Friday, August 18, 2017


It's said that the greatest forms of expression and creativity come in a person's 20s. The oldest member of The Beatles was 29 when they broke up (Ringo). David Bowie was 26 when he made Aladdin Sane. F. Scott Fitzgerald published The Great Gatsby when he was 29, but developed the story over the course of two to three years.
Perhaps it is the untempered idealism of youth that drives artists, writers, poets, and painters to express themselves so fully through their work; after all, this is the age on a bridge, leading from the innocence of childhood to the weathered extremes of adulthood. Perceptions of freedom and possibility narrow as we get older and as we decide on how we want to spend the rest of our lives. It's natural; we do, after all, have to pay the bills and fill our bellies somehow.
This is why I say to everyone in their 20s, stop. Look around you. Where are you? Where did you think you'd be a year ago, five years ago? Where did you want to be? Where do you want to be?
Obviously, not everyone will be the same. Some people will be hard at work on their passions. Those people should be admired and saluted; oftentimes it's grueling and sometimes it won't pay enough to support them, but they are trying. They are putting their best effort into it and they are working towards some tangible goal, and they will do anything to get there. Maybe they are trying to become professional actors, maybe they are trying to develop a business from the ground-up; whatever the case, they are alive.
And then, there are the lost. The wanderers. The uncertain. Those who find a job to get by and settle so far into that job that they become the change between the couch cushions. Day in and day out those jobs are the same- you know exactly what you will be doing in a year, five years, ten years. For some people, that's OK. If you need a stable paycheck and if it can help fund your life outside of work, then by all means, keep going.
But if you're in a job like that and you hate it, then why not move on? Why not push out, dive into something different, take a class, change careers, go abroad, join the Peace Corps? Use that money you saved and do something amazing with your time. If there was a passion that you had and suddenly you no longer have time for, why not delve right back into it? There are millions upon millions of unexplored possibilities in the world to end whatever doldrums might plague you; why not go for it?
I know of a person who insists that they want to become a journalist. They want to talk about entertainment and politics and report on whatever is late and breaking in the hour; however, when it comes to leaving the job towards which they are decidedly apathetic, they waver. The uncertainty of not having an income for even a brief period, or of getting lower pay, seems daunting.
But, money tends to come when you're good at something. And the more you do that thing, the better you'll be at it. Even if it's difficult in the short term, you at least learn how to turn difficult into intermediate.
So, why all this inspirational whatsit? Because I'm jumping right off my job and starting something completely, unfathomably new, and goddamn am I excited that I have no idea what I'll be doing in a month, a year, three years. The uncertainty just means that anything is possible, and infinite possibilities means infinite discovery. There is nothing more tantalizing.

That's all for now,
Das Flüg

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Let it roll, let it roll

I look at my hands often. It's an unconscious reflex, and I usually catch myself doing it in the act, as if it were taboo. There are always new lines on them, lines I don't recall ever being there. They're a bit rougher than they used to be, slightly more scarred and creased. It's an odd way of keeping track of the years that pass by, but it's not as if I have a mirror with me everywhere I go.
The strange thing is that I recall my hands always looking similar. The usual lines are there, those that the girls in summer camp trace with their fingers and use to tell your fortune, whether you'll be rich or poor or happy or sad, all because your hands fold at the right angle. All those calluses that have built up over years of exercise remain, and are just a little bigger now, probably.
And sure, you might say that I'm still young; there's a long while before my hands actually start to turn into shower prunes permanently. But the fact remains that the signs are there: these manos are getting mangier, regardless of how old I am at the moment.
Do other apes realize the gradual difference? Do they feel aware of their mortality as they get older? Questions to ponder.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Nugget of wisdom

If there is one lesson I can impart to you from the totality of my short life, it is to not waste time. It's easy to be bored and allow minutes, hours, years glaze by while you whittle away your life at work or binge TV series on Netflix. God damn it, don't wake up one morning and wonder just how it is that you got so old; stop wasting time! Life's too short to do a job you hate or complain about where you are in life- change it! Change everything! Pick up your belongings and go far, take up a new hobby, go eat something you've never eaten before, change! Go volunteer at a homeless shelter, go join the merchant marines, take up music or painting or martial arts or running or fly fishing! Don't spend your life one regret after the next musing about how much time you had when you were younger, because the moment you are reading this sentence, right now, is the youngest you will be for the rest of your life. Take everything you want and everything you are and make it into everything you will be, god damn it.
You never know when your life may end. That's a fact, that's a goddamn fact, because right now there could be a sudden stroke lurking in the unknown depths of your mind, or some drunken idiot might decide that he or she can still drive despite not being able to walk in a straight line. So what in the hell are you waiting for? Money? Oh, you want to wait until you have your million or ten units of currency to pad your wallet before you go out and live your life. Guess what, people have done more with sand in their pockets. Money isn't an excuse. There isn't one. You can trudge your sorry ass to work every day, looking at all the familiar faces and sights on your commute, letting it all blur into one gloriously interminable wave of time that saps you of everything you were, or you can change. What have you seen of the world? Have you ever actually challenged yourself? Go out there. I dare you. I challenge you. See what you are truly capable of and what really sits beneath the person that everyone knows you as; show us what you think you are. Show us what you can be.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Writing prompt story

-Central London, 1850s
-Lady Gaga
-Fake Blood
-Pair of broken glasses

The clouds billowed, angry and boding on a chilly day, either from the smokestacks or from impending rain; no one was sure which was which anymore. It lent a darkened lens to the carriage ride across Westminster Bridge, where the detective sat, listening to the clock’s tick of the horse’s hooves. The file resting on her lap, carefully purloined from the new Metropolitan Police for half a schilling, contained nothing more than a cursory inspection of the murder scene: blood, a pair of broken glasses, and just a finger to be found of the body.
The victim was believed to be Archibald Smith, a baker whose shop was placed right off Trafalgar Square. There was no sign of forced entry, and all windows were locked from the inside. There was only one way in or out of the room in which Mr. Smith was murdered, or so the report said; the detective would have to see for herself. She snorted, and her associate, John Radcliffe, broke his waking slumber.
“Something tickling you?” he sat back and pet his mustache.
“Only the continuous incompetencies of what we are supposed to believe is a ‘police force’, Radcliffe,” responded the detective, rolling her eyes at the folder. She held it out to Radcliffe. He took it. “Read the last sentence.”
He pushed up his glasses and sat straight.
“From the positioning of the finger on the floor of the crime scene, it is plain to see that whatever interloper made off with Mr. Smith was in an eastward direction towards Holborn-”
The Detective uttered a sudden cackle.
“Sorry Radcliffe, continue.”
“-as indicated by the positioning of the bifocals nearby, which were assuredly dislodged from Mr. Smith’s face in a struggle.”
Radcliffe pursed his lips and eyed the detective from over his glasses.
“I see your doubts as to the direction of flight, but for speculation based on little evidence, it is not incredulous.”
The detective smirked, conveying the usual sense of knowing far more than Radcliffe could. Radcliffe knew the smirk all too well, and he rolled his eyes.
“What do you know?”
She couldn’t hide behind a humble veneer, no matter how much she tried.
“Patience, Radcliffe. I’m sure the constable will be delighted to hear my take on the matter.”
The carriage rolled to bustling Trafalgar Square, filled with music, laughter, and the day’s toils of those wishing they had a pastry, and pulled in front of the bakery, where a bobby was stationed outside the building.
“That’s five schill, love,” said the driver.
“Thank you Radcliffe,” the detective said, leaving before Radcliffe could protest. He pulled out the money and paid the driver, and left the cab just in time to spot the detective power past the flummoxed officer.
“Wait, ma’am! You can’t-”
Radcliffe tapped the officer on the shoulder.
“She usually does. I think she was born this way,” and he strolled into the white brick building as well. Confection immediately filled Radcliffe up to the brim, and his stomach reminded him that he had to watch the baked goodies. The detective was dipping her finger into several of the treats left out and tasting each, though she took time to inspect the various tools left around the counter.
“Radcliffe, come, these are delectable. Beautiful, though slightly dirty given the time they’ve been out, for, 2 days? Still rich, however.”
“I will refrain, for the time being. Shall we proceed?”
The detective sighed.
“If you insist, Radcliffe, though I am in no hurry.”
They proceeded into the back room and up a set of stairs to the loft. A curious mixture of rancid meat and sugar stung the nostrils, and both the detective and Radcliffe covered their noses before entering the room.
“What the- what in the world is this? Who is this woman?” yelled Constable Twickens, bristling at the sight of two interlopers in his crime scene. The two other officers at his side were too shocked to speak.
“Not woman, Constable. Lady. Lady Gaga.”
Constable Twickens’ eyes went wide, and his beard turned a whiter shade of gray.
“Dear Lady, my apologies! I had no idea-”
“No apology is necessary in my honor, Constable, though I recommend you submit your apology to whomever appointed you as Constable. Excuse me.” She walked past Constable Twickens to the middle of the wood-paneled room. A pool of ruby spread out on the floor; a severed finger, grayed and cut finely from the hand, lay closer to the door, and a pair of bifocals lay even closer. Lady Gaga knelt down and bade Radcliffe to her side. He knelt beside her.
“What do you notice, Radcliffe, as a doctor?”
Radcliffe’s dark, shimmering eyes went from the finger to the blood.
“The blood’s still red.”
She went to her hands and knees and poked her nose as close to the pool as possible. Constable Twickens recoiled in disgust.
“What in the world are you on about, Lady?”
Lady Gaga dragged her finger through the pool and stood, holding the dripping finger out to Constable Twickens, who appeared ready to forgo meals for a week.
“What in the world!”
“It’s not blood, which you would know, Constable, if you had any notion of logic. In fact, it’s jam.” She shoved the finger in her mouth. “Mm. Strawberry. Convincing, yes, due to the relatively low viscosity. And Radcliffe, how does the severed finger look at its bone?”
Radcliffe pushed up his glasses and leaned towards the finger, holding his nose.
“Smooth cut, very few indentations. Cut directly in the joint between the intermediate phalange and the proximal phalange, from the looks of it. Also, it looks to be several days old, Lady.”
Twickens scoffed and pushed away from Lady Gaga.
“And so what, Lady? There are many knives here-“
“Serrated, yes.”
“-or the suspect could have brought his own!
Lady Gaga shrugged.
“That’s entirely possible. Not probable, mind you, but possible. But, what is truly disconcerting about your utter lack of awareness at this supposed ‘crime scene’ is the pair of glasses, my dear Constable.” She bent over and picked them up while pulling a magnifying glass from a pocket in her dress. “Not a single scuff or dent indicative of the glasses falling on this-” she stomped her foot, “hard floor. The thin metal wiring should have some sort of indenture, but there is nothing.”
She held out the glasses to him. The Constable crossed his arms over his belly and took a few steps towards her, grunting and fighting himself all the way. He took the glasses and peered at them.
“So what, Lady?” he grumbled. “This isn’t a murder scene?”
“No, Constable, this is not. I believe that Mr. Smith is very much alive, and I intend to find him.”
“So you believe he faked his own death? Why?”

“The fame. Perhaps,” she said, “but I believe there’s much more to this case than meets the eye. Come Radcliffe! The game is afoot.”

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Short story: "King"

                In the corner of a galaxy floating about in the universe lived a king, who sat on a planet inhabited entirely by him. There was fauna and flora, though none of it could willingly create fire or build a shelter or commit tax fraud, so for the sake of census and politics we will deem this sole intelligent inhabitant ‘King’. King believed that he once had a name, perhaps even several that would determine the chivalry of his lineage, but those were long since forgotten, since there was never anyone to call him by it. He had become, simply, ‘King’.
                King loved his planet. He had surveyed every last parcel of land, from the green mountains of the southern plains to the red trees of the snowy tundra and the vast, unbounded oceans of liquid carbon dioxide, and he had only ever come across land and sea creatures, but not another single mind equal to his own. Sometimes he wished he could find another, but the desire only came when he viewed something beautiful such as a double-sunset, or a complete lunar alignment, or the refraction of light from the ocean onto the closest moon, which he named Lamita. He knew not from where the name originated, but he liked it.
                Where did his ship come from? That, like his name, he had forgotten- all the controls came naturally to him, and sometimes he had the desire and knew that if he rerouted power from his maneuvering thrusters to the dormant singularity drive that he could easily break free of the planet’s gravity and travel the stars in whatever direction he so desired. But, the desire, much like the waves of the eastern ocean in the quiet days, ebbed. How he loved watching the waves pull back, retreating to reveal the glassy, shimmering ocean floor.
                At first, when King arrived on this planet through no desire to stay, he remained quiet and worked and grunted and spoke to nothing; but, over time, the more he worked to repair the damage to his ship, the more he spoke to the environment, and the more it spoke to him. They weren’t words, per se, but intuitions, drawn in from every action he made, and it was the gentle hand of the environment that guided him to survey the planet once his repairs were complete rather than leave altogether. And he realized that perhaps the planet wouldn’t be a terrible place to remain, at least for a little while longer.
                That little while became, to his species’ perception of time, 193 hyra (80 human years, give or take five and a half months). That perception of time had long since faded, replaced only by the understanding of life and existence: that any metric of time as an understanding of life is flawed, and that there is but a perfect confluence of the past and desires to guide one into a future. That future is illusory, King knew, but he was able to manipulate it perfectly, given his solitude on this strange, beautiful planet he discovered.
                Every day, he drank its liquids, consumed its fruits, climbed its peaks and submerged into its oceans, much in the way he did in the days previously, and much as he would do in the future until he could no longer climb the peaks or swim the waters. There was no certainty but the plans he made: view the herds of wild beasts chasing each other, document their movements and their mating rituals; fly around the poles to observe the planet’s magnetic field clashing with solar winds; take his ship deep into the oceans to discover what strange life lives in the most inhospitable environment on the planet; chart out the volcanic activity on the planet and see how the tectonic plates shift; observe the moons when they are within distance of each other to perturb the other. There was much to do.
                And King did much over the next 504 hyra, until he was an old man and had completed every single thing he had ever set out to do. He could no longer climb peaks or swim oceans, and cultivating his food hurt his body. So, on one brilliant day, when he knew the sky would blaze in a double solar eclipse, he activated the singularity drive in his ship and set it to autopilot on a return course to the planet that manufactured his ship. In that ship’s library was every single detailed scan he made, every log he recorded, every spoken conversation he ever had with himself. And on that day, he laid down to watch the most brilliant sight he had ever seen.

                The ship returned to its home 4.6 hyra later to a group of curious engineers and scientists, who then pored through all the ship’s library and logs in what was a ship centuries out of date. The library held a vast collection of pictures, scans, and data invaluable to scientists, but the logs yielded something different: they began simply, with descriptions of survival and repair efforts, but evolved into something unrecognizable. There were mentions of the planet as a person, introductions to trees as if they could speak, and screaming. King screamed, rattled around in his ship, bounced off the walls, tore his skin, and then moments later he’d be fine, bleeding from his ruptures, speaking to his imaginary family and friends, telling them all he missed them, that he longed to see them but there were things he still had to do.

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Recoiling and Remembering

One of the more interesting aspects of getting older, I've found, is finding my memories all the more potent. Perhaps it's because I'm making relatively few new ones given the regular doldrums of office life (and saving up some PTO to make some new memories), but sometimes I can close my eyes and remember something so precisely that it's almost jarring to exist in the present.

For example, if I think back to my time as a soccer player in high school, then my mind wanders back to the smells of a humid, sweaty summer of running and being so damned tired that I'd fall asleep as soon as I went home. And then there were the times where my friends and I, all sticky and exhausted from sweating our asses off, rumbled over to the nearby convenience store to buy a sandwich and a Gatorade, wearing our soccer gear. And I'm there, standing on the brown-tiled floor of the shop, browsing the chips and drinks, waiting for my friends to order their food so we can go eat on the sidewalk outside and generally grumble to each other how little we're getting any action from girls we think are attractive.

And the traffic rolls by and we sit on the cement blocks meant to stop cars from rolling forward too much, our legs sore and our backs hunched, digging into a sandwich whose bun is just a little too sharp for my mouth. My one friend talks about having a thing at his pool, which is always just water polo, and since I can't swim I'm always reticent to go. He also boasts that he's going to invite some girls, but it never happens so it'll never happen. (Note: eventually, some girls did actually come by.)

And more like that. It's always visceral, and I can smell it, taste it, hear it all as if my memories are just another screen playing back familiar video. Sometimes I can be in another place: on the train, buying food, talking to someone, and a thought from the past just creeps in and reminds me of something that I had forgotten for so long, and then I'm far away, years away, and I recall what it is to be younger.

This is a strange feature of getting older, strange and fascinating. On the one hand, these are the memories that created me as I am, and yet, in the past few years where life has been more monotonous and certain things have hardened and focused me in life, these older memories become more salient and grounded, and feel more fundamental to me than anything else. I have started to wonder if, at the ages I'm remembering, I felt something similar; the irony is, I don't remember. Maybe it was the bountiful free time to spend making new memories with friends, but I don't recall having so much time to reflect on my lives past.

So, I've started making an effort to write down my memories, or at least the notable things that happen to me on the day-to-day. Sure, I might not go drive around my town on warm summer nights blasting ACDC, but perhaps making the small things more salient means I'll cherish those more when I'm even older, too.
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(No politics at the moment; it's all a bit too much right now.)

A common bit of advice for writers is "kill your darlings"- don't be afraid to lead a character to his or her end should it fit the narrative, regardless of how much you've developed that character and how much you may like that character. It's a difficult piece of advice to follow, as any writer would attest- death, even of a literary character, isn't easy.
That doesn't include characters who are certain to die, of course, but they typically aren't the protagonist or any of the main characters, and their deaths are usually motivators to the plot. No, this is about killing main characters.
Death is random. One can just as easily get hit by a car or have a brain aneurysm while eating breakfast. Death is easy. Life is hard, death is a walk in the park. Fall down the stairs, dead; inhale carbon monoxide, dead; get attacked by a rabies-infected circus clown, dead. It happens to anyone and everyone, so when you're writing, it should be treated as such, especially if you're writing about battles, or fights, or running away from home.
Into the Wild was the story of a (frankly idiotic) boy who ran away from home and died because of his patent dearth of required knowledge about surviving in the wild. (Spoilers) Piggy's death in Lord of the Flies was a turning point in the story, and was very sudden. Even Dumbledore's death at the hands of Snape was a shock, especially in the way that he died.
Characters shouldn't be pigeonholed into surviving. It's a strange thing to write, believe me, but if your characters are marching off to the largest war the galaxy's ever seen, the chances that they all survive is nil. Serenity demonstrated as much.
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