Wake Up

Jean Shelton

Jean Shelton

I was talking to a friend of mine today. We met during my acting days when we both attended The Shelton Theater school for actors in San Francisco. Man, I miss those days. Jean Shelton had been around since The Group Theater in New York, and for those of you who know that lineage, they produced some of the best actors the world had literally seen. I’m talking about Marlon Brando, Lee Strasberg, Harold Clurman, famed director Elia Kazan, list goes on and on. She’d also met the greats like Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. Her history is simply amazing.

Is my teef big enouf?
Is my teef big enouf?

My friend and I were discussing his history with women and how he only felt comfortable dating Asians. I asked him why, and he stated that he didn’t venture outside of our own slanty-eyed folk because he didn’t want to get rejected due to his ethnicity. During his formidable years in high school, he was bullied due to being one of the few ethnic kids in a town that was predominantly white. Of course, after many, many years his past still haunts him. And really, it’s not his past, but his constant thinking of it, blaming it that limits him.

This brought to mind almost all of my characters in my fantasy, Nightfall. Every one of them has a past that has directly affected their actions and decisions in the present. And almost all the time, those decisions have helped moved the story along because the choices they made were based on limited thinking and fear, resulting in disasters.

And disasters are great for storytelling. “We need to get this amulet to save the world. After acquiring it, the enemy stole it and will use it to conquer the world over. What do we do?”

My main character, for example, lost a toddler through a horrible, tragic accident that was outside of his control. (Read the prologue) Guilt and hate and fear swirl around him and his wife, weaving through out the story, churning their decisions into bad ones. And they can’t seem to get themselves out of their past.

Now, I’m not saying it’s easy. But then, I’m not saying it needs to be difficult. For me, it took time to get over my relationships that ended, for example. And it did n’t take much for some of my exes. Not sure if that’s saying something about me. Nah.

Eventually, I did let go of the trauma, which you need to understand was self-inflicted. I know this because sometimes I kept those memories alive. And in those rare moments where I was steeped in something else, the pain disappeared. And I guess that’s why rebounds are so common. The new relationship takes your mind off of the old one.

Going back to my friend, he hasn’t let go of the fact that his ethnicity is not to be blamed for what he perceives to be a limitation. It’s his continued belief in that idea. I told him my nephew has a black girlfriend, and they absolutely love each other.

I was like what...cuz he was like this much

I was like what...cuz he was like this much

Once you go black, you don't go back. That apparently doesn’t apply to Asians. One of my first exes had dated two black guys before me. I guess you can go back.

I personally understand the stigma of being Asian. I was bullied during school in a different way. Many of the jocks sat close to me during tests because they wanted to copy my answers. I shrugged because I wasn’t the best student in school. But they assumed that I studied hard when I hardly studied. Those same jocks were shocked when I could keep up with them in P.E. class. What they didn’t realize is being chased throughout the school helped me run faster. The threat of wedgies scared the shit out of me, so we nerds had no choice but to book it. Most of us never got caught, but that’s because we were forced to be fast.

Wayne Dyer, a well known self help author and speaker, said that the wake is the trail that’s left behind…the wake can’t drive the boat. So it is with our own pasts.

Monkey Behavior

Have you seen those wild life specials where a group of congregating chimpanzees are screaming, slapping their hands above their heads? Sometimes I have a sneaking suspicion they have their own language that we don't know about. Anyways, that's another post. Animal behavior often explains some of the odd things, sometimes called sins, that we humans portray.

When a father kills his wive and children, when a woman cheats on her man, when a boy goes to strange lengths to show a fifth grade girl he likes her can come from animalistic behavior. Thanks, Darwin.

We see all of this in the animal world.

Today I was eating at a ramen house and saw a group of young Asian boys hanging outside. One of them wore his sunglasses backwards, shading the back if his neck from the hot afternoon sun. He must have said something funny. Because one of his friends started laughing, screaming almost, slapping his hands together above his head. Sound familiar?

Is this important in story telling?

In my currentEpisode,my character is faced with an opportunity to prove his innocence. He has a choice. Prove it with dignity or with violence. Why the two opposite choices? If you'vereadwhat he's been through, then you'll undersand why he could choose violence.

Sometimes in life we don't see how our behaviors can originate from our innate animal behavior.  If we are closest to our chimpanzee cousins, then how can we deny the strange behavior that some people exhibit?  Do I agree with it?  Not all the time.  But as story tellers, we should allow for some raucous action.

One that comes to mind is Hermione punching Draco in the nose in the third Potter book.  I thought that scene was right on.  A bigoist taunting someone should get their nose punched in.  Not because it was right.  Because that kind of behavior would elicit another.  Cause and effect.

I once had a student who was constantly bullied by another boy who didn't respect my student's ethnic heritage.  The bully called him obscene names.  My student asked him to stop and even avoided him.  But the bully looked for him like  a shark.  Heckling my student.  Barraging him with physical threats.  So my studentslappedhim.  Hard.

That bully never bullied him again.

The alpha male was now replaced by another.

Ant Bully

One day two ants carried their loads on their backs. These were regular ants that you'd find on your kitchen table, coming from an unseen opening in the wall. On their backs, they carried a dead bug, their golden meal ticket. The dead bugs were at least three times their size, massive. Going with the flow of thousands of others, they lugged the prize. One seemed to have a red tinge on the black-shelled body. The other ant was as black as deep night. Both seemed to race each other toward the main entrance of the ant hill.

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