Prompt Replies Chapter 3: Privacy

Soon, rain drops were racing downwards on his window. The drops made their way down carefully, as if measuring and planning their every move before committing to it. Michael gazed at the city below, with people running for cover.

His location in the building gave him a cozy sense of security and privacy that he found appealing. Here he was, looking down towards the city, watching the people move about their daily business, like a child observing a colony of ants. And yet, perched upon this viewpoint, Michael was sure he wasn’t the object of observation by anyone else; he had his privacy and he liked it.

A lot of us think a good life entails spending every important moment with people you love, people who matter the most. Well, I think, a little privacy and solitude is just as important.” Michael turned around and brought his attention back to the guest in his room. “Yes, privacy and isolation is what I value the most.”, he replied. “Sometimes, I just want to run away from everything, far away, where there aren’t any of you.”

Prompt Replies Chapter 2: Invitation

The invitation had been sitting on his desk for quite some time before he actually picked it up. Michael gazed at the envelope before deciding he was interested enough to actually open it. Inside was a letter informing him of the marathon. He had never considered himself an athletic person, but he was determined to act upon his fitness goals.

I could start training now, be done with the marathon and actually feel like I’ve accomplished my resolutions. Two birds with a single stone.”, Michael thought. The thought of having to wake up early made him shudder, but Michael was approaching his late 30s. He knew well that fitness should be more important to him than it already was.

He flipped the letter back onto the desk, almost intending to forget about the whole thing. His attention was drawn by another event around him. Grey clouds had been gathering the whole morning. They were about to burst open.

Prompt Replies Chapter 1: Marathon

The muscles in his legs, his joints, his ligaments and even his lungs hurt. They screamed out every time he took a step. Every few minutes he questioned the sanity of the person who would inflict this type of suffering on oneself. He questioned his own sanity in having joined this marathon.

The journey had been an arduous one, beset with challenges of increasing difficulty. But the end result would be well worth it, he kept telling himself. The end was near; it was in sight. All he had to do was push himself a bit more, a bit harder. Just a little bit more and it would be done.

The sun was at its zenith and the heat was on the rise. Sweat rolled down his forehead and onto his eyes. He ignored them all, for the end was in sight.

Prompt Replies: An Experiment In Fiction

As someone who has dabbed their fingers in fiction a couple of times, I really want to create a narrative of people and stories and a whole world which they inhabit. However, the one thing that often stops me from writing more fiction is the fact that I’m often dry when it comes to plots.

I find it hard to create a basic plot for my stories, despite being able to create complex characters and conveying their thoughts easily. And without a good plot, well, the story is of no use.

So a solution I’ve found is to write a story using the daily prompts from Daily Post. Each prompt will serve as the inspiration for chapters of a long running-story. The prompts change daily and might not have any relation whatsoever with each other. This means that the onus is on me to craft a sensible story using each random prompt. It’s great because it helps me develop my skills in writing, so what more could I ask for?

I’m calling this ‘Prompt Replies’, because, they are replies. To prompts. Yeah, it definite sounded funnier in my head. So anyway, each chapter includes 15 sentences and will use a writing prompt taken from The Daily Post. I’ll also probably set up a category to make the chapters easier to find.

So what do you think of this experiment? Is it worth my time, or is this destined to fail? Let me know in the comments! 

Recollections From December

December was a fast-paced, busy month for me, with semester finals and various other activities that expanded to fill all of my time. I’m really happy 2016 is behind us and I can’t wait to experience everything 2017 throws our way; after 2016, I’m pretty sure nothing can be worse than that. This post should have come out sooner and before the year ended, but it got sidelined due to my confession post. Here are a couple of thoughts I happened to write down and other things I’ve been upto in December. 
Certain days of the month, I wished to myself that I was better at consoling people and cheering them up, motivating them when they were down in the dumps. When we’re younger, we believed consoling needed to be done to make sure that those people forget the pain and misery. As we’ve grown up, however, I think we’ve realised that pain is an integral part of our lives, and now, we only console people to make them forget the pain temporarily. The pain and misery is still in them, hidden out of sight. For now.

December was also the month where I realised (for like the millionth time) that my impulse purchases are a bitch I have to learn to deal with. I spent a whole lot of money on things and activities I didn’t really need and later regretted them. This month made me realise I need to get my tendencies in order and not be such an asshole when it comes to money. And this is just the 4th of the month!

By the 5th, I’m basically hating myself for my spending spree. Self-loathing and what not. It certainly did look like my depressive episodes were about to make a comeback. Yet another thing that completely surprised me in this period was how unpredictable humans can be when it comes to reactions. Say one thing at a particular time and you get one reaction. Say the same thing at a different time and you get a totally unrelated reaction. The main obstacle I face in dealing with humans is that every word I utter is a ticking time bomb. I can never be sure which word of mine will trigger an avalanche of sorrow and sadness in others. Sometimes I just hate myself for having ruined someone’s perfect day and sometimes I hate having to interact with people in such a careful manner.

The rest of the month passed by, with a couple more cynical thoughts that are just too silly to share here. The highlight of the month was that I finally got to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a movie I’ve been waiting for since April. Without getting into much spoilers, I just absolutely loved the movie and the dark gritty tone it took, unlike the other Star Wars movies. Zack Syder, if you’re reading this, please do watch Rogue One, that’s how you make a good, gritty, dark movie. Whereas The Force Awakens had a sense of childish adventure in it, with Rey and Finn and introducing us to the new generation, Rogue One got right down into the war, in a very sombre way. The main challenge for Rogue One is that everyone knows the ending, by default. We have Episode IV, so we know the rebel spies manage to steal the Death Star plans. Where Rogue One shines is in the execution. It certainly did feel like the stakes were pretty high and there were certain points where I really doubted if they’d be able to pull it off anyway. The movie starts a bit slow and jumps a lot between planets but that’s just the first act. The other two acts are edge-of-your-seat action and great storytelling.

Diving deep into spoilers now, here’s what I loved about the movie.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

  • The movie showed us a glimpse of all the evil things the Rebel Alliance has done. It’s not a black and white Universe anymore, with the Empire being evil and the Rebellion pure good, as was conveyed in the Original Trilogy. The Rebel Alliance has done its share of morally questionable acts too. I loved it when Cassian killed his informant to prevent any information leaking to the Empire. He had no choice but to do it, for the greater good of the Rebel Alliance.
  • The diversity of the cast in the movie. A Mexican actor in the leading role, a female as the leader of the team, a much more inclusive team than in other movies. Now, I don’t fully embrace the idea of inclusion merely for the sake of diversity, but Rogue One did it in a subtle way that didn’t seem shoehorned in. The characters, their history, takes us away from the central storyline of the Skywalker family and introduces us to normal people, living in the Galaxy and shows us what the rebellion means to them, how it affects them. 
  • The Vader scene at the end. Hot damn, that scene made me squeal like a 12 year old girl. The scene could be considered fan service for all the fan boys out there, but I believe it is probably the best representation of Darth Vader on screen. It just shows how much of a badass killing machine he was. As thousands of people have noted before, the movie looked just like a horror slash-flick when Vader started slicing through Rebel scum like a hot knife through butter. Also, Disney, I wouldn’t mind paying for a solo Vader movie where it’s just two hours of Darth Vader slicing through Jedi and rebels and hunting them down. 
  • The characters being killed off at the end. Not many movies have the guts to kill off the entirety of its cast, but that’s exactly what Rogue One did. There they were, with no way to get out alive. They are now unsung heroes of the war, who might go down in history with no recognition or fame. They gave up their lives trying to steal the plans and transmitting it, in the hopes that someone might be able to destroy the Death Star. This gives a whole new meaning to the title of Episode IV. The sacrifices made by the rebels take on a whole new level of depth after you’ve watched Rogue One. 

To celebrate the end of the year and to welcome the new year, I did something pretty different. Instead of hanging around with a book and wishing everyone at the stroke of midnight, I went out to a New Year’s Eve party, with real people. Trying to overcome my social anxiety in this way, dancing to music and being in large crowds of people is a pretty new experience for me, and was kind of unsettling at first. But hey, it’s a new experience and I kind of liked it. We rung in the new year with great excitement and it felt good to have friends right next to me during and after the countdown.

Now, ringing in the new year means one thing: resolutions. I’m not really a resolutions kind of guy, and I subscribe to the idea that the best time to make changes is now. However, this year I’ve planned to read and write more. I’ve actually made a list of books I’d like to read and/or finish reading this year. 

  • 1984 by George Orwell. Yes, I began reading this back in July but I still haven’t completed it. 
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. 
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It… Every Time by Maria Konnikkova
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  • Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal 
  • Idiot Brain: What Your Head Is Really Up To by Dean Burnett
  • The Lonely City: Adventures In The Art Of Being Alone by Olivia Laing

There’s no guarantee that I might be able to finish this list, but that’s certainly what I’m hoping for. A couple of books have been on my list for quite a long time, but haven’t yet been purchased because book prices in India are just too high, even online marketplaces have stupidly high prices because they import books. The high prices of most books in India is the topic of another long post and I could go on and on about it. Public libraries aren’t an option either because they’re poorly funded, the selection of books isn’t that good either and the whole system of public libraries is pretty much in shambles in India. I don’t want to go off on a tangent here, so that’s pretty much my reading list for the year.

How was your December? How is the new year looking for you? We’re already 10 days into it, are your resolutions still holding up? Let me know in the comments below. 

Escaping Reality

​Regardless of what everyone might tell you, real life isn’t all that interesting. If it was, we wouldn’t have escapist media like movies and fantasy novels. Over time, the lush veneer of the exterior gives way to the dull, drab interior of mundane, monotonous existence. We get stuck in a rut and wish for an escape from this world where every day is the same.

I’m the kind of guy who daydreams. A lot. I also procrastinate a lot, so that mixed with the daydreams means that most of my days are spent in a semi-conscious haze of actual decisions and frantic work to meet deadlines. I used to be so addicted to dreaming of possible future scenarios and alternate timelines of my life that even the first piece of fiction I wrote involved daydreaming as its central plot point.

So what is it about reality that bores me and pushes me into daydream mode? Maybe it’s the fact that I am unsatisfied with my life and want one with more action and a better starting position, so to speak. Maybe it’s the fact that every day is kind of the same and the routines have lost their novelty. But that’s not what this post is about. I’ll admit, this is probably the most honest I’ve ever been when writing on this blog. So this is like a confession that I’m (kind of) ready to put out there.

I keep blabbering to people about how honest I am when it comes to uncomfortable truths and why they’re immature for finding it hard to accept them. Sure, I do blurt out uncomfortable truths without thinking, even in situations where convention dictates otherwise. The problem is that I lie to myself all the time. And that translates into lying to others subconsciously.

Over the years, I’ve carefully crafted an exterior which, to me, is close to perfection. Hard as a rock, calm even in the worst of situations, detached from everything and just a macho man who never cries. But my whole personality is built on these lies. I’m a soft crybaby inside and though it might look like I couldn’t care less about burning bridges, I am actually really affected by them inside. I don’t know if people can often see through the bullshit exterior personality I’ve created or not. Maybe they can, and just don’t bring it up. Who knows?

What’s more, I actually advise people to not conform to preconceived notions of how they should look and/or behave. I advocate a lifestyle that places importance on personal freedom and rights and not bending to society’s ever-shifting likes. And yet, here I am, moulding a fake personality that has everything people might expect from modern men. Unflinching in the face of crises, detached from negative emotions, never sad or in sorrow. So yeah, hello world, hypocrite here. 👋

Moving on, I always advise people (Yeah, I should stop doing that altogether. 😅) to look for the good in people. I believe in the fact that humans are neither black nor white, it’s a whole grey area. So despite the fact that humans are grey when it comes to morality and general goodness, I usually advice the people around me and proclaim that I only look at the good in people. Turns out, it couldn’t be farther from the truth.

I’m always doubtful, almost cynical, of the moves people make. Maybe a help here or there, or a favor without me asking for it. Stuff like that always brings out the skeptic in me. When people are kind towards me, I tend to act defensively and see it as a way to accomplish their own selfish needs. I try to find motives behind the kind acts of people around me and in my life, even when there are none. I think and overthink trying to come up with possible favors they might ask of me in the near future. I know I’m an asshole for doing this, but it’s just the way I am; this is the real me. I’ve been trying real hard to change, and progress has been slow and uncertain. This might seem pretty obvious to the people in my life, but it’s really hard to admit to myself that I’m a cynic.

Another thing that happens is that I often catch myself in between all this negative thinking and then get disgusted at myself. I beat myself down about it and that usually triggers my depression. And once that sets in, boy, there’s no coming back.

Before I close this confession and move back into myself to sob over what I have become (not really 😅), here’s a bonus point to in case I still haven’t managed to convince you. I’m such a hypocrite I actually write about how society is filled with hypocrites. Oh the irony! It took me the greater part of a month to come to terms with this and find the courage to sit down and actually write this. The experience hasn’t been easy, what with me facing all the negative traits in me that I’d usually hate in others, but I find myself trying in earnest now to change myself, to reach a state I’ve labelled simply as Not This.

I believed it was the experiences someone had that shaped his or her writing. For me, writing this post has had a similar, albeit reversed, effect; the writing is beginning to shape who I am as a person. As this shitty year comes to a close and a hopeful new year glimmers in the horizon, I hope this shitty part of my personality dies with 2016,and I’m a better person next year. Happy Holidays everyone! 

The Third Wheel

Sometimes I feel like

I'm the third wheel.

Maybe it's not true

But that's how I feel.

Maybe it is true and

I should accept it's real.
 
 

I should just fade away.

Away from all this

And give them the space.

Give them the bliss

They so badly need.

I hope they won't miss
 
 

Me when I'm gone.

After I've left

Them in peace, my pieces

Will scatter with no heft.

Will they miss me?

Will they feel bereft
 
 

Without me there?

But I'm just a smartphone

Connecting them yet splitting them

Afar through no fault of my own.

Maybe it's just me, maybe it's everyone

But this is the life of a smartphone.
 
 

A little poem (?) I wrote last night, just messing around, thinking of life in terms of objects; a smartphone in this case. Please do tell me what you think about this, it is kind of my first foray into poetry, so criticism is welcome.