#369: The Tattoo Experience

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Getting a tattoo was a fun experience. I’ll be discussing the details here, and keeping them for posterity. Overall, it was memorable in a way I’ll likely never forget, and the people I met there gave me a lot of fun stories to share with my friends for days to come. I’ll probably keep those stories to myself, though, as some of them are a bit inappropriate. Alex, who reads this blog, knows what I’m talking about, because I’ve already told her about some of them, and she’s also been to the same shop before.

So, I went to a shop in Norwalk, where I was serviced by an artist named Kyle, the same one who worked on Alex’s Makoto/Persona tattoo. Kyle was great, struck up conversation with me throughout the process, and managed everything well. He came up with two sketches for me to look at and I chose the more traditional looking one, rather than the one where it looked more sketched and abstract. I initially went in looking for an abstract design, but the cracked stone look appealed to me a lot more after talking about it with him. He convinced me of the right path, ultimately, because I absolutely love the design now and how it came out. He made it stick out really well.

While I was getting it done, the process was really smooth, and it took about two and a half hours overall. I watched some speedruns on the computer and checked my phone occasionally while it was getting done. My hand fell asleep and I felt like my legs would never leave that chair in the same spot. It didn’t hurt very much, possibly because my arms are chubby and I’m used to the pain. It’s apparently a good spot for a first tattoo.

#365: The Canon

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Get it? It’s a cannon.

The literary canon needs to be overthrown and replaced with more diverse, multicultural offerings of the same quality. The idea that only white people have written books with quality enough to be read in classrooms is completely untrue and delusional. So many authors from other cultures and races have produced canon-worthy books, and it’s about time we give them the respect and attention that they’ve missed out on because we’re still teaching The Catcher in the Rye. Can’t we move on from that by this point in our lives? I get that it’s still relevant culturally to us, but it’s not any better than Things Fall Apart.

But this post wasn’t originally going to be about assessing and analyzing the faults of the literary canon. Harold Bloom would probably hate me by now, but I’m willing to suffer that blow. Originally, I was going to write about the very idea of a canon, how books, movies, comic books, and other media with fandoms attached to them have what’s considered a canonical storyline. The canon is the official storyline, the one that’s told by the creators. What doesn’t take place within the official plot of the piece of media doesn’t actually exist in terms of the characters. For example, if you’re writing fan-fiction, you’re doing so outside of the game’s canon. If you’re producing any scenes in your art that don’t take place in the piece of media, that’s working outside of the canon as well. The canon is an interesting concept, but thankfully it doesn’t matter that much whether something is canon or not. Produce what you want to produce, and hopefully people will appreciate your faithful recreation of the story. Fandoms exist however they want, and it’s up to us to make of that what we will.

#363: The Fallout

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This won’t necessarily be about the Fallout game series or about fall as a season; instead, I’ll be discussing the ways in which fallout inside a community can be handled. There’s been major fallout recently after some spoilers came out for a certain game which I won’t name here, as I don’t want to spoil anyone by association.

But here’s the thing. Sometimes endings don’t go how people plan them to go. Sometimes endings don’t end up the way the fans want them, and sometimes that happens regardless of all the clamoring people have done for an appropriate ending to the series.

The way that the original game ended was fantastic. It was cohesive, fit the themes of the story, and overall made sense. Invoking this third arc out of nowhere really tears down on what made the first game click for me. It blows up the foundation of a really compelling and thematically-consistent story just to mess with things for the sake of it. In reality, stories need to be consistent and need to have a flow to them in order for them to make sense. A story that already exists in a perfectly fine context doesn’t need forced content to make it better, if anything it needs more development of existing content and characters who feel left out. That’s what gets me about this whole new game; there are areas that need improvement that are just thrown to the wayside to push new content instead.

A game’s ending also has to be satisfying in some way. It doesn’t necessarily have to be positive, but the player has to feel like it was at the very least all worth the time and investment. An ending has to click, and if it doesn’t, people will feel like they wasted their time on nothing.

#351: The Difference

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The difference between you and me is I don’t usually have any idea what I’m doing any more. Some people might disagree, and they might argue that I have some sense of what I’m doing, I just don’t want to admit it. I feel like that might be true, but the evidence going against it is more reliable and tells a more consistent story about my life.

Being the type of person who can’t seem to make up their own mind when it comes to choosing a career is exhausting. I honestly want to have that part of my life down and taken care of already, but it’s so difficult to figure out, especially when nothing seems to be going your way when you want it to. I have lots of ideas for careers to transition into: grant writing, technical writing, copy writing and editing, whatever it takes to get into a new career and away from the realm of education. I live for the sake of writing, at some points, and I think writing is a fundamental part of my life, enough so that I can use it as a career. I’d like to think I can develop my skills enough so that I look useful enough for people to hire. But developing my skills and showing my skills are different, ultimately. That’s the difference.

Being the type of person who writes for fun should be enough of an indication that this is more than just a hobby for me. I write stories for fun, I write blogs for fun and to communicate with friends and family, and I do it all because I enjoy it. I hope other people can find something they enjoy as much as I enjoy writing and the feelings associated with it. It’s truly remarkable and life-changing.

#348: The Chapter

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Writing a chapter story has been my next step in the world of creative writing. I’ve moved on to writing a chapter story because, as it turns out, the story I have in my head that I want to write is too long to compose and publish as just one story. Usually, these types of stories need to be around 2k-6k words, give or take, and it’s not a good idea to expand more than necessary. You run the risk of losing people’s attention, while also creating a situation where people feel obligated to continue reading even though the story is longer than that ideal length.

So, instead of agonizing over a 20k-word story, I figured I would break it up into chapters and publish it like that. My story has a defined beginning, middle, and end to it, and though I’m not entirely sure where I want to take things exactly, I’m still looking forward to the writing process. My process of writing usually involves just sitting at a computer and writing whatever I can, whenever I can, and letting the words naturally develop. I edit afterwards to make sure everything makes sense, and then from there I decide where the story might go.

This story already has some twists and turns planned into it, and I know where things are going in a basic sense. The main character is going to undergo some important developments, and at the end they’ll revert back to their normal, everyday self because I can’t run the risk of changing the game’s canon too much. I just love the idea of writing within an existing universe, instead of building it all up myself. Perhaps that’s just my laziness talking, but honestly, it’s so much more liberating and allows you to focus just on the writing.

#310: The Technique, Part 3

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A three-parter! Here we go. I wouldn’t have guessed having started this series that it would’ve ended up so much longer than initially anticipated.

Writing is a liberating hobby. You are always expelling some kind of demon from within you for someone else’s personal enjoyment. I think back to all the memoir writers I’ve learned about, who must’ve tormented themselves over their writing to perfect the story as it happened, while also creating a unique, memorable narrative at the same time. It’s not easy to say you’re a writer without others immediately asking you what that means, and what kind of writing you do. How can you answer that question with “personal writing” without feeling a bit selfish and self-important, as if your life is worth writing about in the first place? I wouldn’t say I’m living an especially significant life, just a normal one in the 21st century. I wouldn’t even say my story is a story that needs to be told; I don’t know who would really benefit from hearing another white, middle-class, coming-of-age story. But the reason I write is not necessarily just so that I can be read by others; the real reason I write is because it fulfills my professional goals and makes me feel productive. It makes me feel like I’m keeping track of myself, my history, and the world I live in, even while I slowly but surely lose track of it, bit by bit. I used to write frequently, and I want to keep that part of myself going, most of all. I don’t want to abandon it, so here we are, writing about personal lives because it’s often easiest to write about yourself.

In college, I wrote a conceptual metaphor paper on how teaching is performing an exorcism, every day. Imagine how exhausting it must be to exorcise demons from your classroom on a regular basis.

#309: The Technique, Part 2

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Last time, I spoke about the technique that goes into writing fiction, as well as the general rules that I follow (or try to follow, unsuccessfully) because of my difficulties when it comes to paying attention. Having ADD makes writing an interesting hobby, allowing on the one hand for my mind to drift and visit whatever worlds it needs to in order to fulfill my imaginative vision, while on the other hand enabling a lack of focus and attention on the important details. (Is “enabling” the correct word for that? I’m not so sure.)

Regardless, I wanted to talk more about this subject. This is the first time I’m doing a two-part blog post without having written them back-to-back. As in, I’m writing these on separate days. To think it took me 309 posts before I realized I could do this.

The best technique that I’ve personally employed is writing wherever possible, whenever inspiration strikes me. Sometimes while at work, when I have a little bit of down time and can afford a few minutes of personal leisure, I turn on the computer, open up my Google Docs folder, and expel all the ideas taking up space in my head onto the page. It’s a useful and helpful habit to build upon, because the way my brain works necessitates a kind of urgency when it comes to ideas entering it. Being able to write freely helps so much, and without it, I’m not sure I’d be able to trust that the story I come up with is natural and faithful to whatever vision I have for it. Being faithful is essential, as I would hate to read a story that’s not an accurate representation of what the author wanted it to be. Writing is all about representing things, and authors are represented from their stories in great detail.

#308: The Technique, Part 1

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There’s a special technique to writing fiction, a recipe that always creates successful and thought-provoking writing. I don’t know what it is, but when I find it out, I’ll be sure to let you all know.

I write all over the place. My thoughts are so haphazard and spontaneous that I need to write wildly or else I risk losing the thoughts that organically come one after another while writing. Preserving that train of thought is essential to my writing process when writing fiction. I need to be cognizant of where the story is going, while also letting my brain handle the gritty word choice parts. I also sometimes let the spontaneous nature of my brain do the writing and planning for me, even though I probably shouldn’t.

This blog post is kind of a continuation of the previous one, “The Distraction.” They’re both about living with ADD and how that affects what I do and how I live.

Let me give an example of what I mean. I’m writing a multi-part, one-off story involving characters from an established universe. I didn’t know how the story was going to end until… probably about 3,000 words in, and the story is probably only going to be about 4,500 by the time it’s done. I wasn’t building toward an established ending in my head, so that made writing difficult at times. But I was able to let my brain dictate where the story was going, which made the story come off more naturally, I think.

(Did you see how I moved from one topic to another between paragraphs just there? I promise that wasn’t intentional.)

If you’ve read this blog consistently, you might know that I don’t edit my blog posts. I write them and publish them as one rough draft, without any proofreading or reviewing. This one especially.

#217: The Alternator

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The alternator is dead. The sequel to my most recent blog post is, of course, about what happened next. That’ll be about $400 dollars, out of pocket. Alternators are so unnecessarily expensive. I wish we didn’t also have to contend with the repair bill, too. If only alternators were easy to replace by yourself, then the manual labor would cover the repair bill.

Well, I drove home for about an hour after my friend jumped the car. I made it home safe and sound, and being the eternally exhausted person I am, I went to bed within a few hours after getting home. We didn’t test the car again on Saturday because of that. Maybe we should have, considering what we discovered afterwards, that the alternator, not the battery itself, was to blame for this whole mess. We called Alex’s dad, only to find out that it could be anything at fault with the car.

We waited in the garage for someone to arrive to jump our car. The first person to come help wasn’t able to reach our car, because of how we parked and the fact that there was another car next to us. The second person reached us, jumped us, and got us to the AutoZone in Stamford in time for us to figure out what was wrong. That’s where we discovered that the alternator was to blame. The guy who helped us took his time looking at the car while I sat in it and Alex talked with him about it.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any mechanics at AutoZone to replace the alternator for us. So, I had to contend with figuring out how to get to work the next day. Alex changed her shift from 8-4 to 7-3, to allow us to get to a mechanic in time together. Alex also bought a manual jumpstarter so I could get the car moving enough to get it to work and back. Here’s hoping that it works on the way back, because it worked enough to get me here!

#214: The Fish Tale

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Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale, especially the specific restaurant in New Haven, has a special place in my heart. It’s special for resembling a spot where my family goes to enjoy cheap seafood, but it’s also special for being a spot where my grandfather liked to go to before he passed away. The restaurant wasn’t open for long before he passed away, but we managed to go a few times before then, and every time we went, he would ask to go back. It became kind of an expected part of the day; when he had an idea to go somewhere for lunch together, it was usually Lenny & Joe’s. I would order the fish and chips or the fried clam strips, and I forget what he typically ordered but I’m sure it was good.

When I think back to those years of my life, images of the restaurant as it used to look, the tables we used to sit at, the fried calamari appetizers we ordered and ate together, I feel happy and a bit sad at the same time. Sad because it’s passed and won’t be coming back, but happy that I was able to share a few memorable moments with someone I love before he passed away. I know it feels morbid to mention death on here, but I think it’s necessary to fully understand the gravity of this emotional place for us. I know it’s a chain restaurant, with multiple copies of it across Connecticut, but it’s still recognizable to my family for this reason.

Recently, I went back to Lenny & Joe’s with my mom, grandma, sister, and girlfriend. We had a good dinner together, I ordered lobster mac n cheese and Alex ordered the lobster roll. It was a lobster-palooza. The mac n cheese wasn’t as good as it is at Chowder Pot, so that was a small disappointment, but it was still delicious and worth getting. Just didn’t compare to another restaurant’s offering of the same dish. We sat a few tables away from the table we sat at the last time we took my grandpa to this place, and my mom pointed it out for us. Instantly, I remembered sitting there, where I sat, what chair I sat in, everything. I mean, times have definitely changed in the years since then; it’s highly possible they got new chairs or tables, and rearranged everything in ways that make it completely unrecognizable from what it looked like five or six years ago, but to us, it’s still the same restaurant it was then. It’s special to us.