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Trans Trains

So, I’ve been absent from here as of late due to health issues (big shocker) and because I discovered Tumblr. Yes, I am now addicted to all the Tumbling goodness.  As a result, I come across some very ineteresting posts. One  suggested that a person stop using the word “transparent” because it had the word “trans” in it and was offensive to Trans people (as in Transgendered or Transsexual).

Lesson of the Day? I accept such challenges and raise your absurd request to absurd levels of offensiveness.

In response, I wrote the following. You may need a dictionary, I surely did.

Kiya was a young woman living in Transylvania. She had never come across any vampires or werewolves. She found the talk of such creatures to be boring and she transcended all of the recent books and movies on the subject. She was of the opinion that works of fiction based on transmogrification were annoying. Except for Harry Potter. There was always room for Harry Potter. Instead of reading, she found joy in the outlying countryside. She often took holidays through European countries and, today, she was riding on the Trans Siberian Railroad. It was a transcontinental railroad, and she looked forward to immersing herself in the various cultures it transversed. She liked to travel with as few modern amenities as possible. It gave her the feeling of sloughing off her current woes and slipping into a time when such things did not exist. All transgressions and worries of life were forgotten. On this note, she travelled with a simple radio; a transceiver that could both receive and transmit radio waves. It was basic and did not have any bells or whisltes. She took delight in listening in on the local radio stations as the train transected the countryside. She did not often use the radio to transmit anything, but it was good to know she had it in case of an emergency.

Along with the countryside, travelling by train had other enjoyments. There was the delicious food full of trans fats, the time echoed décor, and the interesting company. Kiya had met people from the four corners of the world, in all walks of life, and made some wonderful friends. Not everyone aboard was willing to take part in this aspect of travelling by train, however. There was a younger university student sitting to the right of Kiya who had spent the entire trip rolled up on her seat, completely transfixed with her schoolwork. Kiya glanced out of the corner of her eye and saw that the young woman was currently transcribing something about the “Trans Effect”. It looked as if it had something to do with chemistry, but Kiya could not be certain. She was just about to take another glance but her eye began to twitch. She held her hand up to her right eye and silently cursed her health. She must have louder than she thought because the student looked up briefly from her transcription with a sly smile. Kiya thought to explain, but the student went back to her work.

Since her transient ischemic attack, her eyes liked to go into involuntary twitches. It caused some confusion if it happened as she was being introduced to new people. It looked as though she were having a tic attack of some sort. One man even took it as an invitation for a sexual encounter. When Kiya refused, his behavior transitioned into hostility at a transsonic speed. She remembers the venom of his words, clearly. She was amazed that people still walked around holding such primitive beliefs and wondered if she could create some kind of transponder to warn her of these people.

Kiya sighed and then smiled. She usually met much more jovial people and she wouldn’t be on this lovely train if she hadn’t had the ministroke to begin with. Her doctor told her it was a warning that a full-fledged stroke was going to occur. He chided her for living a stressful life and convinced her that she needed to learn to take time off and destress. She took his advice and began taking these wonderful holiday trips.

Her thoughts were abruptly interrupted by two men arguing behind her. “No, no,” began a man in a Russian accent, “If we use transdermal medication than we will forgo the risk of infection at the site.” “Oh good goods,” responded someone in an English accent, “the risk of getting an infection at the site of a transcutaneous implant is minimal and the benefits far outweigh it!” “I will not allow my patient to receive their medication this way, their immune system is already weakened and any risk could be deadly.” The next man scoffed and continued the verbal transfer of disagreement. It was painfully transparent that the Englishman thought his knowledge superior to the Russian man’s. Kiya figured that they must be doctors headed to some transcultural medical assembly by the sounds of their accents. She was thankful they both found a common language. Can you imagine a translator in the middle of that argument? She laughed and looked around at all of the passengers and began trying to determine where each person was going to or had come from.

A few rows down from her sat a man who could pass for being transient, or homeless. His beard was long, full, and unkempt. He had on several layers of clothing, most of them looking beat up and holey. His big toe stuck out from one of his shoes and the hat he wore to cover his mess of hair did not match his clothing in any way. It was neon and had a strange logo plastered across the front. He was reading a newspaper and mumbling to himself about trans regional sports. Kiya assumed he must be a drifter. By the looks of it, a transpolar one. She quickly wondered if anyone would transvalue his appearance or simply treat him as something to ignore.

The woman sitting one row closer looked as though she had just stepped off the Trans Saharan Trade Highway, her dress transposed from another time. She wore fabrics of black and shimmery golds. She had large, golden hoop earrings and was dressed in the traditional African sense. The only thing that brought her to this century was the iPhone in her hands. She transuded severe annoyance and it seemed to be aimed at whomever was sending the messages. As she burrowed her eyebrows deeper into a frown, her large jaw bones and high cheeks, matched with a liberal application of shimmery make up, almost made her look like a transvestite.

Kiya’s thoughts drifted back to her own phone. She wondered if it was wise to leave it behind. She might need it. Did Mark from accounting need her help? Would her mother be able to go two days without calling to see if she was alright? She sighed and looked out the window through the translucent, lace curtains. The transformation was amazing. Her worries melted away as she watched the scenery pass by. The argument behind her erupted again. They were now “discussing” transthoracic transplants and policy or procedures. She laid her head back on her seat rest and closed her eyes, smiling. “Oh yes,” she thought to herself, “it was goin to be a fun holiday.”

Writing Spreadsheets

I’ve been writing short stories, lately, to gauge how many words I can write in a given amount of time. I plan on making up some story spreadsheets so I can get my writing a little more organized. Right now, I’m what people refer to as a “pantser”.

PANTSER (noun): A novelist who writes by the Seat of the Pants, not taking time to plan the novel before beginning to write.

I wouldn’t consider myself a “novelist”, but the definition fits other than that. I have a tendency to sit down with some small idea (or none at all) and just bled the story out onto the blank screen. I often draw from my past experiences or try to imagine what new experiences would be like.   I’ve been wanting to turn one of my stories into an actual book for some time, but didn’t know how to go about it.

“You just write it out.”

Well, the thing is, that pantsing has it’s good points and bad points. It’s good because you can just write without a thought given to fitting into a timeline or plot. It’s bad because when you step back and take another look, the plot is very two dimensional. It doesn’t have twists, or doesn’t have them properly executed. This is where planning comes into play.

There’s a wonderful website by Jami Gold that has many templates for story spreadsheets.  What’s a story spreadsheet? It looks like this:

Beat-Sheet1

There are a variety of types with varying levels of complexity to suit your tastes in writing or in a given story. You can find them all HERE at Jami Gold’s site.

I prefer the simple ones because I am just starting this and I don’t want to get in over my head. Having said that, it helps to know a few things while planning to write something: your schedule, how long it takes to write how much, and any research for the environment, situations, and people in the story.  I’m working on figuring out how many words I can write, on average. This means timing myself as I write various short stories to see what the average is.  So far, it’s not too bad and I’m getting a good idea of how long it would take to write a story. Of course, you also have to edit said story – not only for grammar but also for adherence to the plot and the characters. Would that really happen? Would that person really do that? etc.

I currently don’t know what my schedule will be, since I’m starting a new job, but it’s a part time job so I should have at least some free time to write. The difficult part is actually sitting down and writing. I can come up with a billion and one reasons not to do it, simply because I’m good at procrastinating. Given all of this, I plan on being very lenient with my spreadsheet so that I can get those awesome morale boosts of finishing earlier than expected.  I am really excited, procrastination aside.

Character Designs

I wrote a short story last month and I decided to actually “finish” it. Of course, to do that I have a lot of things to start. First and foremost: character designs. I’m sketching out the simple characters involved in the story. Fortunately, there are only two characters. Yup, two: a frog and a spider. Sound like fun? Keep reading.

The frog turned out pretty good, I thought. There are a few things I need to tweak, but I am really happy with it. I still need to outline it, so I can’t share that with you just yet. Instead, I am going to show you the spider.  This was the first draft and isn’t something that I’m happy with. Still, I learned a lot from it. I haven’t colored it or anything. I simply scanned it in, so excuse the simplicity.

A picture of the spider lady from my story

Spider Lady

I did not intend for her to turn into an older spider lady, but it just kind of happened.   I will attempt to make the next version a little more like the Evil Stepmother from Disney’s Cinderella. She will have a heart shaped head and face with the larger eyes at the top and the three smaller eyes in the middle.  We’ll see how it works out.

Evil Stepmom from Disney's Cinderella

Evil Stepmom from Disney’s Cinderella

Keep your fingers crossed.

Money

You truly are the root of all evil. We bend over backwards for you, sacrificing our very souls to get ahead in this monetized society that we’ve constructed for ourselves. I can feel you, tickling my brain, making me think the only way I will have any value as a person is to have lots of you. You burn in my veins – I can feel the fire run through me as I drag myself from job to job, bank to bills, store to home. Earn, buy, pay; repeat.

I’m exhausted. I’m a living exposed nerve. I’m a mind drenched in chemicals, drifting from distraction to distraction.  I use anything and everything I can get my hands on to forget about having to go back to hell to earn more money: drugs, alcohol, video games, sex.  Don’t make me go back but give my my big check. Give me more money.

I’ve forgotten that we are human and our value is not based on pieces of paper or clinking coins. A house does not equal a valid person. A fancy car, the latest clothes, a cool haircut. These things are pure nonesense. They don’t matter at all.  I’ve forgotten, though, so I scream at people to get things done now. Make more money, now!  I don’t care if you missed your own birthday party to work overtime. I don’t care if a loved one just died. I don’t care if you are dying. Make. Money. Now. More.

Always more.

One house? I need two, now. I need to upgrade my car. I need to upgrade my look. I need to upgrade my ego.

My self-esteem shrivels. My soul is hanging on, trying to break through all the madness.

Crack. A little break. A little too much stress, a little too much forgetfulness. I’m beginning to remember.

I look around in a haze. I begin to question things.. why do I need a fancy car? Why do I need a big house? Why do I need that promotion?

Money.

Wait, this isn’t right. Crack.

Something is wrong.

Work, earn, buy, pay.  Work, buy, pay. Work, pay. Work. Work. Work.

Crack. Crack. Crack.

I can’t get out of my king sized bed. I can’t bring myself to put on my designer jeans. I can’t look in the mirror. What is going on?

I go outside and just stand there, slowly blinking. Slowly moving my head side to side, taking it all in.

The sun, grass, earth – it’s all still here. It was always here and it always will. Even when I’m gone. Even when money means nothing.

Money means nothing.

Crack.

The sun starts to shine back into my soul. The tears stream down my face. What have I become?

I move out of my big house. I sell my fancy car. I quit my job.

What now? What do I do with myself now? What really matters?  I get back in touch with family and old friends. I visit them, stop and take time to talk with them, I help them out. I’m starting to become human, again.  I can feel it. My body doesn’t ache with the fire of stress and money, anymore. I’m more relaxed and I haven’t smiled and laughed this much in ages.

I sold everything I could live without and moved into a smaller house. It’s practical. I bought a small car that works well and gets me from point a to point b. It’s practical. I stop buying designer anything. I start buying groceries to eat, not to feed emotional eating. It’s practical.

My soul starts to blossom. I start to write and paint, again. I haven’t painted in decades.

I help out at the local shelters and start selling my art at the local farmer’s market. I get a job that I like, but it doesn’t pay that great. And that’s okay. It pays my bills, it’s lower stress, it’s better hours. It’s practical.

My soul is back. I am human, again. I am apart of the real world, again.  I am me.. again. Finally.

Writing and creativity.

These two things are very fickle, lately.  I have been writing a story, that turned into something completely different than it was intended to be. It’s also much longer than I imagined.. and now I am having a hard time getting back into the frame of mind to write that particular story.  I think I just need some quiet time and a good space.  Until then, it  is frustrating to know that I want to keep writing it, but there just isn’t anything to write at the moment.

This doesn’t feel like writers block. I don’t stare at a blank screen and get nothing. Instead, I think of all the things I should be doing and all the stress in life, at the moment. I think, “If only this were different, if only that were different.. then I could do it.” There’s the problem. You can’t wait for things to change, you have to do it now!

So off I go to make a mess of a lovely story. Wish me luck!