Character Trait

I think writing fantasy is difficult. When creating a new world with new rules (i.e. magic, physics, politics), authors have to remain consistent. The magic in Harry Potter is a great example. J.K. Rowling establishes different economic classes in the wizardry populace. For example, the Weasley family is considered poor. But the Malfoys are rich. Very rich.

We see this when Harry goes to the bank and sees his vault open to a pile of gold coins. We see this again in Harry and Ron's first train ride to Hogwarts when the candy cart comes. Weasley frowns and holds up his lunch(?) wrapped in Saran Wrap. But Harry makes it rain with gold coins and buys 'the whole lot'.

Then we see something curious. In the Great Hall after the new students have been sorted into their houses, plates of food miraculously appear out of thin air onto the tables. Ron dives in and gorges himself. This suggests that food, or anything else, can be created out of nothing, which contradicts the idea of economic class. Why does money exist if a basic need like food can be conjured from nothing?

Rowling even acknowledged that she had run into a storytelling problem, and covered herself by showing that house elves prepare the food, and magic is used to teleport the plates of sustenance to the tables. To be honest, I didn't even see the problem until I started to learn the rules of world building.

Now, reading other writers' works, I've had to take notice if/when they're breaking their own rules. But writing about human insecurities is a little difficult. One of the authors in my writing group has a story about a guy who is self-conscious about feeling old. But there are moments where that character feels youthful and moments when he feels old. We've all harped on this fact, that his character seems to flip flop on his own perception of age. That the character needs to be consistent, otherwise the author may lose the readers' trust. The author states that his character's feelings on age depends on the situation.

And that makes perfect sense.

Character traits are defined as something that changes their view of the world. Put it simply, if the character is a man, his view is going to be vastly different than a woman's. A man isn't going to fear rape every time he goes on a first date. But a woman may because she's the physically weaker sex.

Or if a character is narcissistic, then she will see the world as beneath her, or her above it, as seen in the character Cat Grant in Supergirl.

So what we, as fellow writers, are harping on is the consistency of the character trait. But what we did not see is that declaring yourself old or young is not the trait the author intended. The trait is the insecurity of being old. And the character's flip flopping supports that trait. Because if the trait was that he feels old, isn't worth anything because he's old, then flip flopping wouldn't make sense. And it wouldn't make for an interesting story.

A Beautiful Death

Sup?

A beautiful death –Stelios in 300

It’s an interesting way of thinking where one searches for glory, for that one thing that will complete us, fulfill us, give us meaning. That one thing differs from person to person. Some people are fulfilled by being good parents. Others yearn to be great artists. Neither are less than the another. And that one thing seems to signify an end like having riches or being married forever to your soulmate. 

A friend of mine asked me about the publishing industry because he wanted to write a book. So of course he asked the expert, me, who has yet to be published:

I told him there were basically two ways to publish your book: the traditional where an actual publisher sells the book, and self-publishing where the author sells the book, an e-book for example, through a market place like Amazon.com.

He lamented the lack of a physical book if I chose the self-publishing route.

“Don’t you want the glory?” he exclaimed.

I shrugged. “What does that mean?”

He couldn’t quite put it into words, but motioned with his clawed hands, holding an imaginary book, the finished product. 

This isn’t a criticism of him as a human or a man, but an observation by me as to the kind of person that I am. I tried to explain to him that the reward comes from the process of writing, rewriting, polishing, editing, working on it ‘till I feel I can’t offer anymore because I have no control over the outcome of what happens. That doesn’t mean I won’t do my best to write as well as I can or more. And that doesn’t mean I don’t want the world to read my books, but that want comes with the wisdom that the resulting tipping point of my books’ success is out of my hands.

And the freedom to do this, to pursue my passion is something that I’m content with, thankful everyday. There's a comfort when I write. So it’s strange to me that we seem to be only thankful during this time of year, though, I understand why. It’s the holidays.

So when my friend asked me if I want the glory, I said:

But to focus on that would take away from my ability to control what I can, not crying when my writing coach rips my work apart. I smile as I type this because I truly appreciate her wisdom and immense knowledge, while I do my best to console the little boy’s dream within me.

Merry Christmas ya’ll. Eat. Drink. Have sex. Enjoy the short time we call life.

Masks That We Wear

Who loves dating? Who hates it? I remember one of my former friends saying to her husband as we walked by a North Beach bar in San Francisco, "God, I'm so glad I have you."

I smile as I think about that moment. Not because I hate dating, nor do I love it. I embrace it as I would a dentist appointment. I's gots ta gets my teef cleaned. Or suffer some severe bad breath and painful cavities.

Now, I smiled because she's a bitch and she causes all the conflict in her relationship. She had asked me before she committed to her wedding vows if I could teach her husband how to be more outspoken. I laughed and said no. Because her husband was naturally effeminate, and as a result not loud. I guess I'm loud.

Dating various women for about a year, I've thought about why one out of two marriages fail. And it has a lot to do with the images in our heads. Just like my friend, the bitch, she had an image in her mind as to what her husband should act like. And believe me. She had a massive list of improvements for her husband and how their marriage should look like. It all came down to what other people perceived of them. He needed a college degree. He should have a good, proper job. They should have a house, not a condo. They should have children because the societal norm is to have children. They needed a minivan because that was how you cart around your children. Sedans just ain't cuttin' it no more. They should do family things.

Lawd help mah soul.

Within my circle of friends, one of the women had complained about my humor and subject of conversation. Apparently, when I was talking to a friend of mine, we had made some lewd jokes. That's how guys talk to each other. Women, too, when men aren't around, right? She complained to one of the guys, and he came up to us and asked if we could be more considerate.

Here's tha thang: the conversation was between me and another guy (grammar!). If she overheard us, that ain't my problem. I can't control what she listens to. And if she took offense, then that is 100% her issue because I can't control her delicate sensitivity. Then she put her foot down and said she would never hang out with the group if I was there. In my mind, I as like:

So how does this relate to the divorce rate in the good old You Ess of Hay? I wanted to use 'aye' but that sounds like 'eye'.

Our friend said that if this girl tells people that we're rude or lewd or crude or nude or that we like food, then our chances with some of those women will die. Die. End! Forever go away! Like never come back!

Oh. Mah. Gawd!

For me, if a girl can't keep up with me—humor, spontaneity, physically, honest conversation—or at least makes an attempt at some level, then she and I should not be in a relationship. Can that change in the future? Depends if she can keep up with me in the future. On the flip side, there are women that I can't keep up with, and we should not be together. This isn't a black and white rule that I live by. But it's a good guideline.

Why is it a good guideline?

Yeah, I would so love to see more of your family photos

Yeah, I would so love to see more of your family photos

Let's think about a first date. The guy picks up the girl, opens doors, pulls out chairs, suggests things on the menu, has vanilla conversation, avoiding sensitive subjects like politics and religion, and pays for dinner. What a guy. Aw.

The girl smiles, laughs at every joke, orders a salad and a light entree, holds her farts, excuses herself to fart, sits with good posture, and has vanilla conversation, avoiding sensitive questions like what's your FICO score, how steady is your job, do you have STDs, do you live with your mother? So nice.

The date ends and both have had a pleasant evening and decide a second outing should be on tap. Yay...

I'm itchy

I'm itchy

One month in...

"I love you."

"I love you more."

"You hang up."

"No, you hang up."

Three months later...

He loves sports and spends his Sundays with his buddies yelling at the boob tube. She'd rather have him spend time with her.

She loves shopping, but he never goes with her.

Both see these things as speed bumps and continue on.

A year later...

They're living together. He doesn't make the bed, clean the sink after every use, leaves his clothes all over the floor, and he doesn't like talking about anything of depth.

She has more and more girls' nights out, seems anal about cleanliness and prettiness, and gets pissed off that he won't go to church with her on Sundays.

But they've invested so much in their relationship that they get married.

Five years later...

"I hate you!"

"I hate you more!"

"Hang up!"

"No, you hang up!"

Why is one arm longer than the other?

Why is one arm longer than the other?

Had they been more real with each other, they may have avoided a long relationship that ended in divorce. If church is important to the girl, then she better freakin' tell the dude. If sports and spending time with his best buds is important, he better not hide that shit.

So back to me, if a woman hates my humor, then we ain't meant to be. I don't believe in the church, so a religious girl ain't for me unless she's cool with letting me have my own beliefs. This shit needs to be out in the open. But on first dates and in social gatherings, we're so concerned with how people will see us if we're real, drying up our dating pool, that we wear masks and settle on the next best thing, which isn't best at all. Not even good.

However, if you are in a relationship that you want to save, and there's issues between the two of you, then one simple way of solving those issues is look at the images of what you think your relationship should look like and throw them out.

Like my bitch friend, she had a mountain of ideas of what her man should be, what her marriage should be, what her life should be, and she hated it all. I know she hated it all because all she did was complain, yell, and get really pissed off, like if she was on a continuous period.

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Once you get rid of these societal norm images and allow your relationship to blossom on its own, then you can decide if your partner's quirks are something that you can live with. If you can't, then you've got to make a decision.

So where does this leave me? I'm still single. Not that that's a bad thing. It's good in a way because I can continue to explore other women and watch myself play the game, but I can't help but feel alone. So many people either want a relationship or enter one expecting it or the other person to make them happy. From that standpoint, I am alone. Because as I explain that happiness cannot come from another person, it can only come from within, I receive discerning looks as if to say, of course happiness comes when we connect with another person. If it doesn't, then why do humans want to connect? Simply put, it is our nature, just as it is the nature of water droplets to merge when they touch.

Earth Moving Event!

I hate cardio. With a passion. Just the idea of running a marathon makes bile squirm up my throat.

"Hey, Jimmy, let's swim for an hour at the pool."

I'll hang out in the pool for several hours. But actually do laps? Yuck.

So while I was plodding on the treadmill at the gym, I gazed up at the TV screen and saw a hole in the corner of a building. When the news camera panned down to a pile of rubble, it passed over a crowd of reporters covering the incident. Over the hum of dozens of treadmills, countless feet plodding, I heard the words drone and damage.

Oh, shit, I thought. Another terrorist attack. How'd they, whoever they were, get a drone? How'd they get so close to a US city and fire a rocket? Did they turn several of our military personnel into their cause like in Homeland?

Then I saw Earthquake in Napa Valley scroll across the screen. The quake was an estimated 6.0 magnitude.

What?

No one died.

Excuse me?

No dogs died.

Getouttahere!

Millions of dollars in property damage.

Krist...

I experienced the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, 6.9 in magnitude. That was a freakin' quake. And the damage it did along with the casualties was big news because the media loves to report on everything bad.

And living through several earthquakes sorta made me numb to the idea of earthquakes, so seeing how the media made such a big deal of this made me laugh a little. My mind started to go on automatic:

"Hi, I'm Karen in studio to report on the earthquake in Napa Valley. We just saw a drone helicopter fly by the corner of a building where there's a large hole resulting from the quake. We go to Bob on the scene. Bob, can you tell us what happened?"

"Well, Karen." The sound of a helicopter buzzes above. "The earth quaked."

"Thank you, Bob. Can you tell us why?"

"Karen, I'm not clear on the science behind it."

"Neither am I, which is why I asked."

"I don't think the earth was scared. Maybe it was cold and it shivered."

"If we can pan over to the hole..." The cameraman shoots the hole. "...we can see the hole in the corner of the building. Right, Bob?"

A Hole

Bob pauses for a moment. "Yes, Karen."

"Can we pan over to the pile of rubble?" The cameraman lowers his camera to a mound of bricks. "What can you tell us about that?"

Bob scratches his temple. "Well, Karen, it's a pile o'bricks...from above."

A pile of bricks

A pile of bricks

"The bricks came from the hole?"

"No. From the corner of the building. Karen."

"Good reporting, Bob. What should we do to prepare for such an event?"

"Think warm thoughts? I'm not sure what you're asking, Karen."

"What can we as citizens of this You Ess of Ay do to prepare for an earthquake, Bob?"

"I don't think the Earth is going to tell us it's cold."

"Good information, Bob. Are there any warning signs that a quake is coming?"

"If I knew that, you'd think I'd be a reporter?"

"Good insight, Bobby. With so many affected by this earth-shattering event, what can we do after an earthquake. Seeing all that damage can be pretty damaging."

"I suggest picking things up if things have been knocked off your shelf. Leaving things on the floor can be a health hazard. I'd also suggest repairing the damage. Then it won't be damaged anymore."

whoa

"But is that it?"

Bob crinkles his brow. "Uh...maybe we can then...I don't know...live our lives..."

"Good advice. Thank you, Bob. We'll return to the scene once we find someone who's been killed by this quake. Otherwise, we'll show you more depressing news, and then show a commercial of a drug that purports to cure depression, tell you the severe side effects of the drug that is usually more depressing, and where to get the drug."

Saturday Morning Quips: DWA - Driving While Asian

Lounging around a small round table in a tea cafe, drinking taro milk tea with pearls - my favorite, I was explaining to someone why an Asian woman was the worst driver ever. He had heard some people talk about this, so I explained why: From an American perspective, Asians are the worst drivers (DWA as they say, driving while Asian), stereotypically speaking, along with owning dry cleaning establishments, knowing martial arts, being really smart, and having no social skills whatsoever, such as men being incompetent with women. There's billions of Asians in the world, y'all. We know what we're doin'. And I won't even mention the old standby that Asian men have small penises. Dammit! (Couldn't I have just delete that?)

Then I explained, from the same perspective, that female drivers are worse than male drivers. So when you have an Asian female driver, you're combining the worse of both worlds. And sometimes I feel like a bad driver because I'll make make a U-turn where it's not allowed (wink, wink). Oh, that's what a red slash through a U-turn symbol means? Then I found illegal street racing in Hong Kong on youtube. Say what? Now you gotta be thinkin' these guys are the slowest freakin' racers who can't handle a turn let alone a woman. But check this out:

In another post I had mentioned that I had bought my midlife crisis caR. I bought a set of new tires, BF Goodrich Sport Comp-2's that were engineered specifically for...how do I say this...driving like a psycho. After getting them mounted, I thought I'd go and give my new tires a try, break them in, drive the hell outta my caR. I'd been driving for about ten minutes and felt the tires were warm enough to push the tachometer into red line. And, yeah, for an econo-sports caR, the engine revs to 8600 RPM, and if it wasn't for the rev limiter, I'd be able to touch nine grand. It's one of the things this particular caR is known for. 

Stopped at a single lane stoplight, I felt a little antsy. And the silver Mercedes in front of me had been driving slow for most of my warm up. So, when the light blinked from red to green, I slammed the pedal to the metal - well to the carpeted floor - and I swerved into the right shoulder. My caR's engine screamed passed the Mercedes and into redline. I yanked the shifter into second gear before I hit the rev limiter, popped the clutch, and my caR jerked forward as the hot BF's soft rubber compound seemed to melt into the ground, giving me grip like a desperate man hanging onto a hot woman. Then as if that woman told you to stop after you're hot and bothered, the approaching light turned red. The Mercedes stopped next to me, and the old man shook his head with disapproval. Aw. Did he think I was some young rice-drivin' punk? Hell naw. I'm a middle-aged rice-drivin' punk!

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One morning I was driving to work on a long straightaway, and a car had cut me off. For some reason, I just wasn't in the turn-the-other-cheek mood. So I cut off another car to go into the next lane, mashed my gas pedal, and pulled up next to the offending car. How dare he cut me off! Do I ever cut people off? On purpose?

One of the things I do when I see someone make a mistake driving is see if they're Asian. When they are, I shake my head because it only perpetuates that myth. However, if they're white, then I punch my fist in the air, defending my slanty-eyed pride.

So as I was pulling up next to the car that had cut me off, I was going to do an unspeakable act. So I won't say what it is, but I'll type it: mean mug. I know. I'm tough, mean-mugging someone in the safety of my car, protected by the moving road between us. As I get a better glimpse of who it was, I lurched forward, turned my head and...say what! That was my sister! She cut me off! Facepalm. I slink back into my seat, shake my head, and decide never to mention this to her. She'll never know, unless she reads this post.

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What's Your Silent Complaint?

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I meet a lot of different people from all flights of life. And my silent complaint is most people can't have a conversation that is deeper than "What do you do?" We're so afraid of offending people that delving deeper into something of more substance is seen as invasive.

For the Fourth, I had taken BART, a rail transit system, to meet a group of people in San Francisco for dinner and fireworks. I stepped into the air-conditioned rail car and sat down. Through an adjoining door of another car, a young black man entered from the far end, surveyed all of the empty seats, and sat down next to a blonde woman. She was a little miffed because she had to move her stuff off the seat next to her to make room for him.

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The black man smiled and said, "I was just joking. I wanted to see your reaction." They both had a good laugh. She was still a little miffed, though.

Respecting her space, he moved over to the seat in front of me, and like a Godsend, we started talking about real shit. He struggled with his own place in life in comparison to what others perceived, who'd told him how together he was. And he didn't believe that. 

So I asked a simple question, "Do their opinions of you really matter?"

"Fuck yeah!"

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"If they called you stupid, does that mean you're stupid?"

He diverted the question by stating that we as individuals have to examine the projectiles that we send out versus what others send out. Because if they match, then we are living our truth. I assumed projectiles were the views and opinions we hold for everyone including ourselves. Still, he hadn't answered my question.

I countered, "Once you start comparing yourself to anything, including where you think you should be, and adhere yourself only to your goals, you're in danger of never being content with what you have." He agreed. "So why do you think anyone does anything?"

I don't remember what his response was because he tended to ramble on for long periods. 

I told him most people do things because they're in search for true happiness. But happiness is born innate within humans. 

Look at babies. They are a happy little people. And they have nothing in terms of materialistic wealth and status. 

That doesn't mean we shouldn't do things for the sake of doing things. I write simply because that's what I do at this moment. My novel is an avenue for me to express my deepest self without declaring that I'm writing a memoir. Later, I'll drink water because I'm thirsty. 

But most of our pursuits like jobs, money, love will somehow complete us, make us whole, bring happiness, bring a sense of satisfaction through ego or status. And what all humans realize after acquiring those things, if they don't lie to themselves, is they're still unhappy because they expect happiness from things.

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I had bought what I'd like to call my midlife crisis caR. When people talk about soul mates, they talk about lovers. People with intuitive depth will know that soul mates can be different things such as pets, friends, places to live (Hawaii!). This caR is my soul mate. I love driving this caR. This caR was specifically engineered for the track and has become of a legend in its own right. My caR isn't the fastest, not the flashiest, and because of its age, most young auto enthusiasts won't know what it is when I take my caR out. But I feel very connected to my caR, engaged. Maybe had I bought my other favorite car, the Nissan GT-R, I'd feel more manly, but rarely do I succumb to my own ego.

I've had this caR for a year now and only about five people know about it. I don't show it off because of some asinine duty to humility. I just don't care to talk about it unless it's with a person who understands my love for this caR. It's like having sex. I don't go around telling people I had sex for the sake of fulfilling my manliness. And I'm not a prude, meaning I'm very open when it comes to sex. Sex is something I enjoy with another person, and because of that, remains between us.

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In terms of my caR, simply put, I love driving it, feeling the race attributes the engineers had built into it, and the connectedness when I'm in the driver seat. Will it make me happy? No. That's not the purpose of things, money, or love. Happiness, as my new found friend doesn't yet truly understand is already within us all.

Now comes my silent complaint. A group of us, ten peeps, met at the restaurant, and we began to play a game. Everyone received a piece of paper. We were to write down two truths about ourselves and one lie. Mine were:

I used to be an actor

I used to life coach children

I've dated a man

Everyone laughed and couldn't get their minds off the last sentence, which was the purpose. When it came time to choose which one was the lie, most chose either of the first two options, which was funny. Do I give off a gay vibe?

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What I found interesting was no one asked me about being an actor and no one asked about life coaching children, one of the things I'm most proud of. This was strange given that half of the people at the table were women. This may sound narcissistic, but if someone revealed an interesting fact about themselves, I'd want to know more about it. I mean, the whole purpose of this game was to spark conversation and get to know each other better.

Oh well...