Are you wanting this relationship because someone told you that you should be? If the answer to any of these or any similar questions is yes, then there is a good chance that you are getting into a relationship for reasons that are potentially dangerous to a permanent or long lasting relationship. This is especially dangerous if any of these reasons are dominant in your decision making process.

There are many other potentially negative motives that, while not being bad in themselves (for instance getting out of a living situation you know you need to get out of is a good thing to do, you should just not do it by using someone in a dishonest way, especially if the main dishonesty is to yourself), are detrimental to a happy, healthy relationship.

After taking a look at your motives you should take a look at your prospective significant other. Is this person someone who will build you up or tear you down? Does their moral code line up with yours in a complimentary way, or is it one with differences that will end up being at the root of fighting or bitterness? Do you have similar goals or at least goals that you can support each other on whole-heartedly without giving up too many of your own? Do you have common interests? Can you help each other grow? These and any other questions you can think of should be explored. It should be noted that you may not learn all of the answers to these questions until you get further in the relationship, and that is alright. The important thing in this part of deciding if a relationship is right for you is to pay attention. You should also be double checking yourself to make sure that you would compliment them in all of the same areas.

Alright, so now that you know your motives and whether or not you match up well with the person, it is time to get to into mutual interest. It is important that both parties are interested. It is also important to make sure that both parties have an equal amount of interest in each other as well as being in a relationship. It is important that the interest is on an even level for several reasons. One is that if one person is more interested in the other, they are more susceptible to being used.In the meantime if one person is less interested they will likely become bored with the relationship.

If you are in a relationship with someone who cares less about you than you do for them you could easily overcrowd them without meaning to. If you know that you are more invested in the relationship you can become paranoid about the relationship ending, or worry overtly much about what the other person is thinking. It will hurt you to be in this type of relationship. Whether it is crushing to your self-worth, filled with a paranoia that it will end sooner than you want it to, you are used, you are ignored, you disagree on what level you want to take it to and when you want to take it there, and/or you just fight all of the time; it is a very stressful and often painful place to be. If you find yourself feeling stressed (by the relationship and in a severe way, not every day stresses like an excess of laundry or burnt meal(it is important to be able to tell a bump in the road from an impassable wall) or pained in any way because of the relationship you are in

If you are in a relationship with someone who cares more about you they will want to spend more time with you than you do with them. You will likely feel suffocated or like your life is being consumed. You may end up feeling as though this relationship takes up too much space in your life, and that you can’t do all of the things that you want in a day because this other person wants to spend “too much” time with you. You will likely feel some guilt over this as well because often enough they are really a good person and the main problem is that they want to spend time with you, which is really hard for anyone to get mad about in and of itself. You could also start feeling trapped in the relationship because there is nothing particularly wrong with this person, and they care about you so much that they are bound to be hurt if you leave them. I mean, hurting people is bad…. right? Of course hurting people is bad. The important thing to remember is that the longer you stay in that relationship the more it will hurt both of you when it ends, or turns sour because of bitterness, depression or a similar emotion derived from staying in a painful situation.

Speaking of painful situations, let’s go over abuse. Whether it is physical, mental, or emotional, you don’t have to deal with it. There are signs of it ahead of time in most cases, but being in a relationship can impair your ability to see them. If someone intentionally hurts you, even if they claim to have good reasons for doing so, they are abusive. If someone continuously terrorizes you, even if they apologize afterwards, they are abusive. If you get scared when they get even slightly upset, either you already have experience with abuse or they are abusive, possibly both. Get out, reach out, find help. If you can’t personally find someone, reach out to me and I will do my best to get you out because you are worth so much more than that.

Now, one thing you need to be careful of, even if you are with the right person is not to lose yourself. This is something only a few people will have a problem with early on in a relationship, however the longer the relationship goes on, the more people end up becoming susceptible to it. I don’t think everyone is in danger of this, but enough are for me to go over it. When I say it is careful not to lose yourself in someone, I say this because it is very easy to forget who you are, to lose touch with friends, and to lose sight of the things you have dreamt of in your life up until that point when you are so involved with getting to know and love another person. This part is very detrimental to you, especially when/if the relationship ends. It can leave you alone, lost and depressed. You will likely recover, but it can be very hard when it hits, even if the relationship doesn’t end at all. One day you realize you have given up your dreams, lost touch with everyone you used to talk to, and maybe even lost your own personality to some extent. It can cause serious conflict within yourself, and can also cause bitterness with your significant other whether they had anything to do with your loss of self or not.

Most relationships in your life will come to an end (Keep in mind this happens unless you have 2 or less, which is rare). It is important to end relationships in the best way possible. In cases of abuse, the best way is as soon as possible and in the way that terminates contact with them quickest and most efficiently. In most other cases you will have to use discernment. If you find that the relationship is detrimental to you or your significant other, then it is best to end it in the most honest way possible. If your goals or any other aspect are vastly different, take some time to analyze the probability of suitable compromise and discuss this with your significant other. If no compromise can be reached, a break up is likely best, but you should make sure you have explored every option. If you cannot trust them, you can not make a relationship work forever. So, unless you want a casual, short term thing (and even if you do) it is probably best to leave them. If you are not on the same page with the amount you care for each other, it is best to end the relationship sooner rather than later, again honesty is the best policy. The truth hurts, but without it either party could easily get unrealistic expectations about the possibility of a future relationship or feelings that are not there, and that will end up being more painful and for a prolonged period of time. Don’t turn mountains into molehills. Also, don’t turn molehills into mountains. Use communication to resolve problems. If you are in a happy/ healthy relationship, save breaking it off until you have tried everything to make it work. In a relationship where either of you is unhappy, being mistreated, etc… then end it as honestly as possible.

Industrialism and the Individual

Have you ever heard of, seen, or experienced the stereotypical “student seeing teacher outside of school” trope? You know what I mean, the one where the student is shocked that the teacher has a life and is in fact a person. This is not something that just happens on TV, it is something that actually happens. It is also not isolated to teachers and students. This can occur in any walk of life. But what does this have to do with Industrialism? Everything.

As far as I can tell, from my readings, movie watching, etc…; before industrialism, in each community (whether part of a city, a small town, or out in rural areas) there were generally only a few people of each craft. None of these were a faceless person hidden behind a job. If you were telling someone about going to the doctor, people generally knew who you would be seeing. It was also less likely that anyone would be shocked to see the Dr. outside of work having a life, because he was still a person.

It was also quite common for people to work from home, for the person making the product or producing the service to be the one to make the most money, and for people to not hate their jobs. In the Industrialized world it is more common for people to spend almost all of their time away from home in order to be able to afford a home. The people who do the most work to actively make a product are most likely to be paid the least (mostly because now they will go to work at someone else’s place of business and thus are being paid a wage rather than a share because they are not the owner of the business). It is also highly common in the present to aim for monetary success at cost of happiness than finding a niche that you would enjoy.

The problem with basing what you do in life strictly around money causes a slew of other issues. If you don’t enjoy what you do, work is a chore. The very fact that the saying “Thank God it’s Friday” is a testament to this fact. The weekend is essentially Saturday and Sunday. The other five days of the week are generally the ones that people work through. Although there are exceptions to this (myself included), the amount of time spent at work is most likely the same, and much of the time even more when a family is struggling for survival. In other words you are going to spend most of your time working. If you don’t enjoy your job it is much easier for you to become bitter. Even if you don’t become bitter, there is still a good amount of negative side-effects that stem from spending most of your time doing something you dislike.

Another complication is that a person that does not enjoy their job is more likely to slack off while working. Examples of this can be found everywhere. In the food industry, the food could be prepared improperly in some way, sometimes leading to food poisoning or the like. In the education system, teachers who hate the job are more likely to take it out on students and contribute to said students disliking school and not receiving a good education due to association, and/or slacking on the content of the course. In the medical field, doctors could overlook a serious medical issue due to negligence or refusal to believe a patient with genuine, though difficult to demonstrate, symptoms. This would also contribute to a product being faulty or too fragile, customer service being sub-par, clerical mistakes that lead to misinformation or billing errors, etc…

There is also the issue of skill. Picking a career based solely off of the monetary output causes you to not only give no thought to whether or not you will enjoy your work, but also whether or not you are actually skilled at the profession in question. Though the odds of getting into and retaining a career at which you are unskilled would seem to be against you, this does not guarantee that some grievous error will not be made on your part in the attempt. Sadly, it does not even guarantee that you won’t retire from said career at a nice old age. Some careers are somewhat safeguarded from this through rigorous college requirements, but who is to say that that skilled medical student wasn’t in fact merely a skilled cheater.

While we’re on the subject of choosing careers based solely on money, let’s expound upon the statement made earlier involving the person doing the most to create the product making the most money. Today you go into a coffee shop, restaurant, or fast food place and the workers there are making minimum wage (and in the case of waiters, most of the time less than that, sometimes including tips). Now, before industrialization and store chains, the owner and family would most likely be the staff of the restaurant and would get to keep all of the profits.

That same shift has occurred in nearly every type of product, from clothing to toys to mass produced food items found in your average food store. The people working the hardest on making these products get paid the least, and unless the designer is also the owner of the company, they are likely only paid a fee or wage of some sort as well, though this one is likely substantially higher than the people physically making the product. I feel as though this practice not only hurts employees, but the companies they work for as well. A person, whether they would or would not enjoy the work itself, is more likely to hate their job if they feel they are not being properly compensated for this. Disgruntled employees are more likely to slack at their jobs. Slacking at a job is a definite way to ensure that the quality of a product is reduced.

Go to work, go home, relax for a couple of hours if you have the time, sleep, try to eat, go to work, rinse, repeat. Add in more work if applicable. On top of all of this, be dehumanized by being seen only as your job. Become a faceless cog in the machine. This is what many people live now. And when they are seen as just another cog in their industry they are treated poorly by customers and often bosses or coworkers alike. Compare that to the time prior to Industrialism where no matter your job you were a seen and felt contribution to your community and the quality of your work was the main factor in your continued business.

I’m sure that Industrialization has made some positive contributions to society, but it has had unmistakable negative effects on the individual, has negatively impacted the average job quality, and has glorified seeing only one aspect of any given person’s life. Do I think it would be better to find a way to transition out of it? Yes, though it would take time and effort. Do I think it would make life easier? I have no real idea since I have not actually lived in a time prior to Industrialization, but I would like to point out that easier does not necessarily coincide with better. Do I think I have absolute authority on this? Absolutely not. This one thinks. This one doesn’t know. This one has merely observed. (Referring to myself in the third person makes me feel like a Gollumesque person.)