Father’s Day

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of Father’s Day this year. I mean, Mother’s Day was… The writer in me wants to say “quite traumatic” but that’s a bit misleading. It was more revelatory, I guess. I’m still working through what some of it means. So, like I said, not really sure what to expect out of this day.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t bother me near as much. Seriously. Mother’s Day, especially this year, really rubbed something the wrong way. It’s been a weird holiday for me for most of what I can remember, what with my mom passing when I was 8. Teachers would have little projects for us to do for various holidays, so I learned to substitute people in for “mother”. Like, my father, my aunt, or my grandma. Best intentions and all, I’m sure, but a bit weird for me. A few years ago, I remember really starting to see people talking about others who may have a hard time on Mother’s Day. People without mothers, with absent mothers, who wish they could be mothers, etc. And I thought that was pretty nice. But I dunno, this year I was just overcome with all this frustration at basically anybody who dared mention the holiday.

My mom died. That was something completely out of my control. My father, on the other hand, I willingly don’t talk to him. I haven’t spoken to him in almost 6 years.

So this year, what with the insanity that this past year has been, I figured I might have some different emotions this year. Guilt, regret, longing. Heck, maybe even frustration and jealousy of other people’s happiness.

What do I have?

Desire to tell the people that were more father-figures to me than mine ever was just how important they were to me.

Enjoyment at other people’s cute pictures on phaseborg.

Exactly zero feelings one way or the other about my own father.

“The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.”

The bonds we make by choice are stronger than that which we are born with.

Free will at it’s best.

Happy day.

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Writers confessions, Part 2

I’m on a roll, and I want to keep going, but I figure I should really break these up instead of having 1 ginormous post…

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MC Chronicles — I will make these about my current WIP, which is still unnamed. It’ll come to me eventually. I’d rather get the content down than worry over a title.

11) MCs name? My MC is named Charyl (no last name yet, if ever…) No real deeper meaning. I somehow came up with it for my Skyrim character, and I like it. (It’s better than my MMO chars, which are usually Tamishu/Tamichu.)

12) New protag? Probably her best friend, Halyna.

13) Gender swap MC? Well. It would be a bit weirder for me, as that would make it my first gay character. Because yes, a secondary plot line in this story is Charyl’s relationship with her mentor, and yes, it is a very confusing relationship on both sides. I’m still trying to decide how much of what should be part of it.

14) MC favorite character? I mean… I don’t hate her. She’s cool. But I think her mentor is probably my favorite.

15) Who sees MC as the villain? Probably the REAL villain of the story! Which is a bad box to put the poor guy in, but honestly, he’s just a good excuse for (1) Charyl to discover nepotism and corruption, (2) have a traumatic incident to push her closer to her mentor, and (3) be the bad guy for how Halyna sees Charyl’s problems.

16) What makes MC worth reading about? She’s smart, and not afraid to flaunt it. But she’s also not afraid to admit when she doesn’t know something (at least academically speaking). But for all her intellectual abilities, her personal life is a bit of a wreck, and she’s trying to stumble through it the best that she can, and I think that makes her relatable.

17) Death of most important person to MC? I think it’s a toss up at this point whether or not she would go on the warpath or just shut down completely. I mean, it’s definitely the proverbial straw, it’s just, which way does the camel’s back break? And where it’s undecided now, I have planned out for her to make some pretty tough decisions, so I’m leaning more towards down the warpath.

Writers confessions, Part 1

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I found this fun thing on Twitter. I think you’re supposed to answer each question in a single tweet, and just tweetstorm the whole frakkin’ thing, but… that’s a lot of effort. So, as a fan of list-posts all the way back to my Xanga / MySpace days, I’ll answer these here…! Or, at least the first half. These are getting a bit lengthy…

  1. How old? I mean… I remember writing short stories when I was 6? 7? And by short I mean, like, a handful of sentences. Kid stories, yaknow? So, pretty much the literal definition of “as long as I can remember.” But I didn’t really take writing seriously until sometime in high school, maybe 14 or 15. And even then it was off and on, and I’m just in an “on again” phase.
  2. First story? I’m pretty sure it was either a ghost story or a princess story. I also remember writing some crazy thing about a cat eating the solar system for school… My first “real” story though was probably a lame MS&T knock-off. Sorry, Tad! :S
  3. First motivation? Hmm, this is a tough one. What I feel now, and what I’ve felt for a number of years, is that sometimes I’ll just get ideas stuck in my head, and they’ll turn and tumble around and grow and shape themselves, until finally there is too much of them to stay neat & compact (relatively speaking) inside my head, and I have to set them down on paper (or .. word processor.) It’s only recently that I’ve really stopped to reflect on my normally analytical mind (I work in accounting, I majored in physics, you see where this is going) finding just desire and joy in doing creative things like writing.
  4. If I had to stop writing? Bleh! Probably die or explode. No, really, I would probably have a mental explosion. There is something incredibly therapeutic about writing. I mean, I recently started keeping a journal again, and that has been incredibly helpful. I think it’s the logical part of my mind asserting itself. If I’m just thinking about things, my ideas stay rather loft and unformed. But by writing them down, I’m forcing them into a structure and to have cohesion.
  5. Most active WIPs? Uh. Like… 1. Maybe 2. I’ve found I’m not particularly good about hopping between WIPs.
  6. New genre! Can I go for the generic “literature”? I guess I’ve never written a pure horror work before, I could try that.
  7. Weirdest search? Definitely looking up information about how lethal injections are performed. What’s the general procedure. What types of drugs are used. About how long the whole thing takes. The whole story was pretty much flashbacks. A snippet in the present, when the execution is occurring, and the significant other reflecting on “how did we get here?”
  8. Backups??? I mean, technically all my work is on an external HD, so if my main computer fails, that’s still safe. But yes, I do have a backup of that as of a few months ago. Which reminds me, I should really do that again…
  9. Missed anything b/c of writing? No, not terribly. I am frequently back from lunch 5-10 minutes late because I’ll be in the middle of writing out an idea, and not want to stop / lose it.
  10. Weird place to write? Well… I did some character-building while I was on a conference call a month or so ago. ūüėÄ But I pretty much write either sitting on my couch, or at the table in the sunroom… Oh, or at one of the picnic tables at work. Pretty much nature is my preferred surrounding.

New music experiences

(I was debating on making this a FB post or a blog post, and had ultimately decided on an abbreviated FB post. Buuuuuut then FB ate my post. So, here I am.)..

Recently, I’ve been listening to some new music. Well, new to me. I’ve been a rock/metal fan for years, though the last few years have seen me shift towards exploring electronic music, like electronic rock, dubstep, DnB, synthwave, ambient synth, etc. But while all of the above is still interesting and I do enjoy it, it hasn’t been catching my ear as much as it used to. What has been? To give the short answer: folk music.

It all started, oh about a year or so ago now. And it’s a relatively meandering path, so bear with me.

I’d say what really set me down this rabbit hole was discovering the band Kaleo. My coworker sent me a link to their official music video for their song Way Down We Go¬†(in a volcano!) And, just, love. It took only a few short minutes, but I decided this was an AWESOME band. I listened to their album A/B repeatedly. My favorite song, hands down, is¬†Vor √≠ Vaglask√≥gi¬†even though I can’t understand a damn word of it.

Somewhere around this time, I also discovered Hozier, specifically the songs¬†Take Me To Church¬†and a bit later¬†Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene. Previously, I’d also fallen in love with The Glorious Sons’s song¬†Sometimes on a Sunday, so I was just starting to touch on folksy / bluesy side of indie rock, and discovering there was some really cool music!

In the autumn, I had discovered Bon Iver, and this led me to investigating some Celtic folk music. I started with some Gaelic Storm (you know, the guys who did the music that Jack & Rose dance to in the movie¬†Titanic.) I ultimately discovered Scottish tribal music, which lead to listening to a LOT of Albannach. I really enjoy the instrumentals, the pipe and drum. There’s something primal about it. Seriously, I dare you to listen to listen to¬†Unleash the Albannach¬†and tell me it doesn’t get the blood flowing.

Then, in the winter, I finally heard Mumford & Sons. I mean, REALLY heard them. I knew the band name, and had pointedly avoided them for rather silly reasons, but I heard their song Babel on the radio on a drive in to work and knew I had to hear more. The entire album is great, I have a post on here somewhere about it.

So I finally had to admit to myself that there really was something to folk music, and that I should explore it a bit more. One problem: That covers a ridiculously huge amount of music. Much like rock has about a gazillion genres that fall under it, folk has all kinds of different sounds to experience.

Within the past few months, I discovered there’s this… thing… called southern gothic. I guess you could call it a style. Not specifically related to music, Wikipedia gives us this definition: “Southern Gothic particularly focuses on the South’s history of slavery, a “fixation with the grotesque, and a tension between realistic and supernatural elements”. Similar to the elements of the Gothic castle, Southern Gothic gives us the decay of the plantation in the post-Civil War South.” But specifically on music, Wikipedia says, “Southern Gothic (also known as Gothic Americana, or Dark Country) is a genre of music characterized by a fusion of alternative rock and classic country/folk.” [An interesting aside, I colorize this style with lots of earth tones and blacks, which is subconsciously how my dress has been tending.]

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Spotify listening to various southern gothic playlists. And I am in love with so much of it. Some of the artists are: Kaleo, Hozier, The Builders & the Butchers, Nina Simone, Johnny Cash, July Talk, Leonard Cohen, and Blues Saraceno.

Being the nerd that I am, I’ve spent some time trying to put specific names to the music that I like, but like always, I’m finding it a bit difficult. And, like always, there are things in one “box” that I like but things that I don’t like in the same box.

I’ve had this same struggle so many times in the past five or so years, when I’ve really tried to expand my musical knowledge and listening. It started in earnest a couple years ago when I first discovered the German group Seeed. When I found they were technically a reggae group, despite¬†Augenbling¬†(the first song I heard by them) not being remotely close to what I would consider reggae, I realized I had to throw my pre-assumptions out the window. I did some research on reggae, and found that it, like my more familiar metal genre, is riddled with subgenres and styles, and songs that cross over between them. Fun fact, ska punk came from a blending of ska (part of where reggae originated) and punk rock. Reggae styles including dancehall, dub, hip hop, and it’s own drum and bass, and has origins in jazz, mento, ska, rocksteady, R&B, and soul.

So recently, I in turn performed this same research on folk music. Folk music, at it’s base, is simply traditional music that is passed down orally, played on readily available acoustic instruments. An easy couple of examples of this are songs like¬†When Johnny Comes Marching Home or the Irish¬†Lannigan’s Ball. It’s hard to pin point who the original composers were, often because the same melody has multiple lyrics written for it, and because they have existed for decades in some form. I guess the proper term for what we listen to now is folk revival, but to me that seems like splitting hairs. But what we really have now are styles like bluegrass, Americana, southern gothic, Appalachian, Western, country, and Cajun.

After all this research a new, shiny knowledge, where does this leave me? Can I finally put a name on what I like?

Sorry to disappoint you, but the answer is a resounding “no.”

The plain and simple truth is that I like what I like. Doesn’t matter if it fits into box A, B, or C, or says fuck the boxes and has hints of all three. I will forever have an eclectic taste in music, and simply listen to whatever fits my mood, to hell with labels.

But this brings me back to a recurring question: Why do people continue to limit themselves to only the old, familiar stuff and are hesitant to give anything different a chance? Why write off an entire catalog of music, including dozens if not hundreds of artists, because you had one or a few bad experiences? And this isn’t even considering all the stuff that toes the line, pushes boundaries, and experiments with unfamiliar mixing of sounds.

Sure, you’re always going to have your fallbacks and favorites, we all do. But I find that I enjoy new discoveries, and don’t understand when other people don’t seem to.