Story “Human” Complete edited First Chapter. “Waiting For Eternity”

Chapter 1 “Waiting for Eternity”

He told me I died.

That I was buried underneath the watery debris of the fallen dam I had been walking on moments before, causing my lungs to burst…and I died. It’s amazing how quick a life can be taken away. In one moment you’re there, and the next you’re just gone.

I was still working past the initial shock. What came after death wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. There was no bright light, no silver lining, no out of body experience.

In movies I had seen they always show the person crossing over to embrace a deceased loved one. I had been half-expecting Grandma Marie to be waiting for me and holding a pile of cookies. I wasn’t expecting a sullen skinny man named Gilbert.

The room I was currently in—well if I can even call it that—was white, just an endless chain of sanitary nothing.

“Where am I?” I asked.

             “You died” he had said, plain and simple. As if there was nothing complicated about it. I knew that voice he used, my father had used it often. ‘It is what it is, and there’s nothing you can do about it now’. It was how he had reasoned with everything. My father and I were so different. I saw things with meaning and affection and, well, he didn’t.

              “My name is Gilbert. I’ve been assigned to be your guide through this decision process. Tell me Alexandria, do you remember how you got here?”

              I could hardly forget it. I was still coughing up water, could still feel my throat burning and my fear of not being able to breathe—drowning was a very unpleasant feeling.

              He continued to stare at me through cold stony eyes. He looked human. He had sandy blonde hair and blue eyes, but there was no depth to him. He had no lines showing that he had ever fallen in love, been disappointed, or ever been afraid. He was just empty.

              “The difference between you and I is that you still have your humanity. This is the place where you are cleansed before taken up to what is beyond.” He said coolly.  “Your death was very unexpected so you have a choice to stay here or to go back to earth and continue a human life for one more year. There you will be permitted to deal with any unfinished business you may have.”

              My thoughts seemed to get lost from the time Gilbert talked to me to the point where I had been ushered away like cattle to another room. Although the things he had told me were slowly starting to seep back into my consciences I was far to absorbed in the idea of getting the chance to go home to really listen to them.

              Of course with any offer that was usually too good to be true there were some repercussions. He said as long as I had my humanity I would be easily perceptible to demons and seduction. If seduced I myself would become a demon and would carry out the job to seduce other potential crossovers.  However I had already made up my mind on a impulse long before he could tell me about how dangerous it was.

              He had me stand in one of two lines with a bunch of offhanded people in my soaked squashy shoes and dripping wet hair. As far as I could tell all of the people who had died suddenly were in my line and the others who died old or with a long term illness, who had prepared themselves for death, were in the other.

The white sanitary (well, whatever this place was) was filled with people, all dressed in a wide variety of outfits—whatever you were wearing when you died, that was what you were stuck with until you made the cross over. So if you died naked in a bath tub, that was it, stark naked for everyone to see. Everyone was very calm though, very still—not at all what you would expect a large crowd to look like.

Even I felt the strange sereneness from this place. I only had my thoughts to keep me company.

There were several pillars spread out through the wide room, but they blended in well with the rest of the white placements. There were four desks at the top of the lines where people who were as voided of their humanity as Gilbert were waiting. The marble floor looked ancient and new at the same time. Like it was made out of something you would see in Greek mythology, but it was so polished that it didn’t look aged.

              I thought about how I ran away from home. I wasn’t sure how long ago it was now. Based on the medieval outfits and wide circus tent dresses I got the feeling that time wasn’t linear here. It had been pouring buckets of rain, but in my stubborn state I couldn’t see the danger in that scenario. My mother was yelling at me and I was yelling for reasons I can’t even remember…I knew my father would just take her side so I packed my backpack and snuck out my window. I thought I could just drop out of school and join a band or something awesome like that.

There was a dam that separated my house from the town, from my escape, and I tried to climb over it. Half way there the flood swallowed the sticks and pulled me down with it. I wondered if my family even knew I was gone. Would they care? Would it even make a difference?

              “Alexandria Watson” a woman spoke softly motioning with her long stiff neck for me to take a seat in the chair across from her desk.

The lady sitting across from me—Petunia Plattwood, she said was her name—was oblivious to my inner struggle. She just sat there behind her desk, patiently as if nothing affected her. This seemed to be a pattern here. I suppose I couldn’t expect to see a friendly face when everyone had been drained of humanity.

              I exhaled deeply and plopped down. She already had my file in front of her. I wondered if it was like a longer version of Santa’s Nice and Naughty list. I got the feeling that I would never know.

              “Are you sure that this is what you want?” she asked slowly, turning through the pages of my file. There was a certain aristocracy in her high-pitched voice, as if there was more than just a glass desk standing between us. She was dressed in a polished pink jacket and a matching pin skirt and tiny top hat. It was almost comical that even in death people cared what they looked like. Her manicured hands clasped in front of her on the desk as she waited patiently for my answer.

I slumped back in my chair, but after a pointed look from her I straightened myself and nodded.

“I am,” I said, grinding my teeth together. This was another thing that I thought would pass after I had died. I had ground my teeth down so much that I had been forced to wear a retainer at night for protection. I couldn’t say I was going to miss that thing.

I knew what she probably thought of me. Soggy converse shoes, skinny jeans and a large oversized Guns N’ Roses t-shirt. I hadn’t fit in much in life so why would I expect any different in death? I had inherited my mother’s face—her blue eyes, plump lips and ebony hair, but that was about as far as anyone would go in calling me beautiful. I despised my lean form and my dainty little feet. To top it off I was stuck at 17.

More than anything else that defined the received condescending look from her eyes. I was a teenager, therefore I knew absolutely nothing.

My parents were always giving me this look—and that’s why I did it, ran off I mean…to show them that I could take care of myself. Perhaps if I had listened to them I wouldn’t be in this position at all. I would be home, warm and tucked under my blankets while my mom made me dinner. If I was less stubborn it would be easier to acknowledge, but I didn’t want to feel guilty. My own selfishness was the only thing that kept me from falling apart at the news of my own demise.

              “This decision should not be taken lightly Alexandria” Petunia said calmly. “Going back to earth is dangerous no matter what the circumstances are. You haven’t been fully cleansed of your humanity so you are an easy target of seduction.”

              I smiled slightly, but thought it would be inappropriate to laugh.

              “Look when I got here—my guide, Gilly”

              “Gilbert” she corrected.

              “Gilbert, he already gave me the whole run down on everything”

              I could recall all of the ominous warnings he had given me. I’m sure he meant to sound intimidating, but I was too excited as such a prospect to care.

              Gilbert had told me the basics…everyone had a guide when they died, to explain things and to let it sink in before sending you on your way to deal with people like Petunia. Death was a very complicated process.

              He explained how the choice was able to make now had been made after the incident with the fallen angels. He said that they now wanted to take precautions to make sure the ones who went to heaven were going to stay there.

              “When a soul is put back on earth they are up for grabs for both sides. It’s up to you to prove your worth and to stay out of harm’s way. Manipulation on your new vulnerability is one of the key components that the demons use to turn you. It’s a very dangerous game.” He told me.

              Petunia straightened and then paused briefly.

              “Alexandria, you are still very much tormented with humanity, and you died very young so you will be a more perceptible target. Demons are not what you would expect them to be. They look like ordinary people, the mailman, a cute boy in your math class, a librarian…. And they will say or do anything to possess your soul.”

              “I understand” I said, “I do, really”

              She took a deep breath and then nodded once.

              “As you wish, you will be given one human year to get it together and then you will be taken up here to get cleansed, assuming that in that year a demon doesn’t conquer you first, which in that case I am afraid there isn’t anything we can do.  Rules; one, no one from your previous life will be able to see you, so in order to keep a low profile you must make sure that the other mortals do not realize this. Two, you are no longer human even if you do have a presence on earth so you will not ever be hungry or tired…but all of your human instincts will be heightened. It’s important that you try to stay away from emotions of anger or jealousy or greed which will draw you out to a demon.”

              She opened a clear box and pressed a big button that made the chair I was sitting in sink into the ground. It all passed in a flash. I could feel my hair go up into the air and my hands clenched down on the seat I was sitting on for fear of falling off of it, but in an instant it was over. The chair was gone, as was the white room and Petunia. I was at my hometown sitting in a pew of a church. I should’ve known I’d end up here. It felt strange to feel the smooth russet wood under my white fingertips. I had never been to this church before, but something about it made me feel at ease. There were worn bibles along the back of the pew in front of me and the carpet was emerald green. The sun shone through the stainless glass windows and broke out in a rainbow of colors. It was refreshing to see color that wasn’t white.

              I got up, my legs shaky and I moved out to the aisle. At the front of the aisle a priest stood. He looked ancient. He had wrinkled turtle skin, white ashy hair and glasses. He was reading out of the bible marking passages with a pen. When he heard me get up his head lifted to mine. He winked when he saw me and I gulped surprised that he knew who I was.

              “Alexandria?” he said. I nodded and walked over to him. “I was expecting you. You’ll find what you need in that box over there.” He continued, pointing to a box at the end of the room. He continued to mark passages not phased by me.

              I walked over to the wooden box. It reminded me of one those things they use in sermons that you pull bread out of. There was a simple cross engraved on the top and a small latch to open in the front. I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to touch it. In all of the movies I had seen, when a dead person tried to touch something there hand would shoot right through it. I placed my hand on it carefully, and at the feel of smooth wood I opened it and grimaced. There were clothes—very preppy, expensive looking clothes, an I.D.—on it was a picture of me, and a changed last name…Alexandria Watson had now become Alexandria Angel. I rolled my eyes at the irony.

              I had absolutely no idea where to start or what exactly I was supposed to learn from all of this. Part of me was still hoping that it would all turn out to be a bad dream.  All I cared about was getting my life back. The rest would follow.

              Little did I know the smell of my arrival had already struck a loud chord through the damned. The taloned hand of the devil scraped through the earth, pointing in my direction…letting the demonic wasteland know that another injured bird had landed. The hand had already started to close…like a fly trap, waiting for the inevitable.

              I should’ve stayed home.

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Hypertext and Feminism

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Reading has drastically changed with the advancement of technology. Doors to new possibilities have opened and books are no longer acknowledged as single purpose objects. Through digital mediums stories can now be told in experimental and non-traditional fashions. One experimental writing form is hypertext. According to Ted Nelson, hypertext is defined as “a software system that links topics on the screen to related information and graphics, which are typically accessed by a point-and-click method.” Hypertext breaks traditional form and adds several interactive features allowing participants to explore the message or theme at an exceptionally profound level. Nelson believes hypertext was the catalyst for the new era in written word. This new era was drastically different than traditional methods of reading and writing, but was readily accepted by those who utilized digital literary mediums.

“Patchwork girl”, a hypertext story written by Shelly Jackson, uses hypertext to present a feminist message. Jackson tells the story by using drawings of female body parts stitched together through text and illustration. The story and the images utilized to create Patchwork Girl uses this breakage from traditional writing and parallels it with the voice and perspective of a female narrative. Patchwork Girl is written in Hypertext style to give writer Shelly Jackson an experimental voice to mold and shape as her own without being transfixed to a still page. Patchwork girl correlates with an expression of feminism because it moves away from the indoctrinate style of writing with its nonlinear form, its deconstructive body of the monster and its lexias, and the random selection of its text.

As seen through lecture, hypertext has three central defining functions. It has multiple pathways to continue the reading, chunked text, and a navigation system of links. The form of hypertext is revolutionary because it breaks apart linear writing styles and puts it into something completely new. By making the writing nonlinear the author is essentially no longer in control of the flow of the story. Instead, the reader has control and can navigate the story as she or he wishes. The reader chooses the pathway and she or he autonomously concludes the ending.

While some authors of Hypertext stories may etch a constant fixed destination, other Hypertext stories reveal alternate conclusions depending on the reader, at least the reader can choose the road. The reader is not bound by a narrow pathway, but instead she or he has liberty to choose. The journey to the destination matters and choice, freedom, and independence is what Hypertext offers. Equality reverberates in the very foundation of Hypertext.

In Patchwork Girl, Jackson has more of a conversation with the reader about feminism and allows the reader to come to the same conclusion through the nonlinear usage of hypertext. The message of feminism is all about equality and by using hypertext this message is not only in the writing, but it also in the construct. Patchwork Girl has apparent ploys to convey a feminist message, but the hypertext medium itself expresses feminism because it breaks away from tradition. The writer and the reader become equal participants in pushing the story forward. Just like in feminism, both parties are equally important in carrying out to the finished goal. Robert Coover wrote that “the traditional narrative time line vanishes into a geographical landscape or exitless maze, with beginnings, middles and ends being no longer part of the immediate display. Instead: branching options, menus, link markers and mapped networks. There are no hierarchies in these topless (and bottomless) networks, as paragraphs, chapters and other conventional text divisions are replaced by evenly empowered and equally ephemeral window-sized blocks of text and graphics — soon to be supplemented with sound, animation and film” (Coover 707).  He continues by rhetorically asking if hypertexts are “to be linked to the chain of existence and events, (he answers) yes, but bound by it? No. I forge my own links, I am building my own monstrous chain, and as time goes on, perhaps it will begin to resemble, rather, a web.” Coover’s quote repeated by the monster in Patchwork Girl, not only shows the power of feminism underlined, but also relates directly back to usage of hypertext. Hypertext is completely different from the traditional hierarchal form of writing and just like the monster wishes to be something equal and autonomous, hypertext does so simultaneously.

The first image that is seen when entering the story of Patchwork Girl is the deconstructed monster. The body metaphorically represents the body of text that is the story and the body that must be sewn together in order to unfold itself into its story. This monster parallels greatly with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and is also equally as important to understand and travel through to comprehend the message of feminism behind the story. The female monster correlates Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein’s monster and offers a parallel to the words of Mary Shelly’s monster. What the monster in Frankenstein yearned for the most was a female companion to be his equal counterpart so he did not have to live in solitude, dominating over another sex. The wish was denied in Frankenstein, however this power of equality is granted in Patchwork Girl as the author stitches the patchwork of the story and creates the female monster. Frankenstein thinks better of creating the female counterpart in Mary Shelly’s book and destroys the monster and in Patchwork girl the female monster is given a voice to parallel as the reader patches it together. The reader essentially gives the monster life and the female monster interrupts the voice of Mary Shelly and remarks “I told her to abort me, raze me from her book; I did not want what he wanted. I laughed when my parts lay scattered on the floor, scattered as the bodies from which I had sprung discontinuous as myself rejoice to be.” The body is reassembled by reading about all of the different body parts and the story cannot continue without first reassembling the body parts of the monster and thus giving it the voice and option to speak its story. (PatchworkGirl)

Hypertext relents the author from taking dominance by allowing the reader to make the choice of which text box to click on and continue the story. The link between written and stitch not only portrays the metaphor written in the following body paragraph, but also shows the equal importance of the reader and the writer. The reader must stitch the story together and the writer is responsible for the text on the screen. Both links to sewn and writing parallel each other to convey this importance. There are five paths for the reader to take; “the graveyard, the journal, the quilt, the story, and the broken accents.” The reader chooses where to begin by constructing the story together. The reader in a sense is responsible for constructing the monster by which text box they decide to click on. All text boxes lead to several more text boxes in which the reader again gets to choose randomly of how to progress this story. The reader is essentially the parallel of Frankenstein and is responsible to giving life to the female counterpart of the monster. Shelley Jackson uses the voice of the monster to remark on how the original Frankenstein story structure and control of the author kept the monster back. “I alone remember the real Mary. Her curious mix of resonance and passion. The part that twisted under me with a dark satisfaction and the part that wiped her hands afterward and twitch the curtains open with punitive haste. You can see it in her book. How she embeds her tale in a thickness of letters and second hand account as if precaution were needed to secure the monster behind those locks and screens.” The usage of hypertext gives the monster more dominance vs in Mary Shelly’s story where the still pages in them self held the monster back and kept it constrained. It is only through the random selections of story that allows the female monster it’s free voice to speak openly and lively with the reader. The author seems to have little power to what the monster will say next because it is not controlling the voice.

Patchwork girl is an expression of feminism because it moves away from the indoctrinate style of writing with its nonlinear form, its deconstructive body of the monster and its lexias, and the random selection of its text. Hypertext diverges from the hegemonic style of writing and provides freedom for writers and readers. Not only does hypertext writing reflect the feminist theory, but the theme within Patchwork Girl explicitly reflects the medium through which the story is written. Without the shared control, the work perhaps could not be close read and defined as something equal. Nor would it be able to parallel with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein so deeply to its very core and would lose its ability to critique the author through structure. Hypertext is one of many experimental forms of the digital that opens the door to convey new messages. It is important to understand how hypertext can be used so a deeper point can come across to the reader.

“Stay” A Poem for him…

Not much in my life makes sense right now, but you do.
My whole world would be such a mess without you.
I don’t have much to offer anymore,
I’ve lost my mind, I’ve lost my way
But still, I need you to stay.
Confused words spill out of my mouth
Feelings are lost on me
Pain in your eyes
Pain.
I want it to go away.
Words unspoken, love hidden inside a a box
The heart, shattered.
Broken glass, red and blue,
and violent tears
Your patience astounds me.
Your Love astounds me.
Clarity is temporary.
But I am yours.
Always.
So do not doubt.
I am merely lost.
Hope is at a distance that I can’t reach.
Drowning in life’s cruel random circumstances
I need you
I need you to stay.

Scene from my Young Adult Novel called, “Human”.

“Are you sure that this is what you want?” she asked slowly. There was a certain aristocracy in her high-pitched voice, as if there was more than just a glass desk standing between us. She was dressed in a polished pink jacket and a matching pin skirt and a tiny top hat. It was almost comical that even in death people cared what they looked like. Her manicured hands clasped in front of her on the desk as she waited patiently for my answer.

             I slumped back in my chair, but after a pointed look from her I straightened myself and nodded.

             I knew what she probably thought of me. Soggy converse shoes, skinny jeans and a large oversized guns and roses t-shirt. I hadn’t fit in much in life so why would I expect any different in death? I had inherited my mother’s face—her blue eyes, plump lips and ebony hair, but that was about as far as anyone would go in calling me beautiful. I despised my lean form and my dainty little feet. To top it off I was stuck dead at 17.

             More than anything else I knew that was what really defined the condescending look in her eyes. I was a teenager, therefore I knew absolutely nothing.

             I had gotten used to this stare from my life. My parents were always giving me this look—and that’s why I did it…to show them that I could take care of myself. Perhaps if I had listened to them I wouldn’t be in this position at all. I would be home, warm and tucked under my blankets while my mom made me dinner. If I was less stubborn it would be easier to acknowledge, but I didn’t want to feel guilty. My own selfishness was the only thing that kept me from falling apart at the news of my own demise.

             “I am” I said, grinding my teeth together. This was another thing that I thought would pass after I had died. I had ground my teeth down so much that I had been forced to wear a retainer at night for protection. I couldn’t say I was going to miss that thing.

             The lady sitting across from me—Petunia Plattwood, printed in big shiny letters on the gold plate in front of her—was oblivious of my inner struggle. She just sat there behind her desk, patiently as if nothing affected her. This seemed to be a pattern here. The white sanitary (well, whatever this place was) was filled with people, all dressed in a wide variety of outfits—whatever you were wearing when you died, that was what you were stuck with until you made the cross over. So if you died naked in a bathtub, that was it. Your birthday suit on display for everyone to see. Everyone was very calm though, very still—not at all what you would expect a large crowd to look like.

             Even I felt the strange sereneness from this place. I only had my thought to keep me company.

             “This decision should not be taken lightly Alexandria” Petunia said calmly. “Going back to earth is dangerous no matter what the circumstances are. You haven’t been fully cleansed of your humanity so you are an easy target of seduction.”

             I smiled slightly, but thought it would be inappropriate to laugh.

             “Look when I got here—my guide, Gilly”

             “Gilbert” she corrected.

             “Gilbert, he already gave me the whole run down on everything”

             Gilbert had been the man who had told me the basics…everyone has a guide when they die, to explain things and to let it sink in before sending on your way to deal with people like Petunia. Death was a very complicated process.

             I remembered when I first got here. I was still coughing up water, could still feel my throat burning and my fear of not being able to breathe—drowning was a very unpleasant feeling. Then I woke up here. The white room was empty when I got here, and only Gilbert was there to comfort me—though there wasn’t very much of that. The people in charge around here weren’t very affectionate, but I suppose without humanity they wouldn’t be expected to be.

             “You died” he had said, plain and simple. As if there was nothing complicated about it. I knew that voice he used, my father had used it often. ‘It is what is, and there’s nothing you can do about it now’. It was how he had reasoned with everything. My father and I were so different. I saw things with meaning and affection and well, he didn’t.

             Gilbert had also explained the choice that I would be able to make now—to go straight to heaven where my humanity would be cleansed or go back to earth and finish out unfinished business, but be easily perceptible to demons and seduction.

             I have to confess that I wasn’t really listening to his long lecture about demons. I only heard the part about where I would be allowed to go back to earth.

             Petunia straightened and then paused briefly.

             “Alexandria, you are still very much tormented with humanity, and you died very young so you will be a more perceptible target. Demons are not what you would expect them to be. They look like ordinary people and will say or do anything to possess your soul.”

             “I understand” I said, “I do, really, But I also know that I won’t be at rest until I figure out what it is that needs to be done on earth.”

             She took a deep breath and then nodded once.

             “As you wish, you will be given one human year to get it together and then you will be taken up here to get cleansed, assuming that in that year a demon doesn’t conquer you first, which in that case I am afraid there isn’t anything we can do.  Rules; one, no one from your previous life will be able to see you, so in order to keep a low profile you must make sure that the other mortals do not realize this. Two, you are no longer human even if you do have a presence on earth so you will not ever be hungry or tired…but all of your human instinct will be heightened. It’s important  that you try to stay away from emotions of anger or jealousy or greed which will draw you out to a demon…And lastly, but most important of all…you can never fall in love with a mortal.”

             I laughed.

“No problems there boss.” I smiled. Falling in love really wasn’t my thing.

“Alright then Alexandria, good luck”

             She opened a clear box and pressed a big button that made the chair I was sitting in sink into the ground. It all passed in a flash. I could feel my hair go up into the air and my hands clenched down on the seat I was sitting on for fear of falling off of it, but in an instant it was over. The chair was gone, as was the white room and Petunia. I was at my hometown sitting in a pew of a church. I should’ve known I’d end up here. I got up, my legs shaky and I moved out to the aisle. At the front of the aisle a priest stood. He winked when he saw me and I gulped surprised that he knew who I was.

             “Alexandria?” he said. I nodded and walked over to him. “You’ll find what you need in that box over there.” He continued, pointing to a box at the end of the room.

             I walked over to it. I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to touch it. In all of the movies I had seen, when a dead person tried to touch something there hand would shoot right through it. Then again I suppose if this was from Petunia and those other souls, then I would be able to touch it. I placed my hand on it carefully, and at the feel of smooth wood I opened it and grimaced. There were clothes—very preppy, expensive looking clothes, an I.D.—a picture of someone I didn’t recognize. There on the picture was a girl with ivory skin, big brown eyes and light caramel colored brown hair. I had yet to see my own reflection, but I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to. My last name was also changed…Alexandria  Watson had now become Alexandria Angel.

I rolled my eyes at their serious lack of creativity. Stuffed all of the stuff from the box into a backpack and left the church, ready to enjoy the heck out of last year I had on this earth.

                 

Gratitude

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One  thing I’ve come to realize is that life is not fair, and it’s stressful and it’s hard. This is why it is so important to have gratitude. Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. I read that “it turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into clarity, problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past…brings peace for today and creates vision for tomorrow.”

The start of my day, meaning at one in the morning, didn’t start how I would’ve wanted it to, but I still find things to be grateful for and I do believe that it is a very important practice not just for those who have suffered, but for everyone because everyone suffers a little at some point. I like the statement so, i’ll repeat it again, gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

What are you thankful for today?

The Endless Captivity of an Anxious Mind

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It’s 1am right now and my mind is busy fighting a dragon of anxieties and demons with a broken sword to let me get any sleep. So I, as per usual, attempt to vent it out through writing.

The anxiety is the worst at night. I wonder if that is how it is for all people who are hold under its endless captivity.

An anxiety disorder is the most common mental illness, but is often taken less seriously than any other clinical illness. Coming from someone who is actually dealing with this sickness I wish it was taken more seriously.

It’s not exactly curable. When seeking out help you will get a couple dozen of pills thrown at you for a trial and error period and a few coping skills before they throw you back in the real world.

I can’t speak for others, but I don’t find that helpful. The medicine helps me function, but at night I can feel my thoughts racing through my head so quickly that i’m unable to focus on any one in particular. As you might imagine, it’s hard to sleep when your brain is having a marathon.

I think the worst part is never knowing when or why I get anxious. When it’s chronic it can really be triggered by anything, even happiness.

The medication that is prescribed to “treat” it is meant to sedate you and your emotions. I’m personally not a fan of being apart of the walking dead, but the anxiety interrupts my daily functions like driving, going to school, getting out of bed. So, I swallow down the numbing pills and I step through life, occasionally feeling the fleeting emotion of selfness and freedom.

I know true physical illness. I know loss and I know suffering and yet I do not hold those above my mental health.

I think anxiety disorders are hard for people to understand because logically there is supposed to be a cause of the stress and when the conflict is resolved the stress is meant to go away.

I think the most frustrating question I get is, “why are you so anxious” because rarely does my maze like mind allow me to fathom one.

These might be questions that I will never have answers too, but perhaps if I continue to use writing as an outlet I could one day aim for a pulitzer.

My sword might be broken, but I have nothing, but respect for those who share my struggles because even broken we still find ways to keep fighting. Reborn every time with chains around our necks. We may not be the lucky ones, but we are the strong, the brave, the understanding and the survivors in this world.

“House of Paper”/Evolution in a Digital Era

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Not all books owned come with the intention of reading. Some books can fill a house, but with little purpose other than decoration and as a reflection of how people want to be viewed by the outside world. With the rapid growth of digital literacy it is arguable that books are far less valuable then they once were. In the “House of Paper”, Carlos Maria Dominguez indicates that the function of a book on a bookshelf changes from person to person. Through textual evidence and explication of the character of Carlos Brauer, Dominguez persuades the reader and himself that in the Digital Age the survival of books relies on the recognition of the different purposes that a book holds.

Books are “capable of surviving one, two, or twenty centuries, of in some ways defeating the sands of time.” (Dominguez76) As seen through Nicole Howard in “The Life Story of a Technology” books are survivors, but not without change. Although a book is not a living organism, it is in a lot of ways alive and must adapt with the times, or face the threat of being left behind. There are a lot of aspects about books that have already changed over time. Typography for one is no longer created for its aesthetic beauty, as it once was in the 15th century, but now is printed with the mindfulness of space and clarity. There is no question to whether this new format changes the experience, but the consequences of holding onto the past too tightly result in the destruction of the object. In “The House of Paper” Carlos Brauer insisted on reading books that came before the twentieth century with candle light and urged his peers to do the same. The consequence that came with the inability to accept a book as an evolving technology resulted in the literal destruction of his index-file cabinet, without of which he could no longer find any of his books. Brauer was reluctant to create a modern device that would section off his books, but came to the sickening conclusion without the technological progress the books could no longer be found and read. In chapter two of “The House of Paper” Dinarli complains about people who bind old books. “I can’t persuade them to give up the obscure pleasure of the guillotine.” (Dominguez28) Binders are meant to give a book life again so that it can be used for new purposes and it can survive. However, many hold on to the history of what a book was and are reluctant to use it for anything else. They let books sink into their own graves to preserve what they once were. Books weren’t meant to be chained down to desks forever and they shouldn’t be treated as though they were.

With the invention of The Printing Press books became easily accessible to everyone. The journey of a book is no longer singular, but multi-dimensional. In the House of Paper Dominguez gives the reader several examples about the ways books change people’s destines and the journeys that they take them on, but what is even more remarkable is the way that a person can change a book’s destiny. It can be argued that a book doesn’t have a destiny because it is not alive. However, In “The House of Paper” as well as Howard’s “The Life of a Technology” there are a lot of similarities between books and people. In “The House of Paper” books have human characteristics; they laugh and talk with their owners and there a lot of images with books that have human facial features. Howards formation of the autobiography of a book was established in three sections that resembled a human lifespan; youth, adolescence, and adulthood. The relevance in all of these similarities lies into two explanations. One, books evolve over time like people do because they are essentially alive and two, being the way that people can change a books destiny. “To build up a library is to create a life.” (Dominguez35) Meaning, people are what give a book a life and they can easily take that life away. On page 54 of “The House of Paper” Dominguez learns of the books that were “carefully laid out in such a way that they reproduced the mass and outline of a human body.” It is interesting to note that the books didn’t place themselves on the bed in that formation, but were put there by a person. The magic and value that books hold is only animated as long as the reader gives it to them. It is the responsibility of people alone to determine the survival of a book by giving the book multi functions.

With the technological advancements in the digital era, books aren’t exactly the most convenient resource to use for reading anymore. In a lot of cases they are often bulky, heavy objects that take up unnecessary space. In mass quantities they can overwhelm homes and grow out from there original booksheleves just as they did to Brauer and Domiguez. Ebooks have become the prominent source of reading in this period and books for reading have decreased rapidly from what it was a century ago. Now, like so many times before, books have evolved. The functions of a book change from person to person. In the beginning of Chapter 4 it describes books being used as furniture, as means to keep furniture together—propping up a table, they are used to store things; leaves, flowers, money, letters…Braurer even uses the books to build a house. Books can be used for the simple satisfaction of having other people view them. Delgado kept his books in a separate part of his house with no intention of ever reading most of them, but still felt an overwhelming sense of pride when people saw them. He claimed that, “books should not get contaminated by domestic life.” (Dominguez 34) There are people and books that disagree with the function of being a decoration. Books can act as entity of a person, like an arm or leg. A book can be reflection of one’s own journey and can be falling to bits, with a broken spine and a missing cover, but is kept as a reminder of who that person is. Marshal Mcluhan illustrates what Dominguez writes on 21 in “The Medium is the Massage.” Books can function as a form of show business. Dominguez writes;

There were brilliant stars in the literary firmament, people who earned a fortune overnight with dreadful books that were promoted by their publishers, in newspaper supplements, through marketing campaigns, literary prizes, ghastly films, and prominent, paid-for-positions in bookshop windows. (Dominguez21)

A purpose of a book can sometimes simply be produced as an object that only serves to a monitorial value. Just as people fall into the Harry Potter franchise. It’s about marketing a book and giving it the multi-purpose to become a movie and a poster and a five-foot cut out of the heroine. Owning the book can be a symbol of being apart of something.

Brauer’s inability to see books with any other purpose besides things that needed to be read was his fatal flaw when it came to his books survival. In a lot of ways Brauer was a metaphor for what Mcluhan would refer to as “rearview mirror thinking”. Instead of torturing himself and letting himself be kicked out of his bedroom and take cold showers in both the summer and the winter, why didn’t he just buy a kindle? Owning a book to read it is no longer enough to sustain it. If there is an attachment, or another function it is hard for a book to progress into the digital era. Braurer’s reluctance to see a book as an entity that went past something that could be read is what led those books the path to their watery grave. The lack of innovation from the owner can also change the destiny of a book. Dominguez decided the fate of the Conrad book when he saw the destruction of the other books in the sea. when he saw the destruction of the other books in the sea. “What else could a book do here but bury itself in the sand, let itself be eaten away in the darkness, suddenly break the surface like the remains of a shipwreck?” (Dominguez85) The Conrad’s book, although it could not be read had in that moment had the purpose of a talisman. Thus, it survived but if the owner had chosen alternatively it could have easily have been to waste away at the bottom of the ocean.

The survival of book relies on the owner recognizes its different functions. The function of a book changes from person to person, but in all cases a book has surpassed its need to be something that is merely read. Through the story of Brauer and the choices of Dominguez the survival of a book can be found based on the recognition of the books evolution. If a book is used as something from the past, it will stay in the past. Digital Literacy will not destroy the book as long as the book can change its function. Just because the book is just read, doesn’t mean it has died. It has just evolved.

How to learn about History

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In  history we have discovered that there are different variations and interpretations of the past. We have learned the importance of thinking critically and effectively in order to take in what is accurate and how to disregard the rest. There are several people who look at history as something that’s exactly how its seen in text. This is a folly of all kinds of sorts starting with the known knowledge that text books and people are riddled with mistakes. To know exactly what happened in history we must study the interpretations of the works of the historians not the past itself. Several historians saw the importance of this type of analytical thinking and through it were all able to contribute to the study of western history in their own way.

Thucydides, an ancient Greek historian of the fifth century and the earliest critical historian, wrote a justly famous account of the Peloponnesian Wars and was vastly known for his principled use of evidence and analysis. Through the study of the Peloponnesian war he was able to observe that the   interaction of states followed a a very structured pattern. It has been said that he plays  a big part in power theories and through his ideas we can contribute to the social hierarchy and to individual human behavior. Thucydides was what people first began to call a true historical spirit. According to  the historiography packet on page 4,  Niccolo Machiavelli, who centered his study history around the religion he partook in, believed that the function of history was not to reveal God’s plans in the lives of men—as often seen in the Middle Ages, but simply to narrate the experiences of particular states and individuals without reference to a divine plan.

Leopold Von Ranke, a German historian, (1795-1886) was the founding father of academic history. He was the first to establish discipline in critical thinking and contributed that all sound history must be based on primary sources, historical mindedness and rigorous “scientific method.” Before Ranke we didn’t have systematic uses that helped us keep history critical and organized. He helped the world transition into a set of skills towards the use of critical thinking that we have been able to apply to the study of history today. He stressed on one of the most important techniques in studying history which was basing any historical narrative firmly on the reading of primary sources. He believed that a reader should not take information lightly and should always analyze and annotate the text before allowing the information into a realm of possibility.

Karl Marx stressed the importance of social and economic forces in human affairs. Marx, a German economist and revolutionary philosopher is “widely recognized as one of the most influential thinkers of the last one hundred years.” Much of the study of western history and the appreciation for it can be seen as a contribution from Marx’s philosophies. Some of these philosophies being, the belief that as seen on page 6 of the historiography packet, that societies would develop through a number of steps ending in the formation of a “dictatorship of the proletariat” and, inevitably become a classless society. Since these theories have never been able to be denied or accepted Marx has become a bit controversial. Marx was able to open the eyes of people into formulating the economic interpretation of history. “Marx argued that, at any given point in time, the mode of economic production determined, to a great extent, the character of the entire society-its ideas, values, political structure, and social relations.” He believed that economic qualities were the reasons for every social and political issues with society. There are few historians who would argue with his practices and the importance of economic value regarding the study and analysis of history.

Charles A. Beard followed up on this theory of important economic value in the study of history. Although concurred that he is no Marx, Beard was able to kind of transition what Marx believed and develop it more thoroughly. In “An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States” published in 1914, Beard examined the economic interests of the framers of the constitution and concluded that it was designed to protect those economic values then in order to protect the political rights of the citizens. This opinion is extremely controversial but can be given gain to the study of western history by thinking critically.

T.B. Macaulay, Sigmund Freud, and Erik Erikson all had one very important thing in common. Apart from all  having an intense interest in social history and the reasoning of why people did the things that they did, they were all thoroughly able to take that human analysis and apply it to the study of social history. T.B. Macaulay was said to be the history of history. He’s most famous for the third chapter in his “History of England” which he wrote in the mid 19th century. Sigmund Freud was most commonly known for his psychoanalysis and sometimes offensive beliefs and ideas. Just as Marx believed that economics played the leading role in history, Freud believed it to be more on psychology. Freud’s beliefs were widely practiced during the slaughter World War I and then later followed up by the practices of Erik Erikson. Erik Erikson, most famous for his contribution in psycho-history, also believed that human nature was a vital part towards history. His study in “Young Man Luther” (1958) as found in the historiography packet on page 9 can be seen as the contribution to why historians pay such close attention to the people of history.

All historians who have contributed to the study of history hold an extreme importance in the play of it all. Without any of philosophers and historians previously listed we would not be aware of the many interpretations in history and know the bases of critical thinking and analytical study. Text books are tainted with opinions and perceptions. Thanks to these people we are able to see that more clearly and can really know what happened in history.

Words Are Power- Night John

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Let me just say there were scenes in both the movie and the story that were hard to stomach, but it gave me so much more appreciation for the English Field I’m studying.

Words are power in this movie. Words bring education, it brings courage and insight. Words in this movie are forbidden because they could potentially unravel the order of slavery, but that doesn’t stop a few characters from learning them anyways.

It reminds you how powerful words still are today. I believe with education a man or a woman has the ability to change the world. It reminds you not to be scared and to have voice when people don’t allow you to have one.

It is a truly inspirational and moving movie and also an incredible book. It is said that the characters had no hope until they met Night John who taught them to be smarter.

*slight spoilers with sypnosis*

The movie is placed in the middle of the slave era on a southern plantation. The heroine is a curious little girl named Sarmy who’s mother was sold when she was a baby for talking back to the owner for his anger of not having a boy. There is a serious lack of empathy throughout this movie and the reason why I said it is hard to watch because it is an acute portrayal of what slaves went through. They are whipped, humiliated and not observed as humans and have no problem from their owners for having conversations in front of them like they are pieces of furniture, but I digress so I can get to the point of why this movie affected me.

Not all the white characters in this story are strictly evil, some have sympathy when the master does we called “Like training a dog…if you punish her later she wont even remember what for”However, there is only one

The Call and Response music in this movie was magical to see. For those who are familiar with musical history, Call and response singing is a traditional way of communication between the slaves. Often overlooked and a safe way for them to pass messages in the field. They can sing to each other if the master is coming or if they need to communicate.

The character Night John is brought into the story and the little girl is fascinated with his intelligence and demands to learn how to read and write. The other slaves who look out for her beg her not to because education is forbidden for them.

The take away is that education a gift that if known can’t be taken away. Priceless.

Night John does warn her that “Each time you make a letter you have to erase it.” White folks don’t want them to be educated. Knowledge is power. Huge way for slaves to show resistance.

I would say the girl in the story is a little reckless. She steals a bible in her growing urge to practice her letters and the youngest sons letter blocks.However, the more educated she becomes the easier it is for her to manipulate her owners.

In the movie it is shown that someone gets a thumb chopped off for being able to read, which just reiterates the fear of knowledge. Night John explains to Sarmy, “that learning to read is freedom because slavery is bounded by laws and deeds which the slaves cannot read.”

There is a scene when Night John takes the blame for the stolen bible and after he gets a finger cut off the master asks him if he has learned his lesson. He replies that he has and then begins to write the alphabet in the dirt. The letter he spells out is his name. He then tells Sarmy, “when one hand gets cut off, the other grows  back stronger.”

Sarmy is sold in the end, but because of John she has the ability to read and write. As the girl is joined to a line of other slaves, she asks if any of them have tobacco to trade. What has she to give in return? they want to know. And Sarny draws an A in the dirt. She sort fulfills the role in the end of teaching slaves how to read and write. Like Night John said “They have to read and write. We all have to read and write so we can write about this.”

 

P.S. if you have not yet seen the movie or read the book please do so. I do think this is a story that would benefit everyone. It’s packed full of lessons and history that shouldn’t be forgotten or ignored.

 

Caged Bird Sings

 

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There is a natural order to things. A natural flow, i’d say. Life has a way of pushing you in a direction, down a road and making pieces of a puzzle fit perfectly together so when it comes down to it you look at this thing that makes perfect sense and you think, “okay not bad, this could be good. Why should I do anything different”. This life could fit inside a frame and look amazing, but if you really look at these stills…what happens in between them? When it’s not the image of perfection what is it? It looks perfect on the outside and you feel like you’re saying all of the things like the universe handed you a script, highlighted words and said speak here and everything will be okay.

How long have I told myself “this is going to be good?” How long have a waited for a future that I somehow believe to know that is coming, but I am still unable to feel. Is it me? Am I supposed to continue to listen to the voice that tells me that I’m building something that will be worth it. That i’m going to be happy?

People call me brave, but the truth is I’ve never been a risk taker. I don’t jump for the feeling of love because love doesn’t come with security. I don’t really make the effort to study abroad because I’m scared to be alone. I let myself be taken care of because it’s easy, because it’s nice, because it’s secure.

However, I can’t say this is the person I want to be. Are the people we want to be different from the people we are?

For my the first part of this life, I have felt like a caged bird and now I want to break free, but I feel trapped in the hands of a life that I chose years ago.