Prompt Writing #2: Not My Parents

Writing Prompt #2: Every baby is taken away by the government and returned when they are ten years old. They never remember what happened in those years, but they always recognize their parents. You, however, remember everything and those aren’t your parents.

Author’s note: I have never written in first person before and, at the end, never in present tense. It is surprisingly difficult…

Not My Parents

They woke me up more slowly than usual. I thought that was weird, but my body hurt. It took me a few minutes to figure out why my body hurt, because they day before was still very fuzzy. The man in the gray clothes, with his white face mask already in place, approached me with his syringe.

Every single morning, they used the syringe. I cannot remember a time when the day did not start this way. The light in my room would come on and the temperature would change. If I did not get out of bed and stand up pretty quickly after that, then the lights flashed. That was the only warning I would get.

Someone would come in. I never knew who it was, because they were always wearing the same type of clothes and the same sort of mask. I stopped wondering why the jumpsuit was gray and the mask was white a long time ago. It did not really matter, because what came next was always the same. The syringe calmly inserted into the line attached to my arm. That had always been there, too.

Once, when I was much younger and feeling very angry for some reason, I decided I would not let them give me the shot. I demanded to know what was in the syringe and why they did this to me every day. The lights flashed. I knew that was the single alert before they would start using meaner ways to make me obey.

I had felt the pain that followed the flash. It scared me a lot, but I was determined that day. The blinding flash, electric arcs of pain seared through my entire body. Before I could recover, the doctor type person was inserting the syringe into my intake line. Fresh, hot tears rolled down my face. I cried for more reasons than just the pain.

Today, however, the shot felt different; there was a stinging feeling in my arm. The man in the gray clothes, what I thought of as a doctor, inserted the syringe, depressed the plunger, removed the syringe, and then – he started to removed the line into my arm. I felt so confused. Why would they remove something they used every single day?

With a bandage in place, the doctor gave me the folder for the day. This was normal again, which made me feel a little better. That feeling disappeared very fast after I opened it though. Usually, there were worksheets, information packets, and instructions on what I would be doing that day. After all, the doctors never spoke. Rather than sending me to one of the instructor’s rooms to start my learning cycle for the day, there was just a few photographs and one of the flash dossiers.

My eyes took in the flash page and I looked to see if there were more. Once the flash takes place, it takes a few seconds for my brain to catch up with the information. It didn’t make sense, so I tried to flash it again. This time, the flash failed. That had never happened to me before. I felt a little flutter of panic, but I tried to hide it so the doctor would not see.

“State your name, please,” the doctor asked me in a bored voice.

Despite my shock, my mouth opened and a pair of words fell out. It was not the label I had been using, so I did not understand why that was what I said. Again, that feeling of panic. Again, I squashed the feeling to hide it from the doctor. I did not have any idea what they would do to me if they found out I was not functioning correctly.

“State your father’s name, please.”

Another pair of words and more confusion. Parents? Was I leaving the Home? Why were they sending me away from Home when I had lived here my entire life? I guessed that was why they removed the line in my arm. This repeated with another pair of words for a woman’s name. Was the doctor saying this was my mother?

The doctor turned to leave. “Follow me,” he said.

Obviously, I complied, but my head hurt. He took me down the hall and out to a room where several other children were gathered. I knew some of them, but I did not know some of the others. I looked around at them, but their eyes seemed to be glossy. The emptiness scared me. Was that what I was supposed to look like?

There were grown ups in uniforms directing other grown ups around. The children were just milling about in a group to one side. Such clumps were strange. Usually, the doctors required we stand in our lines when we were in bigger rooms. Unless – and my heart fluttered again – unless we were being tested…? No, that did not make any sense.

The doctor sent me to the wall, where a group of eight kids had gathered. At first, they merely glanced nervously at me when I approached, but I was quickly welcomed. I was recognized by one of the boys there. He nodded to me and introduced himself.

“I am Bobby,” he held out his hand to me.

The frown on my face felt strange, but his reaction was also strange. Why did he want me to take his hand? It took me a second to remember the “handshake” ritual and repeat it for him. Still, I felt wary of this boy now. He had a name instead of a label like mine.

“Francis,” I said, repeating the name the doctor had put in my mouth earlier. It was a challenge to not use my normal label, nine-eight-three-tango. I recognized this boy; he was six-three-six-alef from an economic simulation the previous year. He had been a girl using an orange knife. He quickly introduced me to the others, each with names like him. I hid my trembling as best as I could.

For some reason, I think I expected there to be a conversation about what was happening. We were not usually allowed to do this. Nothing that was going on made any sense to me. Instead, these children looked like they were sleep walking, maybe? None of this was helping me feel better.

“Do you know what is going on – Bobby?” I tried.

He looked at me in a slow kind of way. It was possible to see there was something going on in his mind, but there was something stopping him. Six-three-six-alef was still inside Bobby. Despite that, however, Bobby extended his hand.

“I am Bobby,” he repeated blankly. I shook his hand lamely.

His eyes shifted and I turned around automatically. A grown up was approaching our group. She was not wearing the gray clothes of a doctor nor the uniform of the others. All these changes were making me dizzy. When the woman spoke, it was with the authority of someone used to having their instructions followed.

“Diane, Edith, Francis, and George,” she listed off the names, “come with me.”

I felt the panic shoot through me. The other three shuffled toward the woman, but I stepped forward as I had been taught throughout my short life. I realized just a bit too late that this was the wrong thing to do. The woman looked me up and down with an odd expression on her face. Forcing my body to relax, the combined effect of relaxing my spine and my trembling made me lurch forward slightly.

The woman made a thoughtful sound and my heart pounded. Finally, she muttered to herself, “Might have to adjust the final dosages,” and made a brief note on the clipboard she carried under one arm.

We were taken across the hangar. It took me a few seconds to realize that it was a hangar, but there was a large door open to one side. I had not noticed it when it was closed. I expected to see the normal black corridor leading to wherever it led. Instead, there was blue and white.

Sky. Clouds.

Everything that I, nine-eight-three-tango, everything Francis, had learned about clouds could be summed up in a few paragraphs. The images did not do the reality justice, though. Was this what was happening? Were those real clouds in a real sky?

I had to tear my eyes away, because I did not want to look weird to the woman again. I still did not know if we were in trouble or not. She had taken us alphabetically, which made me feel a little better, but this was all still too confusing. There were other groups like ours dotting the hangar in knots of four children and a grown up leading them. This made me a little better, because it meant we were not the only ones. Still, I did not know what they were doing to us. There must have been over a hundred children here.

Finally, the woman stopped in front of a transport. It was the same type of gray, boxy vehicle used to move people and crates around at any other time. I had never seen one go into sky before. Things had always been loaded up and then driven down whatever corridor to wherever we were supposed to be, but this was going to be very different. Was there sky on the floor, too? No, memory reminded me, sky was only up above things; on the floor, it was called ground or earth.

We were loaded in with the other children still stumbling along in silence. The seats at the front were already taken by the driver and their co-driver. We took our places in the back, along the benches. The door slammed closed with the usual lack of ceremony. This time, though, it feel like the closing of any chance I had to escape back Home. This was the end. Despite my panic, I was starting to feel curious, too.

It was very strange to have so few of us in a space made to hold, at least, four times as many. I did not test my theory, but I was certain the echo would be just as strange in the cavernous feeling space. As the transport began to move, I regretted the fact there were no windows for me to look out and see what sky and ground would look like up close. My companions, none of which I knew the labels for, were disinterested; Diane, Edith, and George, I remembered belatedly.

Light from the front of the vehicle streaked through the passenger cabin, creating a strobe effect. I could feel the motion against gravity, the acceleration, and lurch of the transport engine as it fought to obey the demands of the driver. It was difficult to discern where we were heading. Obviously, I had no idea where we were, so it would be impossible to guess beyond that.

It was not until the vehicle stopped that I realized I had been thinking about entirely other things. That was a bad habit of mine, since I tended to do that a lot when going from one task to another. This time, I was remembering a geography lesson from a couple years before. Having snapped out of it, though, I could not recall the lesson I had been thinking of.

I looked up as the door slid open and immediately forced my head down again. Would these people look at me like the woman had, questioning whether the new medicine had worked? They called out one of the others, Edith, and she shuffled out of the transport. As the door closed again, I stole a quick glance out to see the sky. All I could really understand was that it was bright.

The transport vehicle started moving again. I realized that I had no idea what was happening to the Edith that was left out there. Did they give her to some parents? Was she always going to be asleep while she is awake like that? If that was what they were expecting from me, then would they realize I was not asleep like the others?

The co-driver came back and removed the George next. He disappeared from the vehicle with the same lack of concern that the Edith had. As we started up again, the panic that I might be next warred inside me against the curiosity to see the sky. This was terrifying, but I wanted to know what it was like. Would the parents they were giving me to be nice? Would they be like the doctors or the instructors?

Suddenly, the door opened again. They called for Francis. After a moment, I remembered that was supposed to be my name. I stood up and staggered forward like the Edith and George had done. My heart was pounding, because I could feel the cooler air rushing over me. It was a challenge to keep myself from looking around at the new things. The immediate sense of open space around me was intense and overwhelming. My head spun and I did not have to pretend I was feeling sluggish or confused anymore.

The firm grip on my arm was too normal for this weird world around me. Maybe it was just another type of simulation? That was a comforting thought. I could only seem to keep the floor in front of me, the ground, in view; it was paved, in sections, flat… The person next to me propelled me forward step after step. I felt the next few minutes as a blur more than really being able to hear or understand anything at the time.

In the space of a few moments, I was standing alone in the middle of a residential space. There were decorations of every color trimming the portals and ceiling corners. Round, oblong, brightly colored orbs hung in clumps like waxy fruit in various places. Some of the portals were bright, like the sky had been, and others were more normal. As I started to take in my surroundings more, I realized that I was not alone. There were two grown ups standing to one side.

A man and a woman; something in my brain immediately connected the names from before to these people here. Were these the parents they gave me to right here? They were smiling at me; smiling was strange to my eyes, but also so normal…? What had they put into my head that made both of these things happen in my mind like this?

“Happy birthday, Francis!” the woman said, stepping forward with her arms spread. “Welcome home!”

I stepped back instinctively. I could not think of a time when an adult had tried to grab me like this, but, almost immediately, other images came to mind to counter that. She was trying to hug me. Unfortunately, my initial reaction had put a sad expression on her face. The woman stopped, her arms dropping to her sides.

“What is wrong, son?” The man stepped forward to peek around his wife. “Are you feeling alright?”

I am speechless, right now. I do not know what to say to these people. They tried to explain to me, with pained and suspicious faces, that I am their son, named Francis. What can I possibly say that will not put me in more trouble than I am already going to have? The mother is motioning for me to sit down on their couch. The cushions plush and soft; I comply, because I am afraid to do anything else. The father has disappeared into the other room.

The bright portal in the wall, I realize, is a window. Outside is sky; sunshine must be what makes things so bright out there. I can hear the father speaking to someone in the other room. Next to me, the mother is speaking softly about something, but it is what the father is saying that actually catches my attention.

“I do not know, but he does not even recognize us! It has made my wife very upset.”

Silence. I guess he is talking to someone over a comm line. My eyes are still drinking in the sky and trying to absorb every detail. I have seen mineral deposits, ore veins, crystals structures, fungal and mold colonies, and more, but nothing quite like the strange undulations of the milky, bulbous structures of the clouds outside.

“Okay, we will keep him safe until you get here. Thank you.”

The mother next to me begins to cry quietly. “Why? You are our son! How can you not know who we are? Why are you not talking to us? Why?”

As the father returns, my heart sinks. He starts to talk over me as if I do not exist while he explains to the mother what he just learned on the comm line. “They are coming back, love. They will fix him and bring our son back to us. Just leave him here.”

The mother stands, practically launching herself into his arms, and bursts into tears. I feel terrible, because whatever is wrong with me is making her sad. The father looks blankly at me. I do not belong here and it is obvious in his face.

A knock at the door turns all three heads… They have returned for me.

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I Totally Am My Parents

There are a lot of times when I shake my head, at myself, and muse over how much I am just like my parents.  Initially, that sounds a bit ominous, because a lot of us say we do not want to turn out like our parents.  It is almost like a rite of passage to feel this way, at least, in the United States.  For myself, I have some mixed feelings on whether I would want to be more or less like my parents.

My father is a successful businessman and a relatively kind man.  He is quiet, almost to the point of stony silence, and a bit of a jerk.  My dear dad might even be an asshole, particularly if you get him irritated.  He is mostly Italian, from the region north of Rome, but I do not know if that really matters.  What I remember most about my father, throughout all of my life, is that he was asleep or working.  As a person, he sacrificed essentially everything to ensure that he would have enough to provide for us, his family, for the foreseeable future.

My mother, in contrast, is a vivacious, bubbly woman, despite her years now.  She was the epitome of an emotional creature during my childhood, though that was not entirely her fault.  Most of what I remember is her pushing herself to her limits dealing with her feelings about my father, about my legally-challenged, older brother, and how she felt about me.  My mother is mostly Irish.  She is a person of shiny things, gifts, and constant background noise.  Her favorite coping mechanisms are vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup, television, and buying shiny, new things.

For the record, I absolutely love shiny things.  Literally shiny, sparkly.  My mother wears jewelry on her fingers and ears.  When I think of jewelry as an adult, I tend to think of body jewelry.  I, myself, used to have eight body piercings, including two gauged plugs in each ear.  As a child, though, it was all about the beautiful rings and earrings that my mother would wear.  My addiction to shiny things knows no bounds, but I was taught to use a jeweler’s loupe whenever viewing jewels/gemstones and how to identify the basic quality of a diamond.

As a Buddhist, I am working through my own sense of vanity.  I generally do not wear jewelry, with the exception of the 4g/6g combination of silicon plugs in each ear, my lip piercing, and a basic mala I made for myself.  I will probably just leave the plugs, because they are so simple and I tend to forget they are there.  Not a lot of vanity, but some serious attachment to the effort I spent to get them to where they are.  The lip piercing is my sole concession to one of my fidgets: chewing or “lipping” objects.  Normally, this is called an oral fixation or fetish, but now we call it a fidget.  Whatever works.

The things that make me think most of my similarities to my parents tend to be little things, like my love of sparkles and shiny.  I dress like my parents, doesn’t really matter which one.  The type of family business my parents were involved in during my formative years required a sort of unspoken dress code for them.  Blue jeans, a t-shirt, and a sweater and/or jacket.  I was taught to layer against the reality of cold weather.  That little detail, to layer rather than to own heavier clothing in the first place, might seem inconsequential.  In truth, though, it reflects a long series of things that happened to me, as well as my parents and their parents.

When I am thinking deeply about something, I tend to stand like my father and pull on a non-existent mustache on my top lip.  When I am frustrated, it is just as likely as not that I will get flustered and run my mouth until I get my point to come out.  If I am angry, then there is a good chance I will get quiet and only say the most scathing thing which comes to mind.  Those times when I am confused I tend to withdraw, get quiet, and wait it out.  My father, my mother, my father, and my mother, respectively.  Although, I imagine my parents might disagree with any one of my assessments.

Even with some healthy skepticism, it is pretty obvious that both my physical mannerisms and my personalities are a combination of my parents, just as my genetic make up is a combination of them.  I have some of their bad habits and their good habits.  I have some good memories and some old grudges, because that is the nature of being a child.  As an adult, thankfully, I have begun to see my parents as something other than just “them”.

That was one hell of a process, let me tell you!  A great deal of that process was actually spent defending my father to my mother.  Through no direct intent of my own, I know quite a bit more about my father’s emotional state (both in the past and the present) than my mother ended the relationship knowing.  Realizing that my father was a lot more pained during those years was painful for me.  I had always assumed much worse of him, much as my mother did/might still do.  She is good at Irish grudges.

My parents were somewhat mean, bullies of a sort, and I have not subscribed to their methods.  I have successfully done what I wanted to do as a parent, which was to not do what my parents did.  In the same vein, though, I have been a fairly good parent in the spaces where I have helped parent a child, and my parents were responsible for that.  Refusing to acknowledge that would be to ignore a truth.

I have a better idea of how to avoid spoiling a child from the frugal nature of my father, but I know the joy of gift-giving from my mother.  My attitudes on discipline with children and tolerance with the people around me have been shaped by the chaos and intolerances I saw through my parents as much as their positives.  I did not always believe that my parents loved me.  Since becoming an adult, I have learned why I felt that way and started to sort through the emotions that come with that.

A lot of this always coming back to me, my emotions, and how I am choosing to deal with them.  My parents were the people they were, which is not the same as the people they are today.  I am not my parents.  But I have learned things from them and incorporated them into who I am, for better or for worse.

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The Ever Shifting Muse

To be honest, every mind has its muse in some form. It is not difficult to imagine an engineer with a sudden inspiration to be analogous to an artist hunched over their work. There is nothing quite so frustrating as glimpsing your muse as it disappears around the next corner. Usually, artists, writers, and similar people are the ones said to have muses. If it were actually possible to so cleanly categorize humans, then I would be grateful. As for me, I could be labeled as a lot of things, so my muses are a particularly wily bunch.

When I use the term muse, I am talking about that pervasive sense of inspiration that takes over a person and pushes them to transform some part of the word around them. It can be anything from painting a room in your house and adding some extra flavor into dinner as its being made, to choosing to remove a sash entirely from a jacket and adding a few stitches at the back of a blouse to make look more fitted. Inspiration can manifest in so many ways, too many to actual mention. It is everything from that magical eureka moment to the hours spent hunched over an especially loved drawing.

When the artistically inclined mention their muse(s), it is usually quickly followed by a demand they return and get to work. Inspiration is a difficult thing to grasp, as it is liquid like sunlight is golden. Inspiration is its own metaphor. Trying to hold on to this feeling has been the goal of generations of mankind. So, how do we go about catching the elusive fox that is creativity.

If I knew that, then I would probably be rich – which I am not. I can, however, make some good stabs at a solution. Creativity is not a complete mystery. Ignoring the deeper psychology that could likely be applied here, we can start with some healthy premises. Once you know where to start, it is so much easier to move forward.

First – and arguably the most important – is the premise that creativity is attainable. This seems obvious and that is exactly the point. I don’t know exactly why people are so good at this type of cognitive blindness, but we are excellent at streamlining concepts. Once we find a pattern, especially little, stackable ones, a human mind will happily latch firmly onto it. There are a lot of people that seem to be very chaotic or those who just flow with whatever is going on around them. In both cases, there are still a lot of small bits of routine that stack up to make the days go, more or less, predictably. As a disclaimer, of course, nothing is perfect.

Our second premise should probably be: creativity is subjective and internally manifested. That is, you are the source of your creativity. We see things in the world and react to them. Those reactions are internal. Granted, it may not always feel like that, but feelings do not change objective reality. Each person perceives things a bit differently, churning out different types of art, machines, and other creations and inventions of mankind.

For the sake of brevity (that’s hilarious), our last premise is: you can create from any instance of creativity. Now, I am skipping over a few things and packing some ideas together to hopefully make this easier (or more streamlined…). For better or for worse, we are living, breathing records of reactions to the myriad stimuli we are subject to every day. Those reactions are the foundations for the sparks of creativity we think of as our muse(s).

So, a brief sum up: 1. creativity is attainable; 2. creativity is internal; 3. creativity can happen even if you think it cannot.

The last one I phrased in a specific way, because it is the hardest part to get over when it comes to inspiration and creativity. We are really, really quick to decide what is possible with distressing little proof. There is no way to overstress the importance of believing in the possibility of something. …on the other hand, that sounds a bit cult-like… Whatever.

Let’s move on. We are chasing our muse(s). They are quick, nimble, and obstinate. However, we know a few things now that might entice the muse closer. You see, muses like things; different things for different muses. Offering stimuli to your muse is essentially step one in any variation of this process. GO EXPERIENCE THINGS. FEED YOUR MUSE.

Again, obvious, right? Of course, you would need to have things to use as inspiration. Some people collect photographs or journal entries to hold onto the experiences for later use. Other people just cannot seem to record anything intentionally to save their lives. This is for those people. Attracting the attention of inspiration always feels like it is out of reach, but it isn’t. Realistically, all you have to do is keep feeding it.

By feeding your muse, you give yourself a flow of opportunities for inspiration to arc across your brain. This can be done is a lot of ways. It is different for every person, but most people do not provide themselves with enough variation. This is where we back into the idea of streamlining and routines. Once you get used to seeing the same species of fox, you stop seeing the little details that really make the fox possible to sculpt correctly. If you take the opportunity to engage in something at the opposite end of the spectrum to what you experience normally, then you provide a refreshing break and an opportunity to re-engage your curiosity.

The original Greek muses were specific to their spheres of influence, but you don’t have to confine yourself to any one discipline. One of the strongest barriers to inspiration is the anxiety that keeps us in a creative rut. New things can be put off as boring, useless, or just too difficult. In order to push forward and successfully create on demand, there can be few mountains left unchallenged. There is no point in trying to tackle something you genuinely do not enjoy or cannot gain anything from. There is a point, though, in trying to tackle the challenge to find out if you enjoy it or whether there is anything to be gained. Assuming there is nothing is the quickest way to starve your creativity.

Breaking those routines is not easy. A lot of things can happen, some of them unpleasant at times. For example, creating, engaging, and nurturing your curiosity can give you headaches – or what sort of feels like a headache, as was in my case. Curiosity is a sure way to climb the walls out of the rut and give yourself opportunities to inspire yourself. Almost every public (and some private) museums will hold free entry days and those are invaluable. It might seem like a nerdy idea to go to one of those places that has nothing but weird paintings and sculptures, but how would we know? The same holds true to libraries. Even those who don’t care for reading can find genuinely useful things in the non-fiction and reference sections. Librarians really enjoy people who are looking for books of learning.

Getting out into the physical world is really the best option. Sometimes, however, it just isn’t an option. I am not just talking about when the library is closed or the museum is too far away. Disabilities, sensory disorders, and availability can all limit a person’s ability to access knowledge. Thankfully, the Internet has almost instant access to nearly all of the collected knowledge of mankind – provided you have access to an enabled computer. Even that is not always an option, but I will go ahead and pretend you have that…

Alright, we have come to that point where we can somewhat answer the question of how to capture our creativity, harness our curiosity, and begin to create on demand. The short answer is: we do not need a muse; we need persistence. The longer answer involves the realization that persistence naturally evolves out of the desire to create. You – yes, you – can create a cycle of curiosity to creativity and back again by feeding the fabulous brain that sits behind the eyeballs you are using to read these words. You can watch videos, listen to audio books, and even read, if you so choose. There are so many ways to engage yourself within the boundaries of your comfort, while still stretching that zone. Go out there and create.

[Brought you by “I Want My Fucking Muse To Turn Up]

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Prompt Writing #1: The Sound Stopped

The following is a short story written in one sitting based on the following prompt:
“The sound suddenly stopped.  A noise every living being has heard all their lives, for millions of years.  A tone so constant and omnipresent, it is only noticeable by its absence.  The sound has stopped.”
Author’s Note: I found this prompt from one of the writing groups I follow on Facebook.

The changes were subtle at first, when scientists noticed what they thought was a normal variation in the magnetic field around our planet.  As a natural byproduct of motion in the core, the oscillation of the bands in this field was something that seemed to be a regular part of the evolution of the world.  Evidence found in rocks and soil deposits from around the globe showed obvious signs of similar shifts with no indication of issues for life as we knew it.  Unfortunately, it appears that we misunderstood something.

Humanity did not understand what was happening to the planet, but they knew how to track it and, to some extent, to predict it.  News outlets and scholarly journals regurgitated what the community of scientists was saying.  The belts of our magnetic field faded more and more.  And then, one day, the Silence stopped.

This was not subtle; there was no question that something was happening on a grand scale.  Worldwide, the media reported the air quaking with – well, nothingness.  It was a difficult thing to describe, but there seemed to be no person that had not noticed the same thing.  It had been something so ubiquitous that no one had even realized there was a sound happening.  Suddenly, though, there was an emptiness to the air that no one could immediately explain.  It was the Absence of the Silence.

Already consumed with trying to understand the absence of something that had to be older than mankind, scientists were astounded and horrified to discover the swift, colored ribbons of aurora quickly wrapping the planet.  Within forty-eight hours, the light emitted by the excited atmospheric particles eclipsed the night entirely.  During the day time, millions suffered mysterious skin burns, many even while they were indoors.  Doctors, government officials, and the public alike swamped climatologists and meteorologists for answers.

It was actually a geologist who first happened upon an answer.  In the suddenly desperate search to find safe living space for those who were flocking to their governments for help, they were being funneled into caves.  Here the radiation causing the burns could be screened by the earth itself.  Geologists were being sent in droves to find safe cave systems to store the populations that were being held in various make-shift spaces.

Using some infrasound techniques, they probed the deepest known mines.  In one such salt mine, a pair of geologists noticed a discrepancy in the vibrations normally attributed to the area was strangely different from previously noted by excruciatingly precise measurements.  Sodium chloride mines were inherently stable by the nature of the crystalline the structure of this salt.  No change of this kind should have taken place.

The geologists shared their findings and more such measurement differences were found around the world.  It quickly became apparent how closely the changes matched across all the areas where it had been recorded.  Oddly, though, the effect seemed confined only to the deepest spaces that mankind had touched.  Hydrophones in the darkest parts of the oceans also demonstrated this change.

As the very composition of the world became increasingly hostile to humanity, our numbers dwindled.  Weeks passed and the surface had been scrubbed of man, except for the few diehard idiots already meeting their end to the ravages of radiation sickness.  No one understood what had happened.  Science had shown that these changes of the protective field around the planet had no major effects on the biology of the surface.

“Why was this time so different,” she asked aloud for the fourth time in the last twenty minutes.  Her voice crackled over their shared intercom, but by now, Milo was completely ignoring Claudia in favor of getting through their search of the archives more quickly.  “There was no reason for this magnetic shift to be so catastrophic.”

Claudia shook her head and took the list she had compiled back to the stacks of books.  Her radiation suit filled her ears with the rubbery sound of her movement as she walked.  With the electromagnetic devastation, these hard copies were more invaluable than ever.  Still, it was difficult not to speculate.  She had been a biology major before the Absence happened.  She had no direct experience with the rocks the geologists had been studying to try to understand what had changed.  Really, every scientist was probably trying to study something within their field to generate answers.

Milo drove as they were on their way back.  It was not a complex route, which left his mind to wander.  His own life had been difficult and stressful, probably more so than it was currently, if Milo was honest with himself.  Finally, he sighed.

“You said the scientists believed the Absence and the radiation are linked together, right?”

“Sort of,” Claudia replied.  “Correlation is not the same thing as causation.”

Milo rolled his eyes.  “Well, we do not have a lot else to work with, do we?”

Just as Claudia opened her mouth to answer, a great rumbling overtook them.   The truck rolled, taking them through a series of tumbles and bounces.  Thankfully, the heavier metal of the truck they had been driving combined with the heavy harnesses on the seats kept her and Milo relatively in place.  She was gasping for breath when they finally came to a stop.

“That was exhilarating,” Milo commented.  Only a moment later, a sickening crunch seemed to come from everywhere around them.  “What the fuck is that?”

“Earthquake!”  Claudia was grabbing at the buckle to her harness in a panic, but her gloves were cumbersome.  She tried to warn Milo that they had to escape.  Before she could speak, the truck jostled them again.  Her buckle separated and Claudia slammed into the back of the truck against the mess of boxes and books.

Milo screamed for her, trying to stop her fall.  It did not seem like it would have mattered, however.  After a few seconds of the uncomfortable feeling of teetering on the edge of a precipice, their vehicle tipped.  The sensation became nauseating as they seemed to tumble into some sort of giant hole.  The vehicle slammed this way and that way, the sounds of the metal contorting dangerously around him.  Milo heard the sound of shattering glass as the nearly impenetrable safety glass of his windshield gave way.

It felt like an eternity before he finally woke up again.  In those first golden moments before reality set in, Milo listened.  Usually, the crashing realization that the Silence was still missing and the Absence had truly happened was enough to wake him the rest of the way.  Here, again, there was no Silence.  Instead, it was merely dark and hot.

Coughing and trying to move carefully against the pains in his body, Milo extricated himself from the scant remains of the truck he had been driving.  They had somehow managed to fall onto a natural outcropping of rock.  Looking back at the wreckage, not only was Milo surprised that he was alive at all, but he was equally certainly that Claudia was not.  With a heavy heart, he looked around him.

There should not be any light here, Milo thought to himself.  That was especially true of the warm, red light that was pulsating slightly from somewhere.  It was too hot here and Milo was sweating, but he knew there was probably no guarantee that the air here was breathable.  There was no way to tell how far they had fallen before landing here.  Fumbling at his hood, another miracle; his headlamp lit up the cavern around him.

Milo quickly discovered how close he was the nearest drop off.  With a gasp, he jumped backward, hitting the wreckage with his body.  Behind him, the deafening shriek of metal against stone set his teeth on edge.  As he turned, Milo watched in horror as the wreckage disappeared and a black gulf opened up before him.  For a few, excruciatingly long seconds, it felt like the destroyed truck might take him down with Claudia.

Wheeling himself upright again, Milo glanced around in a mild panic, trying to be certain he was actually standing on firm ground.  For the moment, he was safe.  It took several tries to successfully take a deep breath to calm himself down.  His body temperature was still rising, however, and he had to get out of here…  If that was even possible.

Remembering the strange, red light, he looked back toward where he thought it should be.  It took a few seconds, but Milo could still the faintest pulsating color somewhere ahead.  He moved to follow it as quickly as he could.  The task proved difficult, because Milo had to pick his way toward the light slowly and with great care.  In truth, there was no way to even be sure there was a way to get from here to there.  Still, it was better than simply standing there and waiting to die.

The time it took Milo to get closer to the light seemed like an eternity.  The truth was closer to fifteen minutes, but the fugue of overheating and fading adrenaline was taking its toll.  As he achieved his goal, however, Milo realized he was sweating less.  For a heartbeat, he was terrified that he had begun to suffer heat stroke and dehydration, but sweat still streaked down his face.  Maybe that was just the way things were down at these depths.  Previous weeks had shown that depth changed some things in ways with which people were not used to dealing.

The warm red was shifting to cooler colors, but that was not what had his attention.  Milo was stopped solid in disbelief.  As a former construction worker, there was no way he could mistake the obviously manufactured tunnel in front of him.  The lip around the opening was emitting that red color.  It immediately transformed into a corridor, visibly unnatural.  Milo would swear that he was looking at metal walls, but he had never seen a metal that emitted light from its whole surface.

He stepped into the tunnel with a great deal of trepidation.  Milo was, of course, grateful to get away from the stifling heat.  His suit was already much cooler, his sweat was starting to lessen.  In the distance that trailed off in front of him, Milo could see that there was, at least, one branch off.  The end was lost to distance.

“This is insane,” Milo said out loud.  His heart skipped a beat as the light around him flashed for the briefest instant before beginning to subtly undulate.  Nothing about the tunnel itself seemed to change.  In fact, he realized, the floor and ceiling did not match the walls in their colored undulation.  Milo was obviously being encouraged to move forward.

Again, there was nothing to do except go forward.  Even if there were hostile forces ahead, they were better than the empty darkness behind him.  With that thought firmly in mind, Milo followed the prompt forward.  He wondered what could have triggered the suddenly change in the walls.  Perhaps whatever passed for the computer brain here had finally noticed him.

The quality of the sound beneath his booted feet changed as Milo passed the offshoot he had noticed previously.  This new passage was a slightly bluer color than the reddish purple he had been walking through.  Glancing ahead, he saw that the undulations continued down the purple tunnel.

There was a heavy moment of debate in his mind.  Milo was not a terribly curious sort of person.  Much of his life had been spent trying to keep his nose clean and his head down.  The world had changed a lot in a very short period of time…  It was entirely possible, however, that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  There was no way for Milo to guarantee that he would be able to get back to this exact spot ever again.

With a sigh, Milo shook his head and followed the purple undulations further down the tunnel.  He looked back a few times, but nothing seemed to have changed behind him.  Estimating that he had traveled approximately another two hundred meters, Milo passed three more tunnels branching off, but ignored them.  Finally, he arrived into a more open space.  There was a vast ravine before him, much like the dark emptiness he had left behind.  This space, however, was occupied with bright light from which he strained to discern any details.

Milo stood stunned, his jaw slack as he tried to understand what he was seeing.  His earliest memories were of watching his father work practically inside huge diesel engines.  His two uncles were an engineer and a construction specialist, respectively.  Milo himself did not understand what he was seeing, but he knew he had seen things that were almost like it.

He could see parts of shining light or some sort of dull metal.  Their form evoked images of fulcra, levers, gears, screws, and pistons, almost seeming to move without motion.  There was no one individual part of the engine that he could actually identify.  Still, every single fiber of his being told Milo that this was an enormous engine.  It had been powered down, either by command or perhaps for a lack of fuel.

Milo realized the undulations had not stopped here.  There signal had continued along one wall away from the colossal machine that had caught his immediate attention.  Still struggling to tear his gaze from the shapes of light, Milo tried to follow the purple line directing himself to his unknown destination.  Eventually, he found a section where the pulse of light seemed to simply end.  At first, it appeared to be a simple, empty patch of wall.

He reached out to feel the wall, thinking that there might be a pressure sensor or even just a pivot point to open up a new direction for him to go.  Instead, a rectangular panel lit up directly in front of Milo, as if greeting him with a cheery pink glow.  After a moment, he was bombarded with lines of symbols he knew he had no chance of understanding.  Milo made a disgusted sound as the lines faded.

An interface loaded on the screen.  Immediately, he recognized the planet, Earth, with its poles, continents, and oceans labelled incomprehensibly.  As he took in the whole image, the electromagnetic belts that had once surrounded the globe seemed to ghost over the interface.  It was almost as if the lines were more of a placeholder in the image than anything else.  The interface seemed to have some linkages blurred behind it.  It was a strange sort of visual effect that Milo did not understand.

He startled as those more distant images jumped forward and into focus for him.  Panting to catch his breath, Milo almost lost it again.  Realization crushed him.  This was the engine behind him; this was what connected everything else.  Now that it had turned off – regardless of why – now, the shield against interstellar particles and radiation had been stripped from the planet.  Now, the sound had stopped…

Posted in Short Stories/Prompts, Writing | Leave a comment

Reality Can Be Overwhelming: Dealing with Existential Anxiety

We all exist. That is technically a given, regardless of any individual feelings on the matter. There are a number of things which then naturally seem to follow as a matter of course in the natural world. When one exists, there is birth, consumption, growth, and change. Change sucks.

I have been wracking my brain the past few days, trying to decide on a topic for this blog. There are several drafts that have been languishing in confines of the draft bin, but none of them speak to me the way they did when I created them. Some of them are just titles… I realized this situation is rather indicative of my overall circumstances. There is just so much anxiety behind wanting to put down words that will matter, rather than just spitting conglomerates of letters into the cyber ether.

One very large part of my issue is that I like to use citations pretty heavily in my posts, if I can manage it. I really do not personally enjoy idle chatter, in speech or in print. So, in having that deep seeded desire to use research, I am creating a source of anxiety for myself. Really, this alone is pretty much a miniature of the macrocosm of my life. I will do my best to explain.

I am a person that has serious issues with the idea of what is real, unreal, not real, and entirely fictional. These are all semantically separate for me, specifically to cope with this problem. This, unfortunately, is one of those coping tactics that really pisses people off. Trying to parse things down to a point where I can guarantee I know what is and is not real, both to myself, those around me, and what differs between the two, will always make me sound like I am a difficult person who needs to always be right.

Realistically, no one likes to be wrong. That is something ingrained in human nature. Being wrong, when we were a young species, meant dying. Even now, in many parts of the world, being wrong still equates to dying somehow. As a reproductive-oriented species (aren’t they all?), we are quite prone to avoiding death when we can. The way evolution programmed that in was via how one feels about doing things; that is, if it scares you, then it will probably kill you, so breed successfully first…

What does all of this have to do with the title of the post? That is quite simple: you are here to see what I have to say and you can only take away with you what is digestible to you. If you do not understand what I am trying to convey, then you will leave this experience with a misunderstanding. So, that need of mine to communicate effectively brings on an anxiety that is really only known to those who live with this sort of thing every day. In the same way, I subsist upon understanding and being understood one statement or question at a time. That existence can be so very overwhelming.

Going around and around in my head in recent days has left me with that creeping dread that almost killed my blog the first time. The fear that my ideas will be misunderstood only has so much validity, thanks to the anonymity of the internet. The anxiety of being rejected hardly comes into play here, as it is essentially a guarantee on the internet that someone will be there to reject something. I know, intellectually, how to get away from the existential dread of trying to exist with all the memories and thoughts that I have. Maybe that is not enough for some people to call dread, but I do.

To best the beast this time, I decided to out it in front of all of you. So, here it is, my personal fear of being not enough laid bare. Why? Because we all feel this way sometimes, some of us more than others. It comes in different shapes, sizes, and intensities, as well as all the flavors in between. The trick is that the feeling grows in isolation, it feeds on the loneliness and the emptiness. That is why anxious people prefer to be alone. The biofeedback is very strong, thanks to nature and time. Therefore, putting it out in the weak, winter sunlight of January is my best bet right now.

But I will be back.

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A Hermit’s Reprise

I know it has been far too long since I have actually put something onto this blog.  On the one hand, that is fine, because it happens.  On the other hand, I am less than enthused by this truth.  It has been on my mind for about two or three months now to come back to this blog specifically, even dabbling lightly once or twice in that time.  I have also debated creating another blog along slightly different lines.

Over the previous months, like many of my fellow spoonies, I have oscillated between doing well and doing poorly.  It is the nature of things, though that really does not make anybody feel much better.  My living situation is changing, very much not by my choice, and much of what I was enjoying before is going to be ending.  Again, the nature of things.  It just goes to remind me that I cannot take for granted the habits and comforts that come with routine and communal living.

All of that aside, I feel like it is time to try to get back on to my blog here.  I really enjoyed the experience before; it is quite satisfying to have a platform for some of the thoughts those around me (or lack thereof) would find less than palatable.  To add to that, the fact that my vocabulary in this context – both written and spoken – tends to make me sound like an aloof know-it-all.  People can think what they want, because I will accept that I am not always right.  And sometimes, it’s just nice to have a space to complain without anybody being able to stop me.

In the coming days and weeks, I hope to put into words some of the less obscure realizations I may have had and talk about some of the more sensitive topics that go through my mind.  Some of the greatest challenges I am likely to face are rooted in my tendency to have low self-esteem, being overly self-effacing, and perhaps just being very blunt.  That last one seems to be one of the things I hear most as my glaring character flaw.  I do not necessarily see being blunt as a flaw so much as I would say that being an asshole when one is being blunt is the issue.

I am not an asshole.  I take no pleasure in people having a bad day, regardless of whether or not I personally feel they deserve it.  Granted, I occasionally slip, but I digress…  I am, however, not a terribly family-friendly experience.  I can filter for a few hours for the sake of children, as I do not feel comfortable exposing them to my humor or language until their parents are comfortable (or it is obvious the child understands).  Elsewise, though, I am quite liable to say unpleasant things or to swear in odd spots.  I do not promise to avoid use of profanities.  I do promise you will not catch me overusing them simply because I can.

I have no idea what sort of schedule I will set for myself, especially as I have a limited amount of time where my hands are viable for any one activity, but I will try to post, at least, twice per week.  I have some ideas for random topics or projects that might be fun to keep track of here.  Until then, remember to breathe and take things one step at a time.

Posted in A Bit About Me, Personal | Leave a comment

How to Be a Better Partner Primer 

Someone asked me to do a primer, because she noticed that I tend to do a lot of the things people wish their other half would do. This was the third person to dub me their platonic boyfriend, so I figured it might be time.

Being a better partner has a lot of simple pieces that combine to a complex whole. First and foremost, YOU must understand why you want to be a better partner. Since there are multiple reasons, I’m going to cover the basic categories and you can decide where your needs fall on the spectrum. 

The major reason people want to be better partners is supposedly to make said partner happy. If this is you: please find a partner that is lower maintenance. Yup, you read that right. Becoming a better human being is not something one does to please others. When we do that, it tends not to stick. Worst case scenario: your partner leaves, you find a new partner with different requirements for ‘better’, and you have to start from scratch. No, just find someone who requires what you already have, because everything after that is bonus. 

Another common reason people say they want to be better partners is to get their significant other to have more sex with them. If this is your category: please find a friend with benefits (also known as fuck buddy). No amount of good behavior can earn someone more sexual intercourse and it shouldn’t! Sex is consensual by its very definition, otherwise it’s manipulation and rape. Be honest with yourself and the person you want to have sex with. If they don’t want it, then that sucks but keep looking elsewhere. 

The reason most people quote for why the want to become better partners is to become better people. This is usually a veil over a reason from a different category. On those occasions when you want to be a better person, because you want to be happy with yourself, and thus you become a better partner to whoever you partner with – this is the sweet spot. This primer is basically for those people, but anyone can learn something from this. 

It may not seem like it should matter why you want to change yourself, but read that again. Really. Why would it not matter the reasons for changing one’s life? Make no mistake, folks, being a better partner requires change sometimes and maintenance often. If you aren’t honest with yourself about yourself, then you probably won’t have the drive to stick with this long enough to see real benefits. 

On to the important bits. Step one: pay attention. Again, it seems silly to have to state this, but it’s just so important. Observation is a skill and it absolutely must be honed. This is the second place where the ‘why’ matters. If you just want more sex, then you’re only going to be paying attention to things related to your goal. If you want to generally enhance your person and mind, then you are a lot more likely to willingly spend the effort to notice and remember a greater variety of things about yourself and your partner. 

‘What do I pay attention to?’ asks the imaginary reader. Well, for starters, think about what you want your partner to notice about you. Believe it or not, there’s a good chance your partner has a similar list. It is often true that women tend to have longer lists, but women are also implicitly tasked with keeping track of more things in daily life. If you don’t think you should have to worry about when your partner has meetings for work, chores at home, or their schedule of medications and therapy, then please go back and reassess your reasons for why you’re doing this. 

In the average day, people of all stripes mention their hopes and dreams, fears and needs. A good exercise is to eavesdrop in a coffee shop and listen for what the speaker says directly versus merely mentions. Often, we want our partner to be invested and notice individual details without being directly informed. Ever wonder why your partner seems to expect you to read minds? It’s due to the inherent human need to resonate with someone or with a group. We want a space in our lives where we are a known quantity and someone there is watching our backs. We need to believe that person can pick up the slack we cannot without being explicitly told. It is less about being psychic and more about having the knowledge of the person to no longer need their instruction manual for common maintenance. 

Unfortunately, it is a little more complicated that just keeping lists of your lover’s likes, dislikes, fears, and triggers. We aren’t simple creatures. Damn near everything comes on a spectrum. I enjoy chocolate, but don’t enjoy eating in general. On its face, it’s an impossible situation and I’ll never get a gift of chocolates. Really, there are situations where my desire for chocolate will easily outweigh my dislike of eating in general. 

Part of paying attention is learning when these shifts in variables are likely to occur in your partner. If you are engaged to a woman with poor body image and low self esteem, chocolate is only out of the question if she doesn’t like chocolate. The key lies in knowing when chocolate is appropriate and when it is not. Again, why bother observing and respecting someone else’s standards? Doesn’t that mean giving up your own? The first answer is: you chose to spend your life with this person, thus you chose to treat their standards as important in your interactions with them. The second answer is simply: NO. 

If you want to eat chocolate and she’s mad you’re eating it in front of her, find a lower maintenance girl or respect her emotional needs. If she’s not there and you haven’t agreed to diminish your own chocolate intake, then go for it! You may need to hide it, if she’s compulsive about chocolate (that’s me; I have trouble knowing about the chocolate and NOT eating it). This brings us to the next major point…

Don’t tune out things you think you’ve heard before or have no current desire to hear. People are not simple, remember, which means we are not stagnant. Opinions change in their substance even if not in their stance. Look at habits and patterns. Then look at them again regularly. Not only do you learn about the person, their allergies, preferences, and so on, but you also learn the CUES for ‘something is not right’. That time your partner said something that seemed to come out of nowhere, but they said it’s been months? Chances are something changed, a change in pattern to accommodate or go around the problem, and you didn’t notice because you figured it was unimportant for whatever reason. 

Habits, and therefore patterns, have a scary amount of power. We are all, every one of us, subject to our individual and group habits. Regardless of whether it is a good habit or a bad habit, knowing it exists and understanding the underlying pattern will be your greatest tool in general life. If you got the theoretical female fiance above some chocolate and she got upset, then you have to know why she’s upset in order to proceed. Don’t assume it’s the same old thing, because she may not be aware herself. You are listening to understand needs, not just desires. 

This all seems horribly time intensive, doesn’t it? You’ve been told to keep track of your partner’s life as though it was your own. You’re expected to learn things and retain them! Just like you want from other people, right? You want to be a better partner, though, because it means you are a happier, healthier person. That makes it possible for you to make people happy for your whole life through, self included. The easiest way to deal with the seemingly overwhelming information is deceivingly simple: link it to your own details. 

I love zucchini, but my last partner hated it. He hated it, as I found out, because he had been fed too much as a teenager and it was always mushy. I don’t cook mushy zucchini, so he likes mine okay. The flavor is still an issue, so I tend to keep the pieces large enough for me to pick them out to eat his share. Half the time, only half because he didn’t want to avoid them, he didn’t even know the dish had zucchini until he saw my portion. There’s several aspects to this. I observed the habit, I understood the pattern, and I’m taking steps to make both of us happy. All just because I can. 

The final point I want to make about paying attention and not tuning out: every complaint has a source. 

Sometimes, figuring out that source is frustrating, but that’s human nature; you’re best off accepting that. Regardless of whether they are venting about themselves, coworkers, family, or you, your partner is loudly showing you their need to be heard. Issues that come up once and a while are relatively moot, because we often can do nothing about them or the solution is simple but distasteful. Do the needful or accept defeat. Repeated complaints, however, are your treasure map to being a better partner to that person. 

The nature of complaints is twofold. There is always a logical component and an emotional component. Here is a golden opportunity to learn a lot about what your partner’s beliefs and values really are. Emotionally, you’re usually dealing with anxiety or fear. Yup, just those two, although there are rare exceptions. Partner is angry they were passed over for a promotion? Yup, they are angry due to anxiety about money and fears of not having enough to live. They might be afraid they won’t be acknowledged or anxious this was their chance and they missed it. A lot of human emotions are rooted in the presence or absence of fear; a remnant of our fight or flight heritage. 

Unfortunately, logic can be heavily affected by emotion and the reverse is a great deal less common. Understanding your partner’s logic is another exercise in understanding your own self. You’ll have an easier time remembering if you link their choices to knowing your own. This isn’t an instruction to make their details your own, just to associate details for convenience sake. 

As you learn to really hear what your partner is wanting to communicate and learn to interpret their actions and motivations, you may start wanting to make your own needs and wants known. If so, that’s great! If not, then you may be sacrificing your own needs for someone else; we talked about this sort of thing under ‘why’ and you need to be you. 

Communicating can seem super hard upon first glance. It’s even scarier if you’ve not had practice and your partner has. This is common, where women are more openly taught to communicate emotions and needs than men are. So what? Don’t be constrained by what someone else taught you. Teach yourself whatever you discover you need, because you can. I promise you will benefit from it. 

It’s time now to talk about the elephant in the room. Honesty, particularly with communication in a relationship, is difficult for a lot of people. It can be exceptionally frightening to be so vulnerable with someone, no matter how much you want that intimacy. If you are not speaking truth, then you shouldn’t expect to see or hear truth. It’s not just about fairness. Realistically, lies will eventually blend with the truth and then you are a pathological liar. 

The elephant is our hypocrisy, named Exception, and we keep this big guy around for ourselves and those we like enough to make more elephants for. As you might imagine, double standards quickly destroy even the most sturdy relationship. The more exceptions you make, the more mess you get and the more work you have to bring normal back. Don’t make extra work for yourself. 

The ugly truth of our elephant is fear and, without the goal of bettering oneself, that fear will always be a bit bigger than our desires to be beyond them. We lie for selfish fears of losing value to ourselves, whether it is emotional, physical, or financial. If you are afraid of losing something to your partner, then this person is not really your partner, are they? You may want a friend with benefits instead; much less responsibility. Bottom line: tell the truth, because lies serve to feed fear and fear does not a healthy relationship make. 

And now, if only I could trigger a drum roll, the culminating point. The last key to being a better partner-person: be the best house guest you could invite into your home. Think about it: if your buddy left the mess behind them in your home that you do, and then left you to clean it, would you want to continue to invite them over? No, it’s not their job to clean your place; it’s yours and your partner’s equally, unless the two of you have explicitly agreed otherwise. 

It’s easy to say you wouldn’t care if you had a messy guest now and again, but what about literally every single day? A messy partner can be exhausting emotionally and physically. This is doubly true when the slob thinks they are entitled to be messy, as though someone should clean their filth for them. If you love that person, then how are you demonstrating that love and respect here? Answer: you’re demonstrating the opposite and that won’t help the relationship. 

If you see a mess, then clean it up regardless of whose job it is to clean it or who made the mess or how often you’ve had to clean before. You aren’t in this to keep all your free time to yourself, hoarding your seconds and minutes as though this will somehow make your life better. You are with this person and that more or less dictates that you agreed to treat their life as your own. The home is certainly both of yours to live in, isn’t it?

If you know a mess is about to happen, don’t leave the room to avoid helping. Acting to aid someone is, in my opinion, its own reward, but you are not single or a child anymore. If you need a reward for being helpful, then you may be looking for a parental figure to let you be without most responsibilities. No shame here, but your partner absolutely must know this about you and agree to the responsibility that entails for them. 

If you know something needs doing, do it. It would take just as much of your partner’s day as it will yours and their time has the same value as yours. There is likely a reason they asked for your aid. If this seems like I’m repeating myself, that’s because people still seem to think they can say they are working hard in a relationship while they pass the buck of responsibility onto their partner so they can drink and play games. See the elephant stomping on the foundations of what could be a strong relationship? Frankly, no one is exempt from their fair share, some people just have nothing against manipulating others and reaping the benefits of that. 

The bottom line here is that being a partner means actively engaging in your partner’s life, treating their needs as important, their input as valuable, and supporting their daily grind. The trade off is that you should be getting as good as you give, or whatever you feel is a reasonable approximation thereof. Pay attention to the reality of yourself and your partner, understand the way things will flow in the shared reality, and work with your partner to make that mutual flow as efficient and enjoyable as you can. 

Don’t worry about roses and constantly spending money. Some people are like that and, unless that’s you, find someone with similar values to your own. I am not materialistic, but a lot of the potential partners around me are bound up in the material things in the world. This limits my dating pool, but increases my chances of long term success a hundred fold. Opposites can attract, but that doesn’t mean they will stay together. 

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