Widdle. Crash. Bang.
Widdle. Crash. Bang.
There’s something so strangely satisfying about Fall (or Autumn, if you’re a particularly fancy person). I can’t define it here; I don’t think anyone can really define it, too much of an immense task, in my opinion. The best I can do is throw a few sharp adjectives its way, hoping they stick–let’s see, uh: bittersweet, mildly fantastical, slightly spooky, cold, warm, loving, abrupt, careful, dangerous, joyful, magical. Ah, now we got something concrete, magical? Magic’s a complex concept, isn’t it? Well, sure, if you want to make it that way. For the sake of this post, K.I.S.S, or Keep It Simple, Sally. HA, and you thought I was gonna say stupid! Tricked you.
Fall is magical. How so? Gee, that’s a tough question, but only the hardest hitters…make the target? Yeah, smooth move, X-Lax, real intelligent, as if targets have anything to do with Fall. But maybe they do. I can’t say definitively that they don’t, so, as they say, the jury’s out on that one–and, y’know, I just talked to them, telling me they’re gonna be out for the next five hours, so, hey, that’s cool.
Now, I’m gonna stop pulling my swings (or is it throws?), and go all out. Fall is undefinable, BAM! whoah, how about that big dose of Truth, huh? but, and I want to preface this, if I may, with the concession that although Fall may be undefinable, it’s not entirely abstract. When I think of Fall, these thoughts proceed: carving Jack-O-Lanterns in the blistering cold, with a mug of Swiss Miss hot cocoa and stomping into carefully raked leaves, hearing them crinkle and crunch beneath my feet and pressing my gloves over my numbing cheeks to still the wind-inflicted pain within them and watching fog settle over an empty field, slithering around every grass stalk and tumbleweed in it and admiring a waxing, orange moon, a centerpiece in the sky’s constantly revised canvas and grasping handfuls of wrapped goodies out of plastic pumpkins and jittery animatronic hands and gathering around a food-laden table to just get a whiff of the pumpkin pie’s creamy filling, its flaky (and occasionally imitation-concrete) crust and being fulfilled and being pleased and feeling as if the weather can, like, channel your mood and sitting on a bench in some lonely place and watching leaves snap off tree branches and glide in a see-saw manner to the grass, crumpling.
It’s not perfect, Fall. It’s not even many people’s favorite season, but it’s Fall, guys, and how often do we get as much out of a season as we do this one?
So, is it just me wondering this, or are there a bunch of you curious about the same thing? Genre Fiction. This is Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, you name it; it’s everything except Literature, and it doesn’t look like its reputation in the the writing community has become any less infamous.
I’m a writer and a reader. I love all books, be they The Silence of the Lambs or Tess of the Durbervilles. ‘Course, the quality wanes in some books, and in others, it surpasses my expectations, but, man, that goes for everything on the planet.
What I’ve noticed, though, is that Literature often criticizes Genre Fiction for not having enough beautiful, inspired prose, while Genre Fiction complains Literature can be boring as hell.
I can see both sides of the argument, and I understand them. They’re rational, for one, and, well, you’re not gonna go to Tarzan of the Apes looking for artful sentence structure, and Tom Wolfe’s writing is not so heart-pounding and adventurous, as it is introspective and inspiring.
The conflict; however, boggles me. Most genre fiction is influenced by classic literature.
We wouldn’t have I Am Legend without Dracula.
We wouldn’t have Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone without The Fellowship of the Ring.
We wouldn’t have Jaws without Moby Dick.
See, comparisons are scattered all over history, but most times, people forget to look.
It’s all art, right? At the end of the day, man, they’re just stories written for different purposes, drawing out different lives and scenarios, putting characters against unimaginable conflicts, hoping they’ll survive.
Books are great. Art is great. Literature and Genre Fiction are great.
Yes, they’re separate in structure and character and conflict and other writerly mumbo-jumbo, but they are connected through the art of writing; and since both are written–well, there’s one comparison.
Photo Credit: Alex Schomberg
I watched a squirrel for close to an hour the other night.
Of course, I should have been intensely studying for the math test that night, but this squirrel, it was more than a squirrel. It was…well, it’s hard to completely explain in a short number of words.
I’ll start from the beginning–
I was sitting at a table on the college campus, math book and notebook cracked open in front of me. Review mode was engaged–let’s put it that way; and as far as studying for math goes, I thought I was doing pretty well.
Now, to step away from the math–we already know I’m terrible at the concept–I want to introduce all of you to the man of the hour: the squirrel that hopped down from a tree to the right of me.
It’s not as if this was a mutant squirrel; no, it was your average, everyday, acorn-loving creature, nothing much to it. I could tell it had come out to scavenge when I first saw it–why, you ask? it was hunting beneath the various tables for scraps of wasted food.
The squirrel got lucky a few times, found two French fries, and, I think, a potato chip.
I wasn’t too interested in what it was eating, though.
Sidetrack a moment from the squirrel.
Picture: a set piece on which all these types of people are walking and acting out their lives, their personalities, within the restricted boundaries of whatever influence the public opinion has over our confidence.
One girl, two tables away from me, was chatting on a phone while studying for, possibly, the same math test. Truth be told, I didn’t check out that specific detail.
Another guy showed up during the middle of the squirrel’s charade–and take note, this guy is important in this story, ‘kay?–chomping down on a pink coated chocolate candy and pacing the ground before a bundle of spiring trees.
Dozens more people passed and went, walked and skated, talked and reflected. Classes were let out, and those students came through this set piece, only to go onto another one within an instant.
Why are they crucial? Why did I observe them so keenly?
Not a single one of these people acknowledged the squirrel’s existence.
The squirrel here is crawling over and under the intricacies of these tables, grabbing at crumbs; and, to them, it’s a ghost. The French fries disappeared, sure, but to where they went, no one would be the wiser.
I had my eyes fixed on the squirrel, and with each group that entered the set piece, I watched to see if any would take note of it. Surprisingly, as I said, it was as if the whole scene was happening underground, no lights, no sense of what or why was going on in the surroundings.
I had to laugh; of course, who wouldn’t in a situation like that.
Every time I kept thinking someone would point out the squirrel and admire its cuteness, my intuition was proven wrong. Sometimes it is–that I don’t deny; it’s pointless to assume I would have predicted any of the reactions.
Then I wondered…
Why was I so enamored with the squirrel in the first place?
The answer came to me when I saw the squirrel, fresh off its second fry, venture carefully towards the girl chatting on her phone. It would take a few bounds, stop, sniff the ground, and tread some more ground, its tail twitching with each movement.
It reached the girl…eventually–and what did the girl do but stare at it and stamp her feet.
The squirrel retreated, scared, unsure, wrecked in all of its emotional faculties. Had it been looking for food? A companion? Someone to give it a good petting? Dunno. All I know is that it ran from her.
At this point, we return to the guy eating his chocolate candy.
During the periods when I was unable to clearly observe the squirrel, my focus had been spent studying this dude. By all accounts, he looked simple enough, just enjoying his chocolate; he was the guy you’d pass on the street without a second thought–that is…until the group of girls walked by him.
A glance was all it took, and I recognized the panic in his eyes as they tracked the girls, this trio glued to their phones, disregarding the guy without a second thought.
He lowered the chocolate candy, moved to speak; although, by then, they were gone.
The guy walked a few more minutes, lost to his thoughts–
During this painful moment, another class stormed down from the hill, jabbering, hopping on their skateboards and scooters; again, not one of them noticed the squirrel that, cowering beneath a table, dropped to its paws and hightailed it to the bundle of spiring trees near the recently heartbroken guy.
And guess what?
As the guy pondered and paced, he stopped a second, looked up; and he saw the squirrel, just stood there in an awe of sorts as the squirrel clamped itself to one of the trees and crawled up the trunk.
What else could I do than be mesmerized? Another of these bystanders had seen the invisible critter; now, it was as real as anything else in that small dining square.
Why do I tell you this story? Why do I waste your time with a little human observation?
To me, that most people did not see this squirrel says something about the state of humanity–of existing.
I forgot to mention earlier, but the whole time I was studying the squirrel, none of those people took a notice of me, either. Like the squirrel, I became a ghost for a short amount of time, free to wander, to act, to do, as I wished.
Maybe it’s ’cause I was silent. Maybe it’s ’cause I simply watched.
Maybe it’s ’cause, for one reason or another, I just didn’t blend.
I put faith in this assumption because of the one other person who saw the squirrel:
The guy who had recently been rejected by the trio of girls.
The both of us were not, by any stretch of the matter, different, per say; however, what if, since the majority of this small society had not stopped to acknowledge our being there, we were then able to acknowledge the presence of the squirrel?
Perhaps existing is more than simply being seen by others. Perhaps, as long as you yourself are confident in what you stand for, in what you think, or believe; then, perhaps, existing is a matter of whether or not you want to stand tall, or sit complacently with the masses.
Perhaps, at this moment, there’s a squirrel scampering at your feet for food, and you haven’t yet noticed it.
This is no joke, folks.
Close your blinds. Shut your windows–both of those reversed, or–ah, screw it.
Tune into the police blotters to hear the news, the deadly truths…
It’s like a horror movie, but real, so…not actually a movie; but never mind the specifics.
Oh no, he’s here! The fearful thing that haunts the cities and the streets–and the vending machines for reasons of constant hunger. It’s–ah, God, but it can’t be; it is the new adult in training!
The horror. Oh, the horror. Screams. More screams.
He has no number–
But all the adults have numbers! Look at Mr. 123, he–oh my God, Mr. 123 is gone and–uggghh!
He has no identifiable tag, or label–
This is getting to sound a lot like a package of meat…
What shall we do against so mysterious, so vast, a threat as this creature?
Silver bullets? Damn. He’s not a werewolf; and yet, he’s always dreamt of being one.
A cross. No. Not a vampire, either.
Books? But he loves them!
Bring out the secret weapon. Give him the ol’ College Try.
Look, all, and gaze in dumbfounded wonder as he struggles to surmount its obstacles. We send test after test in his path; still, he manages to clamber his way out onto the top. It’s incredible. It’s astounding. It’s really pissing the hell out of me…
Seriously, guys, can nothing we own stop this Teenage Frankenstein? He–He doesn’t even have pimples to pop, not that I would want to. Just look at his face: lost in the caverns of his own mind. He is completely distracted, you idiots!
Oh, well, forget it now. The adult’s already moved on, already gone to find another problem to cause him unbearable stress. Why anyone would choose to do so is beyond me, but, let the freakishly large adult child do his thing, I suppose.
But if he starts whining for a binkie, set off the nukes.
P.S: Love Calvin and Hobbes
Holy Crap, no one actually told me college was going to be this difficult. I just finished my first week, and already I am stressed out of my young, adult mind–wait, young and adult?
First off, boy, some of these classes are friggin’ long–I mean, five hours long. That’s a long time. A good thing, though, is that some of the professors can lecture so fluently time goes by in a flash. They can start on a conversation at the beginning of class and finish the class on the same topic.
Okay, maybe not the exact same topic…
I’ve made some friends already, which is a constant struggle in college; in that respect, lunch has gone smooth every day since then–but I’ve also been taking some time to venture out into the campus and reflect on life.
You know what I figured out?
All of the freshman entering college are in my position. I’m not talking the exact same position; however, each person is lost and isolated and confused as to what the hell they’re supposed to do after that one class.
We are lost souls, swimming in a fishbowl of our own loneliness. It’s sad when I put it that way, and maybe it’s sad for me to think of it as such; but when you gotta be honest, you gotta be honest.
I’m not avidly searching for people to hang out with–well, maybe a little–because I sorta got a bunch of friends from high school with whom I can connect. It’s just…it’s hard, you know? Stepping into the shoes of an adult for the first time… There’s a need for responsibility, a need to act, everywhere I turn; add on top of that a load of homework and studying and social pressures–it makes me feel like a ticking time bomb.
But, then, I remember. I remember how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to receive this great gift that is education. I tell myself to buck up, get my shit together. Life is hard, but it’s only gonna get harder; and if I have dreams to follow, then I had better go chasing after them as if it was the last day on Earth.
Carpe Diem. Translated from Latin, it means Seize the Day. That’s my catchphrase this year.
Armed with the ambition of wanting to be a writer, to tell stories that change how stories themselves work, I’m going to recite those two words every morning of every day.
When I wake up, the moment I open my eyes–Carpe Diem.
When I sit down to write on a story–Carpe Diem.
As I climb the staircase of knowledge at a university where hard work, and perseverance, will make me capable of achieving my dreams, my goals in life–Carpe Diem.
It’s the truth as I believe it.
It’s the truth as I say it.
It is whatever I want it to mean, and more.
I have the ability to do so. I have the freedom to do so.
I’m not just going to sit here and write all of this crap down and do nothing with it.
No, these words are to be acted upon, as all words should be; and they will hold within themselves the truths that I have set forth in this blog post. This is a declaration of action, not inaction. It is a route by which I will travel these long and troublesome years, because I know I can do whatever I want to do–whatever I dream I can do, if I only suffer through the pain and come back out on top at the end.
Life is fair to us if we strive to make it so; otherwise, the chances can be less to none.
I say: Make Your Life, The Life of All Lives.
And never regret it.
You guys know how Grunge has been making a comeback in recent years? The flannel is popping up in stores; kids are wearing more and more smiley face Nirvana t-shirts; and bands like Pearl Jam and Bush are gaining dozens of fans by the minute.
For me, Grunge is probably my favorite genre of music. Yeah, say what you want; but, hey, I am still the target audience for that stuff. I only wish I could go back in time to see Nirvana performing live. Oh, well…
You guys know what has not been making a comeback in recent years? Yep, that good friend people like to shove onto an iced over lake…Disco. Under normal circumstances, I would say that’s for a good reason–all those colorful pantsuits are unsettling–however, I had a change of heart when I was listening to K.C and the Sunshine Band sing Shake, Shake, Shake (Shake Your Booty) while driving to college.
While it is odd–well, odd is being polite, Disco has a positive feel to it, ya know? You can listen to September on any occasion and have your spirits boosted; that, or any song by the Bee Gees. They just make you feel good.
Now, remember how I mentioned Grunge? Well, Grunge, in a way, is the alter ego of Disco. When listening to Grunge, I don’t exactly feel as positive as when listening to Disco , but that’s not really the point of Grunge.
I listen to Grunge if I need to reflect, and I mean deep reflections.
It’s hard to reflect with Disco if most of the lyrics are about jiggling your bahookie.
Still, in such a darkening world, I feel the need for some old fashioned bahookie jiggling, so long as pantsuits don’t become a fashion trend again. Disco provides the strange light that glows just enough to illuminate a dancing pad.
One more thing I want to add, as well, it’d be great to see a Saturday Night Fever revival–
You say John Travolta is too old?
How dare you!
We live in the Digital Age, don’t we? We carry mini-computers in our pockets, watch any form of television we want from the comfort of our sofas and beds; hell, folks, we got these strange friggin’ hover boards–honestly, to me, they look like skateboards with an engine. What else? Too much to list? Perhaps. Yes, I would say there is a lot to handle in this generation.
It takes a little bit to get adjusted to the new fangled anything. It’s not because this product is more complex than the next–no, to simplify it to that would be to blatantly deny the past millennia of developments in life and the act of living.
In the early 1900s, America struck it rich with the Industrial Revolution, a Renaissance for the modern times. It was astounding. It was innovating. It was frightening. Don’t any of you think to tell me that any situation in which the old is knocked out of the ring by the new, gleaming, and glorified champion of the world of tomorrow is not the least bit abrupt.
You can bet there were people, maybe farmers, who wanted to take a piss all over those giant iron machines; or, as I will call them, Crop Transformers. They probably foamed at the mouth cursing out the inventors and the businessmen whose purpose it was to move the world forward.
Why? They got scared.
How on Earth would they be able to support their families–and even if they were alone, themselves? It was like playing out your whole hand the second time round in a game of high-stakes poker. Neither of those scenarios would have an ending that satisfied both ends of the table.
So, the farmers thought, machines. All right, sure, machines could be a pain; but if there was no pain, then would we know calm? Wrong analogy. What I mean is, the farmers started seeing the machines as an asset, a comrade in arms against those pestering weeds, the bushels of grain that took hours to collect.
That was it. Time.
Whoever said money runs the world never took a good look at a clock.
Take the farmers. Harvest was their life; and, not only that, but their purpose–this never ending production–it rose according to the rise of the sun, and it set when that glowing ball sunk beneath their plains. The seasons. In spring, growth, and lots of it. Come summer, their products were spreading across the country; the farmer prepared for that cold breath of autumn and winter in which he harvested and cultivated.
Machines had no sense of time. You pressed one button, and it did the work of three farmers without breaking a sweat. No emotions held it down, nor simple laziness. The machines were the tools of men, used by men to improve themselves and their world.
So, then we had two sides of a coin. Somehow it always leads to those two opposing sides.
Of course, with all coins, it must be flipped; and, in this case, the coin landed on the side of the machines. No, that does not mean Arnold Schwarzenegger finally won the war against ol’ John Connor–it means the farmers settled with their conditions.
Now, cut to the Modern World, or the World Currently Ruled By Apple, All Hail the Mac Computer.
On a routine trip to the At&t store, my grandfather and I went to purchase his first -iPhone, as well as an iPad, because it was a sweet deal. He chose the latest edition–the iPhone 7 Plus, and; of course, who wouldn’t choose the best version, right?
Me, I guess. I still have my iPhone 6. Yeah…
The clerk informed him about almost all of the things an iPhone can do, many of which, to me and my generation, have become common knowledge:
Internet Connection? Psshh, I’ll just use data, suckers.
Games, Games, Marvelous Games. Hit the damn pigs, you stupid bird!
Yeah…I don’t know what the hell a Kodak is, but I’m gonna take your picture–actually, before that, let me find the right filter.
Despite the clerk explaining the iPhone well, my grandfather still looked confused. He was replacing an Android phone; and yet the complexities of an iPhone are a tad more…complex, shall we say.
Then I thought–
Grandpa is not used to the smart phone; in fact, in his time, it was the rotary dial and the pay phone–and, god damn, if I ever see one of those, I am totally reenacting that one Matrix scene.
Grandpa is like the farmer in the Industrial Revolution. The iPhone is a machine created to make his life more efficient. He can carry the basic idea of a pay phone in his pocket!
Whoopdie do dah! Don’t you guys love it when analogies work out in your favor? It’s like peanut better and horse radish!
Then I also thought–
There is going to come a time when I am the farmer.
There is going to come a time when a machine threatens my comfortable existence.
What will it be?
A holographic writer; or, worse, an actual ghost writer?
Nah, it’ll probably be interviews in virtual reality and disposable underwear.