Shedding or Rotting?

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YOU.

Do you think you’re stuck in a particular moment of your life where everything sucks? It could be that you’re shedding your skin. It’s not a fun process, but when you’re going through a process of awesome rebirth (like a motherfucking phoenix), you have to go through some pain. For balance. You know, higher power nature stuff.

And not to scare you, but… it could be that you’re just rotting. Taking up space. Filthy, disgusting, smelly, rotting.

HAVE A NICE DAY! ^___^

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The Prize is Priceless.

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What is currently my most prized possession? I briefly scanned over the primary answers. My brain? A physical piece of me that I cherish and try to exercise each day? My body? A vessel for my brain in which I perceive sensation, pain, and pleasure? Or an object apart from my physical being? A book, a photograph, a calculating device other than the one within my skull? A child, or a pet? Something or someone I care for, or perhaps someone who cares for me? Or how about a college degree? An item signifying that I have leapt through the appropriate hoops to attain?

None of the above, to be certain.

The one true answer shone in its brilliance relative to the others. And the funny thing about this object is that it isn’t valuable to anybody else (at least not yet). But it’s valuable to me, and that is because it’s the first mountain I’ve climbed that I wasn’t expected or pushed into climbing. In fact, in many aspects of the society in which I live, I was pushed very much against climbing this particular mountain.

“It has very little–if any–potential for monetary gain.” I’ve heard that one many times.

“It’s a waste of time.” I’ve heard different versions of that one over the years.

“You don’t know what you’re doing.” This one was easy to agree with.

What was it that I wanted to do? Well, since I was a young boy, I wanted to write my very own tales. And so, as an adult, during my college years, I became more serious than ever about writing my first novel. What did I have to write about? Well… there are plenty of positive events and memories throughout my lifetime thus far. But since those don’t need fixing, I decided to write about the things that are broken, both those that can’t be mended and those that can. I wanted to create something big, something mystifying, something serious and also ridiculous.

So I stepped away from the light and focused on:

1. The times I had been betrayed by my blood family, losing connection with 99.9% of my own blood relations, either due to direct betrayals, or secondary betrayals (i.e., those betrayals caused not by cruelty or heinous acts, but by the decision not to stop those who perform such actions, or perhaps by judgments so unreasonably accounted for that I literally cannot trust such a person. For example, Person A decides it’s good judgment to marry the person who raped and murdered Person A’s children. I personally would not–or could not–trust Person A after the fact).

2. The feelings of turmoil I’ve had when some of my closest friends betrayed my trust. Have you ever caught some of your closest friends lying? Perhaps. Have you caught them lying frequently? If the answer is yes, then I would refer to the first issue above and think hard about whether you feel it’s good judgment to trust those specific people. In the end, the judgment is up to the individual to decide.

And of course, speaking of betrayals, I am forced to beg the question:

3. What does it mean to be betrayed? Surely it has a lot to do with expectations. And from the times I’ve personally been betrayed, I spent a long time questioning where my original conceptions of those expectations began, where they were first formed, and by whom–if applicable. Often times I’ve found that those expectations are writ by those who have betrayed the expectation itself.

For example, let’s say Female X is raised to believe that her father is the head of the household. That’s just how it’s been displayed to her during her childhood. Her father is the one who typically goes to work, who typically makes the money, who typically wins whatever “arguments” there are within the household, the one who typically makes the decisions, and perhaps he’s also the one who usually helps her with her homework, or who teaches her how to swim (insinuating that not all roles her father plays are either negative or positive, but a mixture between the two).

And then let’s say that same man who she has learned to respect, suddenly begins to harm her. Either he physically abuses her, sexually or otherwise, and/or he emotional despises her for unknown reasons.

The original expectation displayed to her by the small society around her, including but not exclusive to her familial unit, is now broken. She feels betrayed because her expectations have been betrayed.

From our perspective, it may be easy to see the problem. It may be a simple matter of, Hey, that guy is abusing his status and power in the given situation. But to that girl, it’s been embedded over years that her father was, and very much still is the man who provides much love and protection. So quickly does this perception become messy after the betrayal that it’s difficult for her to really define what’s going on, especially since she’s still young and unable to grasp any past examples of such betrayal. To her, this is new, and like an adult stumbling around in an unfamiliar room without light, she is struggling.

That struggle is the fodder I had in my possession to write about. And I did my best to write a novel that begins a series of an epic fantasy.

It is my most prized possession. It’s something I haven’t had much support with (though the few who have supported me really deserve a lot of praise, like my sister, and my partner, and a few of my close friends who really encouraged me to finish the endeavor once I began… I plan on dedicating each of the novels to them in turn, even if the manuscripts never turn into actual books on the bookshelves).

So I have it. I created a body of work without anybody actually expecting me to. I finished all 400+ pages, while being discouraged by many factors.

Getting a job during high school, that was expected. Moving out, that was expected. Moving on to college and earning a degree, that too was expected. In fact, after having siblings and other distant relatives earn Masters’ and Doctorates’, me earning my little Bachelor’s really was not very important to me. I’m glad I have it, but like I said before… It was expected. And that expectation really takes away from the glory that I believe is actually quite statistically insignificant. Some of my friends believe this notion to be negative… but I believe it’s simply the truth, and in my personal life, to have thrown a gigantic party over a Bachelor’s a few years ago would have been equivalent to displaying a great amount of false positivity. I’m proud of it, sure, but not to the extent of whooping and hollering. If other people find joy and excitement in their own graduation dates, then hell yeah, go out there and–in the words of a comedic friend of mine–shake yo’ booty thang. But as for me… My eyes have always been set upon the manuscript (and you better believe that when it was complete, even unedited, I was shakin’ my booty thang so much that I filled up three pitchers of pure, male, booty-sweat. I won’t tell you whether I drank it or not, but I will tell you that somebody did).

Writing the manuscript was something new, something without guidelines, with only my imagination and willpower to help move it forward. I trudged through it, and took one gigantic leap into creating my own expectations of what I desire for the future. The journey was unlike any of the other journeys I’ve traveled, for better or for worse. Was it worth it? YES.

And so I urge you, whatever it is your eyes are set upon… DO IT.

You might not gain anything from it, not now, not ever… but do it anyway if you want to.

The prize is priceless.

Somewhat Sticky

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A short while back, we quickly explored the deconstruction of familial unity, as well as the sense of identity.

We’ve went through the losses. Now it’s time to see what’s been gained. And in short, a tale has been woven with the foundations of those previous experiences. Call it uncanny fantasy, call it German Chocolate Cake, or call it whatever you like. It’s here.

Transcripts for your read-alone, or read-along pleasure:

Alexander’s angry episodes were only an expedient to more venting.  To young Aden Walker they were altogether insignificant, truly nothing to dwell upon.  Even the polar extremes had been too infrequent to waste any time with.  They were essentially harmless, the complicated effects of an overworked father who probably felt unappreciated, who spent half of each twenty-four-hour cycle in a loud grey factory with other men who were just as overworked; Aden knew this because Alexander brought him along to the factory once, telling him to work hard in school so he wouldn’t have to do the same kind of work.  As a boy, Aden didn’t necessarily love who his father was, but he in no way hated or despised him.  Alexander was his father, and as far as Aden knew, father’s sometimes lost their tempers.

During his childhood, everything in life was simplistic enough to be placed into categories such as good and bad, right and wrong.  During the transition between being a child and entering puberty, however, Aden stumbled upon a very peculiar experience.  It was his first taste of surreality, however dim and disturbing its bitter flavor.  It stole him away from his previous, childish notions and pushed him into a place of mystery and misery, a place without absolutes.

The very first time Aden had undergone this experience was on a weeknight during summer vacation.  He was carefully walking up the stairs, carrying a full glass of dark red juice.  Naturally, out of his caution to prevent a spill, his footsteps became slow and quiet.  Aden hastened after reaching the second-story hallway, scuttling between the master bedroom on his right and the restroom he and Angelica shared to his left.  A little further and he was located between his and Angelica’s chambers.  As Aden walked through the shaded hallway, he caught a glimpse of a shadow from within Angelica’s bedroom.  He turned and saw the figure of his father.

Alexander’s back had been turned, and his head was down, almost at a ninety-degree angle.  Aden didn’t think anything odd at the time.  “Hey dad,” were his choice of words, a quick hi-and-bye.

Alexander jolted and then looked up and over without turning.  He twisted his neck so as to see the one who addressed him.  Upon making eye-contact, Alexander smiled, saying, “Oh!  Hey Aden, how you doing?”  His breathing sounded heavy, and as Alexander stared with his neck twisted and his back turned, Aden felt disgusted.

It was during that silent moment when Aden realized something was happening.  Observing the details, Aden put the pieces together; it was in the sweaty glaze surrounding his father’s face, the forcefulness of the smile, the location of the man’s hands, the semi-darkness and position of Alexander’s body, and the way the man’s back had been directly pivoted so that Aden couldn’t see what he was hiding.  The robe Alexander wore was like a blanket, covering all but the man’s feet.  “Well?” questioned his father.

“I’m doing fine,” replied Aden.  Distrusting the quality in the man’s gaze, he quickly left the conversation by entering his bedroom.  He was sure to close the door behind him.  A few seconds were spent in remote quiet, the image still clear in his mind of his father’s hands–and the objects they were holding.  This mystery was different than the other of life’s riddles, more like a crack in the foundation beneath Aden’s very feet.  Not a game, not a game at all.

He asked himself the questions:  What was Alexander doing?  Why was he in Angelica’s room?  Was he masturbating?  If so, why did he leave the door wide open?  And again:  Why was he in Angelica’s room?  But Aden shrugged it off.  Surely, it couldn’t have been what it looked like… things like that just didn’t happen.

But about a week after the first incident, while he and his sister were downstairs watching television, Aden happened to hear the faint footsteps of somebody walking from room to room on the second floor.  He thought, perhaps incorrectly, that he heard a knee pop.  So he told his sister he was going to the restroom and there was no need to pause the VHS tape.  He ascended the stairs.  He did so quietly (some would probably say sneakily).  The restroom door was ajar and the light was on.  He knew where Angelica was, and he also knew that his mother was out shopping, which meant only one thing:

Alexander was not using the much larger, adult restroom located in the master bedroom.  Insofar as Aden was concerned, this broke the untold rules of the household, assigned dos and don’ts that had been silently established over the years.  It was strange, and literally infrequent.  Aden was almost positive that Alexander had in fact never used the “kids’” restroom before.  But he was in there.  It was an actuality.

Aden peeked through the wide crack and saw the unmistakable stature of his father.  Just as last time, it was Alexander’s back that was visible, his head down focused on something directly in front and below him.  Aden looked down to see what his father was so dearly focused upon, and what he saw was the pair of his father’s hands gripping tightly onto a thick white towel.  The towel was grinding back and forth, back and forth, peculiarly close to Alexander’s groin.  Alexander’s entire body was moving, ever so subtly, and the breathing was quick, and it was harsh with effort.  Aden had seen enough.  He knew exactly what his father was doing.

He stepped back, unsure of which action to take.  So he stood there thinking, thinking for too long, until finally the restroom door opened and Alexander stood looking down on his son, the robe open in front so Aden could see the man’s bare stomach and chest, as well as the man’s tighty-whities.  Alexander raised his eyebrows in a mock-gesture of surprise, and then laughed.  “Hey Aden!  What are you doing sneaking around?  You tryin’ to scare me?”  He made his way around Aden, but before he crossed the hallway to the master bedroom, he lifted his hand and rustled Aden’s hair.  “I’m just kiddin’ around.”  Alexander receded into the master bedroom before the door closed and locked.

Aden could feel the blood rushing to his face, out of disgust or out of anger he didn’t know.  What he did know, was that he felt sick, and his hair was wet where his father had touched him.

Somewhat sticky.

——————————————————————————————————–

This is a small portion of a much larger, somewhat epic fantasy (you read that right: Fantasy), and I hope you enjoyed it. If you’d like to see more of the ongoing project, you can click right here to be instantly teleported into the realm of the Granatium.

To keep up to date on when the newest updates are available, you can follow me on Twitter @Keatongwolfe or feel free to join me on Facebook where I also post the latest news regarding the project.

I hope you have a wonderful weekday, weekend, day, night, and all future time references.

Until next time…

 

 

Hostility in the Hospital

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It was a normal doctor’s visit. We took the elevator to the fourth floor, signed in, and traveled to the appropriate room. Little did I know someone was about to get angry, and another person was about to cry. It’s all summed up by the end when yet another person declares, “This is bullshit. Bull… shit. Fucking… bullshit.”

I just happened to be there at the right time… with the right assignment in mind, which was:

Observe a public place and write about what takes place.

So after signing in, we sit. The person I’m with is called into the next room. I wait.

Two elderly women laugh. One is sitting afar and one is sitting nearby. The one nearby says, “I guess we came too early.”

“Yeah, I guess,” says the other. She coughs. “Stupid throat. I hope I’m next.”

An assistant enters from the next room, says, “Margaret?”

“Well,” says the first, “There you go.”

As the other woman leaves, an old man enters from the other side and sits where the other woman was sitting. A younger woman–though still old–sits across from me. She pulls out her phone/tablet/whatever and begins tapping. I look down and open the book I brought with me (Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Quest, part of a trilogy called The Farseer). I begin reading.

After a moment, the old man says, “What did you do before those things? I used to read a magazine, but there’re no magazines here.”

I try to drone him out in order to continue reading, but he’s loud, and I find myself scanning the page instead of focusing.

He drags me into his ego and says, “Well, it looks as though someone still reads.”

I look up to see him staring at me. I smile and nod. “Yeah,” I say.

The older woman next to me says, “It’s sad.”

The old man replies, “What’s so sad about it? I think it’s a good thing!”

“What I mean is that it’s good. I mean it’s sad that there’re so few people reading today.”

The man exhales and nods. Though I return to the page which I’ve made zero progress with, the man continues: “Today we see a bunch of people on those electronic readers. Useless.”

From the corner of my eye, I see the woman next to me staring. I look up and meet her eyes, and shrug. “Yeah, I don’t like the e-readers very much,” I say.

“Well,” says the younger woman across from me, “it’s useful when you’re married to someone and want to read without leaving the light on.”

I politely nod, and then there’s silence for a moment.

“Gah,” exclaims the man. “I think all this new tech is ruining everything. Facebook… why the hell would I want Facebook? So I can live a fake life?”

“Well,” begins the woman across from me, “I’ve used it to find people I haven’t spoken to for a while. It’s good for that, at least. I’ve even met one of my cousins that I’ve never met before.”

“You talk to people you haven’t spoken to for years? And that makes you think it’s a good thing?”

“Well, yeah.”

The older woman nearby laughs. I just look from one person to the other. I sense the hostility.

The old man chimes, “Yeah… right.”

The younger woman looks down at her phone. “I guess that makes me a liar then.”

There’s silence. The thrum of the air-conditioner fills the emptiness. I observe the slight layer of dust upon the fake green leaves on my right.

A nurse comes out from the other room and says a name. I wasn’t paying attention. The woman beside me gets up and leaves with a smile.

This leaves me with the old man on the other side of the room and the younger woman–though still elderly–across from me.

The man gets up from his seat and walks towards the woman and stands in front of her. He’s short. He’s leaning on his cane. He says, “Why the hell would I want to meet with someone I haven’t spoken to for over forty years?”

“What?”

“I said why in the hell would I wanna speak with someone I haven’t spoken to for over forty years?”

“Maybe you miss them.”

“Can’t miss what you don’t have.”

“You think so?”

“I know so.”

“Well, I missed my family.”

“Can’t miss what you don’t have,” he repeated.

The woman closes her phone and stares at the man. “Wanna bet?”

“Well… yeah! I’ll bet. So what made you wanna seek them out?”

The woman fidgets. “My parents robbed me of my childhood–”

The man snorts.

“–and I wanted to meet my family. I’m glad I did.”

The man rolls his eyes. “You can’t miss what you don’t have.”

The woman grabs her purse, her bag, her phone, and her drink. “Fine. I’m sitting somewhere else.”

I look down at the pages as the old man wanders towards another person around the corner. I hear him speaking though I can’t see them. He says, “I didn’t know I was hurting her feelings. I mean, did I hurt her feelings? I don’t think it was anything to get upset about. I was just asking a question.”

The person I was waiting for comes out from the other room and we leave the fourth floor.

Now onto the lobby floor where the pharmacy is located.

We check in the prescription and we wait. While we wait, a young man wheels a woman up to one of six registers. The two of them speak with the pharmacist. An argument takes place. I see that what we’re waiting for is ready, so we stand in the pick-up line. Meanwhile, the man and the woman continue to argue. Cursing ensues.

“This is bullshit. Bull… shit. Fucking… bullshit.”

My mother happens to work at that particular pharmacy. She’s standing next to the pharmacist who’s in the argument. The man shouts another few F-bombs and bullshits, and then he storms out.

I imagine him walking out towards his car, lifting the trunk and pulling out a pistol. I look around the room and find various items in which I could use to incapacitate the guy, just in case he really stormed out in order to retrieve a projectile weapon. At that point, I have one goal… to make sure the person I’m with and my mother don’t end up slaughtered by an angry customer… and then I ponder how many times I’d have to smash the metal signage that suggests five good reasons to wash your hands against the man’s skull before he drops the potential gun.

It turns out the guy just went to get some paperwork.

I’m curious… Do your cognitions go along the same tracks in these kinds of situations or am I just internally hostile? I understand people are sick, and even when we’re not, we typically don’t enjoy standing in line. So I don’t blame that guy for being angry. It doesn’t change the fact that at some point today I thought about actually murdering him just in case I saw anything that looked like a weapon on him.

To be fair, he was still aggravated, waving his arms and slamming his fists. I kept the signage in mind. Just in case.

We reach the register. It happens to be the one my mother is working at. She tells us she can’t ring us up due to familial contact, says, “I’m not allowed to, so I’ll have her ring you up for me.”

We switch to the register where the angry man had moments ago been slamming his fists. He’s now sitting to the side, watching as my mother introduces me and the person I’m with to her co-workers. It felt awkward. It was awkward. A lot of big smiles, a lot of, “Hi! Nice to meet you,” type sentiments while they scan the medical history of the person I’m with. Not to mention I was aware that those smiles and idol chats were probably not making Mr. “Bullshit” to the side of us very happy.

We smiled, we said our hellos, we paid, we grabbed our medicine.

When it was all said-and-done, we left. And leaving that hospital was like pure alleviation.

And yeah, I thought about killing someone today. Isn’t that weird to think about? I… though I’ve so far managed not to harm anybody… thought about killing someone because of the possibility that he may have harmed people around me.

Hostility.

Between Laughter and Rage

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“Someone outside just called me a nigger,” he said.

“What do you mean?” asked Patty.

“I mean someone outside literally just called me a nigger.”

Patty remained quiet, confused. So did everybody else.

Seth continued. “I was walking towards the gate with the wine I bought, and some guy said, ‘nigger,’ straight to my face.”

“But you’re not black,” said Lily.

“He’s lying,” chimed Jimmy.

“Fuck that,” said Robert. “I know you’re lying. You didn’t bring wine.”

Seth shot a thumb towards the apartment door. “I smashed it against the guy’s skull. He’s dead.”

Everyone laughed.

Seth didn’t laugh. “Seriously, he’s dead.”

The laughter increased.

“You lie way too much,” said Christina.

“If a joke is a lie, then yes, I lie quite often.” Seth took a seat next to Patty and put his arm around her. “So Patty and I decided to get married.”

Christina rolled her eyes. “See what I mean?”

“No, it’s true,” said Patty, “we’re getting married this summer.”

“Bullshit!” cried Micheal. “I’ve been tryin’ to seduce Patty for the past four years.”

Seth smirked, pleased with Patty’s quick performance. “Yeah, well, it’s not like we wanted to get married. It’s just that I’m pregnant, and we wanna do what’s best for our love-child.”

Patty leaned over and rubbed Seth’s belly. “Yeah, I hit that like there was no tomorrow. I bet the baby will look just like me, seeing as to how I have all the testosterone.”

Everybody laughed.

“You guys actually do work well together,” said Robert.

Seth gave his honest opinion: “That’s because we’re both actually very, very pissed.”

Everybody smiled, chuckled, smirked… but Seth wasn’t smiling, not at all.

“Seriously this time,” he said. “I know I joke… or lie… literally every time I open my mouth, but that’s because the truth is just as strange. I mean, if I told you the source of my comedy… You know what, fuck it. I’ll tell you.”

“Oh shit,” said Michael. “We finally learn the source of his power.”

Everybody laughed. Everybody except for Seth… and Patty. Patty seemed genuinely curious.

“So, imagine this.” Seth took his arm away from Patty. “You grow up in a two-story house with a few siblings. Your parents are married, and they actually work well together. Your father has some anger issues, but nothing too horrible. In fact, everything seems pretty normal, frequent family picnics including extended family, schooling’s going well, and then bam, right around the time you hit adolescence, you’re hit with a little bit of news. You’re told that your father molested one of your siblings.”

The room became still, quiet.

“You have questions, but nobody has answers. Your father goes in and out, blaming your sister for ‘telling,’ and then cops show up, arrest the guy. You… literally have no clue what’s happening. Again, you ask for more details, but your mother doesn’t want to talk about it, perhaps she doesn’t know much, and your sister doesn’t want to talk about it because it’s extremely personal. You understand it, but your rage meter skyrockets because the situation itself is full of prickly little variables.

“Now get this. The very next day, your father returns, apparently not in jail or in custody. Social services show up, leave you out of the discussions because… well, you don’t know why. All you know is there are major changes coming, and you’re powerless. Now fast-forward a month later to your other sibling, who invites you to their apartment for the weekend. While there, she tells you that she too had been molested, from as far back as she can remember to around the time she hit puberty, also by your father. She gives you specific details that make you simultaneously sad and angry. Notice that comedy is lacking.

“At that point, you wonder: Who is this guy? Over a span of ten years, a span of arguments and interrogations, you learn more and more information, that your father molested many little girls–not just your sisters–and that your mother is absolutely alright with it. In fact, your parents seem closer than ever before. Your mother blames you for your frustrations while your father literally continues to get away with his crimes. And that sense of betrayal, it’s…” He couldn’t find the words.

So he continued on.

“There’s been  no closure, the only consequences are those that negatively affect you and your siblings. Your mother and father have more money now than ever, extended family makes assumptions based on your mother’s attempts to hide the truth, and somehow, through all the mess, you’re the one who’s blamed simply because you’re angry. After ten years, you’re an adult who failed to solve your first adult situation. You want to let it all go and just move on, but every holiday you spend alone or with friends or a lover instead of your family, each achievement you accomplish… they’re not important to you anymore. You simply feel numb to it all.  All of your successes are sort of shadowed by this mountain.

“All the little problems you encounter from that point on, though small, are also much more difficult to get over than before. It’s like there’s this gigantic road-block in the middle of your street, and you’re powerless to do much about it, so you just trudge forward. Bitter. And that’s why I joke so often. Because life is hysterical.”

The room was quiet.

Jimmy finally chortled. “He’s lyin’.”

Her Girlfriend’s Armpit Tasted Like Lime

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I work for a private investigator. Part of this truth is because I had a choice, but most of it was just because they were hiring at the time I needed cash. It just so happened that I also enjoy analyzing anything I can get my hands on. And what I got my hands on this morning was a letter. It was enclosed, and on the ground, and I picked it up, and… well, I opened it. Is that illegal?

Not here on planet X. Even if it was, I really don’t care about the rules. I do the same job my boss does, and the only difference is that I get paid for it. There was a mystery at hand, and I opened the letter. As far as I’m concerned, I’m a private investigator, and I was privately investigating. You can call me Detective, or call me Agent Wolfe. Either way, I solve the mystery.

And by “solve the mystery,” what I really mean is something else entirely. But that’s not important.

So, I opened the letter. What I learned, based on the names, the descriptions, and the tone, was that her girlfriend’s armpit tasted like lime.

Let’s analyze what I know. Clearly, there’s at least two females involved. Some would say they happen to be lesbians. Either way, it appears that one of the females licked, or otherwise tasted the other female’s underarm, and decided that it reminded her of what a lime tasted like. I have extrapolated such details from a letter, which means at some point, someone actually took the time to write it out, place it in an envelope, and drop–or place—the envelope where I could find it. Certainly, this is a sign that somebody wanted to… entertain me.

I must find this person… and arrest them. Because here on Planet X, we don’t put up with entertainment nonsense.

That is all. Case closed.

“What are you?”

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Sometimes it’s fine. It’s the way it is, reminiscent of a child who falls and simply rolls back onto their feet. Perhaps there’s laughter, or more likely just content mobility. Other times it’s not so easy, and a few of those times are nauseating, vomit-inducing. I’ve managed to keep myself from physically hurling, but that feeling sometimes blankets whatever mood I’m in. I’m grateful that it’s rare.

1. Culture. I don’t feel I belong to one, or a few, or any at all. Physically, I appear to be… something. Other people haven’t been able to tell me what they estimate without becoming somewhat insulting–the most frequented question I’ve been asked by strangers throughout my life thus far has not been, “What’s your name?” but, “What are you?” While growing up, it was constant. During my adult life, it’s been less frequent, but I have had a few people speak to me in the campus hallways and ask, “Hey, I’ve seen you around, and I’ve been wondering… What are you?” Quite literally.

I myself can’t truly say because I don’t know–my parents never really talked about it, not to mention that my father has said some racist nonsense about black people even though on my mother’s side it’s clear that there’s a lot of African-American background. Also mix in the fact that my mother either remains quiet on the subject, or she suggests that she’s ashamed of whatever percentage of her happens to be African–if any… I truly don’t know. All I know is that my father appears to be white… or according to someone close to me, “middle-eastern”… or something? Again, I don’t know. My mother appears to be… well, what is she? Once again… I honestly don’t know.

They refused to speak about heritage. Personally, I’ve enjoyed my life thus far, and growing up in Southern California, surrounded by a rainbow of different cultures and skin-tones, I’ve honestly never viewed culture or race as very important in my own personal experiences. I get along just fine.

That’s the first thing regarding… whatever it is that this is.

2. One thing leads to another, and it turns out my father was also a child-molesting pedophile who apparently harmed many little girls. That, and the fact that my mother remained loyal to him–to the point of actively going against my siblings and I–put quite a few pieces of debris in the cogs of the machine. Although it never truly ended, I can say there’ve been progressions towards a point where I really haven’t had many interpersonal relationships in regards to blood relatives. I have friends, I’ve had romances, and things in those departments are wonderful. But when it comes to blood-relations, I don’t have much, if any. It’s just part of the domino effect.

Briefly, I’ll suggest some other topics that have come up in regards to romances I’ve had:

“Hey, kids?”

“Uhm… What’s the relationship with the grandparents?”

“Ah, yes. Uhm… Well, our children probably won’t have reliable grandparents.”

“…”

Those conversations happen in almost every close relationship I’ve ever had, including my current relationship… and it rarely ends with good news. Which is another reason I would urge you: Please don’t sexually abuse any one of however many children you have. If you don’t have morals and you just don’t care, that’s fine… but at least try to be consistently selfish and think about how much wonderful joy you’re giving up by ending any potential relationship with grandchildren before you destroy it all with nasty… disrespectful… molestations. ^__^ I’m sure your children/grandchildren will appreciate that.

To most of you, the above statement is a joke. And it is. Or at least… it should be, from my perspective.

But it happens. Just one child is abused, and that trust goes away–or at least in my case, I certainly cannot trust my parents with children. Which truly is a sad thing, but sadly, is also a true thing.

So, that’s the second thing.

3. The overall effects.

There’s not much to say here, but if I am to follow the prompt–which includes writing about what you’ve lost, either something or someone–then this part is the result.

The result is a life that is just fine. My siblings and I are all doing well. We don’t have reliable relations with much family other than each other, and we all have had fantastic romantic relationships as well as many wonderful friendships. It is what it is, and usually the truth is simple to handle because it’s simply real. Other times, it’s difficult, not because of what I don’t have, but because I remember what it was like at one point to have it. It’s like that which has been giveth has also been taketh, and it is what it is.

I’m in a good mood. This sometimes happens.

Inspiration Analysis: Courage Like Fire

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So while working on the next analysis–which is taking longer than I originally expected–I’ve also been working on my main project: The Granatium. Here is but one segment that I would like to discuss here on WordPress and the inspiration behind it:

By calling it the seeds of a growing fantasy, I’d be decreasing its value to me. I was originally planning to write a non-fiction about abuse–all encompassing abuse which includes psychological, sexual, physical, and altogether assholery, if you will. But my love of the bizarre and the surreal has morphed my original scope to new heights while retaining the realism and tone.

The segment is based on one particular memory. I do remember a time when someone very close to me stood up to her abuser. At the time, I wasn’t aware of how deep the tendrils of “the man’s” abuse had penetrated, and guiltily, I remember feeling as though she shouldn’t have done that–just another reason for the man to become a monster. But hindsight, and years of opening doors and learning of past shadowed events as they came into the light, I realized that this memory of mine is one of the most important memories I have to date. Even if it ended badly, that moment when the abused challenged the abuser, despite the size difference and danger she was in, despite every logical safety maneuver available such as staying quiet or toleration, this child who grew into a wonderfully independent, strong and intelligent adult human being… at one point decided to completely throw a bone into the systematic gears of declination.

The painted image of the small girl versus the giant, in my opinion, belongs on the ceiling of a perfect dome.

Since I’m no good at painting, and I’ve never delved into any sort of architecture, then the least I can do is place the memory she created here in my Inspirations category… because it’s just too badass not to.

I hope you have a wonderful whenever!

And if you’d like to read/listen to more of the project, you can find it all here.

Until next time…

 

Inspiration Highlight: Iron Monkey (1993/2001)

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The official release date of the film, Siu Nin Wong Fei Hung Chi: Tit Ma Lau, was in the year 1993, but the U.S. release date was in 2001, presented by Quentin Tarantino with the translated title:

Iron Monkey

Unmask The Legend

Unmask The Legend

I watched this film in theaters (subtitled) around the time when I was just beginning my teen years. I went in with a friend, and I was expecting something simple, a martial arts flick where one person or group faces off against another person or group. One side would be good, one side would be evil, and I would be content.

I was in for a shock, however.

Iron Monkey, in my own words, is about the human spirit. This almost surreal-like film, with its cartoon-like portrayal of the characters, actually delivers something heavy in the human heart.

What I’m about to discuss–in detail–are the events that take place in the film, analyzing it from my own perspective, and giving my thoughts as to how it impacted me as a writer, and why it belongs here in my Inspiration Highlights. The nature of this analysis will contain spoilers, so decide for yourself if you wish to continue or not. I do hope in any case that you enjoy the analysis, and that by the end, you either gain a new desire to view the film, or if you’ve already viewed it, perhaps a new/renewed sense of enjoyment/appreciation towards it.

As the title suggests, this film by Woo-ping Yuen is a tale about the Iron Monkey, a Robin Hood type character who uses an almost supernatural skill in the martial arts in order to steal from corrupt officials and give those riches to the needy and the poor.  This is portrayed perfectly from the very beginning of the film in a triad, which opens first with a visual & text setting, followed by an action sequence between the Iron Monkey himself and the governor’s monks, followed by a heartfelt introduction to the Iron Monkey’s true persona, which is Dr. Yang, played wonderfully by Rongguang Yu.

Above, Dr. Yang (right) provides free service to a sickly man who is unable to afford such costly medicine.

Above, Dr. Yang (right) provides free service to a sickly man who is unable to afford such costly medicine.

So right off the bat, from those three scenes, we absolutely understand who this guy is. He’s someone we can root for, someone who not only uses his amazing martial arts for what many people would consider a good cause, but he’s also a doctor, an intelligent, kindly man who is willing to put his reputation on the line in order to help those who are unable to afford it. He is the lead protagonist, and the hero–the one who is directly taking action in order to help those in poverty.

So that’s it, right? Good guy versus the corrupt governor, and that’s it. That’s what I expected when I first viewed the film. I… was… so…

WRONG. That’s just the opening.

The next few segments reveal a few more characters, a couple of them protagonists with their own point of view (POV) scenes, and this amplifies the complexity of the film without flying off the spectrum between good and evil.

First is General/Chief Fox, played by Shun-Yee Yuen.

Chief Fox (left) encounters an indecent man.

Chief Fox (left) encounters an indecent man.

Notice how small Chief Fox is there on the left. The man he’s confronting is clearly larger in size, which I think is an excellent portrayal of a small man who isn’t afraid to stand up to injustice, regardless of physical stature. Now having that said, we’re also given scenes which display Fox’s stance towards the Iron Monkey. It’s almost as if he understands the Iron Monkey’s cause, but because of his position as police Chief and his obligations towards protecting the governor (and his assets), Fox feels torn on what to do pragmatically. His place is gray, and that’s important to remember from here on out.

The next two characters enter the plot:

Wong Kei-Ying and his son, Wong Fei-Hong (played by Donnie Yen and Sze-Man Tsang, respectively):

Wong Fei-Hong (left) and his father, Wong Kei-Ying (right)

Wong Fei-Hong (left) and his father, Wong Kei-Ying (right)

These two characters play a vital role in the film, bringing with them a very unique sense of character. Wong Fei-Hong (Wong Fei-Hung, according to other sources), is actually a common folk-hero in Hong Kong who was known to be a an expert in the field of martial artist, adept as a physician, and an altogether well-known character displayed in many other fictional stories. It’s almost as if this film follows him as a prequel adventure to his adult character in other media. In this film, he’s definitely considered a young martial artist/physician who is still provided tutelage under his father. Needless to say, they both know how to defend themselves well in this film, just one of many reasons I would recommend checking it out for yourself if you have not already.

Wonderful Story Complications: The plot goes deeper as we see these two characters enter the same location where the Iron Monkey prevails. They get caught up in a street-fight within the first five minutes of reaching the city, and because they showed off their martial arts skills, the men under Chief Fox arrest them, considering them to be potential allies with the Iron Monkey, going so far as to accusing Wong Kei-Ying of being the Iron Monkey himself.

While arrested, Wong Kei-Ying pleads with the governor to let him free, to prove his innocence and catch the Iron Monkey. The governor agrees, holding his son as a hostage until the Iron Monkey is brought to justice.

…And this is my favorite plot point of this film. In any tale told, I tend to become more involved when the two opposing forces aren’t simply good and evil, or in this case, Robin Hood versus the corrupted officials. At this point in the film, it becomes two fantastic martial artists versus each other, one to help those in poverty, and the other to free his son. They’re two people we can root for, facing off with one another.

In a beautiful spin on the writing, as Wong Kei-Ying attempts to seek and kill the Iron Monkey, he finds it difficult even to find food, for nobody in the city is willing to accept his money; he is, after all, the one guy who’s out to vanquish their champion, the Iron Monkey. So who does he run into?

Miss Orchid, Doctor Yang’s assistant (played by Jean Wang).

Miss Orchid invites Wong Kei-Ying into Dr. Yang's home for soup.

Miss Orchid (right) invites Wong Kei-Ying into Dr. Yang’s home for soup.

In my opinion, this adds such an enormous layer to the beauty of this film. Through a montage of what literally looks like kung-fu cooking, music, and table-talk, we see that Dr. Yang and Miss Orchid are treating Wong Kei-Ying with the greatest of hospitality. Wong Kei-Ying, though tasked with murdering and bringing the Iron Monkey’s head back to the governor, knows nothing of Dr. Yang’s dual identity, though Yang is certainly aware of Wong Kei-Ying’s forced task, issued by the governor. Seeing Dr. Yang and Miss Orchid care and cater to this man whose very goal is to see the Iron Monkey dead inspired me on so many levels as a young teenager, and the notion of catering to your enemies still impacts me today.

Also, this is the scene in the film that separates the good from the evil, in my opinion. If we take this film as a fairy-tale, then the first half is definitely the depiction of the knights, the damsels in distress, the failing ruler… even the governor has been portrayed as someone who’s only following orders and trying to maintain his status as governor, reaching for the mountaintop of riches, away from the fears of being too poor to eat. He’s stressed, and fearful, and in that sense, he’s human, even in his corrupted state of being.

The governor's nine wives speak openly of his incompetence, and how they should raise the taxes in order to eat better.

The governor’s nine wives speak openly of his incompetence, and how they should raise the taxes in order to eat better.

Firstly, being scolded by one of his nine wives doesn’t automatically make the governor someone we’d consider morally good–nor does this in any way mean that his wives are to blame for his corrupt behavior–but compared to the characters introduced in the second half of the film, even the governor is somebody we can at least understand and perhaps empathize with, even if we don’t necessarily want to. In the fairy-tale, he’s the ruler who’s simply not very good at ruling, and to me, the film lets us know on a few occasions that he understands his folly. Now, what do most fairy-tales include besides the morally good and ambiguous?

Evil people, coming in to do evil things.

Okay, so the second half of this film becomes littered with a small army with bad to worse characters… not in a way that says, “Wow, they ruined the movie!” but in a way that says, “Did the dude just use one of the governor’s wives… as a shield?” More on that later.

Just when we think the film is solidly about a corrupt governor who hires a good man to take down the hero (which is a good-enough plot that has been brilliantly performed by the actors in this movie), suddenly enters people who do things like this:

Here we see some poor soul praying to her dead husband.

Here we see some poor soul praying to her dead husband.

...luring in the Iron Monkey.

…luring in the Iron Monkey.

...just to kill him!

…just to kill him!

...and this guy leaps from blankets in order to also kill the Iron Monkey!

…and this guy leaps from blankets in order to also kill the Iron Monkey!

Summing up those four images is like summing up the physical mass that is blasphemy. Not only do they fake a funeral, falsely praying for what turns out to be fake dressings, but they did it all to lure in the Iron Monkey, just to cut him into bits while taking his charitable money.

I think we can agree that that’s evil behavior… but let’s take a look at who they work for:

The Royal Minister (also known here as, THIS GUY):

Here we see the Royal Minister, preparing to show us excellence... and excellence is what we shall see.

Here we see the Royal Minister, preparing to show us excellence… and excellence is what we shall see.

The guy not only breaks through a bunch of wall after his pupils were defeated, but he delivers the super-poisoned-evil version of Buddha’s Palm to our hero… all in one leap!

He also steals wives…

The governor's wives who were complaining before... yeah, they're not complaining now.

The governor’s wives who were complaining before… yeah, they’re not complaining now.

And then uses those wives as a shield…

...Uh oh. Perhaps the governor wasn't such a bad guy afterall. :(

…Uh oh. Perhaps the governor wasn’t such a bad guy after all. 😦

Yeah. The Royal Minister clearly does not care about foolish mortals, who are apparently in his path only to amuse and serve him. He spits cherries from his mouth fast enough to literally pierce a guy like a bullet, he can almost fly, has huge devil-sleeves that can be used for anything from remodeling to slowly suffocating his victims like an arachnid, and a great big beard he uses to stroke while speaking maliciously. The guy, in this film, represents polar evil, or the dragon in the fairy-tale, the beast that came from the far, opposite side of the spectrum in order to burn the land.

In a brilliant stroke of writing brings all the heroes together, the Iron Monkey, Wong Kei-Ying, Wong Fei-Hong, and Miss Orchid… all of whom perform some serious martial arts against the Royal Minister and his band of bullies. It’s fantastic, and I love it now just as much as I did years ago.

I won’t go into the conclusion of the tale, so as to keep the appetite whet.

Why Iron Monkey belongs here in my inspirations:

As a tale, this film does such a wonderful job at bringing the viewer into the era and locale of the Iron Monkey. The characters all have their own backgrounds, their own moral compasses, and we get to see how many of them interact with each other, both peacefully and violently. To me, it’s a fairy-tale between polar opposites, with a myriad of characters in between the two extremes, those gray in color.

Personally, one of my favorite scenes (away from all the great martial arts) is when Dr. Yang and Miss Orchid cater to Wong Kei-Ying. During that portion of the story, we are given subtle details that really expand the setting and history, solidifying what could have easily been just another fight-fest film. Though the entire film has hidden gems, this is the scene that really struck me as inspirational, the idea that opposing sides don’t necessarily have to retain a hatred or even a dislike towards each other. It is simply the opposition by natural law and human circumstance. We’ve seen it before and I could give many great examples of tales that depict this (perhaps in my future analyses), but when I first saw this film at the turn of the new century, I really didn’t come across many films in general that portrayed such a fantastic array of moral development.

It’s a wonderful film, and I would suggest you not only view it on your own, but watch it with your friends, your family, and, if you believe they’re mature enough, even your kids (if applicable).

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I hope you enjoyed this first piece from my analyzed works (film, music, literature, etc.), and I plan on writing more in the future. Though I haven’t decided yet which inspiration I’ll work on next, I do have a few in mind. I’ll keep them a surprise. Anyhow, if you haven’t checked out this film, I’d recommend viewing it for yourself to see if you love it, hate it, or take something new from it. Most importantly, have a wonderful day.

You can follow me on Twitter @Keatongwolfe

And you can find bits of my own project (both transcripts and readings) at The Granatium.

Until next time…

Future Analyses

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Hello, hello!

In my first post entitled Snowball, I let you know that I wasn’t sure what I was doing here yet.

You see, I already have two blog accounts, one specifically regarding my work, and another where I post more personal, random activity somewhere within the realm of writing.

So what is the point of this WordPress account?

Well, I’ve decided yesterday that I would put this account specifically to a different use, and so I’ll use this account specifically to praise other works, people, and events that have inspired me throughout the years. These are the heavy-hitters, the music, the literature, the television and films that have significantly steered me in one direction or the other for very salient reasons. They’re the pieces that may have affected my personal style, or mood while writing a specific segment. So that means I’ll have a lot to say about pieces that I’m passionate about. I’ll analyze them, and post them up here on WordPress, under the category entitled “Keaton’s Inspirations Analyzed.”

Have fun and have a great weekend – whenever your weekend begins.

Until next time…

-Keaton