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B.S. Subtitles April 13, 2013

Posted by sarahsfate in Thoughts on People, Writing.
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Today I watched a movie called “Dakota Skye”. The main character is a girl named Dakota Skye who can tell when people are lying to her. She refers to it as her superpower although I think, and she says frequently throughout the movie, it’s more of a curse. I’m not sure I would truly want to know when someone lied to me. Especially in a world when the truth is so hard to tell.

Dakota is obviously surrounded by people who lie to her, including her boyfriend of 9-months who tells her he loves her while they are having sex and she sees this little subtitle at the bottom of the tv screen that says he means he loves sex. Her boyfriend’s good friend from back in the day shows up one day for a visit of a few weeks. He and Dakota end up spending a lot of time together, due to her boyfriend’s busy schedule with his band and her lack of a car. This friend, when he first turns up in the movie…I thought, no this can’t be the guy they’re talking about in the movie info on Netflix. He’s so not like Dakota’s boyfriend and really not like her either (that I could tell at that point). Plus, he’s kinda goofy looking, disarming really.

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But as it turns out, this friend, Jonas, never lies to her. Which perturbs her. Confounding, really, this anomaly of virtue. But he’s insightful and considerate…and honest. I found myself actually liking him. No–not just liking him, wishing for a Jonas of my own.

At one point in the movie she thinks he actually lied to her but somehow the lie flew under her superpower radar, leading her to believe she can’t tell when he’s lying. So when he tells her he is in love with her she says “but how do I know?” He is naturally confused by her question, her superpower being a secret of epic proportions, and says “because I just said it?”

But really, how do any of us know?

ImagePeople say “haaaa Sarah you’re so funny!” sure, I think, but…why aren’t you laughing? They say “sure I’d love to pick you up from the airport at 11:30 at night on a Tuesday” but, let’s face it, who really loves that? Obviously not. The lies don’t hurt anyone but in the long run we’re all a bunch of dishonest people who expect dishonesty from other people and therefore have no faith in people. We all become more self-reliant, more self-involved, less socially interactive, less loyal, less governed by an understanding that we are all in this together. Because we isolate ourselves by carving out the b.s….because it’s all b.s.

Technology being what it is…the b.s. is all there is. People put on their Facebook profile they went to college. You think that means a college degree but in reality they dropped out after the third semester. People on eHarmony put on their profile they absolutely adore spending time with their children or dogs…the reality is those comments are what people want to hear. That doesn’t make it true. It just makes someone an idiot for not seeing through it.

And if we do see through it…if each of us sees through all the b.s. with little subtitles at the bottom of the screen–what then, will we have?

Let’s Vacation July 23, 2011

Posted by sarahsfate in My Own Personal Trials, PostADay2011, Thoughts on People, Writing.
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I had forgotten how saltwater effects my ears but, for the first time in years, the hearing in my left ear has returned. And so as my children squabble over the television channel, space on the hotel bed, and the hot tub, I can hear every octave of their shrieks and even their mutterings.

It’s currently almost ten o’clock at night and the children are finishing a long day with a dip in the hotel’s indoor pool. Well, two of them are anyway, my fourteen-year old daughter, having espied a good-looking boy with a mohawk in the hot tub, has decided she’d like to swim after all and has gone back to our room to change. After a short period of time she returned clad in her yellow bikini with her hair nicely combed.

My ex and I then began a conversation about the dating ritual and concerns of youngsters. My ex, Ben, referred to the kids (teenagers and all) as “carefree”, to which I replied  “who, in that room, is carefree?” My argument being that a 14-year old girl is extremely sensitive to her expression, hair, laughter, outfit, swimming technique — every nuance of behavior matters. That’s not carefree — that’s all care.

And then Ben says how silly that is because guys that age don’t particularly care about any of that. She’s cute and that’s the be-all, end-all. He says the majority of men, as well, are this way. Good to know, I say.

It was nice, though, that we were all completely unconcerned with all nuances of behavior (other than behaving in a socially acceptable manner, that is) at the beach today. I didn’t even notice other women being particularly concerned with their persons. What I noticed, instead, were the families building poorly constructed sandcastles, flying kites shaped as hawks, and wading deep into the intense waves slamming to shore. The temperatures remained in the nineties, a lovely change from the over-100-degrees for three weeks weather back home, and the breeze remained constant.

My son, upon his first experience with the ocean, deemed it acceptable entertainment in his 6-year old mind with the exception of all that pesky salt in the water and, therefore, perhaps the hotel pool was better. Kids. My 11-year old daughter has outdone herself in remaining positive and atop our non-schedule. Directly after dinner tonight she, my son, and Ben went outside to be free of the arctic air conditioning system of the hole-in-the-wall we found, and my 14-year old and I sat inside, eating ice cream and discussing the benefits of moving to the coast.

We decided it was difficult to judge the benefits because it’s easy to enjoy a vacation spot when you don’t have to work or go to school because then there’s no stress or responsibility really. But if we moved to the coast, the stress and responsibility would simply follow us to the coast and then…would we still enjoy the coast better than home? It was too difficult to decide so we simply finished our ice cream, pondered the intensity of the waves some more, and then stepped out into the ocean air.

My Spectre Around Me… May 21, 2011

Posted by sarahsfate in Poems, PostADay2011, Thoughts on People, Writing.
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***William Blake (1757-1827) uses the word ‘spectre’ to refer to his constant, redundant inability to embrace love…or the object of his affections. When he vows to ‘turn from female love’ he is not suggesting becoming homosexual or ascetic, but to give up the act of embracing love. He wants to be happy and decides that the constant attempt to embrace love is making him unhappy, so to break himself from the cycle of inability, he is giving up the pursuit.***

My Spectre Around Me Night and Day – William Blake

My spectre around me night and day
like a wild beast guards my way
my emanation far within
weeps incessantly for my sin

A fathomless and boundless deep
there we wander, there we weep
on the hungry craving wind
my spectre follows thee behind

He scents thy footsteps in the snow
wheresoever thou dost go
thro the wintry hail and rain
when wilt thou return again?

Dost thou not in pride and scorn
fill with tempests all my morn
and with jealousies and fears
fill my pleasant nights with tears

Seven of my sweet loves thy knife
has bereaved of their life
their marble tombs I built with tears
and with cold and shuddering fears

Seven more loves weep night and day
round the tombs where my loves lay
and seven more loves attend each night
around my couch with torches bright

And seven more loves in my bed
crown with wine my mournful head
pitying and forgiving all
thy transgressions great and small

When wilt thou return and view
my loves and them to life renew?
When wilt thou return and live
when wilt thou pity as I forgive?

Never, Never I return
still for victory I burn
living thee alone I’ll have
and when dead I’ll be thy grave

Thro the heaven and earth and hell
thou shalt never never quell
I will fly and thou pursue
night and morn the flight renew

Till I turn from female love
and root up the infernal grove
I shall never worthy be
to step into Eternity

And to end thy cruel mocks
annihilate thee on the rocks
and another form create
to be subservient to my fte

Let us agree to give up love
and root up the infernal grove
then shall we return and see
the worlds of happy eternity

and throughout all Eternity
I forgive you, you forgive me
as our dear redeemer said
this is the wine, and this is the bread.

Dear You… May 19, 2011

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Dear You,

Today I told you I was bored. Exceedingly bored…so full of disinterest I had begun to compare myself to an elderly person just waiting for “it all” to end. I told you I couldn’t find a spark…that little fluttery thing to ignite my interest. Every day is the same thing, all day. Ho-freakin-hum.

You told me to find something that excites me, some event to entertain — to relieve the boredom. As I drove home, I put serious thought into it.

What, for the LOVE of God, would I find entertaining?

The question is harder than it seems. When the boredom creates a feeling of lethargy from the top of your head to your toenails…how do you convince your blood to boil…your heart to beat a little lot faster?

You suggested sex, which of course is an obvious thing to get the ole heart going and, as you are a man, completely predictable that this would be the first suggestion offered. But aside from that…what?

So I drove, lost in thought and completely uncertain how I managed to drive the entire route on auto-pilot, and I thought I was just like Winnie-the-Pooh…think, think, think. And so I did.

I thought about all the things in this world I find pleasure in — like dancing when I vaccuum and finding that perfect scenic spot for a picnic. I thought about playing boardgames with my kids and having coffee with my sisters. I thought about all the times I laugh with my friends or scream on carnival rides. I thought about the movies I see on dates and the photographs I take when I go somewhere to be alone.

I thought about the sound of dozens of different voices laughing over the years. And I thought about you. I thought that perhaps all I really needed today was to hear from you and be reminded of all the pleasure I already have, just in the every-day.

And then I thought I would Google sky-diving.

Writer’s Block May 13, 2011

Posted by sarahsfate in My Own Personal Trials, PostADay2011, Thoughts on People, Writing.
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People of the world have various no-no subjects. They don’t talk about abuse, or drugs, or the devil. They don’t talk about interracial relationships, or sex, or the end of the world. And perhaps its weird, when compared to these other life-effecting subjects, that some people won’t talk about writer‘s block.

WRITERS BLOCK.

Big no-no subject. At least it is for writers. When I stare at a blank page desperate for the fledgling of an idea to take root…to grow legs and become words on that blank page, I never ever refer to my issue as writer’s block. No, I’m just thinking. Brainstorming. Waiting for the right way to express my thoughts. It’s not writer’s block. *shudder*

But why isn’t it? Why do I sit here spending my ‘thinking’ time coming up with excuses for why I can’t put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as it were) instead of really coming up with the story? I would like to think it’s the amount of pressure we put on ourselves as writers — especially if you have ever taken a writing course or attended a writer’s group. We know how important that first paragraph is…indeed the first sentence of your story could mean the difference between overwhelming success…and a dusty manuscript in an equally dusty box in a ridiculously dusty attic. So we stare at the blank page waiting for some absolutely fascinating sentence to appear there.

They say when you begin to write your story you should write as the words appear in your mind. Drawing a picture of the images, of the characters, of their trials, so that readers can see what you see. After your manuscript is complete then go back and edit it for perfection’s purpose. How many people manage to write this way? I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you is that I wrote a 850-page manuscript that is accumulating dust in a box beneath my bed. Why? Because I wrote it as I felt it and saw it and thought it. Then I went back and edited it. And edited it again, which is tiresome. And eventually…it is boring. So I set it aside and, taking with me all that I know now about the right way to write a novel, forged ahead.

Forged onward to the next story that can be written correctly the first time around with few editing and changes necessary afterwards. It’s a great idea in theory. So…a great theory (because they’ll tell you in the writer’s group that you can remove the ‘idea in’ and be more concise. But I’ve sat in front of my bright white computer screen now for a month watching the cursor blink, blink, blink at me blankly like a deer in the headlights. And instead of writing that opening sentence, I’m staring off into space thinking about writer’s block

I’ve read books about how to get past this anomaly, which I find humorous…writing a book about how to write a book when you can’t write a single word. But it isn’t really an anomaly at all…in fact it’s pretty damn common. But the suggestion for moving past the blinking cursor is to start typing. Type anything because as long as you’re typing, the story will shape itself and you can go back and edit it later. I like editing almost as much as I despise its necessity. 

How boring a book would it be if I began it in the same manner most of my childhood books began? How must dust would that manuscript accumulate? Tons. No one wants to hear “once upon a time…” because well, obviously it was once upon a time and you’re really not supposed to state the obvious. So, what isn’t obvious? “Jane Doe turned out to be Sara Crawford, who single-handedly ran the city prostitute ring for almost 50 years, and was probably recognized the moment she was brought into the morgue but her body decomposed for two weeks because no one wanted to admit they knew her face.”

Fine. So I can type nonsense. 

So, which is worse? Writer’s block, or typing nonsense?

Mesopotamians…the Early Civilization. May 12, 2011

Posted by sarahsfate in My Own Personal Trials, PostADay2011, Thoughts on People, Writing.
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This is a portion from the book I am reading, Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, by Stephen Bertman. I found it interesting enough to post here…you may find it boring beyond all reason. 🙂

Eshnunna

In the middle of Mesopotamia on the Diyala River, a tributary of the Tigris, the city of Eshnunna prospered during the third and second millennia B.C.E. Today its deserted remains lie about 48 miles northeast of modern Baghdad.

The excavations of Eshnunna were carried out in the 1930’s under the auspices of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute. The expedition was led by Henri Franfort.

The major discovery was that of a temple, possibly dedicated to Abu, a god of vegetation. Buried in its floor was a cache of gypsum figurines, representing how the Sumerians saw themselves when in the presence of a god. With large round eyes wide open, they stand attentively, their hands clasped over their chests. The statues may have functioned as votive figurines or miniature sculptural surrogates for actual worshipers, which by their eternal presence in the temple would sumbolize the perpetual piety of the Sumerian men and women they portrayed. The largest statue, some 30 inches tall, may in fact represent the god Abu himself, and another his divine wife, though this is by no means certain.

In another temple lay pottery vessels decorated with images of serpents. These vessels may have once held real serpents that figured in ritual.

Other discoveries at Eshnunna include a horde of artifacts of silver and lapis lazuli buried under the floor of a palace (to safeguard them from vandals?). Elsewhere seal-stones were found that suggest trade between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley: the seals are carved in the Indian style and depict elephants and other animals like the crocodile and rhinoceros, not native to Iraq.

Less exotic but no less illuminating are some small children’s toys that remind us that the ancient Mesopotamians were not artifacts in a museum but human like ourselves. in the streets of Eshnunna 5,000 years ago the sound of children playing could be heard.

Bertman, Stephan (2003) Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. Geography of Mesopotamia. Page 20, paragraph 4.

Dear You… May 11, 2011

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Dear You,

I miss the way you used to look at me. Like we were the only ones in the room and I was the only woman in the world. We never said much in those moments — I just watched you watching me. I wondered what thoughts lay behind the expression in your eyes…as I have always believed the eyes are the windows to the soul. Your soul was dark…fathomless, it would seem.

I miss the way we could talk about anything — existing in tandem without barriers to deflect certain subjects that with other people we might hold back. I used to wonder what it meant…being at ease with someone I hardly knew. But…it was your eyes. I would look at you looking at me and just knew that somehow, I knew you.

But that was a lie, of course. Always has been. Once I got to know you better I learned there was nothing about you I knew for truth. I learned the things you told me were highly fabricated…grandiose versions of what really was. And still I liked you. I liked your laugh and the way you scraped your hair out of your eyes. I liked so many things, which was at odds with what was quickly becoming my dislike of you.

It took me years to figure out what it was that encouraged me to continue calling you friend. It was that image of you, stuck in my head like some bug that burrows in your skin that you have to suffocate in order to be free of. But I couldn’t suffocate it…couldn’t even bring myself to try to snuff the life out of the image. I liked the image too damn much.

Tonight I sit here thinking about that image. About your eyes. About your voice. And the things you said. The things you didn’t say. The things I never said…and never will. It’s a terrible thing…missing something that never was. But that’s what I do when I think of you. I think of all the laughs and all the conversations, and the way you moved. I begin to smile for the smallest of moments before I remember, over and over and over again, that every moment, every gesture, every word was contrived.

I miss the man you never were.

Descent of Silence May 5, 2011

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I wrote this in February when I was stuck indoors for a week during the snowstorm….

The true character of man makes itself evident in a disaster. Neighbors either pull together or steal from each other — they take food and blankets, firewood if there is any left, and clothes. They will slice their neighbor’s throat to steal these things and justify it by calling it survival. No one believes it and the blood, no matter how vigorously scrubbed away, remains.

Friends forget each other unless a whimsical memory reminds them of that time they went to the local club and danced all night to the raging beat of a disco jockey. Sometimes, when the wind whistles just right, I can still hear that song in my head, the drum beat so loud it seems those around me can hear as well. But I know it is just a memory. Friends abandon each other in a disaster because it is easier to move without encumbrance. Travel is easier to manage single-file as opposed to large groups and criminals cannot find you when you travel alone.

Family sticks together. Most of the families died together because they stuck together because the damning truth is, it is easier to travel alone. I saw families, once I ventured out, lumbering down frozen streets. They traveled slow and hunched together for body heat, with small children carried on backs, in arms, or wept over beside a twisted tree representing the edge of the road.

The end of the road.

Had I seen every instance of the world falling to pieces, and the subsequent betrayal of one man against another, it would have shriveled my soul to some dark recess that, perhaps, would have turned me into one of the betrayers. But it was impossible to watch, because the first thing to dissipate into the darkness was not the character of man, but power.

Electricity was not something I ever took for granted as I found it necessary for heat or cooling and the refrigerator depended upon it as well. Power never became some unseen entity in my life. When it was gone, I mourned the loss but was hopeful of its return in a few hours, days even. I did not know that its return would never come.

We were told by the news anchors and meteorologists that an epic ice storm would hit the country with a blast of wintry air the likes we had never seen. We bought firewood, canned goods, and bottled water to withstand the hours or days the storm would last. The grocery stores had been a madhouse of shoppers, some desperate to stock up what they could, but most were laughing and conversing with other shoppers who were strangers to them. They mocked the storm and were grateful for the days of work they would be required to miss. Snow days, they said, and promised hot chocolate and Wii marathons with their kids.

The neighborhood kids were gleeful, playing in the streets and yards, building snowmen, sliding on sleds, and making the typical nuisances by people who rarely saw such gleaming product fall from the sky and linger long enough to play in. After a few days, the cold became unbearable and the children were noticeably absent outside. The passing of cars, the overhead hum of plane engines, and the noise made by electrical items in the house — all became noticeably absent. The descent of silence was unnerving.

The firewood, canned goods, and bottled water only lasted a few days and by then the roads disappeared beneath feet of snow and ice, making travel to a grocery store impossible, assuming the store would be open once you made it. I remember longing for a hot bath in a way that people long for food today; I stood in my bathroom door staring at the leaping shadows of candle-lit flames as the muted light bounced around the tiled room, wishing I could boil a pot of water on the stove in order to have that hot bath. I could not feel my toes and my fingers ached. My fingers. I consoled myself with the possibility of taking a bath in a few days and moved on.

The last television news broadcast, before the power went out four days into the storm, was a grave picture painted by meteorologist of their gross miscalculation of the coming storm.

Epic did not begin to cover it.

The snow flurries, expected to make their way north, continued to fall during the afternoon, followed by shards of ice carried on nearly horizontal wind in the evenings, a deep freeze of below zero temperatures during the night, and more sleet in the morning. Sometimes the speed in which they fell would slow to a crawl and there were complete afternoons with nothing falling at all, presenting a clear view of the world. A white world. Sometimes the speed was so terrible and fast, it proved fatal to step foot outside, where the mournful wailing wind carried invisible ice.

When the sun appeared, when an occasional break of the white clouds afforded view of the sun, I stood near a window pane to gaze at it until my eyes burned, allowing what little heat emanating from it to reach my frozen cheeks. My hallowed cheeks. We were starving to death in the blizzard. I would stand staring at the crystal-like sparkles flashing on the ground, ignoring the cold seeping through the window glass in favor of feeling those rays of sunlight. It gave me hope, when the sun appeared.

If the sun appeared.

Many months passed in global silence and I had no idea, at the time, of what went on beyond my front door for I refused to unlock the door to leave. I had enough food, blankets, and firewood to last six months — not because I planned it that way but because when one of my neighbors left “for warmer climates”, they left me their goods.

Every day I wondered about that warmer climate and if my neighbor made it. I wondered if it was only my street, only my town, only my state. I wrote in my journal every day about what I could see from my windows — about my fears and the strangeness of the silence. I wrote because I am a writer. The same reason why my people asked I write this bloody account of the change to mankind’s historical timeline.

Ice Age II.