Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wondering if I should comment on blogs anymore...

The more I think about it, the more it seems that I'm just as awkward online as I am in real life. I'm a total hermit in real life, maybe I should be online as well - observing, never opining, and just putting fiction and art out there because people seem to accept that.

Man, people can accept some weird art from me, too... I've noticed I can get away with an awful lot when I'm just creating and putting stuff out there without it being a *conversation.*

Not so much in opining, though.  I'm opining here, but this is my little space and few people ever comment. I'm not sure anyone is even reading. 

I've just noticed something with me and the blogs of others when it comes to the commentary.  It seems whenever I try to join a "community" I wind up being the odd person out or sooner or later screwing it up for myself in some way.  I've noticed online, as well as in real life, whenever I feel "too safe" I'll let thoughts spill that I probably shouldn't.  Random thoughts, whatever comes to mind.  Poor impulse control.  No matter how safe and "loved" I feel among any set of people, sooner or later, I fart and I stand alone (to borrow a line from a T-shirt). 

Sometimes, it's just the nature of the community - a lot of online communities and blogs, if they have a large number of people on them, get contentious.  Each community has its own little culture that one must take a while to get to know. 

I stopped posting and even trying to ingratiate myself to the community on one blog I regularly read for instance, because while I enjoy that blog, I found the comments-box atmosphere to be very serious.  It does make sense as the place seems to have a problem with trolls sometimes and discusses intellectual/societal things, but I've found that making a misstep to find myself laid out and have my brain handed to me somehow more painful than the usual online contentions.  I didn't feel particularly "singled out" in regards to that blog, though - the "I will lay you out and show you your brain before you die!" seems to happen to everyone there, even the regulars when they argue with each other. I just found it a high-tension community that requires both brains and emotional toughness to participate in.  (Notice I'm not naming blogs here).  I've always been too soft-hearted to deal with high tension, even if it stimulates the gray matter.  It's just my "I was always an alien there and could never fit in" makes me sad because of the gray matter discussions.  

This post was prompted by what's going on for me right now in another community / single-person blog with a semi-large following that I follow.  The problem I have right now regarding feeling a bit hurt is that I *felt like I was a part of the community there.*  I wasn't just a lurker, I've been following and commenting for quite some time and I've met some budding online buddies there.  The place was kind of like my online "church" in absence of my going to a meatspace church.  I felt a lot of spiritual fulfillment talking to other oddballs-like-me there.  I feel like I've been tip-toeing there for a while, too, though.  I've made a couple of impulsive stupid-crap-off-the-top-of-my-head comments/posts there that have gotten deleted before, and ever since then I've wondered if the blog's owner has been *watching me VERY closely.*  I'm not like his trolls, though - he gets some very nasty trolls that come along to harass and condemn him and people on the blog community. I think he knows I'm not one of those -- but is also mindful that I'm kind of insane.  I probably scare the guy.  (Again, I'm not naming blogs).  

I noticed the last time I posted a comment, (today) it was "under moderation" which usually doesn't happen, comments are usually just trusted and open - I have no idea if it's because the comment area had reached past-200 posts and that's standard or if it's because the threadlet I was in *was* getting off-topic, or if the blog owner decided "Yeah, she's getting insane again, time to watch her."   I might be reading-in with the last bit, but, seeing as I've gotten that feeling from people before, I'm kind of keyed-into it and/or paranoid.

I am very mindful that I am a creature of impulse when it comes to sharing my thoughts and I am very mindful that in regards to most of the human race, I seem to think like an alien.  It's how I've always felt, anyway - just awkward whenever there's a conversation, even online, when I feel freer. There's a danger in that, you know, the freedom of being behind a screen.  It can make a person even more awkward.  After all, here, in text, I do not get the visual cues such as a groan or a withering look. 

I welcome comments on this blog, though - because, well, I post random fiction here and I'd really like feedback on my writing.  Otherwise, I don't know. Maybe I should "lurk moar" wherever I go online.  Maybe I shouldn't expect welcome or community.  Maybe those things are just not for me because I'm just never going to know how to act in regards to communities.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Thrift Stores

Not-fiction again.  Don't worry, I am plodding along on a new story and hoping the parts that are writer's blocked will be chewed away by writer's termites as the story flows.

Today, I was on my way to a doctor's appointment that got delayed.  In making use of the delay, Bob (my guy) and I payed a visit to a thrift store we'd been to before. 

I love second-hand stores.  I really do.  They're the best places for me to get pants for work (which are going to be worn out pretty quickly by me, considering what I do).  It's great to spend five bucks on a pair of jeans than twenty.  One finds funny stuff in thrift stores, too - like jeans that have velvet fuzz all over them.

I also like just looking around thrift-shops for the kitsch, history and nostalgia.  It seems like I'm always finding stuff there that I remember seeing in my grandmother's house.  Some of the stuff is old craft items and things that show the wear of having once been loved.  That's neat, that's real neat. 

And old computer stuff for those who still enjoy using obsolete computers, or are nostalgic for the components thereof... It almost makes me want kids because I could point and say "Oh, this is an old modem" or "This is an electric typewriter, I used to use one to write school reports."

Of course, in the dressing rooms, the are signs everywhere "No Shoplifting / Shoplifters Will Be Prosecuted."  This prompted me to wonder just how pathetic or desperate someone has to be to shoplift from a thrift-shop.  My mind imagined a sad scenario involving people too poor to even afford cheap second-hand goods, but too proud to ask the store's charities for help.  I started thinking back to the year I worked for a KFC and the difference between the guy scrounging in the restaurant dumpster for "bones for his dog" and the destitute couple that came in one time when I was at register who bravely asked if we could spare them a meal.  (Our manager allowed it, if he hadn't, I would have bought something for them out of my own pocket).  

Then, I also thought back to the time when I was a child when my mother worked for a Salvation Army store.  She worked in the drop-off truck sorting out the good from the bad regarding what was to go in the store.  (Some people do try to give actual *junk* to thrift stores, which is why there are people to sort.  Contrary to a popular Weird Al song, Goodwill does not take donations of second-hand underwear).  My mom got little me free toys all the time - on the grounds that "people were tossing this anyway."  I found out later that she wasn't really supposed to do that... Most of the items got re-gifted to SA in the end, anyway, when I grew out of them.   I also remember days when I had no school and my sister couldn't watch me when I'd spend the day with mom at work and I'd spend all day in the back of that truck playing with the toys - regardless of whether or not I took them home.  I guess what I'm saying is that early on, I developed a love for scavenging. 

Most of my clothes were hand-me-downs, anyway, being the youngest child of the family...

Another funny thing is that I didn't realize that "Salvation Army" was religiously-connected until I was a teenager, I think.  I remember as a kid, I thought the "salvation" part was because they salvaged old stuff.  Seriously. 

Er, anyway, for under thirty dollars today, I got a good haul at Impact - four pairs of sturdy pants, a "new" coat and a couple of jewelry-chains to dissect for my jewelry-making.  And a look back through time, back into the distant 1980s and 1990s.  Ooh. *Waggles fingers.*  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fiction, Heroism, Faith and Dogma

  Fiction, Heroism, Faith and Dogma

This is another of my “defense of the fantasy genre” posts.  Sort of.  Random thoughts, really. 

I just got done watching a rental of the second part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  I never “got into” the Harry Potter fandom and I haven’t even read the books, but I’ve seen and enjoyed the films.  Something really struck me with this one – I really have a “thing” for the idea of heroic sacrifice.  It’s one of the most beautiful things I can see in a fiction (one could argue as such in real life, but real life contains real tragedy). While real life makes me sad, I just eat up this stuff in stories – heroes facing death bravely, sacrifice for the greater good, that kind of thing. 

I’d like to read the books now.  I am struck by the *bitter regret* that I didn’t read the books when they first came out and Harry was staring to get popular. One of the main reasons why I didn’t read them?  The church.  I’m not talking “religion” in general – as people who read me know, I find world religions intensely interesting and am very much into and a supporter of true faith. What I’m talking about is - I used to go to a Southern Baptist church – and actually split time between two of them when my home church split (not due to politics, due to a financial upkeep of the building/land issue).  It was a very nice church family with very good people in it, but many of the people there and the leadership had a lot of viewpoints that were suspicious of certain things.  In fact, I remember being a bit hesitant in sharing my preference for reading and writing in the fantasy genre to people I knew from church, and when I did share it, I’d emphasize how “Narnia-like” my work was.  

It’s kind of funny, I read all the time now on the Internet about people who have to stay “closeted” to their church about their sexuality, or something that they did, serious stuff, and my “closet” (which I didn’t even stay all the way in) was my love of science fiction and fantasy. 

Harry Potter was one of the things people had suspicions about.  When the church split, the pastor of one church even preached an anti-Harry sermon because of all the “pagan influences upon the children.”  I wasn’t in attendance for that sermon due to some life issue or sleeping in that Sunday or something, but I’d heard about it.  

Yet, I remember the church kids being allowed to bring their Gameboys to church (kept them from fidgeting during the adult-sermon) and no one had problems with me drawing dragons and stuff all over the church-bulletins. *Hee.*   And I look back and think “These overprotective parents who wouldn’t let their kids read Harry Potter let them play Pokemon and Zelda games (The Oracle games were out then) – oh, if ONLY THEY KNEW the ‘paganism’ in those!” 

Harry Potter just has magic and wizardry without too much (that I remember seeing from the films) in the ways of a theology – those videogame titles I saw the kids playing and know because I play them myself?  Pokemon have gods – at least I think a mythology was developed for the latter games along those lines, I haven’t kept up with recent games of that series. But – yes, your teenage pokemon trainer character can capture gods if I recall correctly.  The Legend of Zelda series is based upon a mythology full of gods, spirits and a grand Trinity of Goddesses.  

And yet, all these very “pagan” things have much more “Christianity” in them than some of the church-approved books that I’ve read and “Christian” things I’ve seen. (At least, if you, like me, like to define “True Christianity” as something involving a higher calling, striving for goodness, self-sacrifice, love…)   Back when lots of people were reading Harry Potter years ago I was reading…. *makes the “I have met Excalibur face from the anime Soul Eater* … Left Behind.   

I only actually *bought* the first book (I’m thinking of making it into a paper-mache’ art project loaded with symbolism because I can never bring myself to throw *books* away and don’t know what to do with it), and thankfully read the rest of what I read of the series through library-checkouts.  I also, thankfully only read about halfway into the series, to book 8 or something, I can’t recall.

I don’t feel like giving a link to Slacktivist – since people who read me probably know that blog already. If not, look it up.  You really shouldn’t need Slack to tell you how bad LB is, but, really, the blog gives one a nice reminder.  Not only does LB make the apocalypse boring, the characters have a lot of … the authors try to tell us how heroic they are without the characters showing much in the ways of heroism.  As I recall what I’ve read of the books (years ago), the characters really are more about seeing prophecies come to pass than they are in *caring* that the world’s falling apart.  I also seem to remember large portions of the novels being taken up by the characters trying to escape this or that, avoid death even if it meant that lots of other people were going to die because “it’s prophecy!” and the others were just the “unsaved” rabble, anyway. Sort of the opposite of the heroic sacrifice and courageous facing of death I so love.    

I think about those cold, ineffectual “heroes” and compare them to Harry Potter, whom I just saw willing to face down death if it meant the end of the ultimate evil Big Bad and the saving of his friends and the whole entire world.  I even compare them to Link of the Legend of Zelda videogame series (an *intentionally blank* character / series of characters who displays only a very few core personality traits in order to take a backseat to the emotions of the player as an immersive player-character.  Yes, even Mr. Blank Slate has more heroism in his little toe than some other fictional “heroes”) - While Link is, in part, you, the character makes loads of sacrifices and is willing to face down death to save his world.  (And the latest installment of the series, Skyward Sword – has title-character Zelda as a once-goddesses who *gave up her immortality and goddesshood* to become a mortal because that’s what it took to seal the Big Bad in an ancient age). 

I mean… wow.

These “pagan” things which are supposed to be so bad for everyone according to some “church” types have so much more of the “core” lessons of the stories and sermons I’ve heard in churches in them and read in my New Testament than some supposedly “Christian” media.

I know I’m not the only one who sees this.  

Also, it is one of the reasons why I let portions of myself (including ideas I have on faith, life, the universe and everything) color my work as any author’s views will color their work -  but strive not to write anything particularly allegorical or particularly “segregated” or “for a market.”   I want the messages in my fiction to be universal, like the heroism and beauty in all of the fiction I really love.