Reading about Writing

 

I read another book about writing as part of my DIY MFA. It’s Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands by Michael Chabon. He’s one of the authors I enjoy reading. I’ve only read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay so far. His writing was the third adult book I’ve ever read.

 

Maps and Legends in an anthology of roughly two dozen essays by Chabon. It’s about his thoughts and how he wrote his works. Throughout a few thesis ideas emerge. I’ll do my best to summarize those points. There’s a lot packed in 274 pages.

 

Successful writers bring new ideas that fit together well. Examples were the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and the series His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the first to write about the detective with a series to characters giving their takes on event. All in the direction of unraveling the central mystery. Those nested story didn’t explore, distract, or rephrase that said before; they added information. That’s basically the difference between literary and the beginning of genre fiction.

 

In His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman a few key ideas combine to make a great story. Those plot elements, rules of the world, character traits all have to combine to enhance the story. Just serving as a wall the character faces and changes to overcome isn’t enough. That’s what happens so much in fiction. The cowardly face the obstacles that most challenges them. Feats of courage. Like how Froto has to leave the only home he has ever known. How Sam wants to be a good person so he goes. Every character is designed to be a foil to the things they face. Like Ethan’s struggle in Pines, Book 1 of Wayward Pines by Blake Crouch. His time in the military makes the resistance he faces in the small town that much worse. Or how Harry feels alone until he finds a community in the Wizarding World. I always thought my plots were good enough, but I’m missing a huge part. The resonance achieved by plot elements, character traits, and the rules of the world must play each off the other. I’ve been missing that key consideration so far.

 

The idea that ghost stories are the beginning of short stories. I would argue that a little bit. Sure they were around in the beginning. But previous stories aren’t always a direct blueprint for what comes after. Hauntings from sight unseen seems an obscure place for short stories to begin with. But isn’t something hanging in your thoughts like that in a literary story? Things lurk in your head from defining moments. Until you deal with them, they hang around haunting you. I agree that ghost stories could be the precursor to literary short stories. That connection could help when I get stuck. Maybe I’ll use it.

 

Fiction is the bridge between things imagined and things real. Fiction has fictitious parts. It’s in the name after all. But some things connect it with reality. That’s always something. How real the characters feel in fantasy. How some science still works how we think in science fiction. How the sky and the environment is normal in thrillers. But characters are the big things that make something real. Those bits of real are required for the reader to believe that somewhere out in the multi-verse the story is actually possible. In other words, fiction must always be relatable.

 

Something you’re exposed to serves as inspiration. It doesn’t have to be the most obvious things. If you look hard enough, ruminate hard enough inspiration strikes. Some things work better than others. It’s the writer’s purview to decide what stories to go after. Choosing could very well determine success or failure.

 

Maps and Legends fills me with hope for the future in writing. There’s a long way to go before I can’t progress further in writing. Writing and reading will never end up on the dust heaps of history. There’s more. Humble roots and inexperience don’t matter. Get your head down and write.

 

GK

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Image credit: Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Track by Track: reputation by Taylor Swift (for fans only)

 

 

Everyone interacts with the media they consume in a different way. This is my interpretation of what this album means to me. A few places I’ll reference specific verses from AZ Lyrics as needed. I’m trying to make this a lyrical analysis in the vein of literary analysis.

1.) …Ready For It?

 

Spotify

 

Seems good for a starting track, but that’s obvious. I think this track says that we are made for each other. In every situation they complement each other.

 

“But if he’s a ghost then I can be a phantom”

“Knew I was a robber/…/But if I’m a thief then/He can join the heist”

“And he can be my jailer/Burton to this Taylor”

 

Researching Burton and Taylor says they are the acting duo of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. No idea of the reference before.

 

Isn’t that the ideal relationship we all start out looking for? It’s something I wish for quite frequently and don’t we all at some point.

 

Message:

Sometimes people match up perfectly, but usually the relationship changes the partners to get that perfect match.

 

2.) Endgame (Feat. FUTURE and Ed Sheeran)

Spotify

 

This song combines rapping and singing. A lot of songs these days have that combination. It packs more details into the particular song. Basically, every song on this album has quick sung or spoken statements like this. It’s of note here because the first time I ever heard this enter pop was in a Dido album for 2015, then Bad Blood (Feat. Kendrick Lamar), and then on Ed Sheeran’s albums from + onward. And that’s a trend all over Pop and everything I listen to. I’m a fan of a lot of alternative pop, Halsey, Lana Del Rey, and others.

 

The song says I want to be someone you can always rely on.

 

“I wanna be your end game/I wanna be your first string/I wanna be your A-Team/I wanna be your end game”

 

By the way, Ed Sheeran has a song titled A-Team.

 

End Game is about two guys courting Taylor. Taylor wants to forget about everything except being in love.

 

First FUTURE says:

“You so dope, don’t overdose/I’m so stoked, I need a toast”

“You love it, I love it, too, ’cause you my type”

 

Taylor says:

“I just wanna be/Drinking on a beach with you all over me”

 

Ed Sheeran says:

“Now well, when I was young, we connected/When we were little bit older, both sprung”

“After the storm, something was born on the 4th of July/I’ve passed days without fun, this end game is the one/With four words on the tip of my tongue, I’ll never say it”

 

The argument is history vs. new and flashy. Both are appealing in different ways, but love is still there no matter how it ends.

 

Every friendship is different. Sometimes everything clicks and sometimes you don’t know what’s going on, because everything is so restrained. And depending upon how much both sides want it to work it works or doesn’t. That’s not the same as love. Endgame makes me think of friendship though.

 

Message:

It doesn’t matter what everyone thinks, but the person there with you at the end matters.

 

3.) I Did Something Bad

Spotify

 

Confession: this is my favorite song on here.

 

This song sounds like a whispered confession to me.

 

The verses are about two relationships that she knew wouldn’t last. But still it worked at first and failed later on. I’ll ignore the news postulating the truth behind the lyrics. Digging too deep into the real lives of famous people disappoints me too frequently for it to be very worthwhile. I’ve read the news a little about the Famous scandal, Tom Hiddleston, Joe Alwyn, and Nicki Minaj. But that’s about it.

 

A relationship with a narcissist is destined to fail.

“I never trust a narcissist, but they love me”

 

And it won’t work.

“I can feel the flames on my skin/Crimson red paint on my lips/If a man talks shit, then I owe him nothing/I don’t regret it one bit, ’cause he had it coming”

 

And having a relationship with a playboy is doomed to fail.

“I never trust a playboy, but they love me”

“You gotta leave before you get left’”

 

A playboy goes through relationships like clothes. Each partner is used and put away for greener pastures with another partner. And the cycle continues. Then throwing names sometimes help.

“But if he drops my name, then I owe him nothin’”

 

There’s a reference to witch trials.

“They’re burning all the witches”

I was watching a video about the witch trials on OZY. Apparently a majority of woman prosecuted were widows that inherited property. And that seems what this is alluding to. Wealth makes you a target.

 

The chorus is a few repeating lines:

“They say I did something bad/Then why’s it feel so good?”

 

That line really puzzled me. According to this avowed Pentecost I talk to, bad things feel good because humans are corrupted all the way through. I dismissed that off-hand. Then maybe the outside appearance of doing bad and everyone outside the situation isn’t entitled to an opinion. That’s my interpretation of what this means.

 

Message:

People can twist things around to make you the bad guy, but that alone can’t make you a bad person.

 

4.) Don’t Blame Me

Spotify

 

This song sounds different than everything else on the album.

 

It’s a few layers of Taylor’s voice through the chorus. I heard something like this in an older Halsey song, Empty Gold and another from Badlands: New Americana.

 

It sounds like a gospel you would hear from a church choir.

 

Love is equated to a drug, madness, and a lifetime addiction.

“Don’t blame me, love made me crazy/If it doesn’t, you ain’t doing it right/Lord, save me, my drug is my baby/I’ll be using for the rest of my life”

 

I agree with those associations, and they aren’t new. Love feels good. And the connection makes people seek out love. And loving someone isn’t sane, omitting the wide acceptability of love. Fear of giving another person so much power to hurt you has a widely recognized name “fear of commitment”. And people look for love all their days, if a few things haven’t gone wrong.

 

This song is about the search for love. And that’s basically life. That’s why so much media out there is about finding love, holding on to love, and finding peace after love is gone.

 

One line was interesting.

“I once was poison ivy, but now I’m your daisy”

 

I think that’s about how before everything looked horrible, and now she’s happy and in love.

 

Message:

Love is something we will always need, and pursuing it isn’t a crime.

 

5.) Delicate

Spotify

 

This song uses a whispery voice to differentiate thoughts from what’s going on outside.

 

It starts with wondering if everything is alright.

“Dive bar on the east side, where you at?”

 

Then later everything is going fine.

“Long night, with your hands up in my hair/…/Stay here, honey, I don’t wanna share”

 

The chorus is the most telling.

“Is it cool that I said all that?/Is it chill that you’re in my head?/’Cause I know that it’s delicate (delicate)/…/Is it too soon to do this yet?”

 

That asks if it’s too soon for me talk about this. Do I feel closer to you than you feel to me?

 

That’s frequently my experience with friendship. I’m an oversharer. And sometimes that tanks a friendship before it’s actually a friendship. Blogging is the perfect way to overshare, hence this blogging journey I’m on. I’m tangled up in anxiety deciding what to share. Is this too much too soon? And when’s the right time? How will I know?

 

Message:

Relationships will always be complicated, but that’s one of the things that make a relationship work, that back and forth.

 

6.) Look What You Made Me Do

Spotify

 

This song paints a clear picture in my head of a Whodunit stage play. The victim is the lyrics of Famous. And possible perpetrators standing around, Kim, Kanye, and Taylor.

“Don’t like your tilted stage/The role you made me play”

“You said the gun was mine”

 

Then it goes on a little about betrayal and reversals of fortune.

“I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams”

That line implies that Taylor isn’t the party at fault. Everyone is casting her as an actress playing the villain.

 

“The world moves on, another day, another drama, drama/But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma”

The rhyming of drama and karma really impressed me at first but a few other words rhyme with drama. Pharma, parma, Dharma, and diorama.

 

The chorus is odd if you watch the music video.

“Look what you made me do”

That’s basically the justification people use when the do something they question inside. But the music video is about her rebirth as a new character for the media. That doesn’t really feel evil. It feels weak. The events didn’t cause the transformation but coincided. It feels like a woman balancing between being weak and being bitchy. That bugs me, but still I fall to that position as a gut reaction. I think most people feel that gut reaction, but it’s more important what we do after.

 

Message:

Sometimes things are meant to be a certain way, and nothing can change destiny.

 

7.) So It Goes…

Spotify

 

This song is about the duality of life. Everything can go both ways. That happens again and again.

“Cut me into pieces/Gold cage, hostage to my feelings/Back against the wall/Trippin’, trip, trippin’ when you’re gone”

When we’re together, I feel trapped. When you leave, I can’t handle it.

 

“‘Cause we break down a little/And when you get me alone, it’s so simple”

When we’re apart, the problems arise. But together everything fades away.

 

“And our pieces fall/Right into place/Get caught up in the moments/Lipstick on your face”

Everything should be perfect. but life isn’t that neat. Nothing can be.

 

“I’m yours to keep/And I’m yours to lose”

Anything can happen. Win or lose is life. That’s how things go. So It Goes…

 

“You know I’m not a bad girl, but I/Do bad things with you”

Again that duality. With you I’m a different person.

 

“Come here, dressed in black now”

“Scratches down your back now”

Everything started great, but everything is different now. And we can’t go back.

 

“But, honestly, baby, who’s counting?/Who’s counting?/1, 2, 3”

I’m trying to forget our troubles, but that’s just not possible.

 

This is something that happens to me. Everything has two emotional routes in your reaction. Positive and negative. Love and fear of rejection. Jealousy and happiness. Anger and sadness. Boredom and self-loathing. Laughter and embarrassment. Everything has that duality. That’s why stories like Mr. Hyde/Dr. Jekyll, Dorian Grey, and superheroes work so well.

 

Message:

Life happens, and the outcomes can’t be changed too much.

 

8.) Gorgeous

Spotify

 

This song didn’t make sense for a long time before I read the dedication in the Taylor Swift Target Exclusive Magazine Volume 1. It’s written for a baby. That explains a few things. And the writer’s want to make it possible that the song is about an adult I think. That’s a really far stretch though.

 

“That I got drunk and made fun of the way you talk.”

Because isn’t that what we do when we imitate baby talk.

 

“You should think about the consequence/Of your magnetic field being a little too strong.”

Aren’t we all drawn to the cuteness of babies?

 

“And I got a boyfriend, he’s older than us”

But isn’t that something you could hypothetically say to a baby when talking about an older person.

 

“You’re so cool, it makes me hate you so much”

This sounds a lot like that phrase “something makes my face as smooth as a baby’s bottom”. Those anti-aging commercials make me feel like they speak to the jealousy and slight anger that the young are young. And that’s a far stretch too.

 

“You’ve ruined my life, by not being mine”

That reminds me of the joke some people used to make about children: You’re so adorable, I wouldn’t mind taking you home with me.

 

”’Cause look at your face”

That really doesn’t mean a thing unless that face is a universal symbol of cuteness, or being gorgeous. Because people can be pretty in different ways.

 

“That I’m talking to everyone here but you”

That seems like something you would say to a baby, right?

 

“If you got a girlfriend, I’m jealous of her/But if you’re single that’s honestly worse”

Isn’t that another joke people make? A baby having the responsibilities of an adult. Like a job. Maybe a girlfriend. That’s basically the premise of Boss Baby.

 

“Ocean blue eyes looking in mine/I feel like I might sink and drown and die”

This probably speaks to how baby blue eyes are much brighter than the adult version. And babies stare into your eyes with unrivaled intensity because they’re studying you.

 

I have sometimes experienced this jealousy for a baby with it’s whole life ahead and all the open possibilities. And sometimes a wish that things could’ve been different when I was younger. Basically that’s the question “would you like a do-over? Would you do the same things again?”

 

Message:

Jealousy clouds every interaction with fog.

 

9.) Getaway Car

Spotify

 

The third best song on the album.

 

The sound is really cinematic.

 

I think it’s about cheating to get away from a relationship.

“I wanted to leave him/I needed a reason”

 

“Think about the place where you first met me/We’re ridin’ in a getaway car”

Meeting someone in a getaway car is impossible, so that must be a metaphor for something else right? A getaway car takes you away from a bad situation or something that doesn’t work.

 

“X marks the spot, where we fell apart/He poisoned the well, I was lyin’ to myself”

That old relationship would never work, but I convinced myself it would.

 

“There were sirens in the beat of your heart”

Being with this new guy makes me feel guilty.

 

“We were jet-set, Bonnie and Clyde/Until I switched to the other side”

Defection back to the lover that she was getting away from. She confessed and ended both relationships.

 

Sometimes I need a break from my life. I find that in the pages of a book I’m reading, a story I’ve written, or mediation.

 

Message:

Things aren’t neat and tidy as we would like, but in the end everything works out fine.

 

10.) King of My Heart

Spotify

 

“you are the one I have been waiting for”

She found the love that has been alluding her.

 

At first everything seems fine being single.

“I’m better off being alone “

 

Then it happens.

“We met a few weeks ago”

 

“And you move to me like I’m a Motown beat/And we rule the kingdom inside my room”

We are perfect together when we’re alone. And what everyone else thinks doesn’t matter.

 

It doesn’t matter that the guy isn’t rich, but they are great together.

“‘Cause all the boys and their expensive cars/…/Never took me quite where you do”

 

“Your love is a secret I’m hoping, dreaming, dying to keep”

Again everything is great in private, but sharing will ruin things a little bit.

 

“Change my priorities/The taste of your lips is my idea of luxury”

Love is so important that it changes priorities.

 

“Is this the end of all the endings?/My broken bones are mending/With all these nights we’re spending”

Are you the one? Being with you feels good enough to heal me from everything that happened before with love.

 

For me, finding love has been dream that may never be realized, and that fact makes me a little sad. But that’s I choice I’ve made long ago, not to try given my status quo.

 

Message:

Love changes you.

 

11.) Dancing with Our Hands Tied

Spotify

 

Second best song of this album.

 

Love between her and someone else that remained her secret.

“I, I loved you in secret”

 

“My, my love had been frozen/Deep blue, but you painted me golden”

She’d wilted from love, and his love made her capable of love again.

 

“I could’ve spent forever with your hands in my pockets/Picture of your face in an invisible locket”

The way she loved him meant she was okay with loving him and keeping it her personal secret.

 

“You said there was nothing in the world that could stop it/I had a bad feeling”

He’s in love with her, but she didn’t think it would work out.

 

“And darling, you had turned my bed into a sacred oasis/People started talking, putting us through our paces/I knew there was no one in the world who could take it”

They were together, then people started to find out. That pulled them apart.

 

“But we were dancing/Dancing with our hands tied”

They can still spend time together, but not together like we were.

 

“I, I loved you in spite of/Deep fears that the world would divide us/So, baby, can we dance/Oh, through an avalanche?”

She still loves him. Can they be together again? At least they’ll have this. She would do anything to have this.

 

”And say, say that we got it/I’m a mess, but I’m the mess that you wanted/Oh, ’cause it’s gravity Oh, keeping you with me”

Everyone still sees the love between them even though they aren’t “together”. They are perfect for each other. It was inevitable they would be together.

 

“I’d kiss you as the lights went out/Swaying as the room burned down/I’d hold you as the water rushes in/If I could dance with you again”

If they end up in the same room again, she wouldn’t be afraid. She wouldn’t allow anything to between them.

 

The part about loving in secret used to be me, except it was a secret kept from me too, for years. I have experienced romantic one-way love and could never act on it. I’ve had to be satisfied with hiding it away like this song starts. Sometimes I feel like I’m living with my hands tied because of Duchesne muscular dystrophy. If I could be normal, I could do so much more.

 

Message:

Nothing should stop love. Until you realize that’s the point of life.

 

12.) Dress

Spotify

 

This song is obvious in meaning but a few things stood out to me.

 

“Our secret moments/In your crowded room/They’ve got no idea/About me and you/…/Made your mark on me/A golden tattoo”

No one see what’s between us, but it’s deep. We love each other.

 

This reminds me of the way social gathering feel like to me. I’m really good at one-on-one conversations and suck a talking in groups.

 

“All of this silence and patience, pining and anticipation”

This is longing for something.

 

I long for a lot of things but mainly getting cured.

 

“I don’t want you like a best friend”

I’ve always thought that was the ideal way for love to develop. Best friends falling in love.

 

“And if I get burned, at least we were electrified”

It doesn’t matter if this relationship implodes, at least we had these moments.

 

Basically my philosophy for life is “it’s better to have loved and lost than not having loved at all.” Or “it’s always better to know any experience even just once”. And not repeating it might as well hurt like hell, but it was worth it. My life has a lot of lasts. Last time I walked. Last time I breathed for myself. Last time I talked.

 

“Everyone thinks that they know us/But they know nothing about”

People know what we allow them to know. And they can never know/understand everything even if we tell them.

 

“Even in my worst times, you could see the best of me”

I can never do wrong in his eyes. He loves everything about me.

 

Message:

How we are together matters. And what everyone thinks doesn’t matter.

 

13.) This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Spotify

 

This song seems to match really well with the Great Gatsby.

 

The first image is right on.

“It was so nice throwing big parties/Jump into the pool from the balcony/Everyone swimming in a champagne sea/…/Feeling so Gatsby for that whole year”

 

“Did you think I wouldn’t hear all the things you said about me?”

Gatsby knew what everyone was saying and just didn’t care.

 

“But you stabbed me in the back while shaking my hand”

That is ultimately what happens in the Great Gatsby. The protagonist finds that hanging with Gatsby isn’t that great for your mental health.

 

Never had that experience of excluding people, but being the one excluded. That explains my interpretation of this song. The desired meaning is way off probably.

 

It started as a song about wrongdoers or mean people getting cut off for revenge after trying everything else first.

 

Message:

Some people aren’t worth the trouble.

 

14.) Call it What You Want

Spotify

 

If I’m with him, nothing else matters.

“My castle crumbled overnight/…/They took the crown but it’s alright “

 

“Nobody’s heard from me for months/I’m doing better than I ever was”

I don’t need anybody except him.

 

“Cause…/My baby’s fit like a daydream/…/So call it what you want, yeah”

That is because I love a great person. And I don’t care what everyone thinks.

 

“My baby’s fly like a jet stream/High above the whole scene/Loves me like I’m brand new”

He’s above it all. He just cares about loving me.

 

“Windows boarded up after the storm/He built a fire just to keep me warm”

I’ve hardened against everything, and still he makes me feel good.

 

“All the jokers dressing up as kings/They fade to nothing when I look at him”

Nothing else matters when I’m with him.

 

“And I know I make the same mistakes every time/Bridges burn, I never learn/At least I did one thing right/I did one thing right/I’m laughing with my lover”

Everything else is going wrong except her love for him.

 

“I want to wear his initial on a chain round my neck/…/Not because he owns me/But ’cause he really knows me/…/But would you run away with me?””

They are actually in love. And he’s her escape.

 

This is again the song that describes my dream of finding love from a different perspective.

 

Message:

What other people think doesn’t make people happy, but happiness is there in finding love.

 

15.) New Year’s Day

Spotify

 

It’s about a New Year’s party that’s a microcosm for how to love.

 

“There’s glitter on the floor after the party”

The party was fun but it’s over now. We have great times together, but after.

 

“Don’t read the last page/…/I want your midnights/But I’ll be cleaning up bottles with you on New Year’s Day”

After the party, the good times are over. That doesn’t matter. How we are together when things aren’t so good really matters. It doesn’t matter how this will end, but right now we love each other. That’s what matters. I don’t want lose you, because we are great together.

 

“You squeeze my hand three times in the back of the taxi/I can tell that it’s gonna be a long road/I’ll be there if you’re the toast of the town, babe/Or if you strike out and you’re crawling home “

It started out simple but I could tell it was going to be something. I’ll be with you through good, bad, and everything.

 

“Hold on to the memories, they will hold on to you/And I will hold on to you”

Remember what we had, because it was something important that you’ll want to remember, and I’ll never forget.

 

“Please don’t ever become a stranger/Whose laugh I could recognize anywhere”

I don’t want to lose you and just remember what we had.

 

This is the ideal love I have in mind. Finding someone that sticks with you through good or bad.

 

Message:

Love is about choosing to be together no matter what and mutually not wanting it to end.

 

Conclusion

 

reputation is a coming to maturity album, becoming a fully fledged adult by accepting you can’t make everyone like/understand you. That’s the difference between adulting and staying a whiny adult. Everybody won’t like you, and what you do with that informs a lot of your future.

 

This album is all about accepting that perception of other people. Two people can grow together. What people think can change a little (…Ready For It?). We look for the person that will be with us at the end. I doesn’t matter what people think, if it can work (Endgame). Sometimes people won’t understand and nothing can change that (I Did Something Bad). There’s nothing wrong with looking for love, because it’s something people do (Don’t Blame Me). We can’t know everything in advance, but that makes life interesting (Delicate). People get what’s coming to them (Look What You Made Me Do). Life happens and what we do can’t change much (So It Goes…). (Sometimes things happen that change us in strange ways (Gorgeous). Things happen and only those involved in the matter have a say (Getaway Car). We find love in unexpected places that might not be approved of by everyone (King of My Heart). Love between two people doesn’t have to be known by others (Dancing With Our Hands Tied and Dress). Sharing something can ruin it (This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things). Everything else going on doesn’t matter except in the way we feel about it (Call It What You Want). Love is something special that can be elusive but well worth it (New Year’s Day).

 

New Year’s Day sounds a little like what people expect when two people in love don’t ever have plans to get married. Like how Gorgeous is a little about babies.

 

GK

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My Life and Taylor Swift’s reputation

 

I’m listening to Taylor Swift on repeat since the release of her sixth album reputation a few weeks ago. I have always looked up to her as role model of success and creativity. That seems a little ridiculous when I started writing at 23, a full six years after Taylor Swift made her debut. It seems impossible I’ll ever get anything published at this point, but I’m going to try. A lot of things motivate me. So far, I’ve never been able to get those reasons all fleshed out on the page. This is my attempt at doing just that with a few references to Taylor Swift’s musical journey as seen through the eyes of a fan.

 

reputation has a deeper theme that becomes clear after listening to Taylor Swift’s previous albums. There’s a big difference between the version of you that’s projected out to the crowd, and the real version people close to you see. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust discusses various identities you go through as you change and grow through life.

 

reputation then goes a step further by saying there are multiple ways to see that duality. The difference between the best version of you and the worst version, light and dark for the sake of brevity. Then the version you put on social media and the real you. That feels like a cheap attempt to tap into the current Zeitgeist. The songs aren’t about fabricating an identity on social media. I admit showing that with music is tricky. But Taylor Swift accomplished that in You Belong With Me (from Fearless). Turning that into a whole album is very difficult.

And the lighter parts are easier to share than the darker parts. That’s because of the social unacceptability, and the fear that indulging in darkness can make you into a horrible person. Of course fearing you’ll become evil is a sign of goodness right?

The struggle is finding the courage to be yourself with people spouting their ideas of who you’re supposed to be.

 

I could make this into a post supporting that conclusion. The cover booklet of reputation starts with a brief note explaining the meaning of the album. That storyline feels superfluous.

This is about my experience with that transformation. Starting overly concerned with what a few people thought to not caring what other people think about me.

 

As a teenager and until a few years ago, I would say I don’t care what other people think. I didn’t fit in with other kids. Those themed days we had in high school. Well, I didn’t participate. I didn’t stay in the corner assigned to disabled students. I wanted to go to regular classes with non-disabled students. I was in all Honors classes. I scored academically like a normal students. For all intents, I refused to be typecast. That seems like not caring what other people think, except that was what my parents expected from me.

 

My parents never put pressure on me to achieve academically. I was just trying to be like my parents to feel closer to them. That’s something I always wanted to feel, love. Pursuing the same aspirations made me feel closer to them.

I always craved affection in a tangible form.

 

In order to feel something from the reticent displays of affection provided by my parents, my unconscious amplified my emotions. That way I could feel close to them. That’s the biggest problem I face, extreme emotions. It’s even bigger than my physical condition of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. I’m not trying to level charges against my parents. They tried the best they could and the best they knew. Without them I wouldn’t be alive today. There’s no doubt in my mind.

 

Those extreme emotions made me very clingy to friends and people in my life as a kid. That meant my friendships didn’t last very long. It was an intense friendship in my mind but really annoying to my friends. It was frequently like the friendship between Erika and Clementine in Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty which I happen to be reading at the time of writing this.

 

Then I went into the phase of just following approved behavior.

 

Being that strange was too painful. All my emotions became subdued and locked away. The resulting anger from suppressing everything turned inward. Wondering what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I be like everyone else? Why am I messed up?

 

That’s what we train men to be in this society. To suppress emotions we don’t deem acceptable for men. Anger is allowed. Slight sadness. And happiness. Everything else should be suppressed away or bad things happen. Being alone. Insults and perhaps the insinuation you’re gay. That means everything has to be converted to anger and thus become acceptable. Slowly that’s starting to change. Suppressing emotions is unhealthy. It leads to trouble expressing emotions, and difficulty explaining what’s going on inside. That leads to troubling things like suicide and loneliness.

 

Being socially acceptable is the goal of Taylor Swift’s eponymous first album. It’s about innocence, love, and anger that’s a little cute. That’s how this story starts. Fearless and Speak Now follow that same pattern and camouflages the rest.

 

A song like White Horse shows exactly what I mean. I wasn’t listening that close to the lyrics, but it didn’t sound sad to me. It sounded like it was saying I don’t want you anymore. The music video shows a sad messy breakup.

You try going on thinking everything is good, but something wrong happens. That error is what we call life.

 

My isolation and social ineptitude continued through high school and three semesters of college. Then reality caught up to me. I have Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Around 18–24, people with my disease get into breathing issues. I got my first pneumonia. It was a few days in the hospital. I wasn’t getting enough sleep. My dreams of going to college were dashed. I tried summer classes and online classes. My health requirements were too much, 8 hours sleep and breathing treatments.

That sent me into depression.

 

My extreme emotions make me highly susceptible to depression. If you’re feeling too much, it’s easier to just tune everything out than deal with it. That especially happens when an onslaught of bad emotions hit me. There was nothing except clearing my lungs and airways, sleeping, stuffing my stomach, and watching C-SPAN. I was steadily losing weight from expending too much energy breathing. And I was home alone with a PCA, all day.

 

Three years into my depression, I got a trach. That was freaky for the first two years. I couldn’t sleep overnight because a nurse was sitting in my room. An emergency situation happened in the first two months, I couldn’t breathe. I got sick every few months after. It was deadly not to care, the way depression made me. I needed to mediate to stay calm and not go crazy from breathing through a tube that could clog at any moment. It was a new experience, having a trach and a ventilator to breathe.

 

There was one good thing to those first years with a trach. I got a stomach tube. Slowly I got up to weight. From 63 to 117 pounds.

 

My back is really messed up. It’s curved like an S because my back muscles weakened too much before my back was fused to a stable state. After surgery, my curvature was 50 degrees. That surgery happened when I was 15.

 

That means getting a trach tube to fit my curvaceous airway is tricky. My brilliant ENT doc found a trach that worked for me. Unfortunately, that trach tube is really tricky to change. With my curvature, any correctly fitted trach is difficult to insert.

 

My brilliant ENT doc had trouble changing out my trach.

 

There are several layers of flesh between the outside of the throat and the airway the trach tube sits in. So the doc pulled the old trach. He tried putting in the new trach. It was a ton of force on my neck. The connections between my airway and chest were hurting probably at five out of ten, but let me tell you that was nothing. The trach tube didn’t go in.

 

When changing a trach, they always have a smaller trach if the correct size can’t be inserted. That smaller trach went in. At that point, I hadn’t breathed for about a minute.

 

My ventilator was hooked up. The breath didn’t come. I had intense pain in my neck.

 

The trach had gone between the layers of flesh in my neck. The trach wasn’t in my airway. I told them I couldn’t breathe. I was looking at this innocent ENT resident across the room from me.

 

The doctor pulled the trach. He called for a trach tray to re-establish my airway. Luckily, that wasn’t required. My brilliant ENT doc got the trach into my airway finally. Then, I was breathing again. I remember the events with a precision that happens when you almost stop breathing.

 

I also remember what was going through my head. I looked at that innocent resident. I wondered what would be the emotional fallout for him, that fellow Indian if I died in that room.

 

I’ll ruin you.

 

At least my life would have a lasting mark beyond the heartache my passing would cause. I was desperate for my life to mean something in those last moments. I no longer cared if it would be something good. Facing death strips everything away and leaves behind something you can’t guess.

 

Then an eerie calm took over my head.

 

So this is the last thing I’ll see.

 

My vision went yellow. It was like looking through amber at the world. Then everything started to look normal again. The resident was scared. Man was he scared.

 

That’s probably projected emotion. In difficult situations, you project your emotional states on other people or things, effectively removing them from your person.

 

I stayed the night and had to be put under to get my correct trach put in.

 

That made me question my life. Which is common after what I experienced. Is this what I want? Sitting around and just surviving day to day. What’s the point? Keep in mind I was depressed around that time. That’s when I thought about what I could do. I have a ton of time to think about stuff when people do medical things to me. That became meditation, at first. Then something that had been a desire from years ago resurfaced. That dream was to write science fiction.

That’s when my transformation starts.

 

Taylor Swift’s trajectory radically changed with Red. That album was happy at times, but it was usually sad. The end of a relationship, liking danger, sadness, and the fact of love love being elusive. Off hand, I remember just a few songs that were happy, Begin Again, State of Grace, and Everything Has Changed.

 

I wrote the most acceptable science fiction story possible and heavily obfuscated the darker elements. It was a crisp, clean, bright future. That doesn’t make a good story in itself. Then, I added memory and cryosleep elements to make a story. I thought I wasn’t good enough, so I wrote heavily wrought prose.

 

Some quirks were there because my parents have basically reversed gender roles. My father takes care of people better. My mom likes dealing with things instead. My father is more emotional than my mom. They even stand like the opposite gender. My mom stands on both feet. My dad favors one leg. That explains the strange gender roles I put in my first book.

 

I noticed a few other strange things. It could be argued that the supporting female character was actually the protagonist. In the length of the novel, she’s the hero. But in each individual scene, the main character, a man is the hero. Anyway, I enjoyed writing from a woman’s perspective more than I thought possible.

 

That’s based on me being hetero-normative. I can love women in a romantic sense. That extends to writing from a woman’s POV. I can’t have a romantic relationship with all the duties I need to complete for my survival. I even wrote a song that states my case. It will probably be really sad. I’m self-conscious putting it up here.

 

The Way I Remember You

Chorus:

You go your way

I’ll go mine

In the end what happens, who can say?

But I’ll never forget you,

The way I remember you.

Love escaped me in the dark.

Lost to the brightness of day.

Light wasn’t there for me then.

It never came my way without you.

I can never be without you

Not even for a day.

Everyone around us

Has only what we can dream.

We can only be onlookers

On what everyone else has seen.

Chorus:

You go your way

I’ll go mine

In the end what happens, who can say?

But I’ll never forget you

The way I remember you.

We never know when our time will come

It’ll not be in forever, but some day.

Until then, we try to experience what was lost

What we can never find again

The love of another we can’t be without.

The trouble we can’t live without.

There’s accusation in those eyes

Eyes I’ll never see again.

Chorus:

You go your way

I’ll go mine

In the end what happens, who can say?

But I’ll never forget you

The way I remember you.

 

That was fun, right?

 

If you love someone that’s out of your reach, than imitating them makes you feel closer to them. Like reading something, they like reading. Doing something they like doing. It’s like the fan wanting be like the star. And the closest you can get is falling in love. Which is what happened in Black Swan, this compelling psychological thriller movie that came out in 2008.

 

Nina wants to be a natural dancer like Lily. Nina dreams of sleeping with Lily.

 

In Taylor Swift’s 1989, she starts to own everything that has gone wrong. She might get hurt. People might not understand what’s going on. All that doesn’t matter, because she just wants to be herself. It doesn’t matter what that means to everybody else.

 

My second book, the Remember Sequel was an excursion into everything that Remember wasn’t. With Remember, I avoided sex. The characters from Remember were stumbling around in the dark while everything miraculously worked out for the best. In the sequel, they were self-aware enough to see the end and help it along.

 

I’d focused a ton on making Remember based in reality. That limited my science fiction. In the Sequel, I abandoned that constraint.

 

The first character I wrote in the Sequel was sexy in everything she did, like Tiffany in Truly Madly Guilty. And she was looking for something she couln’t have, durable love. She was a compelling character I enjoyed to write.

 

I abandoned the Remember Sequel on the drafting table. It wouldn’t force me to grow as a writer.

 

Taylor Swift’s reputation has more allusions to sex than her previous albums, in songs like Dress and So It Goes….

Wildest Dreams was the closest to that from 1989.

 

Then I started Book 2, The Trouble with Dreams. It has a deep thesis that a perfect life doesn’t exist. And involves more sex. Sex is one of those things that should be hidden away to make people comfortable, like religion, race, mental health, and sadness. I still didn’t have the guts to actually write erotica yet, but I had to read some not to accidentally write it. Labels mean a lot.

 

What’s in a name except meaning?

 

A few months ago I would have said nothing is in a name except a shared definition.

 

Then I finally wrote something pieces that looked professional. The first was kosher. Then second was PG-13. The fourth was erotica. It had to happen eventually, right? I have no firsthand experience, but it seems nice. And it’s a part of growing up. It’s the modern day’s rite of passage like hunting was long ago.

 

I can write whatever is required in service of a particular story.

 

The shedding of what other people think of me has been the biggest evolution of my writing in these five years I’ve been at it.

 

Mission accomplished I think.

 

GK

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Lyrics, Literary Devices, and Writing Cross-Application

 

I listen to a ton of music while editing. Music is one of the few things that get me through the editing process. I’m frequently bored out of my mind editing something. Unlike writing, editing doesn’t require undivided attention. Focusing on editing makes me remember what I wanted to write instead of what’s on the page. Listening to music teaches me ways to add elements of lyric writing in story writing, specifically literary devices.

 

Memory has always been something I could do well under a few special circumstances. Math and science, historical stories, things I’ve read, things I’ve watched, and things I’ve heard. My strong emotions help the remembrance of those things. That explains why I could get straight A’s in high school, despite the fact my insufficient caloric intake made me basically dumb. I could still remember stuff, but the ability to make creative leaps was beyond me.

 

Listening to music isn’t a fruitless enterprise. Song lyrics are a mixture of prose and poetry, instrumentals and vocals. Sometimes the connecting patterns are in instruments and vocals. This article is just about prose and poetry of lyrics. Because that transfers the easiest.

 

Of course, using a metered verse can add beat to prose and poetry. That isn’t something I know or use well. I know how to write in iambic meter, because the first language I ever learned was entirely iambic, Tamil. The phrases and words themselves sound more musical than average English. The other metered beats like the trochee, dactyl, and anapest are something I haven’t used. The dactyl and anapest, the three syllable variations are daunting to me.

 

Then writing designed to go with music or with music as the inspiration. I’ve played with the first when writing and thought about using it on this blog. And a literary magazine uses another approach, paintings for inspiration.

 

This post uses music freely available on Youtube. I’ll put up the Google Music and Spotify Web Player Links. As far as I know, Google gives a free listen and Spotify requires a free account. And the Youtube links. Relevant excerpts are below with explanations. Some have multiple literary devices at the same time.

 

My approach to literary devices is just reading and remembering quirks of writing I’ve read. Then I simply use those techniques. For the sake of this post, I researched the names for the quirks listed below. They’re actual literary devices and the references are all from LitCharts.com.

 


 

Google Music

Artboard 1-100

That’s a rhyme. We all know about that one. Two words with similar sounding syllables.

 

Artboard 2-100

 

That’s anadiplosis. The end of one sentence is repeated again at the beginning of the next. And rhyming.

 


 

Google Music

 

Artboard 3-100

That’s anaphora. It’s the repeating of the first few words for successive clauses. Two instances above. Ending anaphora with and different clause beginning, with some connection to the previous clauses. In this case that’s rhyming.

 


 

Google Music

 

Artboard 4-100

First parallelism, the same sentence structure repeated. Then that’s epizeuxis. It’s repeating a series of words with no intervening words. More rhyming.

 


 

Google Music

 

Artboard 5-100

I would call that diacope. It’s the repetition of words with other words between each repetition.

 

That’s all the lyric examples I have for now. Now examples I’ll come up with.

 


 

Rhyming:

Think of the preposterous,

Thus imagine the wondrous.

Get stuck in the marvelous,

Never return to the salacious.

 


 

Anadiplosis:

The struggle is with time. With time we have so much, yet not enough.

I need a meditation retreat. A meditation retreat will relax me.

We struggle for superfluous things. For superfluous things we do anything.

 


 

Anaphora:

We want time.

We want things.

We want friends.

Finding all that misses one thing, finding happiness in your own skin.

 


 

Parallelism:

The trouble of doing nothing and stagnatng.

The truth of learning something and growing.

 


 

Epizeuxis:

Life is more wonderful than you can imagine, more wonderful than you can imagine.

There is absolutely nothing wrong, absolutely nothing wrong.

 

“Who are you going to be after all this?”

“After all of this?”

 


 

Diacope:

Try finding truth, finding wisdom, and you’ll soon discover finding isn’t an easy thing. Everything that needs finding isn’t that far away, everything that needs finding is right inside.

 


 

This was somewhat useful I think. These devices of repetition are useful to build power in writing. That’s great for the purposes of conclusion. And as an accent to draw attention. But there are many ways to do that. A concise conclusion makes a difference, it surely does. Those examples verify that I need practice in their application in the construction of prose. There, that was the least bit successful. Maybe this helps, maybe it doesn’t. But understand it I will.

I will get this.

GK

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The 1,200 Word Story

 

I’ve been thinking about how to write a piece of flash fiction. How to fit the components of a story in 1,200 words? I accidentally write 250-500 word stories. I have no intention of writing a particular scene as a complete story. Those short story paragraphs are in the middle of a longer piece. That actually works really well. If each scene has all the parts of a story, then multiple scenes build a longer piece.

 

Learning about this length of a story, 1,200 words should help my story writing a ton. It’ll help me find the essential parts of a story. What can be left out, and what can’t. It’ll teach me more ways a story can go. And writing that word count should take me a day to type out. That’s how I learn best. I closely study things related to my primary goal. Flash fiction is so close to novel writing, we’re splitting hairs. Most writers practice with short stories before getting into longer things. I also want to get published somewhere. This new skill will help.

wp

I was researching literary magazines for somewhere to send my future short stories. That means, for me opening tabs in my browser of potential magazines. I screen through for criteria the precludes a few things that aren’t feasible for me. I’m not happy ordering a print copy because that’s difficult for me to access. I’m not sure about ordering digital versions from providers with worrisome persistence. If a digital service shuts down, it’s possible you lose access to everything on there. That means publications with a few free examples. At first, I was going through the list at Writer’s & Poet’s. Then I found a list for new writer’s. All those tabs are open in my browser.

New Writer Magazine

I add each to this spreadsheet I keep. That includes the description of what they want and submission guidelines. I read through two pieces and a lot more if they’re shorter. I started researching The Zodiac Review. It’s just flash fiction. I’ve come across a lot of magazines that accept flash fiction. Given the fact that the majority of the short stories featured on Radical GK are less than 1,000 words, it should be pretty easy, right?

excel

Well, it’s not. Those stories aren’t exactly complete. Those were designed with emotional impact in mind. They weren’t supposed to be stories in themselves. And they bear that out. The writing is lyrical but too difficult to understand. Look at The Sum of an Empty Life. About 13% in, C decides to wait for Brian Whalen. That’s the first plot point which is supposed to happen 20-25% in. The second plot point is C walking away with Brian’s briefcase. That happens 44% through the story. That’s nearly right. The part where C figures out the combo is the third plot point. That’s 79% in. The fact I wrote that story two years into my writing journey is amazing to me. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. The story structure is nearly spot on.

life

I didn’t come prepared to write this post. That simply means I’ll discover something in the process. The last paragraph planted an idea. Maybe I should just forget about everything I learned in Story Engineering by Larry Brooks and return to the way I used to do things. Just maybe.

story-1

 

Anyway in my research, I found a few ways to tell a story in 1,200 words. There’s this much longer piece (The Watchers). It feels like that method could be brought over to this. You list the scenes with a break between each scene. That could work, right?

sequence

Some story lines are better for that method. If the story is done so much that the reader knows the sequence of scenes. If it isn’t scene after scene in rapid succession. Some time can pass between each scene. For example the development of PTSD in soldiers. It usually isn’t one event (scene), but a long series of stressful events. If the sequence of scenes isn’t all that important, or the sequence of scenes doesn’t matter. For example the story of going from place to place, a travel story. Establishing the connections between scenes is tricky. And the reader is always searching for how much time passed between each scene.

Zodiac

There’s this other story (The Game) that uses another technique to tell flash fiction. I call it the slow reveal. It combines story with exposition. That works well when one event exemplifies a continuing pattern. I’ll provide an example of my own below. As the indicative event takes place, exposition adds the missing plot points on their time cues. The plot points can come from the exemplifying event or the flashbacks to the continuing pattern. In the piece I linked to, the first plot point is the generalization of what usually happens (20% in). The second plot point is how they act towards each other, the protagonist and his competition who is also his friend (53% in) Then the argument about who won (77% in). That matches the established structure nearly to a tee. That’s the structure from Story Engineering. I have another shorter example from this blog I follow.

second example

The last technique is the obvious one, writing it like a regular story except having the transformation happen in one scene. Like when a battle turns into a win. What happens is the enemy heavily bombards you. A new enemy weakness is discovered, and you defeat them. That isn’t too difficult.

 

1,200 word stories need a plot that works with the length. Too complicated, hard to explain plots are much harder to get across in the limited space. More nuance can be achieved with the second technique, the slow reveal.  That’s using one event to establish a pattern of behavior. That kind of feels like cheating to me.

 

A story needs to do a number of jobs in sequence as Story Engineering taught me in definable terms. Here’s the list from memory. Gain sympathy for the character from something bad happening. Establish the character or stakes. Basically the before state. Then the character decides to take the quest which is the first plot point. The character responds to what the choice brings. The character finds something internally or externally that allows them to face the conflict, second plot point. They fight against the conflicting force and lose. The character finds the missing piece to success and the will to do anything to prevail, third plot point. The events play out, enemy defeat or character dying in the process. That story I divided into plot points above shows there are many ways to fill those requirements. Accept the challenge, get permission to engage, and proof they will do anything to remain friends. You can combine those requirements anyway that works into different scenes as long as the sequence doesn’t change. That means anywhere from one scene on up.

 

This is an example plot. Abuse story: woman is abused, entering relationship flashback, hiding bruises at work, buying a gun flashback, trying to talk about it with support person, returning home hoping he isn’t there, pushed to the ground changes her mind to kill him, murder then admitting to self-defense. You could easily replace any of those scenes with anything the fills the same purpose.

 

Hiding from abuser, has to return for belongings, friend doesn’t show up so leave, buying gun/pepper spray, return to get stuff and defend, stalking causes restraining order, face him with gun, run away/disappear.

 

Fear with partner, abuse cause visible symptoms, run away, abuser follows and finds, ran away after facing enemy, finds new partner, kill abuser together, live free from suspicion.

 

All of those work. A different method perhaps, but it’s doable. Those are my explorations of 1,200 word stories. The plot has to specifically engineered to fit the constriants of the length. With novels, any story can fit. A focused story is required for shorter formats. That’s everything I have to say. Feel free to add more in the comments below.

 

Coverphoto credit: Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash

 

GK

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Things I Screw Up in Writing

how the write

I finished reading How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James N. Frev. It gave me things to learn I frequently ignore. A few tips redefined a few things like what to explain and what to leave out. The book is about writing dramatic stories, not the literary I frequently write. My literary pieces have a strong dramatic storyline and a deep internal conflict. The lessons learned are invaluable in improving my writing.

 

low res final
Photo by Matthew Kane on Unsplash.

 

The character must be fathomable. Explain their motivations, character attributes, and decision-making process. My writing process directly opposes this requirement. I establish a new thought pattern in my head to match the character I’m writing. That’s only possible because I’ve spent nearly a decade and a half mediating. Acting out physical traits isn’t something my diseased body is capable of. That mental model is as close as I can get. Thinking like your character makes the motivations, character attributes, and decision-making process apparent and self-explanatory. It should be second nature. Stuff that doesn’t feel wrong as that character. Everything except that particular action feels wrong. Putting that on paper isn’t tricky at all, except I never know how much to put down. This book helped a lot. Include everything required to understand the characters.

dark matter

Each scene should be a story in its own right. The scenes should have all the pieces of a story. A beginning setting up the conflict. A middle of rising tension. Finally a build up to the conclusion. When a book has that it’s difficult to stop reading. A perfect example is Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. It followed that pattern. Each scene was a story in its own right.

 

 

 

 

There needs to be a connection of causality between scenes. Watch this, the best discussion on causality that appears in a feature film in my opinion. The events must require the events prior to lead up to them. A connects to B, then C. The web of causality must connect from one to the next. Again this is exemplified in Dark Matter. Of course, literary novels frequently forgo that rules. But getting things in line helps to justify those tangents literary is famous for.

 

Dialogue should also follow the structure of a story. No conflict in dialogue means it can be rewritten or scrapped. Standard conversations we have every day can easily be reduced to one summarizing sentence. We talk about this or that.

 

Sometimes things go down. You come away reeling and need to spew everything to someone you trust. Those are the sorts of conversations dialogue should be. I noticed that in my first novel. The lunchroom conversations were boring to read but the arguments were impactful. Leaving out the daily dribble of conversation helped my story beyond measure.

 

Reading How to Write a Damn Good Novel and Dark Matter in a basic requirement for any writer. The theory expressed in the book about writing is exemplified in Dark Matter. Read both and get back to me. Kidding.

 

Cover photo credit: Photo by Baiq Bilqis on Unsplash.

Photo enhancement and editing by me.

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Work and Life in Balance

 

Boss as overseer and employee as peon are all in this together, mutual benefit for shared work. Whether one does the work and the other does none, the cycle continues in perpetuity. Hamsters peddle away at infinity wheels, like all of us. The one reprieve remains time away discussing the futility of work for naught. Work grows to a necessary evil for all dreaming to the goddess of the American dream. I and my would-be lover in better times, now puerile crush talked over plans. The joke of a thought to me Nick, but in truth my secret love’s, lost desire come true. Some connections gift everything we need to dismantle our corporate overlords. With the plan devised, Irena became mine to take. Together we do this and forever be as one. Irena in truth drags me where I daren’t go, and I become the destroyer.

 

I swiftly move around my floor of the Stephens Institute, using the ability to see through the darkness all around. Cam footage verifies my comprehension of the situation as a black cloudy streak, nothing else indicating my presence through space. After roaming without a set goal, I dart towards the heart of the building and the way down or up. The door opens in anticipation of my entrance, responding to my thoughts and B3 awaits, my destination on this little undercover jaunt.

 

I wait complacently for my arrival within this cloak of darkness, enshrouding the entire space housed within this vertical moving chamber. Once there, I duck into a nearby room to complete the mission. My black suit bristling with explosives prepped for commencing the destruction I initiated by my very acts. Unloading my arsenal upon the walls of this hollow predicates a hasty retreat to the research department — pursuant of escape unscathed and suspicion free.

 

The elevator meets my needs as before, facilitating an unremarkable trip to the sixth floor. Moving with purpose through the hallways, the central space of the research division, delivers the induction lab, my final refuge prior to retreat with flames. I run into the open doorway, jump into a roll, and land comfortably in the patient’s empty bed. The room (indoctrinated by shadow cloak) is the place I wait, twiddling my thumbs to pass the seconds/minutes.

 

A white tendril of light enters the sanctity of my lair, harboring a sleeve-collared hand inside the ever-expanding white light. I grab it with satisfaction and relief as we take off running to the escape route, our ally, soon to be betrayed. The moving room fills with a mixture of white and black form our respective dust suits celebrating the final, end all trip for this building. I look at her, and she looks back with trigger in hand ready for this. We nod together, signaling accomplishment of parts in a two-pronged attack scheme, albeit from clandestine. The carefree, jubilant race through the lobby ends haltingly at the getaway car. Pounding arteries, epinephrine filled, arc with electricity through reluctant parting hands with no other recourse to board the getaway.

 

The agreement to trigger our preparations unleashes brilliant fireballs from the lobby and roof. The fiery plumes stark in the diminishing light of late evening, punctuate our time together at work.

 

The two of us move out of the city to the northern mountainous region, the furrowed terrain surpassed with no hesitation. We near the end of our journey, the upper outcrop of canyon overlooking a lake at sunset. We are jubilant with our victory and ourselves, planning our next move, the future, and all that. The dust suits presenting a plague in these conditions, necessitates removal of our masks. It is me and Irena, in her black, asymmetric hairstyle, the last guardians of data destroyed in flames. We embrace each other in warm affection, our dust clouds swirling together.

 

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