Farewell Faerie Girl (wannabe ^.^)….

Qfybmu-Egpj-uyllyzc,

I think you’re very right about the Other Side being like my shadows–not as empty as I may like to or be convinced to believe. There is something remarkable about the world you call “home.” Something that is something about the place you eyeless-eyes have grown to admire, your story-skin has grown to find comfort within. It’s something I think we all here in the Other Something world should like to appreciate more than we do.

For myself, I found becoming a part of your world, Faerie Girl, to be somewhat of a struggle but also, somehow, effortless? There is something very freeing about donning a story-skin and continuing the word-weaving from it. On the Other Side, there is this ability to extend one’s self and one’s reach far beyond what is usually/feasibly capable this side. And, because I’m wearing a story-skin, it’s less to scary to perform that extension. Because, despite what additional connection is fostered via the Other Side’s “magic”, I am still difficult to touch. You may feel me in writing but you cannot grasp me, not wholly. Which may be viewed as a blessing or a curse depending on who you talk to, methinks 😉

That said, I do feel like I was able to connect with many different people and voices through playing pretend? with you, Faerie Girl, and others from the Other Side. Before even journeying to your realm, I felt like I was forging new connections. Like, in my now infamous? story-off with @dogtrax. We weren’t just word-weaving. No, our little powwow, knitting circle was something else. There was more creation and creativity going on than what word-links were appearing in this chain. At least, it felt like more. Like something powerful. Magickal. In the Something world, it’s not always so easy to foster this kind of reciprocity. Ego can get in the way or timing or environment or any number of things the Other Side can oft level out or, to some extent, alleviate. This moment of collaboration and of sincere reciprocity is one of my fondest memories and one I am most proud of. I felt a part of something bigger than myself but also like an integral part of that something. I was both tapping into something and being the thing that was tapped into (keep the thoughts clean, folks~ kids read these ^.^).

Aside from that, Faerie Girl, I’m also quite proud of the stories I wove these past few months from the nonsense words of bots. They weren’t necessary but they allowed me to interact with the Other Side in a way that was comfortably familiar but also new and unexpected. Really, these stories were a segue into the Other World for me. Despite having taken a “crash-course”, so to speak, in Elit last semester, I was till unsure about how to conduct myself in an online, collaborative space. Still very self-conscious about how I would be perceived. And, more, I was certainly afraid I wasn’t “up-to-par” with the outside participants who would be taking part in this adventure with us. But, finding this small way to insert myself into the community, to offer something of myself so that others could get to know me and where I come from, made me, overall, feel more comfortable participating in the more interactive aspects of the Other Side’s way. If any of that at all makes sense. I just felt more comfortable existing in this community once I had a more fleshed out identity.

That, I think, comes back to something that was recently discussed irl–the dissonance many writers experience when it comes to what they write versus how it sounds. I didn’t think I sounded authentic till I had more writing to show for who I am. Till I had this piece of e online for others to get a sense of and feel. It’s an evolution of that mindful fear of dissonance, I think–not believing you can possibly sound authentic enough in an online space without incorporating some tokens of authenticity from the Something world. Again, I don’t know if any of this makes sense but, I hope at least some small part of it does in some way. When working in a digital space, you are putting yourself out there in front of a whole lot of people–more people than you ever do in a Something classroom and certainly before more strangers. You’ve got to find some sense of confidence or nerve or you’re not going to be able to write anything at all in this kind of a setting–in my opinion.

Anyway, Faerie Girl, sorry to go off that self-centered tangent. I’m sure you’ve had  enough of me, by now ^.^ I know I have. Though, I’d like to think future explorers will be able to explore themselves as much they will the Other Side. Will learn just as much about the magic within as they will the magic of collaboration. To do that, I think future alchemists have to, first, find a way to incorporate what already interests them into a digital medium. Like, I brought my love of telling twisted tales and weaving disturbing words into disconcerting harmony almost immediately over into the Other Side. I found a way to use it to engage with the proposed assignments explorations. From the beginning of a Something class like this, I think it’s crucial to emphasize the place of the self in the work. Online spaces can be great places to forge an identity but they can also be very daunting places to do that very thing as well. For future alchemists to make meaningful explorations into the Other Side, I think a foundation of the self must first be laid in some way. Once again, if that makes sense.

….Look at that, another self-centered bum-bumbling ramble. You may have me pegged after all, Faerie Girl. It’s almost like you’re inside my head or something….

Before I get lost in my head again, let’s wrap this up! I’m sure you’ve got fancy places to be, fancy folk to unsee and all that jazz, Faerie Girl. I don’t want to keep you 😉

Honestly, though, exploring the Other Side and getting to know the alchemists who call it home has been, all joke aside, magickal and unforgettable…..Well, some of the more, shall we say stressful weeks may be more blocked out than others. But, that’s neither here nor there. Back to the point. Focus, Shadow Girl! Hopefully, I am able to keep in touch in some way with some of the amazingly and immensely talented and driven folk I’ve met on my journeys thus far. It would be meaningful, too, I think, and it would do justice to all I’ve learned navigating this new world if I tried to make something out of the unexpectedness and the reciprocity I was able to experience. I don’t know what but I want it to manifest in some way on the outside. And, maybe that’s enough–wanting to create something so much more than myself but so necessary to me. Putting that energy out there, I mean, is enough, is something. Despite the Something world being, well, the Something World, there seems to be a shortage of this desire for the reciprocal, for collaboration and appreciation. The Something World has become, if you can believe it, even more self-centered than myself! More focused on and less on what can do for other people. So, I believe just being able to emit a more positive energy through my endeavors and my demeanor would have a minor but meaningful impact. It would alter my perspective, at the very least.

And, on that note, I end this ram-rambling on.  I really am long-winded, though, huh? How have you put up with it, Faerie Girl? 

Anyway, Faerie Girl, try not to be a stranger either. You, by far, are one of my fave folk to collab with ^.^ It’s like we’re just on the same wavelength, same page or something. Truth be told, it’s a little crazy.  That said, I think it’s been real.

Till next time, Faerie Girl ❤

Shadow Girl signing off~

****

Daily Digital Alchemies

Life in the Margins

Look at how big my mouth is!

….and how pesky this Faerie Girl has been!

Shadow Girl Reflects VI: Sharing

“World building” is somehow a difficult concept to attribute to the world–proper, so to speak. Actually, it’s kind of a hard term to think of the world in/with because the world is built, isn’t it? All around us, there are these constructed and contrived places. Infrastructure and institutions. Spaces with such seemingly benign, or, should I say, obvious stories that even considering them as storied spaces at all is bizarre. Like, I know why the library is in the center of main campus–access and availability. And, a library is a resource center, one that provides books for your needs/interests so long as you have a card with the institution. It’s all very prescribed. Background noise at this point. Facts my brain doesn’t need time with to process and sort.

And, yet…

There is a world that exists behind or beyond that kind of dictated, socio-culturally enforced, shallow surface. When I think of the library, utilitarian purposes don’t exclusively come to mind. The books I’ve checked out do. The conversations I had with the librarians do. The friendship I formed with one of the librarians does. Even, all my anxiety about tripping down the library’s totally trippable steps comes to mind when I think of the library! (Don’t judge. I’m afraid of all heights equally and I’ve seen more than a couple of people miss those tricky steps~)

Anyway, it still sounds weird to think of my own personal experiences with an environment or place as being “world building” but, I guess they are. I mean, it’s how I see my world–through my interactions with it. Those interactions inform how I navigate and how I structure my life. If I had a poor experience at a certain restaurant, I probably won’t go back there, regardless of how hungry I may be and my proximity (i.e ease of access) to it. Through a utilitarian lens, when hungry, I should go to the nearest place that provides food. But, that’s just not the reality of the world. Not the one I live in, at least. I’m not eating someplace where I don’t like the service. End of story.

I’m not sure if there’s a means of communicating all the stories a space can accumulate in a way that isn’t overwhelming or too selective, still. Like I said earlier, my brain can process a place’s utilitarian, dictated purposes like second nature. Increasing the amount of info (i.e stories) it would need to process in a short amount of time may become more of an interference in how I’m informed about a space instead of an improvement. Maybe. Our brains are capable of processing such an abundance of info though–but it takes time to do it well. And, I think when it comes to attaching a multitude of associations to a place, time becomes a reasonable concern. Over-stimulation, a major concern. Plus, how much does every person who walks through/uses the library need to know about my fear of falling down the stairs? What would that meaningfully add to their concept of the space? Would they walk a little slower down the steps? Again, maybe. If they cared. Which is another thing.

I may know the technical purpose of a space and know the intended use of a space, but that doesn’t mean I care. For another example, the Quick Check’s (local convenience store) back lot by my high school may have been intended for parking–and it was used for parking–but everyone also knew it was a great place to skateboard after the skate park closed. And, to be honest, that function superseded the original because it was the only one most anyone cared about. The police would come by and round you up every now and again but that didn’t deter anyone. So, that was my roundabout way of explaining that there is a level of care that goes into the conceiving of a place. It’s the functions that everyone cares about that become a place’s associations, become what it is renowned for. Applying this idea to storied spaces, to me, means that people will still only care about a select few stories themselves because there’s nothing stopping them from doing that. Attempting to give a place a greater depth of meaning through attributing more stories to it, while admirable and overall nice, doesn’t ensure any intentions will stick. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer :/

Still, I think there’s some merit to using digital means or digital storytelling to help inform people about how to conceive of a place, how to build it. At the very least, it can provide a place for a record of another place’s experiences. Like, a lot of museums have apps now that allow you to explore the entire museum via your phone. Some even have cool activities you can do whilst meandering through the galleries. Essentially, those who do care about what lies below the surface of a space can dive in. I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable for other spaces like universities to have apps specifically for cataloging the experiences of their students in order to possibly enrich experience of the entire space overall. For any place, really, I don’t think that’s unreasonable or, too far off from reality. Not with the way technology is developing.

(Let me know if any apps already exist that are attempting to do what I just spent for-freakin’- ever describing!)

Sharing Stories

Apparently, I was in a sharing mood this week. Adding a dash of “feelings” to both this week’s blog post and to the Padlet. Just couldn’t help myself.

So, if you’re interested in learning more about the purpose (or, intended purpose, should I say) or, really, the person, behind the writing on this blog, I’d check out this week’s post. Also, if you want to hear me curse at Audacity. And, read a story in my own voice….

(Speaking of, the items I used to make the sound effects are, in order, sticks of vine charcoal for the tinkling sound in the beginning, 2 faux-skulls banged together for the steady beat + mortar & pestle, a stick of vine charcoal snapped in half for snapping bird bones, and a handful of tortilla chips I crushed for the crunching bone sound. Kind of difficult guesses. Sorry~ but not really)

Creative Enterprise (i.e that section you can skip if you don’t care~ I’ll only cry myself to sleep a little bit)

This week saw a grand total of….*drum beat* bot story written.

Skin Girl

This is largely due to the fact that I have a new-found addiction to My Favorite Murder. That podcast I mentioned in my blog post this week. It’s ruining my life (i.e productivity) and I love it. Highly recommend.

Anyway, before I became a raging addict, I did manage to finish a jewelry-making project–a necklace that I’m still describing as “blood-splatter wings” because I haven’t picked a name yet…. Like I said, this has been a poor past few days for getting sh*t done.

Also, I’ve managed to acquire some bones (chicken, relax, and ethically gathered) for my project I’m working on now. Have a new friend who dabbles in taxidermy. Score. So, definitely check back to see how that turns out.

Hopefully, the creativity will pick back up. I’m like half-way through the podcast’s archive so I’m on my way to getting it out of my system. Or, you know, maybe I’ll accept moderation into my heart….

Final Thoughts

I like the idea of storied spaces catching on. Would make the world feel “homier”, I think. Less indoctrinated and more lived in.

Actually, it would be cool, I think, to create a kind of storied space with my writing an art. Like a show or an exhibit that sought to join the two mediums together via a personal interjection of some sort. Maybe that could be accessed in a digital format. I’d like to find some way to get people to hear me reading my stories too–so, that could also be an element to this concept. Think that would be pretty cool and be a way to “story a space” because everyone would have their own interactions and experiences with the exhibit to add to the ones that are already installations of it. It’s something to think about anyway.

Shadow Girl signing off~

****

 

 

 

Skin Girl

Drumbeat batters breeze bare-knuckled. Bloody, if it could. Tut-tut-tut transforms the atmosphere into something tormented. Tortured. Just a sliver shy of a scream.

I sway to the sound, skin soaking in its scathe. Absorbing the maim and claim. The tug and tear.

In the thick of the crowd, illuminated by a mix of fire and faint moonlight, a figure fights the drum’s beating. Twists sharp turns to thwart possession. To prevail. A losing game.

Once lured in, that’s it.

Other figures clap, pound flesh till the night seems alive with its own rhythmic pulse, thrumming steadily through the battered air. A grunted chant rumbles in time.

Somewhere, deep in the wood surround, a wolf howls. Tears at night’s skin. A territorial call if I’ve ever heard one. A victorious brag. I grip the skin I’m in. Tame growl into grumbling chant. Return sight to the light bathing those gathered in shades of dark red.

The dancer nearest flame, so deeply red they’re shadow on smoke, throws back their head–theirs and the bear skull that swallows it whole. An echoing, bellicose bellow–growl–silences both flesh and drum beat.

Another deep sound, the wolf.

A last, me.

For now.

Closely, I watch the dancer shed the bear skull. Slide claws as long as fingers from their hands. Keep the grizzled pelt wrapped ’round their wide shoulders, though. For warmth, maybe. The skin in place ’round their meaty waist.

Two figures donning wolf skulls and matching hides separate from the crowd as the lone bear dancer returns to it.

Beats begin their battering blows once more. Less heavy. More lean. Like wolf meat. Night’s pulse picks up in a low thrum, a lower hum. Faintest scream.

I track the bear dancer as they cut through the crowd, one toothy smile at a time. A short laugh or two. My rhythm mirrors theirs. Overtakes it. Sleek. Light. A slow skulk. Steady hunt.

We meet where the edge of the crowd kisses forest fathoms.

Bear Dancer slashes a charming smile across their face, distinctive jaw jutting upward with its self-assured slant as if to display the many scars crisscrossing sensitive skin like trophies. One rather deep cut is still raw. Fresh. I curl my fist.

It’s him.

A grin of my own begins to stretch flesh. Tempt tearing. Bear dancer’s widens in return. Devours his face.

“Hello,” he steps into my sway. “Like tonight?” I nod, grin sharp enough to put Bear Dancer to shame.

“You dance good.” Another growl tamed into something softer. “It’s striking,” I motion to the pelt on his back. “your form.”

“Yes.” He preens, fingering the fur. I swallow fury. “A lucky catch, bear. Usually, they keep to their caves.”

“Ah?” I drag him back to me. “Where’d you get the bear then?”

“Clearing by Slim River.” His voice is proud. “Mama and cub hunting. Hare, probably. I got Mama first in the side with my spear. When she charged, I got her in the head with my handy ax. She clawed, though.” He taps his scarred chin. “A fighter.”

Huntress.” I correct.

“Yes.” Bear Dancer nods, looking grave. “Very fierce. The others threw many spears till she went down. The cub though,” Bear Dancer’s grin returns. “was easy. Little fella. A club to the head.” Bear Dancer swings his arm past my face. “Dead.”

“Dead.” I repeat, dead, stepping back into forest, spiny nettles brushing bare skin. Swirl my hips. Bear dancer follows. “Poor boy.”

“There were two.” He leans close as if revealing a secret. “Cubs. Two of ’em. Always with Mama but not this time. Very odd.” He quirks his head. “Bears don’t usually keep more than one. Too hard to feed. Keep only the strong one…. Wonder where the runt is? The little fella cried out after he was hit. Almost like a scream. Maybe–”

She heard.” I finish with too much gnash. “The sister?” Bear dancer gives me a confused look and I reach for his hands–the ones that were wearing Mama bear’s claws–settling them on my waist.

“Yes.” Bear dancer tightens his hold on me. I lead us further behind branches. Beyond the fire light’s creeping reach. “You know the story?” Now, I quirk my head. Take another backward step. “About the sister cub. That she’s one of us. Child lost from the tribe long ago. Found by bears. Clothed in their skin.”

“I hadn’t heard.” Another step. So close.

“Not from ’round here?” Bear Dancer asks. “Was wondering…. You look familiar but can’t place face.”

Finally. Trees give way to open space. A clearing. Nearby, a watery babble replaces drum beats. Flesh beats. Moonlight overtakes flickering flame.

“It’s not my usual.” I brush Bear Dancer’s hands off me and he tilts his chin. That fresh cut. Shiny red beneath the moon. I flex my fingers. Feel nails sharpen. “Face.”

A swipe of my claw to the head and Bear Dancer is down. For brother.

I’m on him before he knows what hit him, my lithe body now heavier. My skin, fur. Much better. Weight settles on my shoulders–my skull no prop large enough to swallow a head whole. Bear Dancer’s. I stare into his wide eyes, grizzly reflection in their glisten. I can’t smile anymore so a snarl will have to do. Recognize me now?

“S-s-skin-n-w-w-wwalk-ker-r.” He accuses.

No, a growl like a laugh rumbles in my cavernous chest. I told you. Huntress. 

A claw finds purchase in the mark Mama carved so I’d know and tugs. Jaw gone before Bear Dancer can scream. Then, claws like little spears and teeth like ax blades find flesh. Tear. Bite bone, too, creating their own beat, own chant. Rhythm.

And, when the song is done, I toss my head back. ScreamTear the night in two. It’s no victory screech. No brag. Nothing celebatory. It’s a warning. An announcement.

I’m here.

I’m coming.

I’m hungry.

The battle is mine.

****

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*Side note: those last words are coincidentally my first thoughts in the morning…. Weird. ^.^

Tweet, tweet….

Find more of my delightfully disturbing/twisted tales under the Killing It tag~

As always, hope you enjoyed~*

 


Shedding Silence

So, my laptop managed to make a miraculous recovery. *killjoys make some noise~* She’s a real trooper.

Anyway, that means I finally got around to playing with sound. And, to being frustrated by it.

That said, I didn’t really feel a strong pull towards any of the not-to-do-list prompts. I did really like reading one of my works aloud in class this past week, though. So, I decided to run with that and record myself–again–reading my story. Only, this time, with some added sound effects to set the mood. Create an atmosphere.

It was not easy.

Audacity seems like a simple, user-friendly interface until you start piling on the different sounds and then it get complicated. (see, uncooperative) Adding a sound here or there moves everything else out-of-place. And, cutting something is a very, shall we say, hellish delicate process. Always, always listen a few dozen times after every little change to ensure you’ve done what you intended is all I want have to say. Always.

Without further ado, why don’t you take a little listen to the fruits of Shadow Girl’s many frustrations~

(Can you guess what I props I used to make the sound effect? Yes? No? Maybe? All will be revealed in this week’s reflection~)

This is the same story I read in class and, to be honest, it’s a favourite I’ve written so far.

In class, I talked a little about the inspiration behind a lot of my work. But, because I was kind of nervous speaking in front of everyone, I only discussed one aspect of my work–that I like writing girls who are as cruel as their world has been to them. More, I enjoy writing stories about female characters who’s motivations are not responses to a patriarchal influence. My girls are violent or disturbed/disturbing in and of themselves.

But, there is more to it than that.

For many years, when I was young, I was silent. Silenced by some unspeakable things that happened to me. It was very hard for me to speak because I didn’t feel like I had a voice of my own. More, I didn’t feel like my voice was mine. It belonged to someone else who preferred my mouth shut.

It’s taken many years and lots of intervention for me to realize my own preferences. For me to speak as I please. Still, though, I struggle to do that–speak at all. Break the silence. It’s not easy to exercise something you didn’t believe you had the right to for a long time. Often, I worry I come across as disengaged or uninterested, maybe unimpressed, when that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In my writing, I think my feelings obvious. On the page is where I began to rediscover my voice so I think it makes sense that it is where you can hear me clearest. But, I wish I could find my voice just as well beyond the edges of the page.

That’s another reason why I don’t like to speak aloud–I don’t sound the way I do in my writing and I so desperately want to. Hearing the difference between what I’ve written and how I voice it frustrates me. It sounds like a disservice. Sounds disappointing.

In class, though, it was an unexpected surprise to hear that people liked how I read my work. Apparently, my soft tone paired with my “brutal” words created a discordant, eerie harmony that actually worked really well. Which, is something I never really considered–that my gentle from disuse, honestly voice could add another, meaningful layer to my writing.

Forgive the long preface but that other aspect of my work I didn’t mention in class is that most of it is an exploration of trauma and how it informs one’s future interaction as well as its, overall, lasting impact/effect on one’s life. It’s a focus of both my written and metals work. Specifically, when it comes to my metalwork and jewelry-making, I like to create wings–in case you haven’t noticed.

(Really, in case you haven’t)

To me, making these symbols of freedom out of a fixed medium transforms them into a profound statement. Emblems of what could be or could have been but isn’t or wasn’t.

They become almost escapes.

It’s an inherent contradiction I hope I can continue to finesse in my art.

Getting back to the writing, though, I think that discordant harmony I was made aware of fits in appropriately with my overarching theme–something I would never have known if I hadn’t spoken up.

Silence is such a hard adversary to conquer. Especially when doing so feels like a betrayal. I mean, silence is an old friend. The oldest of mine, even. An integral part of me. And yet, it’s not. It’s a companion I didn’t choose for myself. Still, though, they’ve always been there. Like a crutch. Like a friend.

Our relationship is one of attrition.

Living with trauma is attrition–a back-and-forth tug-of-war with yourself. No matter on which side ground is lost, you feel like you are playing a losing game. It’s, like I said, contradictory a lot of the time.

It’s calm, too, sometimes. Inside. When it’s stalemate. Usually, deadlock occurs when I’m writing or in the metals studio.

Writing and creating from that silence is revenge. It is opening a mouth that was preferred shut. It is telling a story I was supposed to keep secret. It is traitorous. It is truth.

If a lot of my work seems coarse or vengeful that’s because it is. It is my vengeance. These girls I write in these vicious worlds are meant to articulate the sorrow and rage trauma sows in the heart it broke. That most of these stories end on the crux of closure or with a tinge of something at best bittersweet/disappointing is not a mistake. It is for your contemplation.

Anyway, personal introspection/rambling aside, I imagine incorporating readings of some of these short works in some digital storytelling format with my metal projects. I think telling my stories with my own intonation and in my own voice is necessary for meaningful communication. After all, it is what my body of work sounds like to me. Me. It sound like me.

Something else I’ve also discovered since reading my work aloud is how similar my vengeance sounds like confession–like honesty starving for listeners. Hungry to be heard almost as much as it is ravenous for revenge.

When it comes to confession, I know, it’s best to be all-in. To be unapologetic. To be brave. I want to be.

If nothing else is heard, I hope that is.

****

~Extras~

Speaking of listening, I’ve recently been introduced to a great podcast.

My Favorite Murder  is all about these two freakin’ awesome chicks discussing, you guessed it, murder–a decidedly morbid interest/fascination of my own. My friend @libraryguy introduced me to this delightful show as one of their entries in our own little March Madness competition. We dubbed it #marchmacabreness/#marchmorbidness and, since we’re both connoisseurs of the creepy, horrific, and otherwise disturbing, the object of it is to see who can freak out the other more each week with some deep, dark internet find/fave. Well, at least, that was the object. It’s kind of turned into us just sharing freaky sh*t with each other back and forth. 

That’s beside the point though.

Check out the podcast! It’s not so much about employing sound itself to tell story, I’ll admit, but the way the hosts structure their conversations and use tone to convey different feelings is worth appreciating. And, the content is killer. It’s to my tastes, at the very least, so take that for what you will…. 😉

***Got that featured image up! A recent, horror-esque drawing of my hand in charcoal ^.^***

Shadow Girl signing off!

Shadow Girl Reflects V: Silent

So, you may have noticed that I’ve been rather silent this week. Or, maybe you haven’t….

Anyway, the reason why Shadow Girl has been on the down-low these past few days is because she is currently–and unfortunately–without a reliable mode of access to the digitalscape 😦

Last Wednesday, in fact, my laptop decided to–moment of silence–die. At least, that’s the official diagnosis till I hear back from the repair techs. (And, tbh, they’re outlook was not very encouraging.) Since, I’ve been relegated to an ancient–see, shitty–tablet that I haven’t used for a while. As you can imagine, my internet travels have been quite slow. I wish I could say I’m taking the, uh, scenic route but, I can’t really see the images yet. They’re still loading….

To make a long story short, I was unable to play around on Audacity this week or with using sounds to create a narrative. Hopefully, I will be able to do that soon but now was a really bad time for my laptop to pull a kamikaze. (See, financially) But, I will figure something out.

Sorry to ditch once more on an opportunity for me to share my voice. Keeps seeming to happen…. First on the Studio Visit and now with Audacity T_T For some reason, the universe is conspiring against me, it seems. (Vengeance shall be wreaked, mark my words. My revenge will be inevitable, Universe.)

Creative Enterprise

Despite my difficulties–see, struggles with ancient relics of the technological age–I was able to add to my own creative pursuits. A poem and a story.

Attrition~ poem I posted to YWP about how hard hope can be to welcome inside, more, how hard it can be to accept an invitation out. (Look out for more posts from me on YWP!)

Split Girl~ Another twisted tale ^.^ This one may be a little disturbing for anyone struggling with their gender identity–may evoke gender dysphoria–so fair warning.

**My writing is never meant to offend but I am aware that it still can. And, I’m sorry if that happens. Let me know if there are any tags I can add to help alleviate any issues :)**

Aside from these new works, I’ve a few others I’m rather proud of (All can be found under the Killing It tag):

Bone Girl~ What fortunes lie in your bones?

Bone Girl .V~ Every bird hatches from some egg…

Wasteland Girl~ How dangerous can you be?

Dream Girl~ How much can you take before you crack?

It Will Be Satisfied~ Bad karma’s a b*tch.

Ghost Girl~ What lies have you been tricked into believing believed?

And, my long-running series (which should be back to weekly updates by next week, fingers crossed….)

Living Dead Girl

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV,

**All are inspired in some way by random, bot posts. Some more closely, other loosely. In my opinion, using bot posts for writing prompts is an easy way to incorporate technology into the classroom in a meaningful way and, it is lots of fun ^.^ Unexpected and nonsensical but full of endless creative, well, enterprise.

Speaking of….

Not digital storytelling related exactly but, remember that scalex analogy I gave at the end of this post? Remember that scalex protects one side of a metal piece while the other is enameled? Well, I’ve finally finished that piece I was working on!

Untitled (TBA) Copper, enamel, epoxy, acrylic paint, & resin

Like I said, this isn’t so related to digital storytelling, per say, as it is to creativity itself. But, all of my work is related in some way to my writing and this piece is certainly no exception. I’m rather proud of how it has turned out ^.^ See? The scalex was totally worth it. Without it, I never would’ve been able to create this work. Maybe I’ll bring it to class Wednesday night….

(Does it look like how I write?)

Final Thoughts

I’ve had a rough week. Productive in some ways but disheartening and aggravating in others. Hopefully, next week will be something worth writing home about!

Catch you all on the flip side!
 

 

Ghost Girl

All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.

~ Edgar Allen Poe

Mama went in her sleep.

How she wanted. How she dreamed.

Death is an illusion. An imagined end. Mama rasped toward her own foreseeable ending, breaths short and shallow. We don’t live here. We live inside. When you dream, my little ghost, look for me. I will be there.

So I did.

When Mama moved on from here, I searched–inside. Reached into the recesses. Haunted my hollow spaces, hoping for a familiar specter. A lingering trace, no trick of longing.

What I found, though, was smoke and mirrors, fogged glass stretching for as far as the eye can fathom. A maze of murky reflections and, wailing through it like a willowy wind-chime in a gale, Mama’s voice, beckoning.

I’m lost, little ghost. A hazy figure in the fog. I reach for it till fingertips kiss frigid glass. Help me find my way. Cold stings skin. Just a smudgePlease. It hurts.

Mama wasn’t a beggar. A bargainer, yes, but never desperate. If she ever appeared as such, it was an act. A performance. A scheme. Artifice. Those smoke and mirrors.

See, in the waking realm, Mama was a magician. I, her faithful assistant. Mama lowered the curtain and I disappeared. She held the saw and I split in two shards.

Defying death, Mama would tell the evening’s adoring audience, her top-hat tipped to stymie applause. is child’s play. A dream forgotten upon waking. A little ghost, her hand on my shoulder, proud. of who you were. If asked nicely, they’ll return. Show you how to remember. How to escape.

Please. Mama calls now, from deep within mirrored halls. Come.

So, like a faithful assistant, I do. I split in two.

I follow the sound of Mama’s imploring cries, her delighted giggles when I hit a dead-end. Hunt the hush of footfalls, discordant echoes off emptiness. Raindrops tap-tap-tapping the glass in out-of-tandem staccato. Pitter-patter-pat. Like a taunt.

Mean.

Hiding was an acquired skill of mine–from Mama. Crouching in crawlspaces, tucking limber limbs from suspicious, searching sight. Mama taught me all I knew. Every trick…

Or, so I thought.

Suddenly, a shimmer through the fog–the sparkly band ’round Mama’s trusty top-hat. I give chase. Pat, pat, pat–around sharp corners, down splintering corridors, a tinkling of… bells? in my ears. Maybe wind whistling through chimes….?

A silvery glint twists left. I clip my shoulder veering after it. Hear an explosion of clinks and of tinkling–feel a tingling run up my arm. Realization dawns. It’s glass. The sound is glass. Broken bits and pieces flinging through the air.

The mirrors are shattering.

I pick up my pace. Ignore the jagged fragments gnawing at my heels, biting into the tender flesh. This is not the end. Mama promised. There isn’t one. Not in my dreams.

At last, the top-hat is in reach. I thrust out a numb arm. Snag the hat by its brim. Tug it close for safe-keeping to my chest.

Immediately, silence falls.

Across the void to me. Then, the quiet stretches from where I stand, top-hat in hand, to the lone mirror before me. For once, the glass isn’t fogged, my reflection only a vague impression. No, now, when I look in the mirror, I find Mama.

She stares at me, a smile slashed from ear to ear. Her hand is outstretched and, after a measured moment, I move forward to meet her.

Fingertips caress glass, warmth seemingly radiating from within. Mama’s….my eyes glance from my recently captured prize back to my face. Put it on, they suggest. Then, little ghost, you’ll remember.

So, ever-faithful, I raise Mama’s glimmering top-hat to my head.

A perfect fit. I tip the brim.

As if in approval, Mama nods. My breath hitches. In my ears, a ringing–no, a pounding. InsideMama said. I will be there. I fall to my knees. Mama does the same.

Defying death is…. a little ghost of who you were. My hand brushes a shard, fingers its cracks, its poignancies. My reflection begins to tear. They’ll… show you how to escape.

“Little ghost… Little ghost… Little ghost…” Mama reclaims my fracturing focus, her grin splitting–sawing–her in two. It’s just the crack. “Are you there?”

“No,” Slowly, back and forth, I shake my head. The fog has cleared. The curtain lifted. Dream dissipated. I clench the shard in my grip till it cuts. “I’m here.

I shatter.

****

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Tweet, tweet…

Thanks for reading!

    Find more of my delightfully disturbing/whatever stories under the Killing It tag~

 

 

Shadow Girl Reflects IV: Immersed in the Chaos

When it comes to chaos and order, I find it fascinating how often ideas of each can be swapped to mean the reverse. For example, some people, like Howard Rheingold, dislike order because it places you in a routine, tells you where to sit and when to stand. It makes decisions for you.

But, there are many people out there, like one person in the studio visit with Howard Rheingold this past week, who see structuring forces as necessary–especially in formative years–and ultimately beneficial. They prefer having parameters. Makes them comfortable, not stifled.

And, when it comes to chaos, there are more divergent feelings towards similar concepts. Some see non-organization and a lack of structure and oversight as inherently incapable of producing anything meaningful or worth nurturing. More, they see it as scary or, as Howard said, risky. Chaos is uncontrollable, unmanageable and so cannot be allowed free rein.

Others, of course, find freedom in the chaos. Find space to explore something deeper and decidedly more ineffable when unfettered by the tenets of order. To them, non-organization is not scary. It is thrilling–exhilarating because there are no rules. You cannot be wrong in chaos. You just be.

Isn’t it fascinating?

How easily what you take pride in, what fills you with fear can be quite the opposite to someone else? Kind of makes you wonder if there is any meaning at all here in order and chaos–if their meanings can vary so drastically. How can any sense be made–even if that sense is nonsense? ….Don’t know? Good, me either.

Sense or nonsense, let’s see what we can find~~

Network Effect

It’s more than a little mind-boggling just how much content is out there on the internet. Perhaps even more mind-boggling is just how little we absorb from all of our wanderings on the web. There are so many voices and stories out there and yet, how many do I actually appreciate? How many do you?

Not nearly enough.

I believe the reason why my online experiences and yours probably are shallow is because, despite how much connection the internet has the potential to foster, we are all disconnected in our own little niches. More, we are far removed from reality because we don’t perceive the internet as being as real. There’s a disconnect between me and you– online–in large part because of our ideas of what the internet is.

Though, that said, I do think ideas are changing these days.

Still, you have the chaos/order problem–vastly different perceptions towards the same phenomena. It not only disconnects/distances us from each other by convincing us we’ll never understand each other, it discourages us from even trying because, hey, the internet’s not real so why even bother?

So…. what’s being done about this? Anything?

Yes. Network Effect is a project designed to help interactors understand the underlying humanity of us all in the internet age. The simulation is meant to imitate the flux and overwhelming-ness that is the online sphere but in such a way that you realize how similar and vast we all are in our complexities. How human we all are behind those dark screens. How living. How real. The internet is infinite but so are we.

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Of all the content I was exposed to in my ventures, what struck me most was how the greatest times for posting about grief on Twitter were 7am & 7pm ~~~ It made a part of me throb

Through incorporating outlets like news headlines and Twitter mentions, I think this project was able to inject that personal element online spaces seem to lack in their overall vastness. Mostly, I loved the Twitter commentary and, then, the collections of words most commonly associated with the verbs you explore the site through. I found that an interesting way to, so to speak, order the chaos–through us, usually whispers if that in the cacophonous staccato.

Despite warnings beforehand, I don’t recall feeling frustrated by the time-limit imposed upon my exploration of the site. Many things in my own life right now are running on schedules I only have minimal control over. So, I’m unfortunately used to it.

Not to sound too sentimental, but I think the time limit made me treasure what I discovered more. Like, I appreciated what I was able to get out of the experience–that greater sense of personal connectedness–because there was only so much time to explore and so much content to sift through.

Definitely recommend checking out.

Studio Visit

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say about last week’s studio visit. Howard and Mamie were just full of so much insight that provided such a wealth of rich, meaningful discussion. I could hardly do it justice here.

Particularly, I guess, I enjoyed what Howard had to say about the public sphere–how it can affect public policy and create change because it is the voice of the people. That story he told about the woman who didn’t give up on searching the polling booth’s codes until she cracked it and then how it spread online, forced the polling booth manufacturer to be held accountable, was just amazing. To me, it was such a great example of the potential the public sphere has now that it can operate in an online space.

Check it out! (I will get to Vialogues hopefully soon. It was Shadow Girl’s birthday weekend this past one. I was a little busy. Sorry)

Alchememetrix

(Really, when will Death come??)

Speaking of the public sphere, working with gifs and memes this week helped me come to this realization that memes and gifs are expressions of this/our public voice. Referring especially to the more well-known ones, they have this ability to say something we can immediately understand and connect with. Like it or not, there are lots of gifs and memes out there that are meaningful to the public audience. That have impact.

We relate to them! They make us laugh! Provide an outlet to express frustrations or to reveal absurdity. (Read more about that here.)

Honestly, there is a kind of reveling in the chaos that memes and gifs engage in. But, also, a kind of ordering of it–putting it into a recognizable context with equally recognizable implications.

At least, I felt like that was the case while I was creating my memes and gifs this week. Maybe someone else did, too?

Creative Enterprise (aka Vanity Role)

This week, the third installment in my Living Dead Girl series–inspired by this tweet— went up. It’s about Necromancers, Reapers, and death 🙂 Ghosts and mythos and magic abound. So, totally feel free to check it out and let me know how you’re feeling it.

Part I, Part II~~~

My other stories so far include:

Bone Girl (personal fave so far~~ it’s about ritual/serial murder ad implied cannabilism–my faves ^.^ no, really, I’m working on a project for another course about ritualistic cannibalism~~)

Bone Girl .V (prequel crafted from out blackout poetry exercise~~ more murder 😉

Wasteland Girl (Check the comments section, too, on this one! ~~~also, some murder… I’m sensing a pattern….)

It Will Be Satisfied (The Dead will get what they want through, you guessed it, murder! oooooohhhhhhhh)

(All can be found under the Killing It tag–haha [I think I’m funny]–and you can find a list of frequently used tags in the navigation bar at the bottom of this page. Just click the little “Up” arrow in the right-hand corner.)

All loosely networked narratives, I know, but lots of fun I think 🙂 ‘Sides, we’re all readers and writers at heart, right? Hope you enjoy~~~

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Final Thoughts

This week, I think I received some valuable insight on how to navigate online spaces more meaningfully. To navigate the chaos. To see chaos as something that can be cherished instead of spurned. Hopefully, I can keep that in mind when I go wandering on the web. The internet could definitely use more acceptance. More appreciative practice all around. The public sphere certainly needs a constant influx of new voices in order to remain healthy and effectively functional.

As for sense vs. nonsense, does it matter? Think the answer to that question says more about you and your context than it does about either of those notions.

Links

Daily Digital Alchemies

Video I find compelling when it comes to thinking about truth, the public sphere, and online spaces

Catch you on the flip side!

 

 

Dream Girl

“Let’s go to our happy place.” Mommy would say when Daddy’s voice began to hit a certain octave–somewhere between a beastly bellow and a rumbling growl. It bounced off bone. Broke bone–when a slur accompanied it. Sometimes when it didn’t.

Mommy told the nurses I was clumsy–a topsy, turvy tot falling head over teapot. Lost in my own little dream land. The nurses never looked as convinced as Mommy did.

Hospitals were frequent but transient haunts, us hollow-eyed phantasms in advance mourning for the identities we’d hastily shed once clear of the emergency room’s sliding glass–don’t catch your doppelgänger’s eyes–doors. Make-believe Mommy and dream-clumsy daughter, a match made to burn.

Mommy ignited first. Led by example.
Shot herself up with liquid fire then drew my bath like a matchstick drawn across its box. Asked me to jump into the flames. Pretend I was a molten mermaid. Hold my breath till it was true. I’ll help you, my dreamy girl. Help you dream.

I don’t recall who helped me out of the tub. Breathed for my little lungs until they realized they were not gills and magma burned going down. Woke me. Some neighbor, maybe.

Not Daddy.

No, he was out cold in his la-z-boy parked in front of the TV set, lost to whatever place existed behind his icy blues. Dream land or darkness. Happy places aren’t given, dreamy girl. They’re created.

“Whaddya wan’?” Daddy grunted when an ee-em-tee in midnight-blue finally nudged the bulky shoulder he was using as a drool rag. Then, when he was informed told Mommy injected enough heroin into her veins to burst into flames went sleepy-bye like she wanted and asked if he knew about her prescriptions–for dis-ah-sea-ation?–in the medicine cabinet why, he muttered, “Crazy bitch” and rolled over.

I was taken away for a while.

Poked and prodded at hospitals. Questioned in white-on-white offices by white-on-white docs. Tossed like a hot-potato from one home to the next till finally returning to Daddy.

“Ya look like yer ol’ lady.” He says when we see each other again. Takes a swig from the bottle in his hand. “Crazy as her too, I hear. Freakin’ out the fosters at e’ery turn.” Another swig. A head shake. “Ya go goddamn gaga in that bathroom like her and you’re gone, capiche?” I nod when it’s clear he’s waiting for it. “Good. Just had it remodeled.”

Only the tub was replaced, I discover.

Swapped for one with less dingy porcelain. Less attempted-murder-successful…

It’s a blank slate. A white page reflected in the mirror above the sink. Don’t stare at your doppelgänger. It’s what got me booted from the last foster home.

(There’s only you, the docs said.

Mommy never liked docs. Dreamless, unhappy types, she said.)

Once Daddy leaves for his nightly bar crawl, my evenings are spent lying in the tub, legs stretched till toes find the lip of the drain, arms crossed over my chest as if I were in a casket instead. Sometimes, I add water–up to my neck how Mommy preferred.

Usually not.

Just me and my dreams–Mommy brushing my hair back, her fingers twitching in staccato against my scalp…. Daddy dragging me by the hair, throwing me into the tub and locking the door…. Slurred shouts and muffled screams…. Me staring at my reflection, a captive companion…. Mommy lowering me into the water that last time, Let’s go… to a happy place….

It’s all fragments. Phantasmagoria. Lucid dreaming.

I will doze, though. Fully. Especially when there’s water. Warm and inviting, it lulls me. Sounds safe and familiar, its lapping at my skin whispered secrets. Nonsense babble reminiscent of Mommy’s bath-side chatter.

Tonight, I wade into an accidental slumber.

The tub was empty when I got in. Now, as I am jolted awake, water is chin-high and beginning to overflow, trickle down porcelain to uneven tile in trails that slowly creep towards the doorway Daddy looms in.

A door screeching on its hinges, slamming to a halt against drywall. That’s what woke me. Not dreamed screams.

Daddy stumbles forward, his steadying hand thrusting the door backwards again. Bang. The weight of the water soaking my clothes, my skin, finally hits. No going goddamned gaga in the bathroom.

A stream licks the toe of Daddy’s boot, darkening the leather. I shiver. The water is cold.

This is gaga.

“Whad di’ I tell ya, girl?” Daddy slurs, drifting closer. Bracing himself with his other hand on the edge of the sink. “Whad I goddamn warn ya?”

Daddy,” I scramble to my feet, fighting drag, knees knocking each other. So cold. “A pipe must’ve burst–”

“Not in ma new goddamn bath!” Daddy pounds his fist down on the sink, its echoing thud consuming this tiny space. “You’re as crazy as her!”

“No, Daddy!” One leg makes it out of the tub. A bare foot finds tile. So, so cold. “I was jus-t-t-t…” My teeth chatter. I’m too, too cold to think of a good excuse. “lying down. Like I said, a pipe has to have burs-t-t-t-”

Crazy!” Daddy careens towards me. A fist finds purchase in my hair–tugs. Hard.

 Out of the tub, I’m lifted the rest of the way then thrown. My hip clips the sink, my head, the mirrored glass above. Something cracks. Belatedly, I wonder what ever happened to the medicine cabinet? Then, the pain catches up to me and I can’t think of anything but.

It’s more of a burning, scalding sensation that begins at the crown of my head and works its way down, my face–the left side–my neck, my shoulder, hip–goddamn–all the way to my toes. Did I say I was a little chilly earlier? What I meant was so numb, so wholly freezing that I feel like I’m on fire. Roasting alive. Magma in my veins.

Let’s go, dreamy girl.

Something warm and thicker than water trickles into my eye–the left one, gazing dead into my double’s eyes. They’re red and slashed across the middle. Crazy. They look crazy. Below, a grin is also slashed.

To our happy place.

My double lifts a shaky hand. Traces a crack with its trembling finger as if searching for an opening. Success!–I guess. Her smile sharpens, shattering what glass remains with its pointiness. With her fist.

There’s only you.

There is. Only me. I push myself off the sink, ignore the sting in doing so. The crack and pop. Only my happy place. The one Daddy’s perched on the edge of, leaning temptingly over, trying to plug a dam that can’t be. Not now.

Water sheets across tile, pooling in dips and missing spots. Icy hot. I barely feel it. The step or two I take toward Daddy. Hardly registers. I feel nothing.

She drowned, you know. A nurse said to an ordely when they thought they were out of white-on-white earshot. The girl’s mother. Enough dope in her system to kill her but that’s not what did. Woman drowned. And, the girl… she was found in a bathtub. Unconscious but unharmed. Some water in her too but other than that…. Suspicious, ain’t it?

No.

Mommy wanted to go to a happy place so she did. Needed a little help getting there, maybe, but it’s what she wanted. What she deserved. Rest, finally.

Another step. I feel nothing but awake.

Mommy wanted to sleep. To dream. I never did. There were only nightmares when I shut my eyes. Screams swallowed by slurred shouts, breaking sounds till silence. Peaceful pain but pain nonetheless. Searing, red-hot pain.

There were no dreams. None. No happy places–till I made one.

Last step.

I close the distance between where I stand and where Daddy leans. He’s got one meaty hand jiggling the tub’s faucet back and forth, the other reaching down for the drain, water up to his shoulder.

“One thing, goddamn it.” He grumbles. “Asked ya not to do one goddamn thing. An’, how difficul’ was it?” A hard yank of the faucet’s knob. A slurred curse. “Back to the fosters’ with ya! Hell, the crazy house!” He shakes his head. “Whad di’ I e’er do to deserve this….?”

I widen my stance, place a steady foot on either side of Daddy’s bent legs. Flex my fists. Brush glass shards off the one.

Another none-too-gentle yank rips the shiny knob off its shinier faucet head. It hits porcelain with a sharp, poignant clank. Daddy begins to turn my way.

“Hope you’re happy–” I will be.

The rest of Daddy’s speech becomes garbled, half-sputtering half-ineffable disbelief. He’s not used to receiving this kind of help. Giving it but not getting it. But, I want to do for him like Mommy tried to do for me. Like I did for her. Daddy’s given so much, he deserves this.

A shiver runs down my spine. Blood scorches beneath my simmering skin.

Thrashing is easily calmed with a few swift meetings of bone and porcelain. There goes the finish. Nothing was ever said ’bout anyone else going gaga in the tub.

Mommy didn’t struggle. Breathed like the mermaid she wanted me to be.

“Don’t ya want to be happy, Daddy?” I push down until porcelain keeps me from going further. Thrashing lulls into twitching. “Don’t ya think ya deserve to be?”

Slowly, twitching ceases, fades into stillness entirely. My hold doesn’t loosen till the bubbles stop rising, though. Guess he did think so. No matter, he stopped fighting it.

I rise and back away from Daddy. When my hip finds the pointy edge of the sink again, I realize how sore I am and, also, that the water has stopped flowing. There’s only painful silence. Reddened eyes glance at Daddy in the happy place. Peaceful pain.

My blood cools.

I face what’s left of the mirror and stare at my reflection. For the first time, I don’t see my double. I see what Daddy saw–Mommy.

“Happy?” I ask.

She nods, flashing me a smile.

I return it.

“Me too.”

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Hope you enjoyed~

***You can find more of my delightfully disturbing stories under the Killing It tag ^.^***

Tweet that Inspired this Story

 

 

 

 

 

Learning to Listen aka “How can the Bar be this Low and You’re Still Tripping Over It?”

Hearing, I believe, is one of the senses most taken for granted. Listening, subsequently, a skill most under-developed. Relegated to a secondary concern. An afterthought. Oh, I should’ve listened…. It’s an unfortunate development in and of itself but what it seems a symptom of is perhaps even more troubling/upsetting.

We don’t listen to each other because we don’t care about each other.

We have been and are being conditioned not to care about each other. Not to believe that everyone’s voice is important. That everyone’s story is worth listening to. Worth appreciating.

Listening in this age is an under-developed skill by design. The structures and powers that be benefit from our disengagement with the world and with each other. They secure their power and retain their privileges through our apathy.

Because of this, those of us who make an effort to listen and respond to what we hear become dangerous. Liabilities. Targets to discredit and criminalize at all costs.

Because listening is not just listening. It is turning sounds into story, transforming tones into the tangible. Into a foundation. For what? Empathy–ancient but awesome magic.

In this video, Radiolab co-host Jad Abumrad discusses the affordances of working in an audible medium. Chiefly, he talks about listening as being a tool for co-engagement and co-authorship–imagining story together. Which, he believes, paves the way for empathy. Or, at the very least, leaves a place for it. To grow. To be built. To live.

And, what a beautiful and optimistic idea this is–that through dreaming together we can create a better world. We can care better for each other. We can care at all. (It makes my heart want to pull a Grinch….)

It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Which is exactly the response the powers that be want us to have. Jaded and disillusioned (applicable terms to describe most of my–bad— high school poetry coincidentally enough…)

Anyway, tangential rant over. For now.

Let’s talk about some podcasts! Well, one podcast. The Truth one I eeny-meeny-moed. You’re Not Alone. It was an experience.

Full disclosure, once upon a time, I used to listen to Welcome to Nightvale. A very popular podcast another member of our Alchemist Network–Masooch–talks about at length in this post. Check it. There are lots of links for you to explore.

So, that’s my only reference point for podcasts. A little bizarre but usually very plot-driven. Lots of ear candy–musical interludes, ample sound effects. I mean, in an audible space, everything becomes a sound effect, even silence. It’s strategic.

I found all of these preconceptions to be useful or to hold true while listening to You’re Not Alone.

In this podcast, listeners are introduced to a character to named Jared, an Afghanistan war vet suffering from PTSD. His condition seems to manifest in a cacophony of disembodied voices that follow him around, mocking and taunting him, trying to provoke him to do bad things or think bad thoughts. This portrayal kind of reminded me of what paranoid schizophrenics report experiencing. In fact, people suffering from both schizophrenia and depression are advised to maybe skip this podcast. And, I think the warning was well-warranted and very responsible of the creators.

At times, it could be incredibly overwhelming to listen. The voices kept coming, one after the other, steady whispers that turned into a deafening drone. Jared’s own voice was sometimes muffled by these voices–while the character he is interacting with sound perfectly clear to listeners. I thought that was very clever and it effectively communicated how Jared hears himself–as almost muted in the maelstrom. Every word a fight.All of this noise, too, contrasted well with the quieter, calmer moments. It instilled more meaning in them, to hear how much must be silenced in order for a scrap of calm.

The voices never really go away though. We see this at the end, when Jared is performing for his friends. The voices harmonize with him. Perhaps, they are more pacified? But, their repetition of the titular phrase still seems wholly taunting. Maybe that’s my jaded-ness speaking, though. The end of this podcast just seemed bittersweet to me.

Overall, I did feel that this podcast illustrated what Mr. Abumrad was talking about very well. Through audible means, a sense of empathy and compassion was created here. I felt for Jared. Wanted him to have a better ending. A more satisfying answer to his problems. It bothered me that I felt he didn’t get what he deserves–and, see, that’s evidence I care about him, that he has value to me. In order for someone to deserve better, they must first deserve something at all to you. Quite the concept, apparently. That latter thing.

 

I guess I digress.

 

Extra

***Kind of unrelated and a lot disturbing–great way to start a sentence–but the podcast reminded me of this story I read online a while ago. It’s one of the few that’s unsettled me and I still can’t actually click on the image attached to the story. I like to think I’m pretty unflappable but this is just one that really, well, disturbed me. It’s not audible or anything but I think its theme runs in the same vein as the podcast. Hope you enjoy ^.^***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shadow Girl Reflects II: Stories as Constellations

I think one of the most exciting–but terrifying–aspects of networked narratives is the inability to “pin them down.” They are constantly shifting creatures unto themselves. Stars in the night sky, telling a different tale with every step taken. From one view, this idea twinkles. But, from another, it doesn’t even register. The scope is ambiguous, subjective. Perhaps unreal. We try to make charts and maps but new information is always coming in. Things that once shined, dim. And, things that didn’t exist, do. How is anyone supposed to account for that other than to create an account of the changes?

These thoughts about how stories inhabit digital spaces and take shape followed me through my journeys this week. More, thoughts about how digital mediums can influence a story’s unfolding itself kept me company. What affordances digital platforms can provide imagination and creativity–even engage it. What is possible in a networked narrative and why are these possibilities meaningful? Like, is there a larger application?

Re-imagining & Imagined Travel

Well, this week was a trip.

First, a stroll down memory lane. Re-imagining the cover art for a book from a series I really like and appreciate. You can check out the specifics here. My dabblings with Photoshop also brought back old times–from high school, where I learned how to use the program. Not going to lie, my work reveals my rustiness. But, I found the concept surrounding the work to be an enlightening exercise in thinking about the ways images convey stories in and of themselves. How, tweaking them ever so slightly can alter perception. How images are multi-faceted–given power through our perceptions of them.

From reading Elit and make my own work of Elit last semester, I know the power of a subtly or not-so-subtly placed image in a work. In some cases, it’s an “Easter Egg”, so to speak, for those who catch it. In others, it expands or extends the level of meaningful interaction with a work. Digital storytelling, in this respect, I think returns to the days of picture-books. It returns our appreciation for them as well as reinvents it.

While working on my second exercise this week, a postcard from a magickal place, I especially felt a sense of wonderment in creating with images. Perhaps that is in part because of the magickal realm I “traveled” to–look see for yourself (maybe take your chess skills out of their cerebral storage case). But, there was this sense that I was extending myself in my work–kind of allowing my readers to literally “see” inside my head. Inside my world. How I imagine. It’s something I always try to do in my more traditional storytelling ventures–something I think all of us try to do–but short of turning our work into a picture-book (with all the childlike connotations that go along with that) it’s not the always feasible or realize-able. Words can only do so much on their own. We are each unto our own imaginations.

Overall, I found myself thinking about story construction whilst working on these projects. What elements are necessary to tell a “full” story and which ones are superfluous? How many words vs. how many images. What conditions do I want to plop readers into? What associations do I want to play with? How compelling can I make this?

I felt very imaginative and I think my work reflects that, perhaps, more than anything else. Imagination is my favourite form of magic and drawing other people into it as much as I can is my favourite spell to cast.

Fold that Story

So, impromptu trips. Let’s spend a moment on those.

For those who don’t know or didn’t/couldn’t participate, Kevin (@dogtrax) started an open, networked narrative on Twitter this week using a program called Fold that Story (?) If I’m not mistaken about that last part. Anyway, participants were all given this opportunity to write blindly, as it were. Meaning this story was written in bits and pieces, of which, participants only saw a singular piece before their own bit. So, we didn’t access to the whole history of the narrative. We got 250 characters max at a time and had to come of with 250 characters of own to keep the story going. To be honest, I’m surprised this story we created wasn’t more incoherent. Check it out.

Telephone 2.0 comes to mind–that game where you try to pass along one message from person to person without it being too warped. Except, here, it’s a community of people trying to tell a story through interacting with each other, passing the message along to create.

It was a very enchanting experience and really captured the essence of the “unexpected” that I am personally really enjoying the more and more I’m able to experience it. Both times I contributed, I felt genuine surprise. In traditional literature, with all of the plot development that goes in, genuine surprise can be hard to come by–especially for more seasoned readers, if you will. So, I appreciate the small enjoyment of surprise when I can come by it.

Creative Enterprise

In the wake of all of this story experimentation, I have decided to create a tag on my blog for bot prompts and the like–work inspired by what some consider to be random nonsense. Honestly, I love the free-associative-ness of Twitterbots. I find the creativity they provoke to be fascinating and facilitating.

I have long term work I’m cultivating inspired by this tweet. It’s about necromancy and reapers and the living dead. If that interests you and you like reading indie stories, you may enjoy this series. Part I, Part II (will update as I create)

As for the more general, stand-alone prompts. I’ve got 1 so far that I submitted for a dda this week. But, I’ve got a lot of prompts lined up that I will hopefully get to this weekend ^.^ @helterskelliter on twitter if you come across any interesting or bizarre/disturbing prompts.

In the meantime, if you want to read a short and sweet story about serial/ritual murder and implied cannibalism, this story may be for you.

Until today, I was having trouble placing this independent work in the greater scheme of my learning as it pertains to this course. But, during my first Studio Visit, something kind of clicked. So, let’s talk about that now.

Technical Difficulties Notwithstanding

(Anyone else scrolling through AO3 before this discussion or was that just me?)

So, I couldn’t figure out how to get my stupid mic to work for this Studio Visit (soundcloud). Which was a bummer. But, it didn’t end up taking anything away from my communication and my ability to interact with Elizabeth Minke and Flourish Klink (especially Flourish which was so cool ^.^ to like interact with a active creator in this field~~excuse the fangirling but, it’s kind of appropriate *nudge, nudge*). Anyway, one of the major things I took away from the discussion we had was this idea that writing fanfic and engaging with it can pave the way for larger accomplishments. Small acts of creativity can build upon each other or can inspire larger acts. In essence, you need these smaller acts in order for the larger ones to take shape.

In this way, my short stories are facilitators of greater creative thought. They exercise my imagination. Feed it. Nourish it. Nurture it. And, more creativity is never a bad thing when it comes to thinking about digital spaces and networked narratives.

Of course, this discussion on fanfiction and fan culture was infinitely fascinating and I still haven’t really wrapped my thoughts around all of its great points. Honestly, I don’t think I can. But, some other stand-out concepts for me were “tags” and “the illusion of representation.”

Being a fairly avid reader of fanfic, I’m pretty familiar with the functions of tags in the community. They help organize, mainly, and they help moderate–so people don’t have to read things that trigger them in some way or things that they just don’t enjoy or appreciate in a narrative. Having someone ask me in the chat about how tags censure was kind of shocking to me because of my own understandings. Tagging is voluntary–not strictly imposed. Creators, of their own volition, tag their work. And, the intent is to make the fandom space a safe environment. It is not to censure. I mean, in the fandoms I’m a part of, at least, I’ve never seen it used in a nefarious, agenda-forwarding way. Tags are a moderating force not a censuring one.

As for the illusion of representation, I definitely know it exists but, as a young white woman, I don’t think my personal context lends itself to me fully realizing how much of an issue this is. In one sense, I think that there is a lot to appreciate about the representation in fan communities. As an ace individual, I get to read stories with asexual characters I otherwise would not be able to. Mainstream media doesn’t really have a place for that or for other LGBTQA+ people (I’m aware that the respresenting ace/aro people instead of allies is a contentious issue–moving on). So, I think, in some ways, fanfic and fandom are progressive and inclusive. But, I also think they can be exclusionary in other ways, specifically when it comes to race or ethnicity. There is certainly a shortage of POC representation in these spaces. And, even going back to LGBTQA+ representation, it’s only recently that healthier depictions of same-sex couples exist. Probably because the writers using these spaces are becoming more diverse themselves.

Anyway, there is just so much to unpack from this conversation. I can’t possibly do it all in one post. In class, maybe we can get more into how fandom fosters communal creativity that can be applied to this overarching idea of the civic imagination. What is appreciated in fandom that could be more appreciated outside of it?

Last Thoughts

I don’t think I have any answers to the questions I first posed about networked narratives and their designs. As close as I can tell, digital stories are constellations–they can be pieced together from various points and these points can sometimes exist vast distances from each other. Some can be bright while others are subtle. Some may take a while to appear while others have more immediacy attached to them.

And, mapping them out is a whole other story.

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Art Update

When enameling–adding colour to a metal surface via heat–you have to protect the side you are not adding colour to with a material called scalex. It prevents the intense heat of the kiln–that is for melting the glass particles that make enamel–from discoloring or possibly burning the metal. When you take your piece out of the kiln, the scalex, which dries to a solid substance before being put in the kiln, becomes a flimsy, paper-like layer that falls right off–revealing unharmed metal beneath. These paper remnants, I think, kind of embody that idea I mentioned earlier–doing small things for a larger creative act to shine.

1500 degrees does a number

I just wanted to share this mini-epiphany with you all.

Catch you on the flip-side!