The Curse and the Cure

Shake my hand, dammit

Shake my hand, dammit

From my experience, having an antagonist that seems or is very distant can present the small issue of conflict and tension; the chosen one may not always have direct contact with their antichrist. So having someone that is a little closer, aside from circumstantial disasters, to provide some conflict with the main character is important.

One good example is Draco Malfoy. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, For He Who Shall Not Be Named is somewhere off in the Forbidden Forest, which is forbidden, and doesn't provide direct conflict until the end. Given Malfoy's name and Harry’s alliance with Ron, Draco is in direct conflict with Potter. We as the readers realize this immediately.

In Nightfall, my hero has to fight a war with his former teacher. Problem with that, geographically, they're a continent apart. Though, the antagonist does affect my hero even through the distance, I like to have other characters that constantly give the hero issues. That along with circumstantial disasters allows me, the author, to put my hero in constant conflict by different means. I’m hoping that keeps my readers’ interest throughout the trilogy. Aside from the fact that Draco was the constant heel of Harry, my hero will have some that are constant, some that will turn on him for a good length of time, while others will represent red herrings, like Professor Snape.

I did this because the story required it, that somehow it needed it, and it wasn't a conscious requirement on my part. What got me thinking about it was a hike that I’d done with a group in Point Reyes, located in Northern California next to the coast. It’s an incredible area, known for secluded beaches, immense hikes—ours was 15 miles—and shaded trails that bode well even in the summer (see gallery below).

Fuck with me not

Fuck with me not

Around twenty of us went, most were very friendly, and I’d known a few of them from prior hikes. There was one woman who seemed to be my heel for the day. Why? I don't know exactly, but maybe because after I introduced myself I had left without continuing our conversation. I felt no connection to her whatsoever, I usually don’t know why when that happens, but most of the time my intuition is right so felt no reason to talk to her further.

Half-hour into the hike, a group of us were talking about something, and she made a point. I disagreed with it, and she kicked dirt at me. So being immature, I kicked dirt back. I know, childish. Then, like a thundercat, she reached for the ground and grabbed a fistful of dirt, twigs and leaves, ready to throw it at my face. She demanded why I kicked dirt at her, and I’m like…what? Like a third grader on the playground, I said, “You kicked dirt at me first!”

“Oh, we’re even then,” she agreed. 

Don't mess wit me sucka

Don't mess wit me sucka

At this point, I began to see my intuition was correct.

Throughout the hike, she kept taking jabs at me. Somehow, we stumbled onto the conversation on height, and I jokingly stated she was short. She pointed her finger at me and said, “Hey! You’re short. I’m average.” She’s 5’2” and I’m 5’6”. Sorry little girl, but we’re both short. I said nothing, thinking my immature behavior earlier might have prompted the wrath from this woman before realizing maybe it was me leaving abruptly when we met.

Everything makes sense now

Everything makes sense now

Toward the end of the hike, I was flirting with a girl, and I had said something she didn’t understand. So when I tried to explain, she had laughed and told me don’t even try. So I said,” You’re gonna play me like dat?” Sometimes I get ghetto without knowing it. The woman with the wrath turned around—she wasn’t even part of the conversation—and said, “She knows you’re full of it,” and high-fived the girl. Since the short comment, I decided not to joke with this woman because she definitely can’t take it. She had found great comfort and camaraderie with people who seemed to agree with her philosophies of life, nothing wrong with that. But I knew she was a person who was very closed. Her ego dictated her every emotion and action. Not saying mine doesn’t have some effect on me—kicking-dirt incident—but when it happens I’m aware of it, which was why I didn’t react to the many jabs she’d taken.

All of this is to say one thing: trust your intuition. Well, how do you do this? Simple. Whenever you have confirmation that your intuition is true, you thank it.

I began to realize this when I kept cursing myself whenever I forgot my keys, or my bag, etc. I forgot more and more and more. So I tried something new. Whenever I remembered something, I thanked whatever part of my mind that remembered. And I forgot less and less. Do I still forget things? Sure. But not to the degree when I punished myself for it.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. Let go. Things will get better.

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Faith, Destiny, Are They Real or Just Strippers?

What a helluva day! I went on a five-hour hike with a group of people, then went to the gym for a full workout, and completed sprints afterward. To say I am exhausted would be a slight understatement. But I had to do it because I missed my workout on Thursday due to it being Independence Day. Excuses, excuses.

Do you want a mint?

Do you want a mint?

In any good story, the heroine, the main character, the chosen one was custom made to go through the quest they are about to take. And there is no choice when the inciting incidence happens, hurling her into hell before he comes up to face their ultimate adversary. Whether they succeed in becoming the person they should be determines if they are tragic characters or not.

This applies to chic lit as well. When we see Bella meeting Edward for the first time, we know they are meant to be. Custom made by Stephanie Meyers to eternally love each other till the end of time.

When Romeo happens upon the moonlit face of Juliet, we know they are meant to be, despite the fact that their families hate each other. How do we know? Well, it's a story and we see these two people first, so we assume they are meant to be. And there was no team Jacob to say otherwise, and even then we knew Bella had eyes only for Eddie.

Back in our world, how do we find The One? As far as I can tell, there are two basic schools of thought. One, effort has to be made, effort being that you have to somehow put yourself out there. Two, it is destined. And if it’s destined, then why do we have so many divorces, and I think that has more to do with forcing One, which I can explain later.

In the jungles of the Souf Bay

In the jungles of the Souf Bay

Now, here I am at the hike. I’ve never met any of these people. The ulterior motive is to put myself out there, being a single and viral man. Too much? Choosing activities that I like and enjoy makes it easier for me to meet people. Bars and clubs I hate. I make my presence known by stating that I need to pee. Too much? It’s my humor. It’s a little lewd. But for any woman who can’t take such a minor comment, they won’t be interested. For those who understand and see through that comment are the ones I wanna be with.

Anyways… the first woman I talk to is an Asian woman (Why don’t people accuse me of having Yellow Fever when I go out with Asian women?). Accomplished, attractive, athletic, adventurous. But I feel our conversation is a bit stiff. It moves along well enough, but I feel no connection, no chemistry, no real flow.

Later in the hike, I meet another woman, and we jive about different San Francisco neighborhoods, nutrition, exercise (What do you call it when I go out with white women? The White Plague?). She even shares a sip of wine with me, a complete stranger who may have cooties. There's a connection, from the signs she's throwing. It helps that she’s attractive, but I’ve gone out with enough women to know that physical beauty fades. And I don’t mean literally. It’s getting used how people look. Imagine eating your favorite food in the whole world, something scrumptious, full of rich flavor, revealing layers of depth that encompasses your tongue, elevating your mouth in every heavenly way. Now imagine eating that for the rest of your life. You would quickly get sick of it. With anyone's looks, you'd get used to it, and it's good. Getting out of the infatuation phase allows us to focus on the important things like core values. Getting back to her, our conversation isn’t full of depth. In fact, it’s full of nothing. The content is meaningless. But we are vibing each other.

Does your bikini poke you?

Does your bikini poke you?

What gives? Why is it that there’s chemistry with some and not others? If you think it's because the second woman and I have things in common, then that's false. Cuz how much more common do I need to be with the Asian woman? I mean, we both have slanty eyes. Is there a destiny, a faith that helps bind us, bringing us together (Why is it that destiny and faith sound like strippers in a strip club)? Is there some all-knowing force that whispers to us and says, “You and you. Go at it like rabbits.”

I’ve no clue.

I do think that we have to be open to the things we want, that if we want to find someone to be with, then it might be a good first step to put ourselves out there, the effort. And being in the soup of human civilization, hopefully those strippers, Destiny and Faith, will lead us somewhere good.

What’s the worst that can happen? Never mind. Don’t answer that.

Help

Help

Normal. The standard. Traditional. The expected.

The norms of society have a greater influence over us as a people than we’d like to admit. Look at the GAP. All their clothes look the same. Look at Starbucks. Their coffees start to taste the same, becoming the standard. Family: Father, mother, son, daughter. Gay marriage? Hell to tha NO. Until the Supreme Court ruled otherwise. The norms may work for some, but definitely not others. Here is where I think most of the divorces hail from.

My mom nags and nags and forever nags about me getting married. She compares me to another man around my age who’s married with kids, and we know how well that worked out for Al Bundy. When the moment comes, I’ll get married. If it doesn’t, then I won’t. Forcing the issue to fulfill some societal norm would only stress out Faith and Destiny and push them to put me together with someone that I may not be compatible with. And how will that work out?

And stressed out strippers aren’t any fun. Not that I know anything about that. Ahem.

Go With Da Flows

Into my second week of living in the H.I., I fly to da Big Island, better known as Hawaii. People have told me that it's very country. Through the small window of the small plane, the kind that papers write about having crashed on desert islands, I see acres of plots of land, agriculture, and tiny houses placed in the middle. It's very country. I book a tour to the famous lava flows. What I didn't realize was a ten mile round trip hike to the flows over barren, treacherous terrain that is made up of 50% silica, another word for glass. One of the requirements for this trip were pants, not leggings, but pants. One fall usually ends with cuts. Since I only packed shorts, I wore shorts. Live and learn.

We start the hike and quickly find out that the terrain is treacherous. I think a 4X4 truck would keel over. Every step sounded like glass breaking under our shoes. Everywhere you look is just cold lava where a community once lived. Our ranger said that houses still in this area has been built over the last eight years, people who are unwilling to let their land go, and insurance companies don't offer coverage to them because...well...it's lava. You can't stop lava. If it flows toward your wooden home, then pack up and say good-bye.

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What seem like years, two hours go by, the sun had set. The ranger warned us: if you see a glowing crack, that means it's hot. Duh. Don't put your hand over it. Duh. We ain't stupid! One of the tourists call out and point to a glowing crack. We whip out our cameras and snap away like little boys ogling a topless woman. I stick my hand over the crack and yank it back. Yup. It's hot.

At this point, we're about a mile away from the flows:

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Can you see it? It's the little red dot.

Here, the ranger said we're about a quarter mile away:

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Getting closer and it feels like a hot summer day. And bam!

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We were lucky because an earlier group stated that the flows had stopped. But when we got there, a small hole burst open and lava oozed out. When I say burst, I mean, there was no flow, then there was. A snail after ten shots of bad vodka moved faster. But it was amazing. I was about fifteen yards away, but any closer and the heat would start melting my Nike shoes.

I think tens of thousands of tourists come to the Big Island specifically to see this. It's the only place on da planet where new land is being created. As we trudged our way toward the flows, a lot of what we walked over was anywhere from a few hours to several days old. Most people never walk on any type of earth, given the concrete jungle that we live in. So to walk on new earth, and then to witness new earth being born is amazing. All of us watched this flow for what seemed like an eternity.

Then we hike another quarter mile and see this:

How often do we see ocean water combat red hot lava? It's like two opposites hashing it out, making brand new land. Land that someday, if we humans are still around, an agent will sell. To think we can own that is stupid, but oh well.

For me, I've always loved the creation of art. When I hike through San Francisco, I love watching street performers. They're creating art right in front of our eyes. I think that's why we love certain reality shows like American Idol, or theater, or live music, or even Cirque du Solei. We want to live in the moment, but when it comes to our own lives, we don't. So we succumb to something like cooking shows because they're not only taking risks by being in a competition, but they're creating something new, something from nothing. It's pretty amazing stuff. My vice is Design Star on the HGTV channel.

Back to the flows. I'm not sure I'll be back. It's quite an effort to get there. I'll never forget it because I have pictures. And because the experience of getting there, seeing something like that, then not wanting to leave, but we do, is a cool experience to be had, much like being in da Hawaiian Islands.

One funny story: The ranger said if we needed to pee, we should let him know. He doesn't want to lose a tourist and have that reputation fowl our time here. As it happened, I needed to go and headed over a small hill. This way, I'll get privacy, not that anyone would shine a light to watch me pee, and hope its far enough away where the smell of pee won't reach the rest of the group. As I peed, the sound of sizzle on the hot rock startle me. It's not a normal thing for me to pee and here sizzling. Then the smell of urine punches my nostrils. Whoa. Have you ever walked by an alleyway and realize people use that alleyway to pee in? Now multiply that by a thousand, add heat, mugginess, and downwind. Yuck.

My characters who are both warriors and hunters understand that concept of downwind. I apparently do not. Worse was when I trekked back to my group, that downwind blew toward us and carried with it my boiled pee, fowling that area. Live and learn.

One suggestion if you do go to the lava flows. Do wear pants. We almost made it out when two people fell. One man fell on his hand and cut his palm open. Another woman fell on her shin, but she wore leggings. Rolling her leggings back revealed she suffered some deep bruising in its early stages and several cuts. Ouchy.