Project

Today’s proof of work I digital. After a long, busy day, I still managed to knock out a twenty minute brainstorming sesh.

I have a project that I’ve been kicking around for some time and I’m excited to be making some progress on it. It will combine my love of role playing and story telling in an engaging format that hasn’t quite been done yet. A lot of kinks to work out but before I can even get there, I gotta have the content!

Advertisements

Trolls

I don’t want to cross the bridge.

I sit, petrified, gripping the reins with white knuckles, staring at the open mauw before me. The path before me takes me under the old McGowan bridge, a bridge like any other but for one damning difference. There is no alternative to this path. I would have to dismount and guide my steed and our load in the steep climb up and over the wall that formed the bridge. Or we would be forced to travel far off the path to cross at a lower point.

I must come this way frequently and my fear of what lays before grows with every passing. I peer out, looking for signs of clear passage, but the darkness yields no shape. During the day the unknown was not so gripping but the threat was still there, but here in the night with limited perception, I am filled with trepidation.

Under this bridge lies a troll.

I approach and I feel a sense of dread rising in me. The troll had been there for as long as I could remember. He was only there during the day. He never did much, he sat there staring and sometimes would shout and wave at nothing in particular. My first few passings were nervous ones, worried he would leap out at any moment to attack and rob me. But he continued to sit motionless in the same spot, day in and day out. As I grew accustomed to his presence, I began to worry he was mad or ill in some way. I hoped for some sign of lucidity, but he continued to sit and stare. I began to think of him as a harmless, permanent fixture. As I passed I would wonder what drove him to sit there like a statue. What else did he do all day? I never saw him sleeping under the bridge. Did he sleep? Did he have some thatched hut or cave to go and sleep, if he did? Was he getting enough to eat? Did he have friends? Should I try to be his friend?

Then one day he was gone. At first, I was relieved in his disappearance but the selfish respite soon gave way to guilt and worry. Where had he gone? What drove him away? Is there a scarier monster now? Did he get sick or hurt? Should I have done something when he was around? Should I do something know? What could I do?

A few days later I saw him wandering the path that led to the bridge. Then the next time I returned that way he was opposite his normal side. The sudden change in pattern was just as scary.


(eh I’ll come back to this one someday. Started strong, running out of steam, but at least I got my 20 minutes in.)

The Presentation

She walked nervously to the podium. She stepped into the spotlight and was momentarily blinded. As she took her place before the microphone, she looked out at the audience that had come to hear her speak and breathed deep. She thanked them all for coming and that today’s presentation would be brief. At first, her words were as rapid as her heartbeat and her hand shook as she clicked the button to advance the slides. But when they laughed at the first big joke, it was like a fever broke. She was less worried that the audience would somehow turn into a pack of hungry wolves and lead upon her from the shadows to devour her. They felt a little more like a room full of friends.

The presentation continued and she began to forget to be afraid. It started to be fun; the babbling chuckle of a joke well landed, the warm silence as they leaned in with interest. The barrier between she and they began to fall away as they simply became the moment; as the idea swelled and absorbed them all as one. As she read the final slide and thanked them all for their attention, the spell was broken and suddenly the moment was over. There she stood on the stage before a room of shadows and with her last words, “Thank you,” applause erupted. Just like that, the thing that had scared her more than anything was behind her. This idea that had been so tiny and fragile that she feared to share with the world was now out there, bigger and more viable than she ever imagined.

As the applause settled down, she motioned for the house lights to be brought up. “Again, thank you. Thank each and every one of you, for staying, for listening, for believing. Now I must ask for your support. We are seeking investors. People who want to see the project succeed. We need people who can give something more valuable than money; time. If you can spare but even a few minutes a day, then we will have what we need to continue our research and reach the next stage of the project. Your temporal investment will bring us far closer to achieving this dream than ever imagined. Thank you.”

nanowrimo dayone

Knocked out my first 280 words of #NaNoWriMo!
 
In years past I’ve tried to make it about how many words per day I wrote. Every year I’d set my goal to be 500 words and every year I’d burn out and slack off and never finish. This year I’m sticking to a time goal instead.
 
Today’s goal was 15 minutes. This seems to be the perfect amount to time to trick myself into doing a thing. 10 minutes? Too small and easy to put off. 25 minutes? might as well make it an hour. 15 is a nice comfortable number, divisible by 3 and sturdy. 5 is a stout and burly number. I dunno fuck you. ❤
But hey, if it works, it works, right?

eastbound • moment

While driving home tonight I came upon a blockade of traffic on i4. There was a construction merge up ahead. It was well alerted if you were paying attention to the road.

I had been in the far right, because sometimes I like to drive like a little old lady, and the merge was into the far left. I slowed to the posted speed, was able to take my time, signaled with ample time.

Getting into the middle lane, I could see from the aggressive way the rusty white van next to me was driving that it would be simpler for me to slow and pass in front of the vehicle behind it. I rolled down the window and waved thank you. Times like this I wish I could do something more to reward other drivers for being kind. I want to click their like button or send some sort of emoji.

Making the next left merge was a breeze. The construction zone was only about a mile. I stuck to the posted speed limit, out of courtesy to the construction workers. There were no accidents, no one was rude to each other, the whole thing took around 5 minutes, everyone went home alive.

Thanks, Orlando, for that random moment of zen.

Yesterday I participated in United Against Poverty’s Quack Attack 5k. United Against Poverty is an organization committed to helping people create a sustainable life and lift themselves out of poverty. They believe in the hand up philosophy, that you can do more for a person by enabling them to do it for themselves.  The race was a very new experience for me, I’ve participated in plenty of charity fundraisers but it was the first time I was on the organizer side of things. It was an interesting insight into events like this.

My experience began at 4am, up before the sun and the birds. I dressed as quietly and got ready to leave as possible. The dog did wake and tried to follow me to the door, the expression on his face indicating he thought it was a strange time for a walk but he’s ride or die. Upon realizing he wasn’t coming, he happily took my place in the bed and returned to snoring. I slipped out the door and began my half mile walk. There’s a certain romanticism around 4 in the morning. I visit this time like a love affair that never quite worked because of the inconvenience. The world is dark and still, it belonged to me and me alone. 4am feels like being in a mall or a theme park after hours, only that it’s the entire world that’s gone away. I made my way the familiar path from my house to the town center, aware of the absence of all the small noises of life. It was refreshing, soothing, energizing. I dreamt of maybe find a way to visit this time more often in my life. But now as I write a day later and my circadian rhythm is still resetting the idea is less appealing.

I arrived and stood in the line to check in. I couldn’t help observing the other people that were there. Who were they, what was their relationship to the organization. Some were clearly high school students collecting volunteer service hours for credit, but for the adults were harder to pick out. Who was here because it was court ordered; who was like me because they believed in the cause? How many of them had be helped by the organization and were volunteering because they’d found community and purpose within the ranks? I’m a people watcher at heart, I love to observe and see how much I can figure out about a person. Everyone has a story and I enjoy imagining what it could possibly be.

Once we were all checked in, we got to work setting up the finisher zone, getting water and snacks ready, posting signage, and preparing the “chuck a duck” area. Pretty simple stuff, nothing unfamiliar for someone with an extensive background in events. Where I was helping move cases of water, a man was doing his best to organize the setup. I quickly picked up on what he was trying to accomplish and began directing others to help me with the projects. Soon he was delegating to me and I would then turn to my small team to get it done. I was surprised to find out later that he was just another volunteer and not part of the organization’s staff. Just goes to show that most people are more interested in being told what to do than to be the one that takes control.

Once set up was complete we were given our duties for the race itself. Most of us became Course Monitors. We were to stand along the route, assist in traffic management and just keep an eye on the runners. With some time to kill, my team and I got some coffee and chatted, getting to know one another. I became self conscious of the fact that I can no longer talk to teenagers as if they were peers. Instead I began to chat with a woman who I discovered was here on vacation. She shared with me her tales of traveling  and volunteering. I found that to be such an extraordinary and novel concept. Really though, what better way to see a city and get to know the people than through service?

The sun finally began to rise, which caused the area to be enveloped with fog and the temperature which had been comfortably chilly all morning seemed to have dipped. Luckily it had cleared up nicely by the time the race started and even warmed up. A crowd of spectators mingled along side us volunteers and it began to feel very familiar. The runners were off and as they passed I gave my best efforts to hoot and holler and cheer them on. I ran out of things to shout pretty quickly but so what, there’s no need to be novel and inventive when yelling at a running mob. It was when we got down to the very back of the pack with all the slowest of the walkers and it no longer felt appropriate to call “Go runner, go!” that my enthusiasm waned. The final walker passed, followed by the sweep car and we asked each other “Ok, now what?”.

I never thought about these things as a runner. What are all these people doing when we’re not running through? What do they do when the pack has passed? There wasn’t much course equipment to be packed up, especially where we stood. So I grabbed a trash bag and wandered around collecting whatever litter found, even though I guessed that over half of it wasn’t from the race. I don’t understand litter. I don’t get why people think it’s ok to just leave garbage laying around. This area in particular has trash bins all around and the neighborhood is full of affluent, educated folk. Is the idea of carrying your rubbish a few feet to the next bin that foreign?

Once I got to the point where I was probably picking up garbage from the New Year celebration I decided to sit for the first time since I’d arrived. At this point runners were crossing and participating in the various activities set up, including “Chuck a Duck” in which people gave a donation to throw a rubber duckie into a duck shaped pool float in hopes to be entered into a raffle. A volunteer sat alone manning the station so I joined him and struck up a conversation. Everything about him said veteran and sure enough we discovered that we had a lot in common because of the military. He told me of his ambitions to work as an EMT but how dismal the pay is. This baffles me. How do we still under-compensate vital professions like this? Why is it that if you exist at the bottom of the ladder, no matter how important your job is, you get the smallest crumb of the cake? This led to a political discussion, intermixed with snarky observations about misbehaving children. Something about those who come from the military community, we all seem to have a very similar sense of humor.

Once the event wrapped and the crowd dissipated we began to take it all back down. Strike is always my favorite part of event production, just tear it apart and put it away. We chased down duck faced balloons out of the fountain and bushes. Chairs and tables stacked and returned to their respective owners. The big truck arrived and several of us jumped in and began stacking cases of drinks on to pallets. Things were going smoothly until a sense of urgency moved through the group as they realized how close they were to clock out time. Suddenly the cases were coming on to the truck faster than we could stack, bottles were falling all over, the stacks were getting uneven and unstable. I had to take over in calling out what to pass up to the truck loaders but even still people were just putting whatever they had in their hands on the lift gate. And then our crowd of volunteers suddenly disappeared even though not everything was packed away. By 5 minutes til clock out, most of them were in the line to sign out.

We managed to get it done, even though by the end we were having to get pretty creative about how we were stacking things in the truck. If I’d known how much was going it, I would have been a little more diligent about how the truck pack would have gone in the beginning. Truck loading is, after all, a skill proficiency for my industry. With a little creativity and skill we got it all loaded and were done. I felt about as tired and ready for a shower had I run the race myself. The event was a wonderful success, the participants all seemed to really enjoy themselves and over $60k was raised for a particularly important cause. So grateful to have been a part and am looking forward to being a part of more.

The Paladin’s Burden

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while but never quite sure how to approach it. See, I fell out of the habit of posting my writing a few years ago. I got a little too honest and it hurt some people. I’m not sorry for what I said but it was devastating to find out how powerful my words were. So I just stopped. I got gun-shy, worried about the repercussions of every post. Am I going to say something that someone is going to take the wrong way? Does this really need to be discussed in a public manner? Do I even have anything worth writing about? Is this ethically, politically, and grammatically correct?

For the sake of the handful of people who chose to take my words as personal offense, I abandoned my craft. In doing so I abandoned my audience, the people who I’ve been speaking to all along. The people who read what I have to say and identify. The people who come up to me and say “Hey, I really loved that thing you wrote. It meant a lot,” or “I feel that way too. It was so helpful to read the perspective of someone else and know I’m not alone.” I turned my back on those people. I stepped away from a core value; integrity. I backed down from who I am, I stopped sharing vulnerable things with people. Anyone who claims anxiety can probably agree on one thing, if you make yourself vulnerable then you will get hurt.

But isn’t that what makes us stronger?

During my brief time in this reality, I’ve learned that vulnerability can be an asset. When you open up to others, they trust you. If you are willing to take the risk of asking the first question, others will follow. If you are willing to admit you were wrong, people will forgive you. Vulnerability is a principle of leadership. For me to not be vulnerable with others is to cut off my wings. I have a deep craving to share my deepest darkest secrets with others. Back when I was a user of livejournal, I told the internet everything. I let them know exactly what I was feeling, exactly what I was going through. My best friends were people who read my blog and said “hey, me too.” I felt empowered in those days, I felt like I was my honest self, my truest form. Now-a-days there’s this feeling like honesty is too risky. If I am not careful I will hurt the ones I love, I will put career and reputation at risk, I will set the fire of my own destruction.

This careful person is not me. I am a rebel gypsy punk. I drive fast, I swear, I cut my own hair and I don’t give a damn about the world’s expectations of me! So how can I live in this confused state, my personality and self preservation constantly at odds with each other? Simple, I can’t. No longer will I fear the wrath of the Anti-Feminist and the Social Justice Warrior. No more will I worry about being the Good Girl. And no more will I censor myself for the sake of fake friends. My best friends are not because they are just like me. No, my tribe is built on seeing the honest self and respecting that. Be who you are. Even if you’re an asshole. I’d rather you be faulted and aware than giving a perfected persona and hoping I won’t notice.

I will.