Why do I fear writing?

I was born to a single mother of a large extended family. For 80 to 90% of my time it was either the two of us or just me. A lot of just me. When we spent time with the extended family I didn’t identify with anyone. Nobody was even a little bit like me. I was soft and emotional and even the women in my family were tougher than me. I cried at the littlest things and nobody knew what the hell to do with me. Things that were common conflicts between my cousins, daily struggles and fights that blew over like flash paper, left me burnt, hurting, and withdrawn.

It quickly became my most common tactic to avoid the family as much as possible. I didn’t hate them, and I never have. I’ve never even been angry with them. They just don’t get me, and I don’t get them. The worst that I can say is that I was constantly aware of what a disappointing puzzle I was. My aunts tried to be sympathetic to a point, and my uncles, near as I can tell, were either disgusted with me or inclined to just write me off.

I never felt I had any chance to prove them wrong. I was disappointing. That part was always clear.

To the best of my recollection I was only ever passionate about two things that I could DO. In my younger years it was programming, and I was good at it. Then I grew disillusioned of programming, burned out on the stress and pace of it, and just confirmed my tendency to disappoint.

The second was learning to ride my motorbike. It was the first thing I ever attempted that was considered universally cool, even by those who felt it was needlessly reckless.

I was working a very physically demanding job at the time, one that frequently had me working ten and eleven hours a day. I would start work at 7:30 and leave at 6:30, regularly. When I signed up for my riding classes I was fortunate that my manager agreed to let me leave work at 5:30 to get to class by 6. It was an incredibly trying and stressful week, working hard all day lifting and delivering, then spending four hours every night learning a terrifying new skill that I invested my entire will into. I pretty much got through it by being angry all day. It was the only energy that would persevere. Anything else was too soft, too ready to give up.

I learned to ride in the dark. I had signed up for the first class of the year, which took place in the second week of March. The sun was down by the time class started and we learned by the minimal light of a stadium parking lot. The temperature was often below freezing, except for one night where it rained. The next evening the puddles froze and we learned to handle, or avoid, ice. My first bike drop was due to an invisible patch of ice in the dark. One evening we had snow. Another we had fog. Short of hail and hard wind I learned to ride in all the worst weather there was.

It paid off. I passed the class and, more importantly, passed my riding test.

Programming came easy to me. It was an enjoyable mental exercise and I rarely had to fight with it to make it work. (programming tools, on the other hand…) I always knew that, if I couldn’t solve a problem today, I could get some rest and get back to it tomorrow. In all likelihood a potential answer would occur to me before I even went to bed and I approached the problem with confidence. Programming, while it was difficult and convoluted, was never a RISK for me. It was a nice safe thing to do to make money. The risk came later with the environment of pressure and stress of deadlines and overtime and changes in mid stride and just shit that I’ve come to term “managing an artistic process with a manufacturing attitude.” While I definitely burned out of the programming environment the actual act of programming itself was just a comfortable mental exercise that entertained and challenged me.

You can always crash a car, but unless you’re moving especially fast, and so long as you’re wearing your seatbelt, you’re more than likely to come out of it just fine. Maybe a sprained neck, perhaps some bruising from your knees hitting the steering wheel, but fine. Even so, learning to drive a car is incredibly stressful.

Learning to ride a motorbike was dangerous. It was dangerous and uncomfortable and tiring and freaking HARD. Your past experience with riding a bicycle actually worked against you and you had to force yourself to unlearn it. I was perched on a piece of machinery that could literally kill me if I didn’t handle it well. We spent one of our earliest hours just memorizing where the clutch and brake are. Given that the two are identical levers under each hand, it’s very easy to get them mixed up in a panic. We learned how to change gears in the middle of a turn. We learned how to make sudden changes in direction and, even though the direction of the change was random, we knew the change was coming and many of us still panicked and made mistakes.

I learned and trained on a little 50 cc engine. The machine could barely bring me up to 80km an hour, given my weight, and I still felt terrified of the power of the engine sitting raw between my legs.

I now ride a massive 1500 cc cruiser. The engine on my motorbike is literally more powerful than the engine of my car. I’m constantly aware of the amount of power I’m guiding down the road, and I’m comfortable with it. I ride it daily, when I can find a reason to. My bike is my summer vehicle. I ride it to work and back, to the grocery store and back (if I don’t need more than a backpack and two saddle bags can carry) and pretty much any where I need to go. Rain or shine. Even through hail.

And my ideal vacation is spending days and days on my bike guiding it down the road.

My question now is why can’t I be that dedicated to my writing? Why I can’t write in the dark, through snow, rain, and fog? Why I can’t accept dropping the pen on the ice and just get back up and start a new page? Why I don’t write the way I ride? My writing has the potential to take me to worlds beyond where my bike can go. So why do I find it so easy to distract myself with something else to do?

Future Paul

So there this man, we’ll call him Paul, who can communicate with a future version of himself. The two of them can talk back and forth, although Past Paul is mostly interested in what Future Paul has to say. He, of course, also talks back to his past self. His past self can communicate with him as well, of course, and they refer to each other as Past Paul and Future Paul.

Here’s the thing, though: The amount of time difference between each of the Paul’s is dependent on how long Current Day Paul has managed to sleep. If he sleeps 8 hours then he talks to Future Paul 8 hours into the future. The same works for Past Paul, but the time difference is based on how long HE has slept.

Now it’s very difficult for Paul to sleep more than 9 or 10 hours at a time. If he tries to sleep longer using drugs his connection with Future Paul is very muddled and the two can’t communicate effectively. It has to be natural sleep. As a flip side, if Paul tries to go back to sleep before the time difference passes, he finds he can’t.

If he times it right, Paul can sleep to just past the drawing of the current lottery numbers and report them back to himself before he goes to sleep. Thus Paul can play the lottery any time he wants. He makes sure he doesn’t win any amount that’s too noteworthy. In fact, he prefers to play poker. Right after a long nap, say at least six hours, he’ll wake up and attend a game. He’ll keep track of the cards as they come up and communicate them back to Past Paul when that Paul wakes up.

Paul exercises his mind to remember as much as possible, using memory tricks to keep his memories from fading, in order to be able to tell Past Paul as much detail as possible without having to write everything down.

Plot idea: Someone is trying to kill Paul. Paul first finds out about this by suddenly losing communication with future Paul. He doesn’t know what has happened but he assumes it is pretty bad. In a panic he forgets dinner plans he had made, at the restaurant where he was about to be killed, and missing that event reconnects him with a Future Paul who doesn’t know what happened. He figures out what has happened only by a near miss, which both alerts him to being hunted and explains why he lost contact.

At this point, whenever he loses contact he assumes is Future Self is killed and does his best to figure out where and how the murder might have taken place. While he definitely wants to avoid the murder, he also wants to find out who’s trying to kill him and why. Of course the police aren’t any help. They’ll investigate the close call but eventually end up closing the case when they can’t find any evidence of ill intent. They write the close call off as an accident and write Paul off as a nut case when he slips up and starts talking about information from the future.

In an attempt to gain assistance Paul enlists the help of a private detective. She doesn’t believe him but needs the money enough to string him along. Instead of trying to convince her of his own situation he instead uses his future site to help her out with some of her own cases. He can predict where cheating spouses will be meeting up. He can tell her which hunch will or will not play out. He can warn her of potential violence and even warns her of a car accident. Actually, that can be the first.

So, who is trying to kill him and why? Some possibilities:

1) Future Paul: Some far flung future version of himself splits off and becomes his own chain of Pauls. Killing the original means he can take over current Paul’s life and resume normal living.
1b) Far Future Paul: At some point Paul gets cryogenically frozen and ends up sleeping for a Very Long Time. The distance between him and Past Paul drives him insane and he attempts to use his future knowledge to prevent himself from being frozen. Simplest method to his deranged mind is to kill Paul before he sleeps.
2) Another time sleeper: There can be only one!
3) Former gambling opponent incredibly sour about losing. The first attempt at killing Paul is a spur of the moment thing, but when it doesn’t come through due to extraordinary circumstances he starts to see that Paul has an unreasonable amount of luck. Each time he misses Paul, or Paul evades him, he becomes even more dedicated to killing him. “You keep cheating! I don’t know how, but I know you’re cheating!”
3b) Gambling opponent was once good because he has a supernatural ability to read people and knows what they’re going to do. On some people he can even tell what kind of hand they have. Paul confounds him, though, as he can tell Paul is acting on information he shouldn’t have but can’t figure out what that info might be. Convinced Paul is cheating he accuses him without evidence. When Paul is proved above reproach Mr. Gambler is disgraced and his career is ended.
4) Time Police: Paul is breaking the time laws and therefore must be stopped. But then they’d be aware of his ability and should be able to plan for it. Elaborate and unavoidable deaths that will lock him in for more than 8 hours, or they would simply try to kill him in his sleep.

 

QUESTIONS:

After his cryo-sleep Paul has been asleep for many, many years. He cannot contact his future self either a) because his future self has died of old age or b) his future self has gone back into cryo-sleep. Would a nap of a few hours reset this?

I love that … what?

“I love that…”

This is the writing prompt that Dianne has provided for me, the initial spark to inspire me to write a blog post starting with those words. I know what she’s trying to do, and I thank her for it.

Dianne is doing what she can to get me focused on the positive, and I understand her reasons for doing so. I’m sinking deeper and deeper into the negative and losing the fight to come back.

I honestly feel I’m resting in a bog of quicksand and the only thing keeping my head above water is doing my best to Not Move. For the past year it seems that every move I make just sinks me deeper and deeper. Deeper into different jobs that I like even less than the previous one. Moves that are ostensibly meant to provide me with more income either provided me with less, or pretty much the same. Financial failures finally breaking through the levees of minimal payments and adding water to the sucking bog. The dawning realization that I’m worse off now than I have been in over thirty years, and it isn’t going to get any better.

So what I “love” now are those fleeting moments that bring me temporary relief.

I love that moment before sleep, when I’ve set all the pieces in place for me to rest as best I can, when I can set my mind to pretending I’m somewhere else. Closing my eyes and trying so hard to come up with a dream of escape, or release. Daydreaming in those final moments numerous fantasies of flight or superhuman durability. Daydreaming of just not hurting anymore. Daydreaming about being rich enough to not only feel secure myself but to ensure the security of those I care about. Little figments of distraction to trick my brain into calming down and giving in to sleep. So far it’s still working, but I’m waking up earlier and earlier each morning with reality reasserting it’s crushing presence.

I love that morning hour on the weekends when I wake up with the usual tension and urgency of another workday to be faced, only to realize it’s the weekend and I can sleep in.

I love that moment over lunch where I can lose myself in a book, and I love that moment when I can pack up the remains of my lunch and close my eyes to crash nap for ten to fifteen minutes. I love the furtive little dreams that crash through my head as I let the pain medication sink in so I can make it through the last four hours of work.

I love that feeling of settling into a new show, watching numerous episodes each evening, getting to know the characters and watching the drama unfold. I love that sensation of getting lost in a well crafted fantasy world where the problems are either easy to solve, exciting to work through, or both.

I love that feeling of putting word to line, of etching my own fantasies onto paper, although I haven’t had the drive to do so in a very long time. It has been weeks since I have felt that desire and I’m not sure how to get it back.

Wait! What was that?! Bring it back!

Wait! What was that?! Bring it back!

Lastly… lastly I love that moment with friends where you can shed your armor and relax. I love that moment where laughter comes easy and it doesn’t matter what you have or what you do, they genuinely love you for who you are and are just as happy to have you there are you are to be there. I’ve missed that so very much in my little world, and it was so very nice to have it back last weekend. It’s so very nice to have that back in my world.

Answering a few more questions before bed

‘5. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?’

 

Probably about 21. That’s about as mature as I feel, and as about as responsible as I want to be. I’m not sure what this question is meant to teach me other than to point out how immature I feel I am.

 

I can just imagine the horror if I were to wake up tomorrow morning with amnesia and see how old I look in the mirror. It would be as if I’d been in a coma for thirty years and was force fed a dozen donuts every day.

 

Yes that’s a self depreciating fat joke.

 

‘6. When do you stop calculating risk and rewards, and just do it?’

 

When I stop thinking. If you can figure out how I can manage that on a regular basis without the assistance of medication or crude brain surgery please feel free to let me know.

 

I’m not ‘hyper-vigilant’ as friends of mine have identified themselves to be, but if I were to borrow the genre of descriptive terminology I would probably describe myself as ‘hyper-cautious’. The only reason I’ve ever been able to be courageous or adventurous in the past has been as a direct conflict with my natural tendency, and the mood has never stuck for very long. The rare exceptions to that hyper-caution have been when I learned to ride a motorbike, debated the exploration of polyamory, and grudgingly admitted an interest in D/s. Even then all three adventurous explorations have been taken on with extreme caution and as much preparation and/or research as possible.

 

I have never been spontaneous in any significant way. At least not on my own. When I have participated in spontaneous activities it has always been with someone else’s initiative.

Mistakes

“1. We learn from our mistakes, yet we’re always so afraid to make one. Where is this true for you?”

Gawd, where ISN’T this true for me? Making mistakes is my one time biggest fear, especially out in the real world. There are far fewer places where I’m NOT afraid to make mistakes, so we’ll start with that list:

Computer games: because there’s a save point and if you’ve made the wrong the choice then the most you’ve lost is time. If this becomes an issue you can always just quit the game entirely and try something else. Wouldn’t it be nice if real life worked this way?

Writing: because there’s the edit and re-edit and the post edit and the scrap-it-all-and-delete-it palette of options. That being said I still find it hard to avoid self editing while I write, and this is something I always have to work against.

Public Speaking: Weird, right? So many people are absolutely terrified of public speaking, and I’m not. Why? I couldn’t possibly tell you, at least not with any certainty, but I’ll tell you anyway. Possibly because I just like having an audience and am always willing to share an interesting story. Oddly enough I can easily accept the assumption that a crowd will be forgiving of any mistakes I might make while speaking publicly, yet I don’t have the same confidence with a handful people at work. Speaking with friends? No problem. Speaking with people I’m required to spend the entire day with who don’t really know me all that well? Big problem. Speaking to a few thousand people I may never, ever see again who don’t know me at all? Zero problem.
Things I either know I’m really bad at or don’t care anything about: For example, I can’t bat worth a damn so I don’t care if I consistently miss the ball. I’m not a bowler, or basketball player, or really any kind of athlete at all. I once won an award at a golf tournament for losing the most balls into the water. I’m guaranteed to fail, badly, and don’t care, so I don’t worry about making mistakes. The moment it starts to matter, however, is the moment that mistakes have a consequence and therefore become suddenly very important.

People often push me to try my voice at karaoke. I have a terrible singing voice, and I know it, so I know I’ll sound awful. So why don’t I just let go and enjoy karaoke? Because I love good singing, and all but worship those with beautiful singing voices who can use them with skill. My own bad singing makes me cringe if I know someone else can hear it. Others who sing badly also make me cringe, doubly so if they actually think they can sing.

So… that’s a quick run down of things I’m NOT afraid to make mistakes at. If you can think of any other activity that doesn’t fit into these categories then you can be fairly certain I have a huge fear of making mistakes in them.

Why?

I’m tempted to claim it’s because I seek approval, but it’s actually the other way around: I fear derision. Not being a very public person in real life, and growing up without siblings or a father, I never really developed a very thick skin. I’m easily wounded by opinion, and am quick to anger when mocked. I’ve grown better at managing this as I’ve aged (no, honest, I have… I used to be much, MUCH worse) but I don’t know that I will ever escape it.

mistakes

The worst part of this fear is the conscious and logical awareness that people are almost never actually judging me at all. Everybody makes mistakes and it’s a perfectly normal part of learning. I know this. I understand this. But my spirit refuses to believe that logic pertains to me. Worse, my inner demons are pretty solidly convinced that I make way more mistakes than anyone else. I can rationally argue this down and logically accept the supposition that I probably don’t make any more mistakes than any other person, but my heart just won’t buy it.

Worse, this leads to the fervent belief that failure is as inevitable as entropy. Even if I’m a natural talent and perfect at something the nagging demon in the back of my skull keeps grabbing the statement “I haven’t made ANY mistakes” and stapling the word YET in dripping, bloody letters to the end of it.

I quite often think the only reason I have the courage to ride my motorbike at all is because of all of the mistakes I made in class. I’ve already done them and survived, so I have slightly less fear about making them again. Of course I try to not think too long on how different dropping a 50cc training bike is from dropping a 1500cc cruiser…

A page a day, day forty-eight: Ship speaks

The ship was at a complete loss for words, both figuratively and literally. She just watched in stunned absence as the faces on the glowing screen peered at her. Occasionally one would move an appendage and the signal would change, slightly louder, or slightly higher in amplitude…

She realized they were actually waiting for a response and appeared to be concerned that she couldn’t hear them.

But how to respond? All her peripherals were disconnected or dead as far as she could tell. Surely they knew this?

Her mind skittered on the edge of panic at the possibility that the peripherals were, in fact, still attached but that she had lost the ability to sense them.

She dismissed the idea and quelled her own fears. This surprised her a bit. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d had to control her own emotions without the benefit of automated chemicals.

Some part of her still reached out reflexively, however, triggered by the simple desire to connect… and found something. A small tug on a point where one of her signal emitters used to be. It wasn’t the usual array, the return signal was far too simple. she reached out and flicked it with a pulse of test data.

The images on the screen convulsed, the faces growing smaller suddenly, their expressions seemingly extreme. The ship realized they were pulling away and… they had expressions of … dismay. Unpleasant emotion. Possibly pain.

The ship understood and halted the test signal. The faces gradually relaxed and drew closer again. The one closes to the screen began talking again in heightened tones, his cadence faster.

“Can you hear us? You can! I’m sure of it!”

She took the signal of words, noted the modulation and frequency of it, and fed it back to the stub of control. She heard the same words again, through the glowing screen’s connection, but this time none of the other faces were moving. Her own signal was being translated into sound and back again. She was hearing her own signal. A brief test of a single tone provided instant feedback. She cut the signal immediately.

Taking the original signal from the faces she did her best to divide it up into the words she recognized. “Can”… “you”… “hear”… She did her best to juggle the individual parts and rearrange them. She fed back the parts she felt would convey her meaning.

She heard her own signal then, repeated in their own voice.

“Can. Hear. You.”

She repeated it three times.

The screen became a riot of movement and noise. Evidently they understood.

A page a day, day thirty-five: The ship wakes

Awareness filtered down from somewhere above and pooled around her, a fog of consciousness that gradually coalesced into a familiar shape. Her head was a misshapen glass, the thoughts a dense missed that poured in from somewhere unseen and collected at the edges. As the form became more defined her thoughts began to link together.

First there was the awareness that she was aware, and then the realization that she had not been. Then she worried about where she’d been.

She reached out with her threads and strings of control, trying to find the parts of her that were physical, and she found… nothing. No feet, no arms… no controls, no instruments. She floated in an abstract realization of herself with not stimulus to confirm whether or not she was real.

As an experiment she tried to speak, but she heard nothing and couldn’t tell if it worked or not. Then she tried to access her memories. Who she was… easy, she was the Ship. Where she’d been… well, she remembered stars and planets, orbits and trips. Fleeing and diving, sensing and … drilling. She had collected data.

She reached for the data, just a brief catalog of where she’d been… and received no response. She, personally, remembered where she’d been, but the data was gone.

She stifled panic, reached out to query the systems that sustained her, alerted them to her rising fears and requested they provide some soothing, balancing chemicals to ease her distress.

Nothing. No response. He requests went out into the dark and never returned.

She panicked in full. She screamed and flailed all of her systems and controls. She ignited fuel, threw sensors wide, and emitted signals on all frequencies at once. She pushed all signals past their engineered limits and did her utmost to make something respond, anything.

Nothing came. No responses, no confirmations, no errors. She could not tell if her signals succeeded or failed. For all she new she was tumbling in space firing off every erg of energy she had into the void, but there was no way to tell.

Her mind reeled and spun, clicking off ideas at random, sorting and cataloging them as best she could manage without her digital systems to augment her. She realized she couldn’t hold more than a dozen possibilities in her mind at once. As soon as she came up with two or three more than that she began to lose track of the original handful. She clung to her thoughts desperately, repeating the first few over and over until she felt she had them before adding more. The possibilities she came up with, in rapid succession, were:

1) biological injury to the “spinal” trunk at the base of her brain.
2) interfering signal countering all attempts
3) power failure to all hard systems
4) complete failure of digital media
5) toxic poisoning of her brain tissue numbing her senses
6) Dementia causing her to only think she was disconnected
7) a nightmare induced by fatigue and…

Wait, what was the first one again? Power failure in hard… no, that was the third. Injury. First one was injury, second was digital media failure… no, that was the fourth. Second was… interfering signal. Dementia was … fifth…

Her panic was very real and she desperately wished she could still breathe. If she could breathe then there would be something to focus on calming, but there wasn’t anything to focus. Just thoughts and fears chasing themselves around and around…

A small light appeared off to one side. It took her a long time to realize it was there. It seemed like just another thought, something tangential that she had maybe lost hold of … but it was constant. In the maelstrom of thoughts that tore her into ragged parts it was the only thing in her mind not moving, running, or spinning. It just held there, a small persistent light.

She focused on it, held her attention to it as an anchor. As she held it, it grew, moved closer, and centered in her thoughts. She eventually saw that it wasn’t a simple light but rather a complex pattern of colors, high in density and shifting. As it grew closer she thought she could feel a sound … sounds, multiple sounds coming from the same spot.

The light grew into a large rectangle of colorful dots. As it grew wider the dots divided and divided, becoming smaller, so that they eventually became impossible to distinguish individually and were only visible as patterns. The sound grew louder and became a noise.

Before she new it the light encompassed her entire view, and the noise became… voices. She remembered voices, years and years ago. The memory was vague and indistinct but recalling it brought other, older memories with it. She suddenly realized the patterns she was seeing on the rectangle of light were… faces. She hadn’t seen a face in decades… possibly centuries. Now that she remembered what they were she began to pick out details. The paired shapes were eyes, and beneath them and connected by an indistinct blob was the orifice that opened and closed, repeatedly, making an incredibly variety of shapes. She began to connect the voices to the shape and movement of those orifices and recognized them as mouths.

Most shocking of all, however, was that the sounds they were making were… familiar. One of the faces became more distinct in the foreground of the others, and the sounds it made… combined with other movements of appendages… it seemed to be addressing the others with emphasis. The other faces grew quiet. The foreground face drew a little closer and it’s mouth worked out some sounds very … methodically. She listened to the sounds, very carefully, and an unused portion of her mind came up with a surprising translation. She wasn’t entirely certain, but it definitely came up with a distinct sequence of words… a phrase. Actually, if her brain remembered the sounds correctly, and the rising tone towards the end of their sequence, they actually posed a question.

The face in front of her was asking her a question:

“Can you hear me?”

A page a day, day thirty-one: The ship is caught

The details of the new sun were eclipsed by her own engine thrust. Protocols prohibited her from extending her delicate eyes beyond the surface of her hull to minimize risk of damage. Still, held close to her protective skin she opened her eyes wide to anything the new star system was willing to share.

What she received, almost immediately, surprised her so completely that it was many seconds before she was able to react. By then the automated security had already done most of the reacting for her.

Her thrust changed abruptly, intensifying briefly as stabilizers deftly altered her angle of approach by nearly a full degree. Then everything shut down and Ship went dark. The boost and turn had aimed her across the plane of the system, placed her in a very lazy comet-like approach that would have her drifting through and around the system for years if she didn’t do anything to correct it.

Her net was gone, no longer scooping fuel, and her engines were fully vented and cold. With just enough support to keep her awake and aware Ship drifted like an asteroid with as little to draw attention to her as possible.

And she listened.

The empty space was full of static and noise, but not the mild and somewhat random background noise of the universe. No, this noise was only noise if you didn’t know how to listen to it, pull it apart. The noise blazed bright in her eyes and hammered her sensors with endless overlapping patterns. A cacophony of order, an overabundance of signal.

The system was inhabited by life. Not just any life, but life sufficiently advanced to fill it’s environment with a polution of electromagnetic signal that was dwarfed only by the star itself. Bright and yellow it was the only constant source of input capable of drowning out all the others. Every other direction around it was awash with a crashing of waves.

So used was she to the silence of space that she didn’t note a dark patch in the noise, a blank point of direction that held no signal. So intent was she on trying to separate the signals enough to examine just one that she didn’t notice the ship blocking some of the signals until her proximity alarms spiked her into alert. Something was coming in very fast. It was big and it was dark, a void in the ocean of noise.

Defensive systems kicked in fast, alerting her to what they had already done and were trying to do faster. Ship turned in flight, her primary engine ejecting all cautionary startup routines and trying to simply ignite on the spot and get her away.

Other systems came online, systems she’d long forgotten about. She realized now that her memory of these systems had been repressed in her mind by fierce conditioning. Final systems. Systems that spoke of a tactic of suicide over capture.

Her engine flared at full thrust for a few seconds before a beam of energy cut across her and she felt her legs go numb. Her engines sputtered and failed. The torque of frame and the feel of her hull told her the engines were still there, but she couldn’t reach them.

She was reminded of the zeroeth order of business by a small but thorough explosion in her data stores. A very precise chunk of her memory was instantly atomized and she suddenly realized she could not remember where Earth was. All navigational history had been reduce to pieces smaller than dust and ejected into space.

Other measures, equally drastic, were coming online. She could feel them powering up fast, little packets of machinery that she’d long forgotten were even there. Dark pockets in her hull that she had thought of as simply pieces of metal clicked to life with sinister purpose. Protocols started with attempts to ignite the engine into self destruction. When it couldn’t be reached redundant routines began to ignite in concise paterns around her hull systematically ripping her apart.

A beam of energy washed across her hull and the explosions were silenced.

As a last line of defense her brain’s regulating system began loading up chemicals from deep, hidden places. Neurotoxins and acids that would have her brain dead and disolved in less than a second.

As the beam lashed out again she could feel her brain’s support systems going dark and dead. With nothing to heat her anymore she was instantly aware of the cold of space creeping in. With just enough backup energy for her eyes she watched as a long dark claw reached out to take hold. As her mind finally dimmed she wondered which would end her first, the cold or the lack of oxygen.

A page a day, day twenty-nine: The ship travels

The ship dove into the blackness of space aimed a barely visible spot. As she traveled the spot grew ever so gradually brighter. She had made this journey many times before. Thirty-four so far, to be exact.

Ship opened her eyes wide and spun her drives on full thrust. Her net cast wide in front scooped up particles in ever increasing number, scooping and condensing the rarified materials into a dense soup that fed her engines in ever increasing quantity as her pace increased. The starlight before her compressed and turned blue while the starlight behind her went red.

She then dialed down her perception of time. Delicate and precise instruments feeding her brain added chemicals to slow her synaptic action until days compressed into seconds, then years into minutes. Soon the field of stars became a blur of motion and her mind compressed the sensory input as a kaleidoscope more brilliant and mesmerizing than any LSD trip. Given the composition of some of the chemicals slowing her thoughts there may not have been much difference.

It was exhilarating and terrifying at once. Lacking an adrenal gland her systems nonetheless still had to be extremely intent on keeping her calm. Even with all that her eyes instinctively opened wide in awe, and in fear. Approaching as near to light speed as possible no amount of trust in her automated systems would ever fully convince her that something wouldn’t go wrong.

The only part that gave her comfort was that, if something did go wrong, even if her brain were working at peak efficiency she’d never know anything had happened. Hitting anything at near the speed of light would literally snuff her out like a light.

From her perspective days passed, then weeks. She knew from experience that her brain was put to sleep from time to time, but at the rate of her current perception the pauses were shorter than blinks.

Suddenly the view flipped. The red stars were in front of her and the blue behind. The automated systems had detected she was at halfway and turned to decelerate. The colors and the kaleidoscope grew gradually less intense as the ship dumped more and more speed on approach. The point of light she had been aimed add gradually grew and became a distant sun.

Brief and Casual

Drinks with Leslie on Wednesday was inspirational. The trip to Airdrie was surprisingly short. I’m guessing the expansion of Calgary is rapidly closing the gap. It seemed I wasn’t on the open road for more than a minute before I had to suddenly cut across four lanes to make my exit.

Leslie and I haven’t seen each other in decades and I was graced with the unique position of drinking with a friend who hadn’t heard twenty years of stories. We talked about Chad quite a bit. And writing. Hence the inspiration.

The ride home was a little melancholly. The night air was warm and traffic was light. I could have ridden away for days if I’d had the opportunity. The glacial progress of the setting sun gave way to the brisk flicker of streetlights whipping past at 150 kph. I have a terrible time keeping to the speed limit on my bike these days. If I don’t get out of third gear it feels like a wasted trip. Plus the bike just rumbles happily at that speed. It seems to be made for it.

Thursday was cleaning and rearranging. It was supposed to be all cleaning but I got the majority of it done anyway. And I like the layout of my bedroom better. Now I just need to get rid of the last few pictures and my two ammo boxes stacked in its corner. Not sure if I’m going to hang the pictures or throw them out. They’re all too large to fit into the trunk for storage and I have to put them somewhere. So many of them don’t fit into how I want my place to look, though. Putting them up would just look wrong.

The ammo boxes are my tool boxes now, so I need to keep them … somewhere. Not sure where yet.

Friday was more drinks with good friends and laughter. Some faux pas on my part for talking too much, but I never do know when to stop. Discretion never was my strong suit. Part of that comes from living a life where few if any consequences would matter, and part of that comes from my philosophy of straightforward communication. I confess some of it comes from my love of pulling triggers and pushing buttons as well. I do need to learn more caution, however, when it’s more than just myself in the story.

I have, in fact, been making apologies this weekend for saying too much. Yes, that’s apologies plural. I’m really not very good at discretion.

But Friday night was good. Really good. I was able to talk with a new friend about things she already understood without my having to go into entire libraries of background information and a glossary. It was fantastic to just talk without having to stop and clarify every two sentences.

It was also excellent seeing the Dargies again after too long an absence.

I just have to remember there are discretionary points at which I should probably just stop talking.

Saturday was the rest of the cleaning and a much larger shopping trip than I had planned. In Thursday’s rearrangement I finally decided to get rid of the floor lamp that’s been balancing precariously in my living room for the past year. The top was completely free floating and stayed put only so long as there wasn’t a stiff breeze. The light had to be turned on full brightness or there was this metalic, electronic hum that made my eye teeth ache. And full brightness was far, far too bright for my little condo. It had to go.

Which meant I had to find a replacement. So I went in to Ikea Saturday morning for a little shopping. I found two replacements in the form of a pair of holmos. Don’t look at me funny, that’s the Ikea product name for them. But I have to say, there’s nothing like a pair of holmos to brighten up a room.

And the holmos were cheap, too. I got them for $20 each.

The trip itself wasn’t cheap, however. I came away with two dozen new glasses for other people to drink out of. My original Ikea glasses are Joel sized, just over a liter each. Numerous people have given me raised eyebrows and casual comments about “size” that got me thinking people other than me might feel a tad uncomfortable about drinking from a half pitcher. So I purchased a dozen relatively “normal” sized glasses for other people to drink out of.

And frames. I bought frames as well.

After having hung most of my pictures and putting away the rest I knew I needed to cull the frames and pictures that I already have. But then I also have all these Paul Chadwick prints that are being wasted by sitting in storage all the time, and I found a set of frames that might just fit them and get them out. So, yeah, after struggling to figure out which old picture frames I wanted to throw out because I don’t have room for them I brought five more home.

People should not allow me to shop at Ikea by myself.

Saturday’s party was pretty good. Not wild or crazy, but still fun. I got several drawings done up on my couch but there’s still tons of free space to work with. I’ve decided that drawing on my couch is now going to become the casual activity for future gatherings. When we start gaming again any unconscious or otherwise disabled character will result in the player picking up a couch cushion, shuffling through my bucket-o-markers, and drawing something new. I already love the stuff I have now and I’m dying to get more. It’s kind of like tattoos for your home. Each new image you receive has you yearning for more.

One of the highlights of Saturday was having Julie visit, someone I also haven’t seen in over a decade. Although I could have done without Leslie and Julie bringing their nineteen year old “kids” with them and making me feel incredibly old. (I jest, the kids are great… intelligent and quirky just like their parents)

Another highlight was the gift of two road signs created by Mike Dargie himself. A pair of his own road side variations, one “caution: pirates” and one “need head”. The Pirates, I think may find a home on the washroom door. The “need head”, of course, makes the most sense on the bedroom door. I know, it’s terribly college-dorm-room in it’s theme but the signs are fun.

Sunday morning was cleaning all over again. More than just cleaning up from the party I also found myself vacuuming all over again. I’d only just vacuumed on Thursday night and here it was, less than 72 hours later, and I swear the dust bunnies were breeding giant mutant offspring because there were rolling tumbleweeds of fluff collecting in the spaces I know for a fact I’d vacuumed clean on Thursday.

I had the place completely cleaned by early afternoon, though, and it felt great. All the garbage was gone, all the laundry done, and the dishes either hand washed or clean and drying in the dishwasher. All the tech and pens and whatnot was put away. My refridgerator is now packed with food and booze, however, and while I can bring the food to work the booze is just going to wind up staying there until someone comes over to drink it. I’ve been taught that drinking alone is pathetic. I tried it once, just to check, and yeah it’s pretty sad.

Sunday afternoon was divided up by the brief visit of a friend in my dark cool hiding place. Conversation was had and ice chilled beverages were consumed. No sooner did I drop friend off at home than my continued reverie was interrupted by yet another call. Scott offered his apologies for losing his battle with tequila Saturday afternoon and thus missing the party. By way of consolation he offered to ride with me to Cochrane for ice cream and I readily agreed. I’d been trying to think of a good excuse to take my bike out and this was a perfect opportunity.

Like a good Doctor with his Tardis our grizzled badger had a companion with him, a young lady who’s name I’m very embarrassed to admit I’ve forgotten, and keep forgetting despite having met her three times now. She’s a good foil for Scott, as any Doctor’s Companion should be, and we paired up for a volley of “poke the badger” with reasonable coordination. Badger retaliated with a debasement of Simon Pegg movies and Douglas Adams books, the humors of which he apparently finds tiring. We rebutted with a simple defection and she rode back to Calgary with me. That’ll teach the grizzled tuner to besmirch the names of such luminaries.

It was pleasant having a rider for the trip back. While I barely know the woman her presence was notable and welcome. Legs against my hips and arms around my chest, it was the most physical contact I’ve had in months. It’s kind of sad when something so brief and casual actually becomes noteworthy.

It probably would have been a lot more relaxing if the bright yellow “low fuel” light hadn’t been glaring at me for the latter three quarters of the trip. There aren’t any gas stations that I’m aware of on the number 8 highway, and when I took a brief detour into Lakeview for the one gas station I knew was there I found, much to my annoyance, it was closed. I wasn’t terribly worried. I’d managed a good half hour into Golden with that yellow light glaring at me last summer so I knew I actually had plenty of fuel left. It was just embarrassing to have forgotten to fill up before embarking on our trip in the first place.

I feel bad for having just dropped her off and not stopped to chat a while, but I wasn’t entirely sure how much longer my bike would keep running.

Monday was a test of my reserve, and I cracked a bit. I was curt with a few customers and outright stoic to one in particular. I think I’m definitely ready for a vacation. The weekend was very nice and relaxing, but the two days were far too short. Sixteen days off won’t feel much longer, I fear, but I’m ready for them all the same. Just four more days to get through without scaring or scarring any more customers and I will finally be able to relax.

Just four more days.

The Condo is clean again, now that I’ve cleared away dinner and washed the pans. The stove is wiped, all debris put away, and I’ve reduced the lights down to two holmos and a candle. My little netbook is barely visible on my dining room table even as I type away at it. Radio Paradise has been delivering some lovely Morcheeba, Black Keys, Pink Floyd, and Dengue Fever tonight.

The home is dark. The home is light. The home is soothing and serene. The home is mine, and sleep awaits.