What if we taught people how to question answers rather than to answer questions?
the need to create
why is not the question, but
what is the answer
lost without any
answers. questioning without
knowing where I am
adrift, unmoored, no captain
at the helm but me
The desire to create is not always easy to satisfy. Often I have an idea, but when I try to make it a reality, it often doesn’t come out right. Sometimes it ends up different from what was in my head, but still works, and is often better. But all too often, what I am trying to do simply falls apart. Words don’t come together, lines don’t work together.
But lately, something different has been happening. The desire to create is there. But I don’t know what it is I should be trying to create. Should I write? Draw? Come up with something funny and silly and interesting and post it somewhere on internet? Make a video? Write a super interesting blog post?
I want to create, but I don’t know what. Often lately, I’ve come up empty even when thinking about commenting on other blogs, let alone post to my blog or anything else.
But apparently, I can still write poetry. And a blog post. This urge to create is not so much a fire burning inside me driving me before it, as it is a tide rising, pushing me to act, but the direction I go in is up to me.
Sandwiches. A most versatile food. They can be just about anything, usually pretty much surrounded by bread. However, a lot of people have preconceived notions of what a sandwich should and should not be.
For example, I bring to work with me two peanut butter sandwiches almost every day. On wheat bread. Sometimes, when I’m eating lunch, a co-worker will come over and ask what I’m eating.
Me: Oh, just a peanut butter sandwich.
Co-worker: Ah, peanut butter and jelly. Classic.
Me: Who said anything about jelly? This is just plain peanut butter.
Then my co-worker proceeds to give me a weird look.
Somewhat reminiscent of the exasperated looks my mom used to give my sister and I when we would make jelly sandwiches. No peanut butter, just jelly. And almost always way too much jelly.
But look. It’s really simple. Bread, peanut butter, bread. It takes about 10 seconds to make. It’s not messy to make or eat. And, as long as you like peanut butter, it tastes just fine. I do suggest having a lot of whatever it is you like to drink, though.
Now, I’m not always so plain and simple with my sandwiches. Sometimes I get fairly adventurous. I once stumbled across a favorite of mine when I decided to try a peanut butter and onion sandwich. Delicious.
Of course, I get even weirder looks when I tell people about that one. Sigh. Some people are so stuck in their ways. So many people think peanut butter and onion sounds gross, but every single person I know of that has tried it has liked it. I probably wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t like peanut butter or onion, but it’s really quite good.
Other times, I like to put honey and/or a cinnamon-sugar mixture on a peanut butter sandwich. Yum.
And my most epic peanut butter sandwich ever – bread, peanut butter, banana slices, onion, cinnamon-sugar, peanut butter, bread, more peanut butter, apple slices, raisins, honey, even more peanut butter and topped with, you guessed it, bread!
That was a great sandwich. I’m going to have to make that one again sometime.
But I don’t always include peanut butter in my sandwiches. Once I made a ham and cheese sandwich with mayo, lettuce, olives, and pickles (I think it had pickles. It was many years ago) all on a cinnamon raisin bagel. That was a really good sandwich too.
However, all of my creative, strange, and weird sandwich making ideas have recently been put to shame.
You see, I have a 3-year-old nephew. Well, 3 and half. The half is important at that age. He recently had a PBCH&J sandwich. Peanut butter, Croutons, Honey, and Jelly sandwich. Italian flavored croutons.
I’m gonna have to try that some time.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with peanut butter and jelly. It is a classic, and I do have it on occasion. It’s just most days I’m fine with plain old peanut butter, and when I feel like making a crazy sandwich, jelly just isn’t crazy enough for me.
Do you have a favorite sandwich that others think is weird? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever had on a sandwich?
OK, so the title has nothing to do with this post. I wrote a story for Flash Fiction yesterday, and I was awarded Third Runner Up! Pretty cool. Anyway, thought I’d share my story here. To see the prompt and all of the submissions, click here, and for the winners, click here.
“Excuse me miss, maybe you can help me.”
“Hello? I’m looking for the general manager’s office.”
“Do you know where it is? I’m late for an interview.”
“Hmm. Well, I was hoping to make a good impression. I really need this job. It will prove to my father that I’m not a worthless waste of space.”
“If you don’t mind me saying so, you have very beautiful eyes.”
“I’m sorry if you think I’m being too forward. My mother always taught me to say what I think, and that one can never go wrong with a sincere compliment.”
“She also always tells me to find a nice girl and settle down. She is getting pretty impatient waiting for grandchildren.”
“Father doesn’t like most of the ladies I meet. Father’s very old-fashioned. He always says the girls I go out with talk too much, and out of turn. Mother sure does drive him crazy, because she does the very same thing. Father would like you for sure, though. You are very quiet.”
“I don’t suppose you would accompany me to dinner some night? Maybe see a show? There’s a new show that started two nights ago that is apparently quite the riot.”
“No? Perhaps I am being too forward. My sincerest apologies.”
“Oh dear me, I haven’t even introduced myself! I am Carson. Eugene Reginald Carson the Third.”
“Hopefully the soon to be Second Assistant Inventory Manager Eugene Reginald Carson the Third, if I can ever find my way to the general manager’s office. Do you know where it is? I am very late.”
“Oh drat. I’ve been chatting up a mannequin this whole time. Father would be so disappointed.”
I was crazy once
they put me in a rubber room
it was cold
they buried me
there were worms
they drove me crazy
I was crazy once…
I had weird friends when I was kid. One of those friends used to repeat this over and over sometimes, and I never forgot it.
I wrote a flash fiction piece on Friday for, you guessed it, Flash! Friday. It wasn’t a very good piece, but that’s alright. It’s still fun to participate. To see the prompt and see all the other stories written, click here: http://flashfriday.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/flash-friday-18/
Part of the reason that it isn’t very good is because it isn’t a complete story. The trick with flash fiction is to write a complete story, however long or short it is. But in my piece, there are a lot of questions that are left unanswered. So, I’m asking for your help. What happens next?
Here’s what I have so far:
“Away we go
Wherever and however
The wind decides to blow
Like dust above
The dust below”
“Come on Jeff, just shut up will you?”
Jeff stopped strumming his guitar and looked up. “I believe I was brought on this expedition to keep everyone’s spirits up. Singing songs is a -”
“There is no expedition anymore! We’re never going to find what we came for now. Everyone is gone, and we are drifting over a desert! Or had you forgotten that in your eternal optimism? There’s just you, me, this balloon, and your damn guitar. Which, by the way, will be the first thing to go if we need to drop ballast.”
Jeff kept a firm grip on his guitar he stood up in the shaky basket. “I know we’re alone, Sam. But we don’t know the others are dead. They might be looking for us as we look for them. And don’t give up on finding that temple. You never know what’s just over the horizon, or behind the next hill.”
“I’d be happy if we could just find the end of this desert.” Sam grumbled as he turned away.
“Wait! Look there! Do you see? What it that?”
So, what did Jeff and Sam see? What happened to the rest of the group? What was the temple the expedition was looking for? Was it ever found? Do Jeff and Sam ever make it out of the desert?
I wasn’t planning on posting anything tonight, especially not something about as heavy and huge as the topic of abuse.
So why did I? PonderingSpawned, that’s why. She wrote an incredible post on the subject, looking to start a conversation, wanting to discuss reasons, maybe find some understanding, and hopefully make the world a better place.
I wrote a comment, and it ended up being long enough to be a blog post on its own. So why not use it as one? But I strongly recommend heading on over to PonderingSpawned’s blog to see it for yourself. If nothing else, it helps my comment make more sense than if you just read it by itself. Here’s the link: http://ponderingspawned.com/2013/04/04/lets-talk-about-it/
The subject is so broad and deep, my little comment doesn’t do it justice. So read, think, ponder. And join the conversation.
Here is my comment:
The sad thing is, a lot of people continue to act like 3 year olds, in all the wrong ways. It’s great if you can keep the sense of discovery and wonder, of seeing and understanding new things everyday. Unfortunately, too many people have kept the temper tantrum part of being 3 years old, and have lost the joy of learning new things.
Another problem is the sense of superiority and entitlement that a lot of people seem to have. They use the idea that they are superior to others in some way (whether it’s physical strength, intelligence, or something else) to justify putting others down, usually using what they think is their strength. A big strong man beating up his wife or girlfriend, or the wimpy geek for his lunch money. Someone witty and funny making brutal jokes at everyone, making them feel worthless, while everyone laughs, because, hey, they’re just jokes, right? Someone else who’s clever and subtle manipulating people to get them to do what they want.
And they continue to do this, because deep down inside they know they aren’t superior, they aren’t better than anyone else, but they want to be, and they want others to believe they are, so they act like it, and they put others down however they can because they think that makes them look superior.
Another reason why it’s hard to end abusive behavior – people like to feel special, like they are in control, and abusers don’t think they can feel that way without knocking those around them down.
Can we show/convince people that they are special and in control of their lives, and they don’t need to hurt or belittle others to stay that way? Can we teach people to embrace their own talents and goals without viewing other’s talents and goals as a threats?
In weird way, it’s like blogging. Should I go around and view other blogs that are bigger and better than mine with jealousy and anger? Is making fun of other blogs or bloggers in my posts or by trolling their comments going to make my blog the best one around? Of course not. Instead, I can join the community of bloggers, start and continue conversations, debate topics, learn new things, meet new people, and encourage conversation and debate with my own posts.
Anybody remember the “Big 3” that I posted about a while back? Were you hoping I had forgotten? Sorry to disappoint, but I’m back and I still remember this ridiculous string of posts I started, all about advice on writing. (Can two posts be called a string? I guess it’s 3 now. 3 can be called a string. I guess.)
The big 3 are three ways to drive a story you are telling. One of those ways is with the plot itself. What is a plot driven story? Well, let me take you on the scenic route to my unofficial definition, possibly inaccurate, but it works for me.
It’s not so much about the characters, or the world it’s set in. It’s simply the set of circumstances the characters find themselves mixed up in. A lot of action movies could be considered plot driven stories. If you took two plot driven stories, and switched the main characters, the stories wouldn’t change much. Maybe a few details, like names and stuff, but the story, the beginning, middle, and the end, would all be pretty much the same.
It doesn’t really matter who the main character is. They don’t do a whole lot of soul-searching. The way they view the world or their outlook on life doesn’t change much. (Or if it does, it’s often at the end, where it doesn’t really effect the story much at all.) Especially noticeable in the cheaper action flicks, the characters seem more like cardboard cutouts, caricatures, rather than real people. Stereotypes.
They don’t spend a lot of time exploring the world around them either. Often the characters travel, but only to go to where the bad guys are. Where there is more stuff to blow up.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your basic action movie, with cardboard cutout characters, and a semi-generic setting just waiting to be blown up. It can be quite enjoyable. Just sit back and take it in, usually not much subtlety, don’t have to try too hard to understand what’s going on.
I remember reading a lot of Hardy Boys books growing up. Those stories are (from what I remember) largely plot driven. Sure, the two brothers think, deduce, make decisions, and take action. But the large majority of what they do is react to what happens to them. They explore various locations, find secret rooms, hidden caves, what have you. However, it’s usually something the bad guys created, or left behind, or used to their own advantage that the Hardy Boys find or figure out. So it’s not so much the Hardy Boys learning about the world around them, they are simply still reacting to what the story throws at them.
Now, the Hardy Boys never grow up. Their personalities and how they think, while different from each other, don’t change much. The books are largely independent of each other. While some reference earlier adventures, you can pretty much read them in any order you choose. As characters, as people, they never mature, see the world in a new light, or overcome personal obstacles or inner demons.
But who cares? The stories might star the Hardy Boys, but it’s not really about them. It’s about what happens to them. The crazy and mysterious adventures they go on. The life-threatening traps, and how they escape. The devious evil criminals taking advantage of unsuspecting victims, and their ultimate demise and capture, due to the brave and determined Hardy Boys. And their friend Chet. I think his name was Chet. Who wasn’t quite so brave, but he was loyal. I read a lot of those books, and thoroughly enjoyed them.
You might think plot driven stories are simple, maybe even unsophisticated, compared to other types of stories. But if you think about it, most Sherlock Holmes stories are plot driven stories. I’ve read a few Sherlock Holmes stories, and “simple” isn’t the word that comes to mind. Same with Moby Dick, which I mentioned in Part 2.
Don’t think for a moment that a plot driven story can’t have strong, believable characters; or set in a world with depth and detail. Plot driven stories can be intricate and beautiful. It’s all about what the characters are doing. Are they mainly reacting to what is happening to them? Do they often happen to be in right place at the right time (or the wrong place at the wrong time)? Then it’s a plot driven story. At least by my definition.
(Come to think of it, by my definition, a lot (but certainly not all) of video games are plot driven stories. The main character (that you are controlling) is simply dealing with what ever is being thrown at them as best they (you) can.)
I’m a little out of practice (it’s been two weeks since I’ve posted anything) and too tired to write this blog post, but I’m doing it anyway. Hopefully it’s at least readable.
Now, normally WordPress’ Daily Prompt is forgotten about right after I read it, but today’s stuck to the inside of my skull like cooked on, dried egg on a non non-stick pan. I’ve been thinking about it all day. So that’s what I’m writing about.
Today’s Daily Prompt (well, it’ll be yesterday’s by the time I actually post this, but it’s still today’s right now) is Trading Places:
Well, I’m a man, so what would happen if I woke up and found myself changed into a woman? Great question. But let’s start from the beginning.
What day is it? Because that’ll make a big difference as to when I wake up and how. Well, the question was asked on a Friday, so let’s say I wake up Friday morning, 4:00 am, with my alarm telling me it’s time to get up and get ready for work. And I’m a woman. The first thing that’s likely to happen is
HOLY SHIT, I’VE GOT BOOBS!
will come to mind. I might even say it out loud. Possibly with other expletives and other silly things out of sheer surprise. The next thing I would do is go into the bathroom (dodging my wife asking me what’s wrong) and look in the mirror.
This is the most important moment of this crazy day. What do I look like? Do I look like me, only as a woman? Because I would make one hell of an ugly woman. When I am my normal (this is all relative, mind you) male self, I have a beard. Will I still have a beard if I’m a woman?
If I still look like myself (beard and all), I would likely stand and stare at myself for a while out of shock, call in sick to work, crawl back into bed, and resist all attempts to get me out from underneath the covers until tomorrow.
Now my wife is pretty stubborn, she might be able to get me out of bed if she wanted to, but there is no way I’d be stepping outside. The world can thank me later if it ever happens.
But, on the other hand, if when I turned into a woman I actually looked like a woman (and not like me with boobs tacked on), I would likely stand and stare at myself for a while out of shock, then ask my wife to come tell me if I’m dreaming or not.
Alright, so I’m a woman, I look like a woman, and apparently I’m not dreaming. Do I still go to work? That would be interesting. I doubt the picture on my employee ID card or the picture in security’s computer has changed, but I don’t work at Fort Knox. The place is about as secure as a bouncy house castle. Probably less so, actually. I could still get into the building pretty easily if I wanted.
But sitting at my desk, doing my job? My co-workers would be very confused, and I doubt I could convince them that I was me, and not some random crazy lady. I don’t think work would work. Maybe if I still looked close enough like myself (only without the beard) I might be able to convince them I was just dressed up as woman for some weird reason. Where I work it’s not unheard of that men dress up as women, and sometimes actually become women, but if I did it, and it wasn’t Halloween, a lot of people would be surprised, and I doubt I would get much actual work done.
I’d probably still call in. Not worth the hassle, not to mention the jokes and rumors that would likely continue long after the day was over.
Three day weekend? Sounds much better, please and thank you.
Since I’m not at work, I get to spend the day with my wife. She might decide she wants to go out, maybe to a mall or something.
OK. I can handle walking around a mall as a woman. But what to wear? Dare I ask my wife if I can borrow one of her bra’s? How big are my boobs? Would one of hers fit me? If so, I bet she’d get a good laugh watching me try to put the thing on.
Once the bra thing is figured out, I’d be alright. I could still wear my clothes, probably. I don’t think I’d want to borrow a dress or anything. Just stick with something simple, like jeans and shirt.
And sneakers. No heels. No thank you. I’m only a woman for a day, all you permanent women can keep your voluntary torture devices to yourselves thank you very much. I’m sure putting on a bra would be enough for me.
So out we go, two ladies out on the town, shopping, no big deal, right?
Not so fast. Now I have to go to the bathroom (remember to sit down!). Normally I’d head straight for the men’s room, but that would be … interesting … to say the least, possibly disastrous. Cause I’m a woman today, you see. Not a man. Probably not as bad as a man walking into the women’s bathroom, but still, something to avoid.
Now, going to a mall as a man, I spend most of my time following my wife around carrying anything we’ve purchased while she looks at things, maybe pulling something off a rack to take a closer look, and every once in a while trying something on. Me, I look around sure, but the majority of the stores in a mall are clothing stores, and the majority of the clothing is for women. Most of the stores are dedicated solely to women’s clothing, and usually any men’s section that does exist is tucked away in some corner and so surrounded by the women’s clearance section you can hardly find it. And if you do find it, it’s usually not worth finding anyway. At least not to me. So I don’t look too closely at things unless my wife is showing interest in them.
But today I’m a woman. All these clothes are meant to entice me into wearing them. Would I want to? Try them on, I mean. There’s no sense buying them, I’m only going to be a woman for a day.
Probably not. Though I might try on the ugliest stuff I could find, just to try to make my wife laugh. I might not be able to make her laugh, but I’m sure I could get her to roll her eyes. A lot.
I don’t know. We might not go out anyway. We might just stay home, even if I’m not the ugliest bearded lady on the face of the planet. Who knows? We’ll never really know unless it does happen, now will we?
Hopefully, either way, neither my wife or I don’t freak out too much. It would be a bit of a shock to both of us, I’m sure. You can think about things like this all you want, but you never really expect them to actually happen.
But I’m not done yet. My mind can’t help but think up all kinds of crazy scenarios, so here are a few “What If’s”:
- What if I got in trouble with the law, got thrown in jail? Probably partially because my ID is that of a man. If they didn’t stick me in a psychiatric ward for observation, they would most likely put me in jail with other women. Imagine waking up the next morning, turned back into a man, locked up in a women’s prison? Might not survive that one.
- What if I’m a woman for a day, and it happens to be “my time of the month”? Doesn’t sound like much fun. I’d probably be able to empathize with my wife better after that experience though.
- What if I’m out and about with my wife, and some guy starts trying to flirt with me? I’d probably start by ignoring him, but what if he’s insistent?
- What if the change doesn’t change back after a day? What if I’m permanently a woman? Hopefully I’d be able to convince people I had some operations, change my name, and still be a legal American citizen with a job and a valid form of ID and everything, otherwise life would get very challenging very fast. Not that it still wouldn’t be challenging. My friends, family and co-workers would be quite surprised and would probably think I was nuts, I’m sure.
- What if I not only turned into a woman, but my whole life happened as if I was a female, but I remember living life and growing up as a male? (Like the movies where the poor, down on his luck guy with the fix-r-upper house that he can’t fix and the apparently frumpy wife wakes up one morning to find out that one thing changed in his life years ago, and now he’s in a mansion, with a butler, 5 Porsches in the garage, working a top executive job, and married to a glamorous woman he’d had crush on since middle school and never had chance with, ever. Of course, by the end of the movie, he realizes that the rich and glamorous lifestyle is full of crap, and he willingly goes back to his poor life, only now seeing it in a new light, and he’s poor in money but rich in love because he realizes that his wife isn’t frumpy, she’s beautiful and she loves him and he loves her, and they live happily ever after with their leaky roof, The End.)*
*If this one doesn’t make any sense, well, then, ignore it I guess. Not sure what else to do about it, seeing as you’ve already read it.
There are a lot more “What If’s” I could put here (such as what would the day be like if I turn into a woman and my wife turns into a man?), and I’m sure there are millions more that I haven’t thought, but for now, I’m done. If I do actually turn into a woman for a day, I’ll be sure to blog about it, and we’ll get to see what actually did happen, rather than just me guessing and thinking of “What If’s”.
Happy tomorrow, and goodnight.
For previous midnight musings, and an explanation: http://unremarkableman.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/midnight-musings/
I wrote this particular string of thoughts on April 20th, 2010:
Some say that life isn’t fair. I believe life is fair. I believe people are blind to the big picture, which if they could see, they would realize that there is balance in all things. I believe that for every move you make, the universe reacts, in equal kind. (And by “move”, I mean any thought, emotion, or physical action, including sounds, language, listening, seeing, feeling, movement, silence, stillness or any other action you could do.) I believe people either under or overestimate the importance of their actions, so if the universe doesn’t react how they feel it should, they say life isn’t fair. I believe if one overestimates their actions, they often don’t see the small reactions, because they are looking for something large and grand. I believe if one underestimates their actions, they either do not see the huge reactions, because they are looking for something small, or they get blindsided by an overwhelming reaction they weren’t prepared for. I believe that people do not fully understand or even realize most of the relationships with in the universe. I believe that everything in the universe is connected to every other thing in the universe, in some way or another. I believe that changing one thing can cause unforeseen effects in an unexpected place, because we cannot see the relationships between them.