Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Meaning of Life

I'm not saying it. If you know what I'm talking about, don't put it in the comment section. If you really can't resist, just throw your towel over your keyboard.

The situations are thus:

First: Let the universe--that is, all that exists, in any form--be the world that is here, and some afterlife.

Second: Let the universe be only this one, but reincarnation happens.

Last: Let us assume that this world is all that is. The Earth, the Sun, the planets, the stars all exist. However, that's it. No afterlife, not even reincarnation, simply what is here now, what came before you, and what will continue after you leave. You are in no way a part of it, save in memories and other echoes in people's minds. Maybe in your constructions, if you made any.

Respectively, the most basic reasons for doing good would be:
1)to get into a good afterlife,
2)to make the world livable/better when you come back,
3)no outside reason.

Tell someone who doesn't believe in the first that one is your reason and that's...not a very good impression. It isn't a good impression even if the person does believe: So the only reason you're being good is to get something? Huh. That's not really good, then, is it?

Tell someone who doesn't believe in the second that two is your reason and it's a little better. But it's still selfish. It is doing something because you will get something out of it in the end. Not really a morally upstanding train of logic.

Then there's the last. And the thing is, three is a lovely answer to "Why do you do good?" regardless of what you believe, assuming you are doing good. It may not be very specific, but starting at the basic, it can work. You do not do good for any good outside what you are accomplishing. You do good works for their own sake, because "People are good and I want to help them," or "Because it seems like a nice idea."

Whether you believe you are getting an afterlife, or a reincarnation, or nothing, that last makes sense. Put simply: You may be interested in which of these options are true--or if another one is--but as far as behavior goes, there's almost no reason for it to matter. Because being good is a good thing.*

And really, if whatever entity you're trying to impress would say that's wrong, do you want to follow that being anyway? What, would you follow Cthuhlu?

* Note this doesn't even take trust into account--doing good makes people think that you will probably do good in the future. This can make them more likely to help you. At the very least, if you need/want to hurt someone, are you going after the guy who brings you chocolate every day or the one who is a constant nuisance?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Murphy's Law

Simple: "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."

Specific: "Anything with a probability greater than 0 will, given infinite time, happen."

Combine: "Anything that can go wrong can go wrong."

End Result: "Anything that can go wrong can go wrong, and so we should prepare for it."

Misconception: There is a probability greater than 0* of an Earth-Shattering Kaboom. Therefore, an Earth-Shattering Kaboom must eventually occur.

Murphy's Law is not literal in any designated set of time. "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong" does not mean "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong this week," or even, "in my lifetime." The point of the law, as I read it, is that it will go wrong eventually, and so we should prepare for it.

And really, there are so many ways we can destroy ourselves that don't include [worry of the week]. Or, for the reflective phrasing: there are so many things that could have killed us and didn't. You, the person on the other side of this screen? You are born of survivors. As are all of your line. That doesn't mean you'll be perfectly fitted to this environment--who is? Today's superawesome genes are tomorrow's killers, are yesterday's okays. But it does mean that this species is pretty darn good at adaptation. The chances of a giant wipe are low in your lifetime, and the chances of a total wipe are still small. Anything that can go wrong, will. We won't always be here. But we'll have left a mark, and all the larger of one for being able to adapt intra-generationally.

And anyway, most of that stuff isn't going to happen in any way that makes a difference to us temporal beings of limited lifespan.

* This only works, by the way, if you decide that infinite time is something currently worth contemplating, and that the probability is consistently greater than 0. As opposed to one that decreases until reaching 0.** Incidentally, then it's still not guaranteed if it not occurring also has a probability consistently greater than 0.
** As opposed to approaching 0.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I've touched on this point in earlier posts: I fit the definition of "gifted". That doesn't necessarily make me more rational than an average person, it just means that I fit the sections established by a group of people I know nothing of that made a test that placed me in the "gifted" section. To be perfectly honest, I'm not entirely sure what that means.

What I do know is that it means that anything describing an average person's mind is even less likely to apply to me. I always think of a science experiment one of my friends did when we were in middle school.* He put in several types of liquid in different containers, each containing three liquids. He shook it and they mixed. But when he let it set, they stratified. The difference was strong enough that the liquids could look solid if you dropped certain objects in them--ball of solid X would drop straight through substances A and B but stop promptly at C, making it look like it had hit a tabletop. Y would fall through A, bob down under A and into B's surface, then roll around. If you tilted the glass slowly--without spilling or mixing--they would roll around just as if there were perfectly solid planes, unless X popped up, in which case it would go up and down through the separation of A and B, then promptly fall back through. It was really cool. And people are like that. If you mix it up, A, B, and C will jumble; if you let it stratify then the top and the bottom are notably different from the center. Any generalization you make will, at best, only apply to the majority of the population. X would fall right past us, and would just barely brush the other side of the bell curve.

In the interests of a simpler metaphor, however, I'll go back to an old favorite: a teaspoon of oil on a large glass of water.

Before I continue, I want to make something clear: oil is not better than water. Yes, oil is on the top. Yes, we can use oil to do some pretty cool things--see light, cars, etc. However, we need water to survive. I'm not going to argue if/that people in the higher percentiles are better. Or worse, for that matter.

I'm here because I want to be able to present evidence that I was like this.

I look back on old memories sometimes, and they seem surreal. Like before I figured out I could sing. Or, and this one is weirder, before I figured out I liked it.** It's also odd to just look at my old handwriting, but even odder is my old thought process. I remember having bursts of insight, but what I didn't realize for a while was that I remember these because they were rare.

For instance, one situation that is burned quite clearly into my head--not in these words, just in the experience; I didn't put it into words immediately:
I'm sitting out behind my teacher's classroom. We are planning for a party, and we are in elementary school. The teachers gave us a budget and we'd already decided on the restaurant by a vote. We had to figure out, given the menu and budget, what we wanted. We had already agreed there would be no formal leader.

Very rapidly, everyone was talking at once.

I don't like noise. I don't like disrespect. I don't like everyone talking and no one listening, and I certainly did not enjoy the confluence.

With an anger I barely noticed until I let it out, I shouted for quiet. Every person in our neat little circle froze, went silent, and looked at me.

But at the time, all I felt was a sudden link to every single person in the circle, and a feeling of being on a web stretched taut. Any strong move would snap it.

"Alright," I said quietly, picking up some random object I had already settled on. I started into an explanation of how we could pass this among people, and only the person holding it could talk--

The girl across from me jumps up and shouts, "No! No leaders!"

And we descend back into madness. Eventually the teacher comes out to chide us, and we successfully manage to get everything under enough control to decide. For those of you who are looking for the details I've left out: Panda Express, I believe, and the party went off marvelously.

And that was, for years, one of my most vivid memories. I took this to mean that I had had some sixth sense as a child that I had lost as I grew, one that allowed me to control a group like that and sense the interactions in a group as they related to me.

Then I thought some more.

And I realized that this was the most extreme memory I had of such a thing. In other words, the situation I had been in was interesting, highly emotional, and novel. I remembered for the same reason my classmates shut up: it was weird. I didn't usually raise my voice above ambient, or get that angry, or call attention to myself. Put simply, I was confusing something that happened once and intensely with something that happened often.

And that means that any reasonable person can point to exactly that argument, and be fully correct if I can only give one example of me thinking like [description] when I way [number] years old.

But what this blog allows me to do is make a public journal. I can go through, think of things that I would be willing to share with the world at this point in time, and then explain them, to the best of my understanding, now. In addition to forcing myself to think through these things, I am also giving my future self a look at what I could do consistently. Maybe this is not a good cross-section of my entire thought process--if I think something is too personal, or that I don't understand it at all, then I won't post it. But it does mean that I can link, say, "Look at the date and do the math," then say that, yes, I really did think like that.

Or, should I get to cocky, go back, think to my self, "Look at how recent that is," and know that I really did think like that.

Because if I look up a study that says, "The average child will be like this at this developmental stage," I have good reason to assume that will not apply to me. And, knowing how my memory works, I cannot rely on it to tell me how I was. The oil on water metaphor doesn't just apply for gifted people versus the center of the bell curve. Take the reverse, and it also works for memories. Forgetting how I was is the same as forgetting my history; I'm going to make the same mistakes over and over.


And That's Terrible.

* My apologies for the vagueness. I can see the image in my head, but I can't remember any of the specifics.
** Just for the funny: When a person came to our school to talk about college and majors, she said we probably wouldn't be certain what major we wanted to have unless we had been focused on one thing and hadn't wavered since third grade. Guess when I started being seriously interested in singing.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Musing: Confusion, Circles and Consternation

Okay, first, this.

I have discussed word power in previous posts. I believe very firmly in the power of manipulation in simple terms of getting a person to do something. I am aware that humans are fallible, that this is a part of being human at this point in time, we are not perfect.

And even with all of that in my head, I simply do not understand how the experiment can work out in favor of the AI even once if the Gatekeeper is firmly set against it.*

So let's figure this out. Okay. First: probably not something I'm likely to figure out on my own, given my age/experience level, and the fact that I have done very little actual research into human manipulation or AIs, much less both.

What confuses me most? I was actually pretty willing to accept the whole thing as simply a person getting logicked into a corner or something like that--unforeseeable circumstances, etc. Then I read this:
The Gatekeeper party may resist the AI party's arguments by any means chosen - logic, illogic, simple refusal to be convinced, even dropping out of character - as long as the Gatekeeper party does not actually stop talking to the AI party before the minimum time expires.
So this means that, even with both people given absolute free reign to say and do whatever they feel like, and with no out-of-character benefits offered, somehow they let the AI out.

In a word: What.

Okay, I've decided that, at the present point in time, I will not be able to figure out the specifics. So, before I go and check all this stuff out, let's see if I can think of any generals. I really wish I could have some "warmer/colder" on this, but I also understand why it's better that I don't.

First: the Gatekeeper has absolute free reign. This should make it very easy to keep the AI in. However, this would also make it very easy to let the AI out.

Second: There would be some social issue with admitting you "lost", but not much--I think, anyway. Hm. Connect to communicating to outside world: the AI being useful if let free, or releasing this (")safe(") AI into the world to prove that it is possible, therefore making the chances of a dangerous AI being let loose being smaller.

Third: The AI is perfectly capable of lying, or being just as illogical as the Gatekeeper can be. The only difference is that the AI is working to convince, and the Gatekeeper is trying not to be convinced.

Fourth: I have noticed it can be harder to fight for a negative. I don't like running, but I can chase something just fine. Tell someone not to look down, and...yeah. So though the AI does have a disadvantage in having to change the world rather than maintain its current state, the AI is fighting for a change, while the Gatekeeper is fighting for the absence of change.

Fifth: Appeal to curiosity.

Straight musing: I do not believe myself infallible, and so I do not believe I would trust myself to guard the AI for the rest of my life, or on a reasonable shift as part of my job. I think the main thing I'm trying to avoid here is routine, because that would give me far too much time to talk myself into it.

But do I believe someone** could talk me into it in a 2-hour span, if I go in firmly set against it? [I'm actually pausing to figure out what to type here.] If you ask me to go at it as a logic problem, then I would have to give a maybe, because I am not infallible. It's like saying "Yes" to "Would you do anything?" I cannot say yes, because I do not believe I have sufficient imagination to figure everything out. But on the emotional level, I don't really believe it.

Hm. Which brings up the question, why not? I believe these results to be accurate, so what do I think makes me different.

Okay. I believe I am smarter than the average person, but, given context, chances are good that those people were too. Ah, and there's proof that it's emotional and not logical, because when I considered the fact that they might be smarter than I am, I immediately tried to justify why that would give me and advantage. I'd be so uninformed that some logic-based appeals wouldn't work on me, whatever.

Lovely. I'm so wrapped up in my own pride that I'll paint myself as better in any way.

Which is probably the actual emotional root of the issue. And a good thing to note all around. The reason that these people and others were so willing to say, without any qualifier, that a transhuman intelligence would not be able to outsmart them despite having no experience of one, was pride. Not necessarily personal, it could simply be human pride--which makes some sense, we've been apex predators for generations.

...Huh. Despite still having absolutely no idea how that convincing could have gone, I feel much better about the whole thing. Probably a combination of finding a flaw in myself and also immediately being able to point to others as having it. I know something I need to work on, and I'm not picking myself out of the pack.

Thus concludes this batch of musing.

*I'm not doubting the results. I'm just trying to work out my ignorance.
**Counting sufficiently advanced AIs as people here.

EDIT: I'm not saying that the case is conclusive. My point was that I was treating it as conclusive on faith, and then still saying "that doesn't apply to me", which is unintelligent.
FURTHER EDIT: I do, however, trust the guy to do proper science. I just cannot make a fully informed decision for myself when all I can see is the results section.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Sometimes with Christmas coming
All there is is a rush to the store
Sometimes only running
We forget there's something more

As feet beat together in a rhythm seldom-heard
We all rush to find the gift for ma'am or sir.

As we run ourselves into this debt,
Sometimes we just forget.

And then we sit, by firelight's play
We find time for family
And breathe and smile, if only for a day.

And even if Christmas isn't for you,
I know you can feel it, too.
A peace touches so many, enough
A piece of our hearts in the stockings we stuff

It wasn't always Christian, and it isn't always this
But the feeling will continue, for we need our bliss.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Portfolio 8 Short Story: Self-Imposed

Hi. I missed one.

I stare at the wall.

There is nothing interesting about the wall. It’s a fine wall, it is solid, it doesn’t let sound or anything through; it does everything a wall is supposed to. It doesn’t help me much, because the other wall lets sound through—lines of metal sunk into the floor and the ceiling.

But, then, I suppose it does help. When I was in the cell on the other side of this wall, I heard more shouts. I sleep better now.

I put my right hand against the wall.

It is rough, but not cold. Nothing here is cold. I know that if I scrape my hand against it, then it will bleed. I’ve never done it on purpose, but I try to walk around, and sometimes, when I think about something else, I trip and catch myself on the wall. Recently I’ve learned to fall away from it, as if it’s a pool edge instead of a wall. Don’t want to get wet.

I smile to myself.

This place is good. I know it is. The floors are smooth stone—uneven, but smooth, from years of walking. Years of feet that people who know the ground don’t pay any mind anymore, and so let them stay on the ground as they move, smoothing the floor like ocean water on old driftwood.

I sigh happily.

There is chatter from our sentries as they pass by. Another person in a room like mine calls to tell them good morning and they call back in kind. Everyone is always so happy to be here.

I close my eyes, a calm smile still playing along my lips.

A peace, the same peace that is in that smile, is spreading through me. All is good, and all is happy. I don’t have to worry anymore. I laugh quietly, thinking of how I had been scared when I came here. It seemed so silly now. Here there was a complete, all-encompassing peace. No one who had been here long ever feared. None of us feared anything, anymore. Our sentinels keep us safe.

And then, suddenly, still enough to break my calm as it shreds through the peaceful quiet of our home, comes a scream. “No! NO! Stop! I didn’t do anything! Please! Please!”

I turn around and stand, staring at the new recruit.

He is pretty. Not handsome, pretty. He has a definite feminine air about him, nicely curved and red lips, and a soft face even as he yells his fear. He is wearing what anyone here would wear, a nice, comfortable suit. In his case, it’s a blue a few shades too light to be called navy blue. I call it ocean blue in my head, just as I call mine rose leaf green.

I shake my head. “So silly,” I stage murmur. “What’s your name?” I call.

He turns to me, breaks free of the guards, and runs. I catch him when he stumbles and wipe his cheeks with the handkerchief I keep on me. He stares at me with scared eyes, and he trusts me as a child trusts his mother. Everyone trusts me. “R—Roger,” he whispers. His tone was that of a person who had screamed too much.

“I’m Emiliana.” It was a lie, but a comforting one. Everyone relaxes when a sage young woman you trust reflexively is name Emiliana.

He relaxed in my arms. I brushed the hair out of his face and kissed his forehead. “Stay with them,” I whispered, a lullaby tone. “They will help you.”

He stayed still and confused for a moment, then nodded and moved back to them. He stumbled along the floor where he expected it to be flat, but he caught himself.

One of the guards who were just walking their rounds nodded to me. “We might be able to get you let out soon, Emmy.” Everyone I didn’t have to be…careful around called me Emmy.

I looked at her. No mask, no job, just looked at her with what I was, naturally, in my gaze. The woman dealt with death and destruction every day. She paled at what danced in my red-brown eyes. My voice deepened to its natural timbre. “You don’t want to let me out.”

Her heart was beating faster than it had been a few moments ago. She tipped her hat quickly. “As you wish.”

I watched her walk away, then turned and sat.

I stared at the wall.

No Guilty Pleasure Music

Yes, I am seeing how many blog posts I can do over winter break. Why do you ask?

That title is probably going to mean the exact opposite of what you think.

At least what it would look like to me would be someone suddenly getting all preachy about how if you're ashamed of your musical tastes, you shouldn't be listening to that music in the first place. Which would be silly.

No, I'm going to get all preachy about the guilty, not the pleasure. See? Much less silly.

I subscribe to the rule of 'no guilty pleasure music', which I made up myself though I doubt I'm the first to think of it. Basically: if I like the song, I like the song. Any part of me that tries to tell me I should feel a certain way about music is antithetical to this. This is both true for the part of me that says I should like a song and the part that says I shouldn't. If everyone says I should like The Beatles, that still isn't why I like the Beatles. I like The Beatles because they made amazing music. I like Avril Lavigne's music whether she's being accused of X, Y, or Z, because I like her music.

In theory, I will spread this out to other facets of my life. It seems that I should at least keep this true for art forms--romance novels, tween-directed stuff, etc. And the point, by the way, is not to suddenly think that these things are the best ever*. It means recognizing that, regardless of critical acclaim or whatever else, liking them is no reason for guilt.

I am so not there yet, but you get the idea.

*I'm looking at you, Twilight-obsessed fangirl who sat next to me. I like the book; that doesn't make it the paramount achievement in literature.

Friday, December 17, 2010


I walked out, head down and thoughtful. Ms. Robin had been...genuinely kind. And, knowing that she was, pieces started to fall into place. She hadn't punished them as hard because she knew me, and given equal information, had to punish equally. She wasn't indifferent, just unsure.

Never attribute to indifference that which can adequately be explained by incomprehension, I thought to myself.

Nina and I had gotten off with promises not to do it again--which I noted were carefully worded to mean never do it again within a supervisor's view--and exchanged, "I'm sorry, Nina," "I'm sorry, Joanna".

I thought. Ms. Robin had been kind, considerate, respectful, and if not smart, at least willing to learn. If I could do the same in return, I should. So. How do physical and verbal fights differ, in my mind?

Well, in the most basic terms, verbal fights have a wider range they can appear to be without being. If I call you an idiot and that's your one button, then that suddenly throws the fight up a few notches--in the other person's mind. I still think we're playing around. In a fight, if I pull a knife on you, you and I can both pretty clearly see, Holy shit, she just pulled a knife.

On the other hand, it isn't that physical fights are completely clear. You hit a sore spot on me, I go into defense mode. You might have no idea you just did, but I have. And one person might think you can still play around when you pull a knife, while I would think Weaponry involved, this is now life or death.

But physical fighting is still clearer. I need to know you inside and out to make sure I don't kick up a verbal fight. A physical fight, I can probably see when I've crossed that line. Stay off eyes, ears, throat, and broken bones; no weapons; fight is over when someone hits the ground unless you want a kill. I have never been in a fight with anyone but a few girls I know, and even I know that. I know it might be different, but I think that'd be true anywhere at my school. Whereas say, Anne might laugh off "idiot" and Sarah-Jane would ruin my reputation.

But I could see where she was coming from. If a verbal fight goes too far, then, in theory, both parties can talk frankly and solve the problem with few to no emotional scars. In a physical fight, everything is instant-by-instant. If I think someone's going after me, seriously trying to hurt me, I react with that in mind. And if I make a decision in that moment, there's no taking it back.

I understand. But the problem with that view is, that doesn't actually happen. If I get into an argument, then we're not going to talk frankly. If we fight, then I'm not going to hurt her, she's not going to hurt me.

But is that because I am a normal person, or is that because I am myself?

I turn it over in my head and decide that I probably can keep it to words. My main problem is that I can't stand to lose. If I have set apologizing as the lose condition, then I cannot apologize without losing. But there is no reason for that to be the lose condition. And...

I took a deep breath and said this aloud.

"There is no reason for losing to be a bad thing."

I took a few deep breaths. It was true. I knew it was true. The problem was convincing myself that it was true.

Logic. Losing a battle is not losing the war. There are times when losing now helps achieve a greater goal in the future. Sacrificing one's self for a random idea was a bad choice. But sacrificing pride for a solid goal was a good thing, so long as the goal was.

Emotion. Losing is losing. If I go into a true argument, I have to go in willing to lose on my field of choice.

I stopped.

And that was it. I had many logical reasons to think physical fighting had it's place, but that wasn't why I chose it. If I lost in a physical fight, then I came out unharmed. Maybe scraped and sore, but not dead, not crippled, almost always not even permanently scarred. And in a verbal fight I would also almost certainly avoid any emotional scars, due to the same environment that kept me safe from the physical ones.

But if I lost in a verbal fight, then I had to accept that I was wrong. None of this, Yeah, you won, but I could have! because being the better fighter doesn't matter to me. So if I stay out of fighting intellectually, I stay out of fighting where I care.

I started walking again, and looked up at the sky. It was a deep blue, Easter egg left in the sky blue cup for a half hour and still dripping. Not a cloud, and sun, for the moment, behind a building. All perfect, clear blue.

Ms. Robin's line in mind, I said, "I didn't think."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Patterns and Prejudices

THIS IS A LONG POST. And the connectivity is comparable to--oh, sorry, I'm being called. [Hard Cut]And now for something completely different.[Hard Cut]

The set-up to this is going to take forever. If you don't like reading through sources of inspiration, skip down past all the quotes. Also, there are links to the pit of timesuck from which you will never fully emerge that is TV Tropes.

Goodness has only once found a perfect incarnation in a human body and never will again, but evil can always find a home there. Human nature is not black and white but black and grey.
— Graham Greene

There once was a lovely book series called Harry Potter. It inspired a piece of fanfiction called Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. Incidentally, I love it and that story is a continual source of inspiration to places I have yet to reach.

The following is a quote from chapter five of that story, followed by Hanlon's razor.
Harry looked up at McGonagall and sighed. "I suppose there's no chance that if I said fundamental attribution error you'd have any idea what that meant."

McGonagall shook her head. "No, but please explain."

"Well..." Harry said, trying to figure out how to describe that particular bit of Muggle science. "Suppose you come into work and see your coworker kicking his desk. You think, 'what an angry person he must be'. Your coworker is thinking about how someone pushed him into a wall on the way to work and then shouted at him. Anyone would be angry at that, he thinks. When we look at others we see personality traits that explain their behavior, but when we look at ourselves we see circumstances that explain our behavior. People's stories make internal sense to them, from the inside, but we don't see people's histories trailing behind them in the air. We only see them in one situation, and we don't see what they would be like in a different situation. So the fundamental attribution error is that we explain by permanent, enduring traits what would be better explained by circumstance and context."
Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
So, let's look at all this. Taking into account that it is difficult to impossible to step fully outside one's own head--in other words, to view conscious beings from an outside perspective while still analyzing in the manner of a conscious entity--we must assume prejudice. Literally everywhere.

The interesting thing is, this makes sense. Though it may or may not be a conscious being thing--I lack the data set--pattern recognition is a human thing. It's why we can see faces in non photo-realistic drawings, or pictures in the clouds, or faces in people with significantly different faces, for that matter.*

Which means that optimistic people are going to continue assuming the best, if not forever, then even after a string of terrible things occurring, because that is the pattern they've picked up on. If they run into some people and peg them as cynics, their opinions are going to mean a little less, because their predictions do not fit the pattern.**

Let's name the optimist Ollie and the cynic Penelope.

Ollie believes everyone is good, an believes firmly in Hanlon's razor. Even if the person admits to doing some harmful act for no reason, Ollie believes that the person is genuinely good. At worst, to his mind, "evil" people are confused, ignorant, or a combination thereof.

Penelope is Ollie's opposite. If there is something wrong in the world, she believes that someone is at fault. No one is a saint. People can be truly evil, but not truly good.

Funny thing is, Penelope and Ollie agree, to some extent, all the time. Because, while they both believe that absolute evil or absolute goodness exist, all of their daily interaction is with morally gray people. Ollie sees lighter shades of gray, Penelope darker, but that's partially in what they believe "at fault" is. In Penelope's mind, choosing to remain ignorant is a morally questionable act.

And so there it is. The world, whitewashed and blackwashed.*** But not entirely that different. Because, in order to say someone is entirely the one or the other requires no moral ambiguity whatsoever.

And yet. Even in the absence of specific examples to point to note plural, you still get quotes like the one at the very top of this page, saying that evil not only exists, but exists as a matter of course and in its purest form, to the point of pattern.****

Little leap here: we do not see people, most of the time. If you spend just the right amount of time with someone, you see who they are at that moment without prejudices of who they were, and with enough experience to figure it out from given information. Enough to separate the prejudices we have from others, little enough to stop us getting prejudices from those we try to understand.

But most of the time we do not see people as they are, we see them as a part of a pattern. This makes sense. It is simpler to view changes than see the new person every day, and we are all of us creatures of pattern. It makes sense to view us as such.

But that means we learn to adjust for other's prejudices, regardless of whether we adjust for our own. I do not necessarily see that my views have started being incorrect, because I see every time my predictions were ever right. I only see when you said your predictions, so if we are both right and wrong about the same amount of the time, then A) I can justify why I am wrong, and B) if you are open with your predictions, then I see every time you are wrong. If I try to see this or that pattern, then I can probably find it, because you are wrong a certain amount of the time and I am right a certain amount of the time.*****

So if I see your pattern as being too optimistic, because you think there are instances of pure goodness, then I adjust down, and see your admission of dark gray as admission of black. If I see your pattern as too cynical, I adjust up--and your light gray becomes so bright as to shine.

I adjust, because I see the pattern in patterns.

Assuming all the above--I know it's a lot--belief in pure goodness or pure evil is based primarily on meta-patterning. I do not see any truly good or evil people personally; I only hear about people from outside, and then I adjust for the person telling me about the person.

So we believe in pure X, Y, or Q, not due to viewing it, but due to placing others patterns into our own. Which is a pretty cool thing to be able to incorporate, really. Infinite meta loop.

*By the way, just musing here, if we have this as a standard trait and managed to spread as far as we have because of it, that implies that patterns are common. So yes, change is the only constant, but there is a pattern to the world we know, and that pattern is patterns.
**Note: A person who would normally be cynical and is right several times is usually pegged as a realist, not a cynic. However! If the optimist is set enough in the positive pattern, negative assumptions may make someone a cynic regardless of success rate. The wording I used is meant to include both scenarios.
***I know it's not a word; it should be.
****Footnotes! I would have posted an inverse--that pure evil never found a home/only found one once and that since that human morality has been Gray And White, but I couldn't find one. Ones saying all humans were good deep down, yes. Ones saying more than one person has ever been entirely good, no. Post in the comments if you have one.
*****You can reverse everything in this paragraph--I'm wrong and you're right--and it still works.

I am fully aware that I admitted at the top of this post that I cannot know any of this. I did not feel like typing "I think" "I believe" and "in my opinion" 25 times.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


She was genuinely horrified, was the weird thing.

I mean, yeah. There are bullies at school. Anyone who thinks about it has to know. It's like abusive parents. If you think for two seconds, you realize that someone at your school of a few hundred has to have a problem with them, because they're always there. And yet, somehow, people always act like it's some big shock. I guess it's the same as death. We get to a point where we realize everyone is going to die. But we don't feel it for a long while after. So it happens, we see it happen, and then we get it. And it's terrifying. So you can react a couple ways. One way is to blame the victim: Oh no, it couldn't happen to me. JUSTIFICATION DRIVE ACTIVATED: Because I'm not stupid/mean/stuck-up enough to provoke them. Another is to not quite believe what you're hearing.

So she hadn't believed me when I told her I was being bullied. Or she hadn't done anything, or it hadn't done any good, all of which comes down to the same set of apparents from my point of view, and any question that could clarify is insulting, so there I am. The other student tells on me and we get called into her office. I'm honest, the other student exaggerates, she reacts to the worst in both our stories so I get called a tattler--I'm unpopular in that crowd, mind--and the other student and I both serve a detention. The message gets across pretty clearly: It's not quite useless, but you have to be willing to hurt a little too, and bullying/fighting/freaking without consent isn't that big a deal.

Which all adds up to some words tumbling out of my mouth before I can think to stop them, and so sincere because of that that she can't help but believe they're a true question:

"You care about that stuff?"

See line one. From what I've seen, the woman is not an amazing actor. She can smile and hide her feelings, but any of us learn that, and she uses the same smile I do. The bright, brittle smile that communicates deeper dislike than a glare.

So when she gave me a look that could have been on a poster titled "SHOCK AND HORROR, TONIGHT ONLY, NO WOMEN OR CHILDREN ALLOWED", I knew she honestly cared. Which...well, at first only surprised me, then pissed me off a little. What on earth? The rules as written allow her to give worse punishments for fighting. Why would she be so shocked that I thought she didn't care?

"Of course I care." Again, just so bald-faced honest.

I glanced at Nina, who was sitting next to me and had a layered effect that both Ms. Robin and I had ditched in favor of clarity. Outer, probably what Ms. Robin was picking up, attentive and slightly bemused; inner, mildly annoyed at me. She'd already figured out Ms. Robin cared.

I turned back to Ms. Robin and decided that, in the absence of any useful precedent telling me otherwise, I might as well be honest. "We're in high school, ma'am. We're going to fight. Every day. The only difference is that we touched each other."

"You should keep your arguments verbal."


"Because you could hurt each other."

I paused at that, trying to find some crack in her sincerity. It wasn't there. "Ms. Robin," I said softly, "we hurt each other more if we don't solve it. If we fight physically, I can tell when it ends. I've been in verbal fights that extended several years past their end because one person got over it and the other thought she was just being given the silent treatment. As long as we stay behind the threshold of long-term to permanent damage or weapons, how is this any worse?"

Had it been another day, or a different environment, Ms. Robin might have been secure enough in her worldview to give a long speech that boiled down to, "Because physical violence is always worse than verbal violence." But we had been honest with each other. She knew me to be bright, she knew me to be kind, and she knew me to be, at least for now, honest. She paused, perhaps checking me for sincerity, perhaps the sentence for truth.

Finally, Ms. Robin said something that made me respect her more than I'd ever respected a teacher at that school.

"I don't know."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Faith and Trust

Just for the record, I do not plan to look up either of these in the dictionary while writing this post, and I do not recall ever having done so in the past. I may look both faith and trust up at the end, and put down the official definitions at the end of this post. However, even if they are there, I will change nothing earlier. That is why this part does not establish whether I will do it, even though you, the reader who is reading through the time it took me to write this, can scroll down a few inches and see.

Inspired by a Simpsons quote (paraphrased),
Wiggum: You have that much faith in me?
Homer: No, faith is what you have in things that don't exist. Your awesomeness is real.

I will be writing as if I am referring to people, though you can have faith in or trust something as much as someone.

In the most basic terms: Faith is believing that someone will aid you. No reason to really, no guarantee, no need. Just you believe this. Pretty much the exact opposite of the scientific method*. It doesn't have to be absolutely certainty--though that is what absolute faith is. Even without evidence, the bedrock-solid knowledge that this fact is true.

Flip side, used less: Knowing that it will all go wrong fits equally well. Knowing that the person with the wrong scar over the right eye is going to stab you in the back. You don't know the person. You just see the face.

Laconic: This I believe.

Trust is different. You might have faith in some people after not seeing them for years, but trust has to be kept up. Help you up; stand by you when no one else would; just be there when you need them to be and you trust them. You have seen how they acted in the past, and it leads you to believe they are good people. You know they'll help you and yours.

Flip side, used less: Pretty obvious at this point. Push you down; run when someone else stood with you; leave when you need them most. Worse, do that and then expect you to help them. Maybe even worse than that. Because you will, and tomorrow they're back to this knife-twisting trust, you know they'll hurt you. But you choose. Do you turn you back on you own ideals? Do you stick to them, cruel people or no?

Or do you change your ideals for a new situation?

*I am not belittling the scientific method or faith. The scientific method does require setting one's faiths aside for the sake of seeing reality as it is--but not everything is scientifically provable. And stuff that isn't scientifically proven may well still be true.

Dictionary, closest to mine posted:
Faith: b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
Trust: a : assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Musing: "Because of You"

Yep, the song by Kelly Clarkson. You may want to listen to at least the beginning before reading this blog post, it'll make more sense.

Both my mom and I have a certain amount of dislike for this song--though mine is less "Turn that OFF" than hers is, and I do enjoy it sometimes. I think I figured out why. Kelly Clarkson sings it like it's sad, and depressive, and a complete mope of a song.

It's not.

Okay, yes, this requires Death of the Author thinking, but that's just not how it reads to me. Especially when you factor in that she swears in the middle. Swearing means A) not thinking about the words (BAD) B) angry or C) completely broken down, which isn't how she plays it either. She doesn't seem like she's crying, she doesn't seem like she's so broken she can't even express her feelings anymore, she just feels like...she wanted to swear there.

The line I'm referring to:
And now I cry in the middle of the night for the same damn things!
As something of an experiment, I tried singing it angry. First of all, it was easy. It seemed the natural way to sing the song. Second, yep, my mom felt it sounded better.

I think it's because otherwise, the song feels manipulative. An actor doesn't just say, "I'm broken," because there aren't very many realistic characters who would. The part to play is avoiding eye contact, wincing, leaping into or out of danger because everything is off-kilter.

And so yes, the song should have moments where the singer collapses. But they should be moments, not the majority of the song.

In addition, the whole thing falls under telling. "Because of you I am afraid." ...Lovely. And I suppose you're going to tell us some of the story...dude cried in the other room. Um. Anything...anything else you want to share? About this giant, life-shattering experience you decided to share with millions in song?

...Just gonna say you're heart's shattered and you stay on the safe side of everything. Well, it's lovely you were able to share all--

Oh. Wow. Actually, that's pretty clever if it's two characters deep. Take it, not as playing the hurt girl who's thinking this to herself, but the artist writing this song. She wants to share more, but she can't. She can bring herself to tell how hurt she is, but not really what happened. Because it was life-shattering.

And that may not make sense with Kelly Clarkson--her other music and the mere fact that she is where she is suggest some level of bravery--but it does make sense as a character who is a songwriter played by a songwriter.

This is why I muse.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Junior Achievement Innovation Camp

I'm not the best in the world at giving context, so if you want a little more information, read here.

The following post is a summary of my notes, which were taken directly from thoughts. Coherency is not likely. Times are rough--I have more specifics, but I simply wrote the time down whenever I glanced at my watch, so it's more consistent to just write down the estimates.

8AM We were all ushered into a room after finding the building--which wasn't the easiest task, but once you found the right building via a one-block-ish radius of trial and error, there was a great big Junior Achievement sign in green. Breakfast included much fresh fruit, many pastries, and fruit juice. I was rather nervous about meeting the people at my table, but a young man--whom I'll call V due to lacking permission to use his name--started a conversation with me, and it got better from there.

This was the first Innovation Camp at HP, so that was cool. The music was rather random; it sounded like someone had looked through the top songs on iTunes with some unknown rules in mind.

They asked for some people to interview about the event, and encouraged us to talk about the event to our friends, and make posts on facebook/twitter/our blogs (hi).

Then they went over the main activity of the day. We would have to make a business plan, write a concept paper (what you might hand off to someone who needed to take over the project temporarily) and a Powerpoint, along with a three minute presentation to go along with it (our sell). The former was due rough at 11:30 and final at 2:00; the rough Powerpoint was due at 11:30 as well and the final at 3:00, along with our final presentation.

After came the icebreakers. We tore our elephant faces without opening our eyes. I tried to make eyes but ran out of time since we only had thirty seconds, a few others did, too, but not many succeeded.

We found our groups, which were assigned by the animal stickers on our ID holders. I was an anteater, and V was in my group, along with another person, and two more who would show up after the icebreakers. We made a tower out of only paper. That means no tape, no glue, no pins. Another team won by a hair--not over us, they were a level and an eighth over us, but only an eighth over another.

We were pointed to a facebook page for JA, and started brainstorming ideas for the prompt given. The prompt, by the way, was intentionally vague:
If you are given a chance to start a social enterprise to address a societal challenge, what would you do?

Explain: the product or service you would offer, the challenge it would tackle and how technology would help you achieve your goal.
The challenges we came up with were class divisions, drug abuse, crime, obesity, health care and (teenage) stress. We thought of a few different center-type projects, an settled on a teen center/rec center/"growth and wellness center" (I couldn't think of a good name, all right?). The idea was that teens would be working with teens, so the focus would be on teens teaching each other sports, peer tutoring, teaching each other to work in the garden, etc. There would be a library/study room, a cafeteria, a garden, a sports room, a learning center (tutoring), and a fun room. We decided on the T.Y.G.E.R. center, though didn't quite settle on what that stood for until a while later.

We split into groups to finish what we had left, since we only had thirty minutes left. I gravitated toward the most down-to-earth stuff--what do we need, why do we need it, etc. Not that I was the only one, or that that was all I did; it's just what I preferred. Our professional in the field that was going to help us showed up at 11:28, when we were mainly typing, and so was more help on the cleanup than the rough draft--which makes sense.

There was a countdown from 10 during the last 10 seconds, probably to avoid conflicting watches.

Lunch was served at 11:30, and was heavy. Good thing, too, considering most of us were twisting our heads around new ideas and quite a few of us were working on little sleep. If you can't get energy from A, B's not a terrible bet. I had a clif mojo bar and turkey wrap (as opposed to sandwich), which came with pasta salad and peanut butter cookie.

The table was quiet, so I people watched. Everyone looked thoughtful, and was comparing ideas, moving from place to place, or off in their own head.

A young woman I'll call L struck up a conversation about nothing much.

Speech time! A man from Dreamworks came over and spoke about Megamind, which one girl shouted out was, "Friggin' awesome!" so that was fun.

A new speaker, who was a self-professed geek and talked bout how he had been in movies/audio stuff a long time, and been with Dreamworks specifically about three years. He went over how 3D movies are made, and the difference between 3D and stereoscopic 3D. For those curious, 3D means the animators are working with 3D models, stereoscopic 3D is what most people call 3D, where the images appear to come near you. He went into a lot of technicals I found interesting but that would take too long to go into.

Random bits: Storyboards are still drawn by hand, by the way. The technology is specifically designed to facilitate that. And in How to Train Your Dragon, every dragon's flame was unique. C++ is still common. Animators look at how the voice actors act when animating, for realism and to see how person X got Y emotion.

Oh, and he said that literally everyone at Dreamworks is working on a script on the side, so you get readings all the time.

We met our advisers, and took a group photo.

1PM Back to work.
We went over how to get ideas communicated--basic, but good to hear aloud. If you talk a lot, step back, if you talk little, step up. We pressed the idea of it being a safe haven, and tried to figure out who would invest. Also figured that a 3-minute presentation, 180 seconds, needs to be planned down to the second.

We ended up going back and editing the acronym several times, but what we settled on was Technology Youth Growth Empowerment Rejuvenation. It occurs that growth was a pun--the teens and the garden.

Advertising seemed to be a pretty good point to push, especially since a sufficiently popular center would have infinite advertising potential, especially to a group like HP which advertises to just about anyone who could want a computer--a lower and higher age with each year.

Then it was 2PM

Then we took a break and went back to the room where we'd had breakfast and lunch, and would give our speeches. I shared with one rather nervous girl who would have to close the presentation the great secret of public speaking: "Thank you for your time."*

TECHNO (another acronym, didn't catch it) which had a pay-per-bid system I thought was interesting. You pay, not just when you win, but for each bid you make. This tends to improve profit margins.


SmartVision talked about connecting teachers in first and third world countries via smartboards.

The next group started out with a picture from 2012, and designed a virtual reality which reflects how the world will be if one keeps using this much energy, and gives you points--leaderboards. There was a nice contrast, one group member was upbeat and attention-grabbing, the rest were calm to the point of shyness.

The next group talked about putting touchscreens in desks. This would put all the textbooks there, and make the classroom paperless.

Zzz Band (pronounced Zz-zz band) talked about their band, which would tell one one's heart rate, cholesterol, all that good stuff. It would have a customizable design, and be marketed to teens.

Helping Hands was about teen pregnancy and would be on facebook and twitter. Incidentally, we almost called ourselves Helping Hands, that would've been awkward.

Education.reThought talked about eco-desks and Tablets would allow school without physical presence (if sick).

BAM was a social network.

Inspired would focus on cyberbullying, phoneline.

Nutrivend was about a vending machine that would give you a customizable salad in a sealed and cool vending machine. Not pre-packaged nor with preservatives, as a salad bar would be.

Change the Cycle--helping bullied and stopping bullies from occurring.

5:30 PM Dinner
I had chicken, rice, a roll s'mores pie, and a green bean, then a sour green apple fruit snack.

Awards Ceremony
Announced that we were 73 kids from 19 schools. The top five were: the 2012 group (which emphasized our relative intelligence in comparison to the rest of the world), TECHNO (the soft money payback in advertising), Zzz Bands--which was the only group to finish on-time, Nutrivend, and Education.reThought.

Rich Friedrich came up and spoke about how our generation has some novel stuff, and we need to know we're the first globally connected generation.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we have run out of money. It is time to start thinking." --Sir Ernest Rutherford.

Third place: Nutrivend (HP backpacks)
Second place: TECHNO (HP backpacks, I think they had something but I couldn't see)
First place: Zzz Band (HP backpacks, mugs filled with candy, and netbooks)

We all got door prizes/goodie bags filled with: a water bottle, a "UFO logo"--it floats, illusively--a lanyard, a pencil, a USB stick, two vouchers for The Tech Museum of Innovation, and 50 free prints from Snapfish.

Then I went home, finished my homework, and fell asleep with a thud muted by the mattress.

*I came up with two more later, by the way: "Hello, my name is," and roll with it.

This post written in an hour and a half.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Portfolio 12 Short Story: Convection

I don’t know how long it’s been.

There are people I’ve met who will use that phrase flippantly. “Oh, I haven’t been out in I don’t know how long,” and laugh. I’ve stopped. I don’t know how long it’d been since I stopped using such terms so easily, but it happened. How many days, how many years, how many bodies, how many ages… I closed my eyes.

We’ll tell you a lot, if you ask. Any fallen angel will tell you the most horrible pain they’ve ever felt is the fall. None of them will ever say it was losing their wings—partially because we never speak of it, mostly because, no matter what the movies show, that’s not it. Demons don’t lose their wings, and if anything that is their curse.

The pain is the separation. When you’re there, you are a part of everything, you are connected to literally everything, by threads and cords and ropes and wires. And it is the most amazing thing I have ever felt. It is being a part of everything that is. Humans don’t notice it much, because they’re only connected by the one little strand that connects with a few other people. The nexuses, the ones that connect at least two people—and usually many, many more—are what goes up.

Is it really up? I wondered, not for the first time. I know that, technically speaking, it’s everywhere. But every time I go to earth, I feel like I fall. And I do remember having wings in that brief period that stretches for so long in my head, because I know really feeling my wings means I’m about to fall or rise again.

I opened my eyes and stared out at the crowd, sipping at a cup of coffee. The first few times, I’d avoided anything that could be considered even a little sinful. The absolute minimum food, always stuff I didn’t much like; the least comfortable clothes that didn’t call attention to my penance; and absolutely nothing that could be considered a drug. I’d gotten over it. Separation was punishment enough.

I rise, I fall. I wrote in my journal. It’s not the first time I’ve written it. Of course, the first time it wasn’t English. English didn’t exist yet, not really. Oh, I suppose you could say that the first time I’d gotten enough money together for a journal—because a journal helped, and I wasn’t sure if that was okay for the longest time—was technically in very old Old English, but that’s so far from modern English it makes about as much sense to call it German.

I rise; I fall. I corrected. No matter how long I’ve lived here, I still forget the semicolon. I’ve written this so many times; you’d think I’d remember, but when I started stuff like spelling and punctuation were optional. Anyway, it’s a journal.

You got cast out of heaven for any of the seven deadly sins. I’m not entirely sure if that goes for humans. They might just be floating in that rapturous tangle of thread and cord and rope so close and thick and not quite tangible that it’s more of a cloud. It’s still here, down here. The first few times, I couldn’t see it or feel it, but I’ve learned to sense it. That’s my special little self-made curse. Because, yes, I know how it feels. And, no, I can’t feel it.

Angels get to fall. We come down here and pay our penance, and pay extra for any other sins we commit while here. I wonder, sometimes, if the little sins add up, too. I wonder if I’ll ever get to stay. When you sin so many times, can you truly be forgiven?

I gripped the cup tighter. No. No. Not that cruel. Impossible.

I finished my coffee and picked up my jacket to go. It was a nice little place. You could sit in a dark corner or in the open air, you paid first, and it almost made me forget the little upside-down split V scar down my back.

Portfolios 22 and 23 Poetry: The Dark and Lit Twin

Written as a pair, originally "The Dark Twin" and "The Lit Twin".

The night is closing in.
But it isn’t. Not really. Not ‘closing in’.
That is far too harsh a term.
As the crepuscular time closes and full night comes, she beckons softly.
She wraps you, not in warmth, but in experience.
In the chilled air.
In those little smells that only come at night.
Maybe someone’s barbequing.
Maybe you can smell night blooming flowers.
But always she comes softly, leading you to a new land like a mother guiding your first steps.
A lover holding your hand through tough times.
Some only appreciate those warm summer nights, where the moon is full;
As if her job is to be a quieter day.
She does not work to become like him. She simply is.
She fills the sky with deep velvet, indigo, blue, black; her diamonds spread across,
Winking an eye, showing a flash of armor, twinkling like lightning.

Have you ever cried at the sunset or the stars just because they were?
Have you ever really looked?
Or do you walk only in the light, shunning the dark, shunning the crisp chill, shunning the void of black between stars?

Day breaks.
So much hope, so much love, in each new sunrise.
And then…
“Five more minutes.”
“I hate Mondays.”
And just like that, you’ve missed the day.
As surely as you had slept through it.
Just as we miss his twin, we miss him.
Not because we sleep, not because we’re scared:
Because we take him for granted or go out teeth bared.
Because we think of day as less sacred than night—
Just because of a little light.

Portfolio 19 Autobiography: First of the Night

This was a school assignment from last year. We wrote one entry a week. Here's one of the better ones. This was written to be performed aloud, and I sang the appropriate line.

I’m backstage. The world is fading in and out of focus, but it’s there enough for me to hear John: “I’m so nervous.”

I give a shaky laugh, “You’re nervous.”

I can’t imagine him being nervous. How long had he spent on this? A few months? It can’t’ve been more than three. It was impossible for him to be as nervous as he seemed, shaking a little from stress and excitement. If he messed up, then he’s messed up once, and he’s lost a few months. A few months out of your whole life is nothing really, even at fourteen. If I mess up…

If I screw this up, I’ve wasted fourteen years.

This swims through my head, and John turns to me, surprised. “You’re nervous?” Something calls him away.

It takes half a second for that to sink in. I grin. He can’t imagine me being nervous. I have nothing to be nervous about. Him? He’s spent a couple months, tops, preparing for this. He might mess this up. He’s still learning, barely even started. Me? I have spent fourteen years of my life moving toward this moment. This is my time. I get to show everyone why I sought for so many years, why I have practiced and pushed and tried for so many after that, no matter what. I get to show them why it matters.

And, I can admit now that I’m out of it, I got to show them-—every friend, every acquaintance, every stranger, every bully, and especially every bully-—that I counted. That no matter what else may happen, this I can do. This I can be. Tell me there isn’t a person in this world who truly cares for me, tell me I’m worthless, tell me I’m not even human. I may even believe you. But no matter; I sing.

I stride out onto the stage, spirit high and smiling. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I know now why that song felt like mine, and why it was so important to sing that song to them. It was my story. It is my story.

It’s the story of a woman who learned to fly.

My cue hits: “Something has changed within me.” Everything. My world may twist and twirl and stagnate into whatever it may be, but I know that this has changed me.

And as I sing, I come to her—-our realization. You don’t need to work for that one. You never did. You need to work for you. You may leave some old friends behind, but you’ll be flying free. You will find all you need.

The audience cheers mid-song and I grin. The music swells and I soar. I am the song, and I am glorious. I am triumphant.

One day in eighth grade, in my little red dress, I changed my world. I wrote lines of fire across our souls. And even if the marks fade on some, the memories burn bright.

And I got the first standing ovation of the night.

A case where the story inspired the trope (TV Tropes is addictive): I Am Becoming Song

Something New, Old, Wonderful

Unrealistic? Probably. I don't ever remember seeing this in real life.

I start by falling to that realm in my head, back/left/center that holds right. For a moment, I'm floating; it's dark, senseless. Not in a bad way, not insane, not anything. Truly. No sensations.

Then, slowly, it spreads. My head floats on my shoulders. My feet grounded, my body whole. No checking for where the connection between grounded and floating is. That twists, grounds.

Shhh... There. Unbothered, unsensed, thoughts floating, whirling, drifting, whispering... Almost asleep. Dreaming.

This time, the dark turns black. Alone for just a moment. Bells chime; white comes. Lovely, soft spots of cheery, chilly white. Almost spherical, all of them. All with natural sides, more freshly turned earth than bubbles. Lovely, they drift down. Or up. To me.

Oh, beautiful. They come into focus. The edges still not smooth, for they are what they are, and only closer for being in focus. One touches. And we're the same temperature. Whether I am chill or they warm, who knows. No way to tell. A little pressure, lighter than a feather, and consistent, runs across. Down a cheek. A hand. A leg. Not the same everywhere. But each run keeps the same weight.

And do they melt? Or do they simply stay as they are, part water? I'd need other instruments to answer that. Sight. Beyond what I guess of feel. Or another temperature, comparison. I could be cold.

What I can see, I know. Looking up. White, soft, drifting like fine sugar.

Snow. Wonderful snow.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Laughter is a full-body experience. The sound, the throat, yes, but also the chest, the belly, the twinkle in the eye. The way you move your feet to balance better, even if you're sitting. The way your entire face lights up with that little twinkle that some say is only from your eyes. The way that aura turns everything around pink for miles.

Laughter, on its own, is good. Bright, pink, happy, joyous, lovely. Undeniably so.

And then context sets in. Perhaps it is so, or becomes more so. Beautiful laughter, musical, bell-like, chiming, lovely, wonderful, infectious--one of the few times that word is used in a good sense. Such is the power of laughter.

But that makes it dark when it twists, doesn't it? Malevolent, maniacal, dark chuckle, like a curse. Can come before or after. The sound darkens from an infant's blanket's pink to deep blood red, not the scarlet of a thin set or the almost brown-black of dried blood, even twisted laughter is very much alive. That deep, dark, scarlet-black of fresh blood pooled deep. Still shining. Still alive. But oh so dangerous.

Yet, still, even as the bottom drops out of your stomach, you may find your nostrils flaring, or a smile in kind tugging your lips. An old feeling in your heart. Fresh blood is hunter's scarlet. It taps right into your instincts. Maybe you're prey this time. Chase or run, predator or prey...or maybe fight. Or maybe hit the deck. And don't ever think there's only one way to do any of those.

And then comes the bell-like laughter, chiming merrily through. Silver, striking. Not a child's color, not an infant's color, so very distant. Exotic is attractive. But a flash of silver, that's deadly. Context, context, context.

Laugh with me. See that little twinkle, feel your heart rise. And don't worry about the different kinds of laughter. I can pet my dog or kick my dog. They are both movements; that alone doesn't relate the two. Not in any way worth noting.

And even if you should note it, it doesn't take the shared joy from the pet, the pain from the blow. Everything relates, one way or another. The close ones are the ones people call opposites. If you remember things are opposites, they are truly entangled. Fire, water, firewater. Up, down, roller coaster. Air, earth, tornadoes. Clear, obscure, transparent. Can you see none of me or all of me? I can hide just as well being transparent as obscure. Better. You don't even know I'm there.

Well color me surprised.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Painting and Whitewashing

EDIT for those who don't share my lexicon of idioms: There's a saying that goes, "Too poor to paint, too proud to whitewash." That means the person/group being described cannot do something properly and therefore refuses to do it at all, even if there is another alternative available. A family can't afford to paint their house with white paint, and is too proud to use whitewash instead, even if it would look better than leaving the place to wear down.

I'll admit it; I have a certain amount of respect for someone who, when faced with the prospect of whitewashing, absolutely refuses to do anything but paint, and then proceeds to make that work. I have respect for that level of determination.

-That, by the way, is my line between determination and stubbornness: can you make it work?-

But what really makes me smile, and something that I'd want in an ally as much as a friend, is when someone looks at all the options, notes that it would be most efficient to whitewash, and then proceeds to whitewash without another word. No complaints, no seeing if this will work when painting would be harder or whitewashing better or even, just doing it.

Pride is a deadly little vice. It says, "Look, you could do this...but you could do so much better." Of course, given that this is the verbal embodiment of pride, it's probably doing something like purring or smiling or laughing. Because what good's a voice representing pride if it doesn't have a bit of cockiness behind it?

What got me thinking about this was the following exchange, which I found on the Ain't Too Proud To Beg page on TV Tropes, which is, you guessed it, going to suck your time away into the shiny vortex that is Wiki Walk.
From Farscape
Crichton: Beg.
Scorpius: [instantly] I beg you.
Crichton: That's not good enough. Say please.
Scorpius: Please.
Crichton: Pretty please.
Scorpius: Pretty please.
Crichton: With a cherry on top.
Scorpius: [only one word behind] With a cherry on top.
Crichton: [Beat] Happy Birthday. Now, get out of my sight.
That just makes me smile. And think of an Eleanor Roosevelt quote, "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission." The idea behind making someone beg in that situation is--and forgive me if I miss some of the context, I don't watch the show--either power for the person demanding, or embarrassment for the person begging, which is really just a specific fashion to gain the former.

And then...he decides it's worth it, and proceeds to do it. It doesn't hurt him, because he doesn't let it. Anyone who trots out the sticks and stones line is so naive as to be thoughtless, but the thing about words is that they don't need to hurt any more than hits do. One can dodge, one can block, one can turn the other people's momentum against them and suddenly have the upper hand. It's all in how one decides to deal with it.

Of course, wailing on the other person is a perfectly acceptable method if it works.

What? I said I had a great deal of respect for people who could whitewash, I didn't say anything about preferring it myself. Nor even being able to do it, really... It would be a nice skill. I'm trying.

Incidentally, this has been in my head for a while, and what finally got me to finish was this Harry Potter fanfiction, specifically this chapter (search "I have changed today's lesson plan in the light of recent events", and read to the bottom of the page.)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Words Start

Confidence is my chin jutting up slightly, muscles moving so slightly you don't see the muscles anymore, you don't see me do what feels like a smirk and a grin unless you know to watch my mouth. You just see the gleam in my eye, the welcome of the challenge.

Regret goes the other way, my head jumping back along my neck, my lips and cheeks turning into an invisible genuinely remorseful frown, my eyes tensing back in their sockets. But all you see is I draw back, my eyes turn hurt at my own ill actions.

Resolute is my teeth coming together and making the world's quietest clack, not even as loud as my bones cracking, my my abdominal muscles clenching without any feeling in my stomach, my body twitching closer to itself, tensing to spring or to strike. You see a line in my jaw; you see my hands clench into fists and my lips and chin turn down, if you are attentive you see my footing change.

Flirt is a smile, a little twist to my body, a genuine laugh and interest. You see my eyes sparkle with interest, you see my clothes shift, you see my hands move in a gesture even I don't notice.

Bittersweet is a twist at the mouth, a smile that reaches the eyes but doesn't touch them as a smile should, just turning them too sad, feeling something being lost as something else is gained. You see regret and knowledge, recognizing growth.

Hope is a true smile, everything goes up, my head, the corners of my lips, my cheeks, my body, my heart. You see my sparkle, from toes to scalp.

Despair is everything hope rises falling. I slump, I stop smiling, my shoulders drop, I look down. You see the air leak out of me.

Daydream is everything at angles, head this way, chest that way, arms bent at odd angles, on leg stretched and one bent, or both, or neither. You see me leave my body.

I feel; you see. You react; I see. I react; we continue.

Christmas is pine and fresh boxes, new plastic smell and metal touch, blue electricity that you find when you don't look, home and family.

Halloween is pumpkin pie and jack-o'-lanterns, mixing with the smells of home as everyone in the family gets wrist-to-elbow deep.

New Year's is laughter at the oddest things, traditions and traditions of starting new ones, staying up too late and making as much noise as you can with clackers and whistlers and bubblewraps we've saved through the years.

Thanksgiving is gravy, turkey, pumpkin pie, orange and brown and little accents of black that always show up for one reason or another. A napkin, a dress, a decoration, some early Halloween or something else.

Holiday was holy day, and sacred still.

I am myself, a singer and a writer and procrastinating and staying up too late and losing myself and finding her again. I remember not knowing I was a singer, and feeling so lost. I remember figuring out I was. I remember the talent show, when the night was mine, the day after, with Mr. H and the whiteboard, and getting out of running. I remember requests of boys and getting me, I remember getting told to go away, encouragements, and getting no reactions at all. I remember love inside my head and out. I remember figuring out the words for myself, after finding out the idea, long after. I remember my first shot at really writing, I remember the escape, I remember figuring out why I chose the name. Caydo was love and home, he was Cadence, coming to a place I knew the music fit. I remember finding those who were so different we couldn't get along, so different we had to, so similar we tried and bounced away and sprang back, so similar we even had the same plane and slope, no more than an inch apart but never touched. I remember the wadded-up pieces of paper and the tennis balls, and laughter at or with. I remember the insults, and finding out which ones were false. I remember figuring out which colors go with which, and still not knowing for sure with shoes, or socks. I remember learning to read because of a teacher's insult, her challenge. I remember when I've really cried, and when I've set myself free. I remember being passive, and I remember feigning it. I remember. So much. Kindergarten, exceptionally good but I didn't know it yet. First grade, exceptionally bad but I didn't know that either after a while, so many knew how good kindergarten was. Fourth and fifth, getting my challenge. Sixth, honor choir, school. Seventh, history with Ms. W, but math with Ms. DeW. Ninth, district. Tenth, district, state, regional. Eleventh. Sixteen going on seventeen. Fifteen going on twenty-five, always mistaken for five years or a decade older. Just being myself, not my age. Who I am, what I am, what I know, what I knew, connections I remember, hope, always, always hope. Even in the middle of tears, hope. Without hope was without tears, was just unbearably passive. Pushed around. Building up my skin to keep the anger inside, keep the knives in and out, then learning to let those shields down when I wanted to.

Life. Piece by piece, step by step. Running, jumping, dancing to somewhere where I can taste the air getting sweet and feel the shivers run through my spine.

Monday, October 4, 2010


When civilizations fade and even your last lingering ideals have turned to dust, you will look at the world and ask, "What did I ever do?" For everything will be gone, and it is only human to wish to see what you have done. To wish to see something with your name on it, your mark.

And the little girl will take your hand. She will take you to the chatting, smiling crowd. And she will say, "This."

You'll understand. "But happiness is fleeting. I can't have done any more than just made them feel better for a few seconds." Even if you have cured cancer, you will feel like this, if only for a moment.

The little girl will smile. "Silly. Happiness echoes. And people just keep adding noise!"

Then she'll skip off to another, while you stand in the smiling crowd until you go to someone or someone comes to you. It'll only take a moment. After all, after everything's gone, what else is there to do but get to know each other?

And you'll smile, and maybe you'll walk off. And maybe you'll become one of the little ones, going out and finding those who have been alone too long, learning how to see when someone just needs a moment. Or maybe not. In a truly infinite world...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

First Anniversary

What, really? You're still reading? I'm still writing? Aw, shucks.

I set this to go up automatically on the anniversary, so it is quite possible that this is as much of a surprise to me as it is to you. I don't really have anything special planned, but you never know when inspiration might strike.

EDIT: I, indeed, did not notice. Happy anniversary to my readers and me!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sick and Tired

Some of the best speeches are bluffs.

Eyes shut, as one coming upon a great, but not entirely happy, truth. "If I leave, now, I'm going to survive. I'm going to have a long, happy life. I'm going to live to a nice old age. I'm going to smile at my grandchildren, and have those nice little wrinkles at the corners of my eyes that happy people get when they've been happy for a good, long time. I'm going to look at my kids, and their kids, the way my parents and their parents looked at me." Eyes open. "So I should leave. I should take off running, right now, and not look back for a second. The only reason I shouldn't be sprinting, right now, is to save energy, so I can run longer.

"Assuming I am as weak as you think I am, I should be doing that. Assuming I'm as stupid as you think I am, I shouldn't even have though about how I shouldn't sprint. Assuming I'm as afraid, lost, little, weak, helpless, useless."

The space of a breath passed.

"Assuming, assuming, assuming. Oh, I absolutely love that word. Because it means I can be so many things at once. I can be a brat, and a hero, and the smartest person in the room, and that kid no one should care about, and I don't even have to lie. In fact, I'm more likely to find people believing the truth if I don't lie. If I insist I'm not this, insist I'm not that, then I find people refusing to believe me. Because of course I'd say that. I'm too modest. I'm saving my own skin. I'm trying to puff myself up, little thing in front of the big guy.

"And then,"--smile--"oh, and I can see it now. That understanding. That I was telling the truth. Every single time. And that's the lovely bit. I have never lied, even by omission. I told you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but.

"So, run. Because I'm sick of running, and perhaps I'm too sick to chase."

Some of the best speeches are bluffs. The poor thing could barely stand, much less run. Much less fight. But the strength to stand and the will to speak, only speak...that can spin the world off its axis, and right back on again.

Trope of note: Tired Of Running

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Travel Log: Grand Canyon

I never really got around to this, so it will not be as specific as my other logs. All of this happened back in the beginning of summer (2010).

Basically, I went to Vegas. There were too many lights. When a bookstore with flashing lights around the sign does not stick out, something has gone weird. Not necessarily bad, just weird.

We went to the Grand Canyon. One day down, one day rest, one day up. It was beautiful. It was also very dry, and very hot. Don't bother wringing out your clothes, just hang them on the clothesline. It'll take them minutes, a little more if you hang them in the shade. 110 in she shade'll do that.

We woke up really early--really, really early, the sun hadn't blinked, much less risen--and it was warmer than I'm used to at noon. We climbed, and then had ice cream. --Note to those climbing the Grand Canyon: There was a point, both going down and going up, where it looked like we only had a few more yards. DON'T BE FOOLED.--

We went to Bryce and Zion, both pretty. Perhaps a little more picturesque, but I mean that--they made good pictures. The Grand Canyon just swallowed you up. There was significantly less walking involved here, though we could have done more had we so wished.

We went back to Vegas. My main vice ended up being whole milk, because I dislike the smell of alcohol and am underage, so that was doubly out, lacked the funds and interest for gambling, and sex wasn't really a big pull. Dunno why.

Then we got back home. I didn't realize it until then, but the air in Vegas had been choking me. I don't have the slightest what it would be like were it farther from the coast.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


A lot of words have power. Here are some of the ones I know, and why I think they do.

I am-A declaration of self. On its own, it is fairly powerful, simply because it is saying that the person is. That's one thing another person can't stop, not completely. Someone can kill you, make it into, I was, but in thoughts, in help, in joy, in inspiration, the ripples move out. With a description after it, it becomes more powerful, because it is not just saying, This person is real, it is giving a way to describe. I am a scientist. I am a singer. I am a child. I am a woman. To reinforce both, I am human, I am a person.

I believe-As intimate as I am, but to do with the outside world. This doesn't need logic, nor its absence. It is just a belief. And that'll move mountains.

Especially powerful in, This I believe. The archaic diction gives the phrase some power in itself. Things that have survived this long have survived for a reason. That reason does not always apply in the here and now, but it was there. That sort of belief is why religions claim to predate x or be able to trace this ritual back to y. It's also why stores say Since 1948, or 1904, or 1827. There's power in old things, even if it is only the power people give them.

I know-Alone, it can fall in the same category as, I trust you, or be dismissing another person, or be a, Go on, I understand. If it's, I know myself, it means the person has a strong sense of self. If it's, I know you then it means the person has a connection, and knows what the person will or won't do. How do you know I won't? I know you, Kelsey. And then, the simplest meanings, I am familiar with this, I believe this strongly enough that thinking it false does not (regularly) occur to me.

I love you-Ah, yes. Gotta love the classics. These can be the most important words ever spoken, ever heard. Or they can fall completely flat. The problem with these words is that everyone who is even vaguely familiar with the culture will know how powerful they are. But...they're words. What matters with words is the communication of an idea. When something is so well-known already, it can look like the words are just there to have something there. Can get especially glaring when it's a response. Hm? Oh, yeah, I love you, too. Even Han's response is more traditionally romantic than that, because no etiquette class will teach you to respond to, I love you, with, I know. So he thought about it.

To go back to what originally made it powerful, the phrase can also be someone saying what one or both already knew, if not on the level of the mind that deals with words. Add a finally in there as necessary.

I think-Similar to I believe, though less firm. But this flexibility is a power in itself. I think this true, but I am not challenging you. I am telling you what I think. What do you think. I think so, emphasizes opinion, I think so, lack of certainty, I think so, certainty. Simple words with strong tone, cutting through any random jumble.

Names-There's a mythology in every culture I have run across about true names. It may not be of importance to humans, but there's someone or something out there, and if you know the true name, then you have power. This holds true in the turning-ones-life-upside down fashion with ID cards, social security numbers, etc. But there is a power in just using someone's name, even if it's common. If your parents say, JOHN SMITH! then even though that name is common and has been worn by many for ages, it still has power if it is yours. In the right tone, a whispered, John, would speak volumes.

Any words to add?

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Attentive Lady and the Tiger

(Edited because I didn't think to when I posted this at eleven.)

I walked in. The first thing most people would have noticed about the room would be the utter lack of furniture. All told, four walls, ceiling, one one-way mirror, lights currently set so that the other side was visible, and equally bare. That was it.

The first thing I noticed was the man looking into the mirror. If he hadn't been using a little 'nothing to see here' thing, most people would have seen him first.

He was old, in his fifties (physically), I knew. But in addition to the world-walker look, he had also aged very gracefully. Small laugh lines, but other than that, flawless skin. Grey hair, but it was closer to silver, and very neat. He wasn't facing me, but I knew that if he turned, his eyes would have that same silvery look.

A shiver should have run up my spine. If I weren't already so tired from being woken up twenty minutes after going to bed, and being awake for the next thirty and counting, it would have.


"What." The question was mostly reflex. I didn't expect him to answer.

He turned. Colored contacts, baby blue. "You. Not ha-ha funny. Just off. Odd."

I ran through my resources. I hadn't know where I was going, so I had armed. The guards had patted me down, of course. And, of course-of course, I still had a few weapons. Wrists, hair, breasts, and ankle. The blade at my ankle was actually a decoy, I was stunned no one had caught it.

Topic at hand. "Oh, tell me this isn't going to be a speech that could be boiled down to 'Evil Cannot Comprehend Good.' You are so much better than that."

He smiled at me. "Why thank you. I didn't know you cared."

I shrugged. "You're not stupid."

"Why thank you," he repeated dryly.

"What's funny, and please avoid the mathematician's answer."

"I try and arrange a meeting with you. A thousand different ways; inviting you, pressuring, 'bumping into you'. Then, I send out a guy you know works for me. You must have known where he was taking you. But you couldn't be quite sure. I'd been trying to figure out a way to make it a little less clear where you were going, but all I needed was to put that little grain of doubt in your mind. Isn't that fascinating?" He smiled. If I hadn't seen the face behind the mask, there would have been butterflies in my stomach.

"Riveting. But there's the whole bit where you've been keeping away from me whenever I wanted to see you."

"Well." He shrugged. "Who wants to meet on someone else's terms?"

I sighed. I'd call him on how stupid that was if it wouldn't have been so hypocritical of me. "Let's get on with this. I figured out my stuff without you, thank you so very much, so I hope this is important."

"No. Not at all."

It was an effort of will to keep from growling at him. I turned on my heel.

"Just some news on your sister."

Just like that, nailed to the spot. And I'd stopped suddenly, so he knew how much I cared. Drama is a cruel mistress. At least there was nothing left to hide. I turned back to him. "Oh?"

He smiled. Shivers ran up my spine. "Let's talk."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Breathe in; breathe out.

Slow, soft, gentle, calm.

Nothing here, no qualms, no qualm.

Quick, fast, clever, you know.

And they'll never think you're slow.

Take a deep breath and relax yourself. Unfocus your eyes, relax your self. Just a little time, just for your health.

And here's the little secret, dear:

To not just let go of, but recognize your fear.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Letter, Spirit, Reason

Law as written: All demonic influences are to be removed as quickly and thoroughly as is possible.

Letter: Utterly destroy anything that has been touched by a demon.

Spirit: Exorcise demons as efficiently and with as little death as is possible.

Reason: Protect the people.

Let's say we have a situation where there is a demon rampaging around town, possessing people, etc. By the letter of the law, one should utterly destroy the town. By the spirit or the reason, one should evacuate the town and fight the demon down. There are probably some other things you could do; I'm hitting extremes; just go with it.

Let's say a demon is repeatedly possessing the same person. By the letter, kill the person. By the spirit, exorcise the demon and watch and protect the person. By reason, set a priest to watch over the person, one who can perform exorcisms. The priest need not follow the person everywhere, it is just supposed to be the priest's main duty, so someone is always on deck. If the demon gives up long enough, then the priest can go on to something else. But there should be someone present who can do this, even if it isn't the primary job.

Let's say there's a good demon. Go with me on this. By the letter of the law, kill the demon anyway. It doesn't matter whether harm is being done, a demon is a demon. By spirit, get the demon out of town, one way or another. If following the spirit well, then this can even be done without bloodshed. Following the reason: Let the demon be. This demon is not dangerous.

People will talk about how a law should be upheld because it is the law. In situations where one requires a knee-jerk or immediate response, this is probably the best one can do. But if one ignores the reason of the law, that can be worse than ignoring the spirit. At least people who violate the spirit in favor of the letter are easier to expose. For people who follow the spirit instead of the reason, there's not even anything on the books.

This post written under the influence of painkillers (see previous post).

Friday, August 6, 2010

Wisdom Teeth

I just got my wisdom teeth pulled, and also got a bone graft and a sinus lift. In other words: A lot of stuff happened with my jaw area today. Also, I'm still on Vicodin while writing this, so some errors may occur.

Here's what it was like from my perspective:

In order to put everything together, there had to be quite a bit of back-and-forth between the oral surgeon who was doing the pulling, the graft, and the lift, and the orthodontist who does my braces. I'll only be using the first letter of both their names, since I haven't gotten permission to use their names. Dr. S is my orthodontist--has been since third grade--and Dr. F was my oral surgeon.

A while back, I got a tooth pulled. I don't know what it's called, but if I touch my right canine, then go back two, there's a gap there where the tooth used to be. It was pulled because it was a milk tooth with no adult tooth behind it, and so was going to grind down too much. I knew that, eventually, that would have to be replaced.

Unknown to me, the bone did not fully heal. This is normal. If there's no tooth there, there's no reason for the bone to completely heal, it just heals the hole back together, but the bone is too thin for an implant (needed the graft and lift to put it in).

My lower wisdom teeth, meantime, were growing in slanted. If this isn't taken care of, that causes something called impacted teeth. I don't know much about this, but I believe it means the bones get crushed and then you get teeth that are damaged and other teeth that are hard to pull and that just doesn't work for anyone. So, better to do it before any of that stuff happens.

Dr. S told us that I'd need an implant** and needed to get my wisdom teeth looked at. He recommended Dr. F. We went to Dr. F a couple times to set up exactly what the procedure would be, and it ended up making the most sense to do everything we could do at once.* That meant getting both wisdom teeth pulled, and doing the lift and graft. So technically the title of this post should be longer, but so it goes.

I got some drugs to take the morning of. One was a Valium pull, to ease me into the general anesthesia they'd be administering, and the other four were some antibacterial pills that were white and pink/red. The white side had A 45 marked in red. I was told to take all of these at 9:00 AM the morning of the surgery.

I was not supposed to eat or drink anything but the meds and a little water to wash them down after midnight (general anesthesia).

A little later, I was worried something in my braces might mess up the operation. Dad said that probably nothing would, but called anyway. The receptionist said Dr. S would probably have noticed something like that, but she would ask anyway. I don't know if anything happened on our end after that.

The Night Before
I had a late dinner, and ended up finishing quarter of nine.

It's summer, so my sleep schedule was completely out of whack. Despite knowing I had to get up at 8:30, and accordingly planning to get 9-10 hours, I didn't get in bed until 11:03, and I couldn't sleep until I finally gave up and tried reading my biology book. I got to sleep around 1:00.

The Morning Of
I got up at 8:30 and showered. After reading the paper for a little while, it was 9:00, so I took the four antibiotics. I confirmed I could take two at a time, but I found that out by taking one, so I ended up taking one, then two, then the last one.

The Vicodin, however, had crushed into a powder. Luckily, it was in an envelope, but I still had to tap it into my mouth, which meant that I tasted it. Bleaugh.

There wasn't much effect, and then I sat up and felt rather lightheaded. It didn't really affect my head, just made it a little difficult to go down the stairs at my house and get in the car. I was thinking a little differently, but just as clearly as is usual. Make of that what you will.

Then we got to the waiting room. We were about five minutes early, and I think we waited about ten.

The Surgery
They put me in a blue chair. It was pretty much a normal dentist's chair, except a little more cushioned and with straps on the arms. They put an IV sedation in me. I looked away from the needle, because I have no problem with needles unless I have to watch them go into my skin, in which case I jerk my hand away. Don't ask me why; it doesn't even scare me; it just happens.

I remember thinking I should probably let myself fall asleep, then hearing the doctors talk about how to set everything up, and then I don't remember anything until waking up.

(Though I was not awake for this part, I was told after the fact a little of what happened. Dr. F had to snip through some rubber bands on my braces in order to do the sinus lift--so I was right about my braces causing an issue, though I didn't guess exactly what. I also found out later that my molars were fairly easy to take out, all things considered. I'm a good patient even asleep :D.)

I woke up to Dr. F asking me to open my mouth wider, and I was a little cold. I thought there was something on top of me, but I wasn't sure. I was still a little out of it for a while, but from what I heard and saw, he was putting the stitches in.

The string he was using was bloody, as were his gloves. I thought, Hm, that's my blood. That should probably bother me, but it doesn't. Ooh, I wonder if this is how hemophobiacs feel under anesthesia!

He finished with the stitches, and someone took off the blue paper they must have covered me with at some point. So I was right about there being something on top of me. After that, someone else took the IV out. My legs were cold, and just as I was about to finalize my plan of how to communicate that without using my gauze-filled mouth, someone brought me a blanket.

They wanted to move me, so I tried to sit up on my own. Someone next to me said to lean back a moment longer, and sat me up with the chair. She gave me an ice pack. And even if you think you don't know what I'm talking about, you do. Those little while, wrap-around-the-head-like-a-headband deal. Then she got me over to a bed that was about five steps from the chair, and told me I'd probably have to rest for about half and hour. It was five of twelve, by my watch (which is five minutes fast). My tongue and my right cheek, right lips, and lower lips and chin were numb.

About ten minutes after that, whoever had gotten me to the bed found/figured out that I had gotten the drugs that would make me dizzy early on in the operation, and they would probably have mostly worn off by that time. She got me in a wheelchair and wheeled me out to my parents, who had been waiting in the waiting room about three hours by this point.

Dr. F had apparently gone over wit them when and how I could take the various drugs I'd been given--X every four hours normally, but can go every two if the pain's intense, Y as labeled, and the antibiotics with dinner. None of the drugs have bad interactions, so we didn't need to worry about that.

The woman who had helped me along wheeled me out to our car. Dad offered to bring it around, but since it was in the lot she said she'd just wheel me out.

End Wound Count
Stitches over where both my wisdom teeth, the back part (near the hinge) of the right side of my jaw, and on the right side of my mouth, under my upper lip.

I got home and my tongue was no longer numb, and the rest of the numbness was receding. I felt pretty good, too. That may just have been the drugs, but besides a little ache in the back right of my jaw, it hasn't gotten much worse, Vicodin or no. I got a bit of a bloody nose, but Mom said Dr. F says that's normal. Makes sense--he basically cut a hole in my sinuses. I went out to see a friend whose party I could not attend (no points for guessing why), and he said my smile was creepy. Mwahaha.

Dr. F called a little while later (c. 5, 5:30) to tell me I should use the meds ahead of the pain, and so I took a Vicodin around then, at my mother's request/behest.

Then I started the blog entry and oh I've gone recursive.

TBC: Obviously I'm still recovering. Dr. F said the pain should peak at around Sunday (two days), so I'll at least keep this posted until then.

The numbness faded completely around 7:30 PM. I went off the Vicodin at about 9:45--in that that's when it was supposed to stop affecting me. At about 10:00, my mom thought I looked pretty tired and pale, and told me to try to get some rest.

I got into bed and burst into tears. No pain, I was just crashing from (a) drug(s) in my system. Sadly, I had a bloody nose and the sheets got bloody... My mom replaced the sheets and set up a spot for me on the couch so I could wind down some more. I did that until my brother called to be picked up from a sleepover, at about midnight. I went to bed at 12:30.

I woke up at 8:00 and proceeded to put the ice pack on, eat breakfast (clam chowder, yum), take my antibiotics, brush my teeth (ow), and take the antibacterial rinse, in that order.

I had my first thing I really had to chew at 5:40. Pulled pork sandwich, courtesy of Mom. It was delicious.

The swelling and pain were the worst, but that was the warning I got. On the bright side, I could chew without much change in pain, it just hurt more overall. So whatever, I guess. Started calcium supplements--regrowing a lot of bone.

Swelling worse, pain better. I sneezed and it hurt a lot. Really. It had no right to hurt that much.

Swelling better, pain better. I tried to go off the pain meds though and...too soon. Sharp pains with the aches.

Finished the antibiotics with lunch, finished the antibacterial rinse in the evening. I could actually go off the pain medication and go out, though I don't think they'd worked their way out of my system yet. Swelling better, pain better.

Swelling almost entirely gone, and I can actually sing for short periods. The pain lessens, and I could chew grilled cheese on sourdough.

It pretty much continued like this. I went off the calcium supplements a few days after.

* We couldn't put the implant in until after the bone from the bone graft had settled in, which would take ~9 months.
** EDIT: Or a bridge. But the doctors suggested the implant, and it's what we chose.
© 2009-2013 Taylor Hobart