Thursday, December 20, 2012

Post-Semester Post: Fall 2012

It's been over for a week, but I post now.

Poetry Workshop

I finished a chapbook for the class, and I think it came out pretty good. Of course, the poems are not done. I should be finishing them up (plus a few more) in the next few weeks. My poems range from talking about sleep and unconsciousness to writing, porn, Poe and happiness - some of these may be related. It was fun. Made me think about whether I would teach one. I'm definitely not qualified to teach one - I'm worried I might never be. I remember saying on the first day, "I don't really consider myself to be a good poet." I didn't say "very good" - I'm really aiming just to be "good." As they say, "A man must know his limitations" - well, I will continue to strive in this genre, who knows? But I will probably concentrate on fiction. I've sent out two stories so far.

Short Fiction

Read a lot of great stories. The class, concentrated on the craft of the short form, really taught me a lot about the evolution of the short form. The evolution itself, from explicit to implicit meaning, and from maximalism to minimalism, seems to ask: what is the essence of the short story? We see it today with flash fiction. Even in the poetry workshop, I saw many things that challenged the definition of a poem: table of contents, lists, aphorisms, etc. It's a question I will grapple with in the future, no doubt.

18thC Novel

I'm just glad it's over.

Seriously, though, not that I wasn't being serious, this class also made me think about the definition and purpose of a novel. It seems to me that it is really an attempt at discovery: of self, and of writing. It is an exploration of ideas and experiences through narrative. It is a form of writing that, through exhaustive narration, aims at pushing the limits of what writing, and language, is.

A great semester. Did a lot of work. Learned a lot about writing, about categorizing (a human folly?), about myself and what and why I want to write. I don't know. That's what I learned.

To find out my classes for next semester, stay tuned. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Midsemester Post: Fall 2012

The middle of the semester passed some time ago. Sorry. I've been concentrating on school work mostly. About the courses now.

Poetry Workshop

My first. Never considered myself to be a very good poet. Definitely not so now. I've learned I have certain tendencies, such as toward abstraction. Still I think I've written some good poems that I plan on publishing some time, maybe a chapbook - and in the very distant future, a collection. I've also learned that poems, like stories, or anything else I do that is creative, is almost never finished. I always end up learning something new, a new way a poem wasn't good, and improve. I'm glad I took the workshop. I was thinking about not doing so. Fiction is what I'm thinking about concentrating on in the future. But who knows.

Short Fiction

A cool class that's 50 percent lit and 50 percent workshop. Our focus in reading the short stories (Hemingway, Cather, London, James, de Maupassant, Oats, Porter, etc) is on craft. There's also a creative project at the end. I'm writing a story based on an old news report about a recluse who hid his mother's corpse at their home. I feel I can relate to this.

18thC Novel

I've learned one key thing: I don't 18thC literature much. What's frustrating is taking a lit course and not really liking the reading materials. Reminds me of my undergrad experience. But I've learned so much important, valuable stuff about the genre of the novel, its origins and boundaries (if there are any), about narrative, and so on. Also, Lawrence Sterne was a genius.

This has already been a highly rewarding MFA experience. There's about a year left. Part of me wishes I could stay forever. Then I think about how much fucking money I would have to pay for that.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Are Fiction Writers Psychologically Ill?

I've been thinking about this question lately. I think, myself as a basis, this is true. But let's look at the definition of a mental disorder according to the DSM-IV:

A.  A clinically significant  behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual
B.  Is associated with present distress (e.g., a painful symptom) or disability (i.e., impairment in one or more important areas of functioning) or with a significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability, or an important loss of freedom
C.  Must not be merely an expectable and culturally sanctioned response to a particular event, for example, the death of a loved one
D.  A manifestation of a behavioral, psychological, or biological dysfunction in the individual
E.  Neither deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) nor conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict is a symptom of a dysfunction in the individual
Let's take these in order:

A. The term "clinically significant" is what is important here. Do writers, who compulsively spend hours alone avoiding the outside world and sociality, seek clinical help? Yes. More often than the average population, say, in the US? Probably. Or at least it breaks even. Writers abuse alcohol or have other compulsive habits for which they seek treatment.

B. "Present distress"? Constant anxiety about not writing counts, right? And "disability"? Of course. Not being able to be a normal social person or, say, do much else other than write, is a disability I'd say. "Increased risk"? Well, yes. Especially the part about loss of freedom.

C. This one is perhaps the most debatable. What is the appropriate response to spending copious amounts of time writing and avoiding one's family and friends and loved ones? Are we supposed to just rengage with the world like we having neglected it for weeks (or months, or even years) at a time? Well, society does seem to expect as much. Sorry, world. I'm not as perfect as you'd like me to be.

D. A manifestation of a dysfunction? Can we say that writing is a dysfunction? While we do it all the time and it is, according to many, an intellectual thing to do, nobody says you have to lock yourself in your house and spend what amounts to years of your life alone in front of a computer screen and hardly doing anything else. This is behavioral. But it's also psychological. What other human beings, as adults, still entertain themselves with imaginary people and reject reality for an alternate unreality?

E. Since we've already agreed this is a dysfunction (right?), is it (being a fiction writer and its consequences) also a deviant behavior and/or a conflict primarily between the individual and society? The deviance is fairly straightforward: being a hermit is not socially acceptable. Sad, but true. Now, this is what gives rise to the conflict. We, writers, don't like being judged (who does?). While in our caves, naturally seeing our work as important, we come to disdain those jolly day-walkers. They laugh and play and "live." They judge us. You know they do. You tell yourself they do. I'm telling you they do. They say, "Hey, look at him. He doesn't go outside. Weirdo!" Or, "Look at me. Look at me. I'm having so much fun. This is what life's about. You sure are missing out!" They are responsible for our craziness. The more we write, the more we hear them, the more we hate them. I hear them now. Fuck you, world.

OK. I'm having a little fun with the (flawed) definition. I don't really think all fiction writers are crazy. Just most.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Short Story: Homesick

My story is up on The World of Myth. I hope you guys enjoy. It's about a boy who thinks (hopefully) he's an alien. If only we could get what we truly want ...

Monday, September 3, 2012

Review: HHGG

I saw the film, which I generally liked, and couldn't wait any longer and plunged into the book. I did enjoy it. The book is funny, witty, well-written, thoughtful, and entertaining. But I found that reading it after watching the film was just, well, a little boring. It was like reading the script for the film. (There are some key differences between film and book, though, but not much.) It's a short book. And the film, the case is usually the opposite, is more detailed and interesting than the book.

Another significant problem for me has more to do with the genre (or subgenre) in general: SF comedy. The problem with this genre (though when reading Slaughterhouse Five, I found myself not having this problem) is that the sequence of events is often so improbable and unexpected that it renders much of the consequences null. Yes, this is done intentionally for comic effect, but it becomes difficult to care about the perils the protagonists find themselves in if you know that just about any ridiculous thing you could think of could get them out.

Sadly, I don't think I'll be reading anymore from the series (but I might). Maybe it was just that I'd seen the film before reading the book. Still, a lot of people love the series.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pre-Semester Post: Fall 2012

This semester I'm taking a poetry workshop, the 18th Century Novel, and Short Fiction (a critical practice course). (Three courses per semester are considered full time.)

Usually, I like to prepare for the courses a bit and do some studying. I haven't, though. Too busy writing. I wanted to get some stuff done because I knew I wouldn't be able to do them during the semester. I wrote some poems, did some translations, finished three stories, and worked on a novella or two. I also accomplished a lot of reading. Good summer.

I think all three classes will be a lot of fun. I'm not such a great poet, but I'm looking forward to learning. It's a form that I definitely don't want to neglect. I grew up reading Poe and I've never forgotten that one could be good at prose as well as verse, one could pursue both, and they're both worth pursuing!

The novel class should be good. I originally wanted to take a novel workshop, but my piece wasn't accepted for the class. Alas! So I took poetry. I thought this lit class would go well with the novel workshop. Anyway, it sounds like a good course. I've very interested in novels and expect to write quite a few in my lifetime. Something about a large project that requires skill and dedication. I probably won't have to buy any books for this course since it's all 18th century and I can get the books for free. Love it when that happens! Why wasn't my undergrad experience like this?!

The short fiction course sounds really nice to. As I said, I grew up reading Poe. He was the master of genre, really popularized it. So I've always valued it. Some think it's inferior to the novel. Ha! While a novel requires more dedication and time, a short story is just a different animal. It presents its own challenges to the writer (namely, how the hell do I make something literary and worth writing and in a limited space?).

Excited. Will learn a lot. A lot of useful stuff since I'll definitely be writing poems and short stories and novels in the future. I like to dabble.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Review: The Sun Also Rises

I just finished reading said Hemingway novel. A quick read in one sense (barely 200pp). A long read in another (a reference to Hemingway's style). I liked the book. I did. But I did a lot of reading without any idea of what the hell it all meant. I still don't know exactly.

What I get out of the book is this. Beyond the themes of nature and death, it's about Jake. It's about hope. It's about despair. I don't think it's really about him and Brett and their forsaken relationship, despite that the novel ends, much as it began, with the two basically expressing their love for each other and yet acknowledging that they can't be together. It's more about Jake's raison d'etre. He is unable to perform sexually, yet he desires women, specifically Brett. He idolizes Romero, a bullfighter, his idealized macho male, yet Jake, as a journalist, does not fit this mold. Jake is confronted with a reality where he has little to hope for. And in much of the novel, hence the long blocks of nothing really happening, he wastes away, dining, drinking, and partying about with Bill and Michael and Cohn. There doesn't seem to be much of a point to it. In fact, the happiest he is, it seems, is when Bill and him are in the town of Burguete, away from Cohn and Michael and Brett in Pamplona, where the two fish and enjoy nature and sleep warmly in beds, the outside freezing cold. Society is noisy and unpleasant, living pleasure-seeking pointless lives. The best life, it seems, is that which is simple and closest to nature.

A good read. Liked it. Could've done without the long passages that emphasized the wasting away, though - I get it Hemingway. Love his style, though. Iceberg theory. It's improved my writing.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


This is the song that inspired me to write my short story "Homesick," about a boy who thinks, or knows, he's an alien. OK Computer is one of my favorite albums. I'd listen to it, from start to finish, every day going to and coming from school. Years later the song would inspire the story.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Short Story Accepted: Homesick

My short story "Homesick," inspired by a Radiohead song, was accepted by The World of Myth. I don't know yet when. The song is "Subterranean Homesick Alien." The song is quite old. And so is this story (though I didn't write the story until years after first hearing it, and even then only knew I was inspired by the song retrospectively). It's gotten rejected quite a bit. And I'm honestly sick of editing it. But I've learned a lot from doing so. More about the story when it's published.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Thoughts: Does Free Will Exist? (Part 2)

There are some interesting facts about this abstract argument (does free will exist?) that I didn't cover in my previous post about the topic. Just some quick points:

  1. We are not free to choose where we are born, in what socioeconomic status, our race, our gender, etc.
  2. We are not free to choose whether to be born or not.

Both are very true. But, presupposing the existence of a Creator (for argument's sake), both can be addressed (although not fully satisfied, in my opinion) by the fact that we are free to kill ourselves if we are not happy. The problem is, though, that some of us have more reasons to kill themselves than others. One could also argue that there is upward mobility in life or that God is benevolent and helps us achieve our goals if we are deserving or ask for forgiveness. I don't know. I'll let you know if that's true.

It seems like an impossible question to answer.

Just some thoughts.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thoughts: Why Are We Here?

I've been thinking lately of the parallels between hypothetical artificially intelligent beings (thinking machines) and humans (thanks to recently watching the movie Tron: Legacy), and why we humans seem so determined on creating life through them. Why is that? Does exploring this question lead usto conclude anything about why a hypothetical creator (I'm not religious) would create us?

Life is tough. We suffer, we grow old, we die. Yet knowing this, why would so many (as it seems to me) rather live and suffer than never have lived at all? Faulkner is quoted as saying: "Given a choice between grief and nothing, I'd choose grief." It's a counterintuitive statement. Grief sucks. Nothing is nothing. But what he is talking about is feeling, living, being; that it is better to live and feel than not to live at all. I think most people would agree.

It seems that we humans have a hardwired belief that life, despite the suffering and pain, should be experienced, that there is something valuable in life itself. This seems to be the same sort of mindset that is behind artificial intelligence research. Yes, we want to see if we can. We are hardwired scientists (most of us, anyway). But, assuming we could, and many believe we can, we seem to be eager to do so, regardless of the complex ethical issues ahead. As if we want nothing more than to share life.

Can we extend this idea to the concept of a creator? Is this why we're here? To live. Because life, despite the suffering and pain, should be experienced, shared? Or is this all just an experiment? Or chance? Or are we just batteries for machines in the Matrix? :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Writerly Update: 7/12

The first of probably quite a few updates on my writing, just in case you'd like to know.


I've sent out a few things to editors. I've sent a batch of poems. They're good poems. Personal. Some hopeful. Some not so much. But very me. The ones that'll get rejected, I'll probably continue working on, 'cause I'm very much like that. They say stories/novels/poems are never finished. They're abandoned.

I've also sent out a story, the earliest one I've made that I still have, called "Homesick." A short story about Thom. He thinks he's an alien. And he doesn't like it here on earth. Only, his mom won't let him move out till he's eighteen.

Working on

I'm finishing up a draft of a short story about my early life, an attempt by me to probe the question: what is the origin of my perceived difference? I've struggled with the title a bit. Right now it's called "Imitating Life." It's funny. It's sad. It's funnisad.

I'm also still working on two short novels. One started some time ago, called Guardian. An SF story about the coming Singularity. I've done several drafts, but I'm still unhappy with it and have much work to do. Striking a balance between humor and seriousness has proven to be a challenge for this one. But it's currently "on the shelf" while I finish a few shorter pieces.

The other short novel I began last semester as part of a course called Narrative Structure. It's very autobiographical. It's about a guy named Jonah who thinks people are after him. Maybe he's just crazy. It's currently only a few pages long, though and "on the shelf," as well. Be patient my friends.

That's about it. Of course, I do weekly postings here. I'll keep ya posted.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Free Online Storage: Dropbox

Use this link to give me more free online storage - you get additional storage as well since you've been referred. Thanks.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mini-Reviews: The Metamorphosis and The Secret Agent

I've decided that I won't be doing full reviews of books that are well known or are like a hundred years old. Not too useful. Instead, I'll save more in depth reviews for books published, say, in the last 5-10 years (by the time I'm finished reading). Saves me some time too. So just some thoughts about these two fine books:

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

My first Kafka read. I was expecting quite a bit from Mr. Kafka. And I was not disappointed. This is really a virtually flawless tale. Really enjoyed it. The focus is not the language (I read a translation, so I guess I didn't miss much - despite what people say about translating German to English) but on the plot, the actual story, on Gregor Samsa, who overnight becomes a giant insect and has to confront (or be confronted with) his family in this state.

I felt all of Gregor's pains. In the micro scale it is a rather simple story. Gregor is an insect. He has to deal with that. His family has to deal with that, with him. But in the macro scale it is quite an interesting and thought-provoking scenario that examines the attitudes of others in a society and in a family toward individuals that disrupt the order of things. It is interesting how completely myopic people are to the feelings and suffering of such individuals, and how self-absorbed they are. It seems that individuals, in being different, though through no fault of their own, are an inconvenience to society, which, like a natural law, seeks self preservation through conformity and, counterintuitively, through self gratification. It is by seeking their own needs and wants, in a very Smithian way, that the wheel continues to turn. At least, that's what I got out of the tale.

I'll definitely be reading more Kafka.

The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad

Very well written, especially considering English was Conrad's third language. A very good

However, a bit longer than it needs to be. Some of the chapters drag on. Not without reason. Usually, they're to add to the suspense, but I don't think it's necessary to stay inside a character's head for a whole chapter just to get the idea that she's terrified, for instance.

Still, a very keen analysis of the psychology of anarchy and terrorism. Force, to the Professor, a character Ted "Unibomber" Kaczynski expressed deep affinity with, is strength. Strength in a society that is weak. Crime, then, is an expression of force, force that society needs to "wake up." Nothing can happen with society in its weak and dull state. Science, technology are to blame. Nothing can move the masses. Except force. (Kaczynski read the book dozens of times, which obviously motivated his murderous acts.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What and How I Read, 2.0

I first published a post about this some time ago. As I stated, the way I read was liable to change. Recently, due to the start of the summer and having more time on my hands, it has. Again, I read according to a list of categories (some have sub-categories) to read from each week. This can get quite complicated, so I'll try to keep things as simple as possible.

The List:
(When I finish longer works, I read a shorter one before moving on to another longer work. For example, after having read The Metamorphosis, I'm reading Poe's "Fall of the House of Usher" before moving on to HHGG. I also sometimes substitute articles for reading a chapter of something on the list. So if I read a lot of articles a certain week about writing, I'd save myself the time of having to read a chapter of Craft & Business.

So, that's about seven chapters a week, at least. I usually read more chapters after I'm done with the minimal requirements of the list. I also use Instapaper 1/wk to read all the articles I come across or get emailed that I don't have the time at the moment to read. Also, to stay current, I read articles on Google Reader or Google News every week.

This is how I get to read a little of everything that I think is important or interesting. It works for me. For now. It's still liable to change. As am I.)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Poem: 25 / The Difference

This is my first poem published in a magazine. I wrote it for my 25th birthday - I write a poem and wear black every anniversary of my birth. It's a melodramatic tradition started when I was a teenager. The earliest of these poems I still have in my possession is "Four and Twenty," which is published here. Check "Five and Twenty" in Inwood Indiana's super issue Harvest Time. (The stanzas are not divided up as I intended [five four-line stanzas]. However, this was the Editor's choice. Because of this, and because I've since edited the poem, I've decided to publish the poem here, as well.)

25 / The Difference

I am the man who stands there
Alone at times, but never without a cause
Life's challenges:

my vigor

I am the man who breathes here
I do so as anyone else,
only when I do, I like to take my time,
holding each breath to the fullest

I am the man who dies and who is born
I am him every day
I play both parts,
making sure to play them right

I am the man
who stands there,
who breathes here,
who dies and is born

I am this man
That is what’s most important
While I see myself in everyone,
I cherish the difference

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Thoughts: Does Free Will Exist?

Let's presuppose God exists - for argument's sake. Then let us attempt to answer the question: does free will exist? (Inspired by an argument with a coworker.)

First, we must define free will. Let's take the definition with the broadest scope: to be able to do whatever it is you want to do (to have the ability), presupposing that it is possible.

If you put your hand on a stove and get burned, will you touch the stove again. No. But this does not mean you don't have free will. You can touch the stove again. It would be stupid. But you could. People have, after all, set themselves on fire. Pain is not a constraint, it's more of an incentive, one that has kept our species alive and well.

What if you are given a choice between two things, any two things (a bicycle or a tarantula, say)? What forms the basis of the decision you make and does that basis limit you?

I argue that our actions are a product of three things. First, nature, our biology. We have biological predispositions that create a tendency or temperament. Cats, for example, are predisposed to be endlessly fascinated by yarn. Humans not so much. Parents have reported that their children have completely different personalities from the start, that that is just the way they are.

But we are not slaves to our biology. Nurture also plays a role. We can learn to conquer our fears. We can train to run marathons, even pale white guys. Our experiences can alter how we see things or how we tend to act or who we become, despite our predispositions. IQ might be strongly correlated with your genes, but if you never study, it won't help if your dad's Einstein.

Then there's chance. Sometimes we make seemingly random choices. Cocoa pebbles or Cap'n Crunch? Red shirt or blue shirt? We simply don't have time to properly analyze all the decisions in our daily lives. Jonah Lehrer describes this in How We Decide. He basically says that we have to trust our gut, our instincts, that that's an important part of the decision-making process without which we would endlessly contemplate what cereal to choose in the supermarket. So we just have to make random choices sometimes. And with all the random stimuli we receive (what sounds are in the background, whether you're hot or cold, how much lighting there is) we can't make an accurate prediction of all the decisions we make on a daily basis.

These things produce us. So we cannot say that they limit us. They are us. Only physics, or what is possible, limits us. We cannot fly, for instance. Not naturally. But, with technology, more and more is becoming possible. It may be, in fact, that nothing is impossible, that technology will enable us to do whatever we can think of. That, surely, is free will. But it may not be so. We may all be doomed when the universe ends in a Big Freeze, or we may never be able to travel faster than the speed of light. Presupposing God exists, why would He not give us this free will in its purest form? Well, if He did, then there would be nothing to separate us from Him. We would be equal. That could be bad. It might also mean that there would be no distinction between Him and us, which could cause a bit of an identity crisis.

Just some thoughts.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Inferior Books

"Life is to short for reading inferior books." - James Bryce, 1st Viscount Bryce

I completely agree with this quote. Particularly because I've read some bad books in my time. That is, books that I feel violated the first of Kurt Vonnegut's eight rules of writing a short story: "Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted." I am no critic. I'm not even saying these books are bad, or not insightful in some way. But the following are some books I read that I didn't like, for one reason or another, and would not recommend (sorry in advance if you like any of them):

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. Read this some time ago and still upset. It deals with a computer technician with a robo-arm and a self-aware computer initiating a revolution on the Moon (against the rule of the Earth gov't). I originally read it because of a story I was writing. I don't even remember most of the plot. It wasn't memorable for me. The main problem I had was that it was quite boring. The first third was good, but then it became very political, very slow, very boring. Whenever this happens with something I read, I have two choices: stop or read faster. I did finish it. But that's why I'm still a little upset.

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I did write a review of this book. Overall, it was good. But not memorable, and I had to skim through some boring patches. Only in the last few pages (perhaps the last tenth) does the plot really pick up. But by then I don't care. I would only recommend this book to diehard Vonnegut fans (such as myself).

The Island of Dr. Moreau by HG Wells. Very intelligently written. Wells is (IMHO) the best Victorian SF writer. And there are interesting parts in this book. Unfortunately, I found most of it quite boring. The chapters are too long given how little actually happens. It takes way too long for Prendick to get on that damn island (why not start with him on the island?) and then too long for him to find out the truth of the vivisections, and then too long to get off the island. If the tale were to have been condensed, it would've been really good.

From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne. First let me say that I enjoyed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. But, in addition to the first, this novel also violates Vonnugut's fifth rule: start as close to the end as possible. The novel actually ends before the exciting thing happens, which is the explorers landing on the Moon. I kept waiting for, expecting this to happen. It didn't. I was pissed. The whole book is about the preparation for the launch and the mechanics of the the rocket. If you like large sections of info dumps without much action, you'll love this.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

World News - US student killed while filming violence in Syria

World News - US student killed while filming violence in Syria

Assad's regime continues to massacre its people. I'm very disappointed by my government's response, the same government that felt such urgency to intervene in Libya as quickly as possible for the sake of the civilians. For nine months this tyrant has been killing innocent people and disgracing those that call for talks with the mass murderer - would you try to have a talk with Hitler: "Yeah, Hitler, listen, you have to stop killing Jews"? This ally of the American government gets away with murder because he's on the right side. Meanwhile, we are dropping bombs on the heads of random people who are "suspicious" without trail or due process, including American citizens, around the world, particularly in Muslim countries, while telling the world we are not at war with Islam.

We need to make it difficult for the government, for perpetrators of injustices to ignore us, to continue to operate in secret. We need to be the voice of Syria, the voice of the oppressed, of the innocent.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

NY cops boost stop-and-frisks - US news - Crime & courts -

"'If history is a guide, the vast majority of those lives saved were young men of color. Last year 96 percent of all shooting victims in New York were black or Hispanic, as were over 90 percent of murder victims,' Kelly said."

It seems the defense of this policy that unfairly targets blacks and Hispanics is that blacks and Hispanics commit the most crimes. So are they officially supporting racism now? Perhaps this is true in some areas. If you look at things from a criminal psychologist's POV, poor minorities are the most likely to commit certain crimes: they have the least opportunities and resources and the greatest adversity. Many turn to selling drugs because it is the only way they know to make money. I'm not defending "poor crime." My point is that even if blacks and Hispanics commit the most crimes, on average, this policy is making things worse for two key reasons:

First, it is justifying the targeting of people of color, which will lead to more people of color being put behind bars. There are criminals everywhere, but if you pay most of your attention on a particular group, then members of that group are proportionally more likely to get caught and end up behind bars. Stopping crime is a good thing. But this becomes a self-fulfilling, self-justifying racist policy. It is part of the reason jails in the US are predominantly filled with people of color, despite proportionally being much less numerous than white Americans.

Second, and more importantly, it makes things worse by putting these people behind bars. They are already statistically more likely to commit certain crimes - through no fault of their own: they were simply born black/Hispanic and poor in a big city; marginalized and discriminated against. Then they are unfairly targeted because of their race. If they make a mistake, more likely than it is so for whiter, more affluent people, they will be caught - as well as found guilty because of unconscious biases. Again stopping crime is a good thing. But will the problem improve by throwing these poor, young people behind bars. It does not solve a problem. It addresses a symptom, but not the illness. Going to jail often means that those who get out are more likely than not to return. We need a way to prevent crime but not target poor people of color and throw them behind bars.

Yes, I don't doubt stop-and-frisk has reduced crime. It reminds me of Bush supporting the surge in Iraq in 2007. He justified it by telling us how it reduced violence. Of course. More troops, less violence. More stops, less crimes. If we all went through metal detectors and were strip searched and had our computers searched, we would catch a lot more people. Crime would drop. But I think we can all agree that that scenario is not ideal. Privacy is a good thing. Sorry if you disagree. Think about all the things you wouldn't want to broadcast to the world about yourself, or kept in a file somewhere forever and possibly brought out if you happen to annoy someone with access to it. Information is power. I think we will see this more tangibly in the near future. Stop-and-frisk allows officers to look through your personal belongings. I don't currently know if they are able to write things down, photograph, look through your phone, etc. You may not be doing anything wrong, but would you want a stranger to grow through all your personal belongings on any given day and keep some record of them. Many people don't have a problem with this. God bless them. However, I think these people are being a bit naive if they can't see how, especially in our age of growing technological capability, such an invasion of privacy can be very harmful, whether you've done something illegal or not. We want to be protected. But that doesn't mean we need to give ourselves over completely to Big Brother.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Short Story: Jim & the Parallel Worlds

This story is finally up at The Wifiles. Warning: there are notes. I wasn't sure about them, but the editor liked them, so I decided to publish the story with them. This is the first in a series of short stories involving Jim. I wrote the story one day bored at work. It's funny because I just saw an interview with Jonah Lehrer about his new book Imagine: How Creativity Works, which I'm interested in getting. He talked about how boredom leads to creativity...

(There are typos when there were none in the original manuscript. I checked. Also, the spacing and indenting is bad. This is what the police do and call it an investigation.)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Poem: Bronx Community

I was a student at BCC and have worked there for years.

The campus in 1904 (when it was NYU).

Bronx Community

To my homies, mi gente:
yo, saludo,
and a hello to the professors.
I’ve walked on the university’s Heights,
where Washington’s battery once perched.
Him and other great Americans, too,
in a famed Hall are on campus still.
I’ve overlooked Harlem’s River
seated in a room that used to be a dorm
for a more affluent university in New York.
I’ve seen the dome, modeled after Greece’s,
theirs dedicated to all the gods,
ours to some guy named Gould,
and designed by a White guy
who was shot for sleeping with another guy’s girl.
I’ve worked at its Center,
tutoring a process called writing
to a boundless group called students.
And they in turn
have taught me who they were.
And if you ask me,
we are all BCC.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

David Brin The Horror Zine

David Brin The Horror Zine

This part is great:

"Write. Love writing. Love stories. Love a civilization that gives you plenty to read and the food and comfort to accompany it all. Be competitive. Seek and relish criticism. Have patience but never stop burning. Burn like a flame. An inferno."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

CIA Wants To Expand Drone Strikes In Yemen - YouTube

CIA Wants To Expand Drone Strikes In Yemen - YouTube

Part of the reason I think this is such an important issue, besides the fact that innocent people are being killed in secret and without due process, is that this is almost certainly, if we do nothing, an omen of what the future holds, not just for the military but for policing (it's happening already): remote control killing. No due process. Little effort. Lots of death.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

U.S. News - 30 people pepper-sprayed at Santa Monica College course fees protest

U.S. News - 30 people pepper-sprayed at Santa Monica College course fees protest

A serious and persistent problem with police is that with little real-world accountability they are able to take advantage of what they are allowed to do under extreme circumstances and apply it toward young people or otherwise everyday people not doing anything extreme, such as protesting. If you're stressed out, find a new job. Don't take it out on the people who pay your salary.

"Priscillia Omon, 21, claimed a police officer fired the spray into the mouths and eyes of people standing arm's length away, NBC Los Angeles reported. She said a family, including a 4 year old, were in the crowd when the officer used the pepper spray."

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Writing Quotes - The Top Twenty Five Quotes on Writing and Language

Writing Quotes - The Top Twenty Five Quotes on Writing and Language

I love quotes. I especially love writerly quotes. Take your time: savor the concise wisdom.

'Did Jesus Exist?' A Historian Makes His Case : NPR

'Did Jesus Exist?' A Historian Makes His Case : NPR

A very interesting topic. A lot of people (religious and otherwise) don't realize how little in fact we know about the Christ. I went to a Jesuit university so have heard some of the arguments before. I definitely think he existed. I definitely don't think he was the son of God, though.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Purpose of Life

I don't know what it is. I don't think you all expected me to know. I just want to throw the question out there: well, what is it?

The longer I live, the simpler the answer is for me. Of course, that is, for me. My purpose is to do as much good as possible before I die. Money, status, sex just don't matter in the long run. I've managed to live without the three for quite some time. I know.

I feel like what I'm currently doing in life has a purpose, which is all anyone can ever hope for. Am I truly happy? No. My life's pretty tough, if I do say so myself. But I'm as happy as I can be, all else considered. Happiness is relative. The frame of reference is crucial. If unrealistic, say you're comparing yourself to the rich and famous, then you're bound to be unhappy. If you compare yourself with 99% of the world, you, reading this, are probably really fucking lucky - as am I.

So purpose. Be happy? Have fun? Work till you die? None of it matters to me if you're not doing something to help make the world better. It's an obligation. To show you're thankful. I am.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

5+ Books Important to Me as a Writer

The following is a list of books I've read and why they were and are important to me as a writer (an assignment for my Narrative Structures course I thought I'd share here):
  1. Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska - The first novel I remember reading in its entirety. I remember feeling a sense of accomplishment when I was done. One kid in class, because it was every day during reading time that I read it, didn't believe me . He started reading it after I had finished it to quiz me. I would fail now, but I remember an inspiring story about the son of a matador expected to follow his father's footsteps but nowhere near as skilled and his friend, who was better suited to be one.

    This book is also the basis for a future fan fiction piece I plan on writing in the Star Wars universe. (It may or may not get written, so no promises!)

  2. Ghosts of Fear Street: How to be a Vampire by RL Stein - One of the earliest books I remember reading. I loved this book (as well as RL Stein: I hoarded Goosebumps books). I seriously wanted to be a vampire for months. I would, in my thoughts while lying in bed, give permission to a hypothetical vampire that would hopefully visit my room and turn me one. I even practiced hanging upside down to get used to the feeling. I guess this explains my later goth years.

  3. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell - The best science fiction novel I've read thus far. The writing, the prophetic vision, the philosophy, the language: there's more in there than I was expecting, than I knew I wanted. Thank you, Orwell.

    I remember when I first read it that I had skipped ahead and read the last sentence. It didn't ruin the  experience for me. I kept wondering how, why Winston would come to love Big Brother. (Has anyone been to North Korea? You know they have this propaganda-spewing radio that can be turned down but never off - just like in the novel?!)

  4. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut - This book really changed my perspective of science fiction. I was unaware before I had read this that such wit and comedy could be employed so seamlessly in science fiction; quite the departure from Nineteen Eighty-Four. The way Vonnegut played with time and the overall structure of the novel awed as much as it inspired me. My writing changed.

  5. Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman - This book was suggested to me by a creative writing professor at Fordham U. He suggeted it after I had submitted what became my short story "Jim & the Parallel Worlds," which I'm hoping to make into a series of short stories and eventually a collection. I wasn't disappointed. Each brief chapter takes on a different theory of time and narrates such a reality: it was so inspiring and filled me with so many ideas and questions that I resolved to only read a chapter a day, before bed, appropriately enough. It shows that scientists do sometimes make great SF writers, and that they're not all boring - most are, though.

  6. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy - This is my favorite Hardy novel. It' an epic tragedy. I always learn a lot about writing (language, time, plotting) reading Hardy. He shows in this novel that it's about the characters, not the plot - that's what we really care about. It's ironic that so many people in contemporary England hated it (evening burning copies publicly), so much so that Hardy refused to write prose ever again and dedicated his final years to poetry. Hardy gets the last laugh, though: its has become a must-read for many Hardy fans and Victorianists. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

90 students in Iraq stoned to death for having 'Emo hair and tight clothes' | Mail Online

90 students in Iraq stoned to death for having 'Emo hair and tight clothes' | Mail Online

You can't eliminate freedom of expression. People always find a way. I think it's our moral obligation to shine the spotlight on and talk about such matters. Secrecy is the enemy of justice.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Taser’s Latest Police Weapon - The Tiny Camera and the Cloud -

Taser’s Latest Police Weapon - The Tiny Camera and the Cloud -

A step in the right direction, but there's a potential for this to do more harm than good: allowing officers to pick and choose what they want to "use" and what to "discard." Control and access, as with any technology, are paramount.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Drunk on Writing

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." - Ray Bradbury

I like this quote because it emphases what I've always liked about writing: it's an escape. It's not that life is horrible. It's that life needs venting for the imagination. The subconscious, the seat of imagination, is a powerful thing and, as Freud has taught us, looking to get out. There are only two options, then: write or dream. Or else: die.

85 Synonyms for “Help”

85 Synonyms for “Help”

A bit of positivity.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review: A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

My rating: 6.5/10

A Study in Scarlet is Doyle's introduction to the world of the proportionally conceited Sherlock Holmes. It deals with the murder of one Enoch Grebber under, you guessed it, mysterious circumstances. (Some spoilers.)

I found Holmes to be quite full of himself in the book, conceit being his main driving force: why he solves crimes, why he keeps knowledge of the murder to himself as opposed to telling the detectives, why he considers himself a consulting detective (the detective other detectives turn to when they're lost). Doyle wants to amaze us, sure, with Holmes' brilliance, but Holmes' awareness of his incredible powers is annoyingly apparent. I also found Holmes to be a less creative reinkarnation, if you will, of Edgar Allan Poe's origin brilliant detective: Dupin, who Holmes briefly discusses derisively. If Poe only would have realized the commercial potential of Dupin, he might not have been so plagued by poverty. But who's to say the genre would have taken off in America the way it did in for Doyle in Britain?

I found the story to be heavily plot-driven; there's limited character development. Yes, we are told in the beginning of Watson's past as a doctor in the military. Also, much of the tale is concentrated on Jefferson Hope. However, this is to give the backdrop, to explain his motivation for the murder - to drive the plot forward. The heavy dependence on plot leaves much to be desired from the characters, such as Holmes, Lucy and John Ferrier. I didn't believe in the love between Lucy and Jefferson. I found Holmes to be very one-dimensional. And Watson: he follows Holmes around with admiring eyes like a puppy dog.

I thought "Chapter I" of "Part II: The Country of Saints" to be well written: the description of the desolate landscape make you feel you're there, suffering with John and Lucy and waiting for certain death. However, the creativity and good writing seems to peter out as the novella continues. Much of it appears to be rushed. On the Wikipedia page for the story, it states that Doyle completed the story in three weeks. It shows. Still well-written overall and thoughtful. I enjoyed reading "Part I" more than "Part II," the beginning of which, switching to a third-person omniscient narrator, stuck out like a Band-Aid in the plot.

Finally, the end of the book, when Holmes methodically describes how his analytical reasoning, as he calls it, led him to apprehend the murderer, is both redundant and anti-climactic. He already describes this in "Part I" toward the end, repeating much of the same points. It's also anti-climactic since we already know how and why the murder took place given the narrative of the Lucy, John, and Jefferson. The tale should have ended either at the end of "Chapter V," before the return to Watson's narrative, or in "Chapter VI," before Holmes' annoying declaration of genius, describing again how he reasoned above everyone else and solved and apprehended the murderer in three days.

Still, a good read, especially for the Sherlock Holmes and detective fiction fans. Good writing also, if parts seem rushed and overly dependent on plot.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Former CIA Director Against Drone Strikes - YouTube

Former CIA Director Against Drone Strikes - YouTube

This has been a persistent problem that empirically the Obama administration does not care about. Obama has been pushing for more drones and more drone strikes in more countries despite the shocking inefficacy of drones statistically. It is important to note, too, as was noted in the video, that the government actively tries to bury statistics of civilian deaths, so that even the horrible numbers we are aware of, thanks to good journalism,  are likely much higher. Further, this "tactic" of trying to kill everyone that might be a bad guy at the cost of civilians doesn't work and will likely make the US and other countries dangerous places to live because kids from many nations will grow knowing what few Americans do: that the US government often indiscriminately bombs and kills people with little or no due process. With this as a role model, it is unsurprising to see police abuse of power and the like.

U.S. News - NYC police commissioner's son won't be charged in sex assault case

U.S. News - NYC police commissioner's son won't be charged in sex assault case

I don't want to prejudge. But it makes you think: why would a woman make such a claim, going to the police against the Commissioner's son, when she knows it's going to be a Sisyphean task?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Translation: "The Golden Crane"

I wasn't asked to do this. This isn't an assignment. I was only assigned to read a handout for my Translation Workshop. But since I took the time to write a translation based on the crib (word-for-word translation) and some of the sample translations of the Chinese poem, the Golden Crane, I'd figured I'd kill two crane's with one stone and post it here. Enjoy.

My Translation:

The immortal man went away riding a golden crane
Leaving only this empty gold pavilion behind
The golden crane only flies forward
A thousand, thousand years of lonely clouds pass by

The river is bright, and brighter still the Han-yang trees
The grass grows lush, fragrantly on Ying-wu Isle
The Sun sets before I am home
The river waves mist, feeding my tears

The Crib:

Former person once rode brown (yellow) crane away
This place emptily left brown crane building
Brown crane once gone never again returns
white clouds thousand years empty long-long (slow-slow)

Clear (sky) river clear-clear Han-yang trees
Fragrant grass lush-lush Ying-wu Isle
Suns sets home place what point is?
Mist waves river upon make person sad (melancholy).

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Spring 2012

Just had my first week of classes at City. I thought I'd share what my courses and reading materials are.

I'm taking three courses (three is considered full-time for my MFA program): 1) a translation workshop, 2) Victorian Science Fiction, and 3) Narrative Structure. Stoked for them all. I was a bit hesitant about the translation workshop, but now I'm thinking it might sharpen my writerly skills in ways I hadn't anticipated. Besides, I love languages and already read in different ones (mostly, Spanish and French). (I had originally thought that I should've taken a poetry workshop instead, but I'll still probably take one later on.) Victorian SF seems really cool (check out reading list below - I don't have to buy any books: they're all free online!). Narrative Structure examines, as you might imagine, structures of various novels and then builds on what is learned by having students develop their own novels. That is, we will be turning in a synopses and first chapter of our novels. It's like a lit course meets writing workshop.

Lots of good reading ahead. So let me finish writing this so I can read.

Reading Material 2012 (in proper sequence):

Translation Workshop

  • We will largely be choosing our own reading materials as we will be choosing what we translate. I'm thinking about translating some works by Dominican (DR, not Dominica, certainty not a friar) writer Socrates Nolasco, such as his Cuentos del Sur

Victorian Science Fiction

Narrative Structure
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (I had read this before for a Hardy course I'd taken as an undergrad. Like it. But Jude the Obscure is my fav. Click here for a review of Jude.)
  • A Study in Scarlet by AC Doyle
  • Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
  • The Passion by Mel Gibson Jeanette Winterson
  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (She is such a dyke - no, really. She uses the term, not me! Click here to check out a talk she gives at Cornell discussing the book, which is actually a graphic novel.)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Five Ways the Government Spies on You ~ LockerGnome

Five Ways the Government Spies on You ~ LockerGnome

At least read the last paragraph of this prescient article:
Bottom line: Everything you do or say in public should be done with the knowledge in mind that someone or something is monitoring you. Virtually everyone on the street has a camcorder and/or camera in their pocket, and a vast majority of people have access to the Internet, giving them the ability to upload these videos and/or images on sites and social networks that are accessible by the entire world.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Use of Force--William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

The Use of Force--William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

Just read this. Thought I'd share it. It's about a doctor (Williams was one) who gets a house call and tries to save a little girl's life and has to use force to do it. A la Williams, it is pithy prose. (You could say such about some of his poetry.) Could've been more emotionally evocative I feel if Williams wanted to dive a bit deeper. Well written.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review: Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

A pack of foma (lies)! Bokonon would say about this book, and he'd be right, as he usually is. But, as he himself tells us, that is not such a bad thing. What a wise man.

Cat's Cradle (1963) is a book about a guy, John, who wrote a book, the one he narrates, but begins by trying to write another book, The Day the World Ended, about the day the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and what famous people were doing on the day. The research for the book drives the protagonist to search out the offspring of one Felix Hoenikker, co-inventor of the bomb, a child-like, emotionless genius. In the process, he finds himself on the island nation of San Lorenzo with Newt, Angela, and Frank Hoenikker. It's a peculiar place where one man, "Papa" Monzano, rules as dictator over a technologically barren land. The only thing that keeps the natives going is Bokononism, a religion outlawed on the island, punishable by death (via the dreadful hook) that celebrates lies and above all man. The founder, Bokonon, is a fugitive, which seems to be good for everyone, including Bokonon.

I chose to read the novel because I'm a Vonnegut fan and because when grading his own books against himself in Palm Sunday, Vonnegut gave Cat's Cradle an A+ (as well as Slaughterhouse Five). So I figured, this was the one to read. While I evidently don't think this is a great book, I do think it's good.

The book is, if I may say so, a kind of atheist manifesto. Bokononism is used by Vonnegut as a means to satirize religion.  Bokononism is based on lies, which Bokonon figures people would enjoy more than the harsh reality of life on San Lorenzo. This is just another way of saying that religion is BS and people like it because it paints life romantically. (We get it Vonnegut: you're an atheist!) In other words, the Bible is the Delacroix of life. Atheism is more like a Hopper. Sure you probably like Delacroix better (who doesn't?), but perhaps Hopper is more relevant. (Not my words, Vonnegut's!)

I enjoyed the the satirical depiction of religion. For example, in the explicitly fictional creation story of Bokononism, life is nothing more than mud that got to sit up and say, "Nice going, God!" and "I feel very unimportant compared to You." The concise Calypsos (poems) of Bokonon sprinkled throughout are, also, a good touch and some of them are quite insightful. I like this one:

Tiger got to hunt,
Bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder, "Why, why, why?"
Tiger got to sleep,
Bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.

There are some substantial boring bits in the book. They're located toward the middle. I got a hundred or so pages in and then considered whether I should continue reading or not. I hate that. Whenever that happens, I have two real choices: stop or read faster. I read faster. The last time I had this dilemma it was with Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which I didn't review because I hated. I chose to keep reading but not fast enough. It was a waste of time and I'm mad at Heinlein now and refuse to read him anymore - I don't care how smart the guy was. I hear Stranger in a Strange Land is good, but I really don't know. I really don't know. I really don't fucking know.

Where Cat's Cradle starts to pick up, really pick up, is toward the end of the book. This is probably intentional and not a coincidence. The way it picks up toward the end reminds me of Moby Dick, which saves most of the action for the very end. Vonnegut begins Cat's Cradle with, "Call me Jonah," echoing the first line of Moby Dick while also highlighting an important figure in the book. Cat's Cradle is no Moby Dick, but it's classic, witty, surreal Vonnegut.

I enjoyed the book and think other Vonnegut fans will, too. I've already read the free Kindle sample for Mother Night and think I'll read that, as well, though I have quite a few other books I want to read before then. (Have any recommendations - science fiction or literary?)

That's my review. No spoilers. How about that?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Alain de Botton: Atheism 2.0 - YouTube

Alain de Botton: Atheism 2.0 - YouTube

A very good Talk. Turns out there's a name for people like me, people who don't believe in any religion but understand the ways in which it is important as a cultural invention, according to Alain de Botton: atheist 2.0. (I went to a Jesuit university. I've said it before and I'll say it again, very religious Christians are some of the nicest, most magnanimous people I have ever met.)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Why I Became a Vegetarian

It didn't happen overnight. It was a slow process. In fact, I always joke that it took me less time to stop being a Christian than being a meat eater. For me the two things were linked. If you believe in what the Bible says, that animals have no other purpose than to feed our bellies and provide occasional company, then I guess killing them and even torturing them, since they have no soul or feelings, as the Bible teaches, is OK. I guess this is way animal rights as a movement has taken so long in this country to develop and make way. If you don't think so, look at India. On the other hand, if you believe in biological evolution, which is what made me disbelieve in Biblical creation, than it's hard to reason that killing animals is OK. Not only are we animals. But we all share a common ancestry. Therefore, it can be supposed just on this that many animals, especially those more like us (mammals, primates)  have the same emotions, feelings, and thoughts that we do. That is, not only do they feel pain but they feel sad and distressed, too. And who's to say that another organism's life should end here or there. Who are we? Owners of all creation? Ha.

Some would say: Hey, look, this eating-each-other thing is normal - look at nature. We are the dominant species and what do the dominate species do? Eat the subordinates. Yeah, but animals also rape and kill each other and we don't condone that, right? Evolution tells us what the order of things is, what traits are favored by nature, but not what is right and what is wrong. Survival of the fittest is just reality. But reality kind of sucks. I don't think it's cool that lions are killing zebras and gazelles and wildebeests right and left to survive. But they have to. We don't.

And that's my point. We don't have to. So why? Honestly, I think that most people don't. They eat their chicken nuggets and pet their dogs. (How different are chickens and dogs? How do you know?) They feed their kids bacon as they watch Babe. Cowboys mourn the death of their horses, but slaughter cattle. Sure, you can argue they have to to make a living or feed their families. But you don't. Not in the twenty-first century. Not if you live in a modern city. So why? Do you not think that the pain and suffering of an animal is important? I do. I feel, after all. Do you think they don't feel pain? Stab a cow and see if it winces. Do you think we can kill animals painlessly? I don't. No knife is sharp enough. But even if we could. Why? Wouldn't you rather sustain yourself without killing another feeling, breathing organism, one that has experiences and connections, however insignificant to us, to others like it. That seems to disregard the uniqueness and the gift that is life.

On to my story. I watched a few of the Faces of Death videos when I was sixteen or so. I would never have watched these videos if it wasn't for my friend at the time who got a copy somehow. Seems illegal. Well, those videos made me physically sick for a week. Many of the videos contained images of animals being slaughtered. (Chickens getting their heads chopped off and running about; cows having their throats cut by a machine and a gallon or so of blood gushing out, the cow trying to get away; pigs being beaten and electrified to force them into their execution machine.) If you haven't seen an animal slaughtered and eat meat, you should. It isn't going to be a pleasant experience - hopefully. But I think it's a matter of personal responsibility. I'm not saying you'll change your mind or that you'll now be able to eat meat guilty free (somehow knowing what it takes, the sacrifice, to get you that hamburger), but I think it's just something you have to do.

After losing God, I began to lose my appetite. I would order hamburgers and remember the images. I'd felt bad. And, honestly, I'm thankful that I did, and do. Shame and guilt are wonderful things. Without them, we'd be monsters. I remember deciding one day I'd become a vegetarian after much guilt and contemplation. Friends doubted me. My dad tried to sabotage me. Those people are out of my life now. And I've been a vegetarian ever since.

For vegetarian/vegan alternatives to fast food, clothing, and shoes or more about the general topic, click here for a previous post.