Of mice and men

I had such ambitious plans.

I planned to take all of this quiet Saturday night to eat pizza, drink diet cola, and write stuff for my System universe. I was basically going to write till I dropped. No word limit, just writing and writing until I couldn’t write another word because I had used up all my brain calories and was running entirely off the backup battery supply.

We’ve all been there.

But life threw a monkey wrench into my plans by tking out my Internet connection.

And boom, just like that, I am cut off at the knees.

“But Fruvous…” you say in that cute sexy voice of yours. “You’re writing right now. Why couldn’t you have done the exact same thing but in OfficeLibre instead of a WordPress window?”
Good point, rhetorical device. Why not?

To understand why is to understand a lot about me.

The primary operating principle here is that I do not handle surprise well. This is a life long problem. When something totally unexpected like suddenly having no Internet (or is it internet now) happens, it throws me for a loop.

And it throws it HARD.

Not that I am helpless in the situation. Not like I used to be. When I was a sicker, weaker, less firmly bolted together person, I would not have been able to even think about the problem for hours. I would have buries myself in my distractions and when I finally could face the problem, I would do so in a very timid way, ready to leap back into my hole at the slightest sign of trouble.

That, to put it mildly, is no recipe for success.

These days, I am much stronger. These things still cut me off at the knees, metaphorically speaking, but I retain the ability to deal carefully and rationally with the situation by more or less taking my own hand and talking myself through it.

And I mean that. I talk to myself, in my head, in a calm and soothing and somewhat maternal voice that uses the third (?) person to engender intimacy.

“OK, well we can see that the Internet is out, but there’s no need to panic. Let’s see if…. “

It’s sort of a hybrid of how my mother talked to me when I was a preschooler and the sort of Robert Picardo as the EMH in full bedside manner mode I imagine Reg having.

Somewhat prim and precise, but also warm and caring, so I get a combination of the soothing nature of personal warmth and care, and the firm competence that reassures me that someone who knows what they are doing is now in charge.

But make no mistake… the time bomb of panic had been primed and is ready to explode.

I just have a much longer fuse, which stands a better chance of burning for long enough for me to get the problem solved in time.
To, in my signature style, over-extend the metaphor, the bomb still goes off. That can’t be stopped.

But hopefully, by then, it’s been handled by the bomb squad and is safely encased in concrete and steel and goes off harmlessly with a soft thud.

Not so tonight.

The panic set in almost immediately after I discovered that our Internet connection was deader than disco. I kept calm as I tried various things to see if I could solve the problem or, barring that, at least get some kind of precise diagnosis of the issue in order to soothe myself with information.

I’m the sort of person who would rather have a solid and precise but unpleasant fact than preserve hope by maintaining a tenuous and nebulous sense of hope.

Fuck fuzzy hope. I want hard data.

Adding to the disruption to my routine was the fact that I couldn’t order pizza like I usually do on Saturday because, like any social anxiety suffer, I order my Pizza Hut pizza online.

But then I remembered that we have a flier from Fresh Slice tacked to our notice board. So I retrived it, looked it over, decided I wanted an extra large Garlic Lovers Chicken Feast pizza, and braced myself for talking to a stranger before picking up the phone to make my order.

Only to find that the phone was dead.

Completely dead. No dial tone. No click sound when I toggled the receiver. Pressing the buttons did not produce any tones.

And my mind immediately leaps to those scenes in TV and movies where the person picks up the phone to call the cops on the killer and finds that the phone line has been cut.

Clearly, someone was hell bent on isolating me before going in for the kill.

Well OK, not really. But you have to admit, that was a crushing thing to happen to someone who was already upset about another disruption.

After all that, there was no way I could calm down and focus enough to write prose. So I blog instead.

At least I can still play Skyrim. If that was somehow cut off as well, I would really be at a loss as to what the fuck to do with myself.

I wouldn’t even have been able to go watch television because the reason (I eventually found out) I don’t have Internet right now is that we don’t have cable right now, and we get our Internet via our cable television provider.

Not that it would matter if we got it through Telus, because the phone is dead too.

So my plan now is to take a nap then play Skyrim all night Admittedly, that was the plan before the outage as well. The only difference is the wear and tear on my nerves and a loss of productivity.

I can’t let this writing energy fade away. I can’t slump back into formlessness and drift through life with my head in the sand again. The writing has made me feel more alive than I have in a very long time, and I can’t afford to let that go.

I want to shine, shine, shine for the world.

And you can’t do that and stay invisible at the same time.

Sooner or later, you have to uncloak.

Fire on that explosion!

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

The end of it all

First of all, I must convey this message from Mother Mayhem :

Hello, my beautiful children. It’s your Mother Mayhem. And I’m here to tell you that while NaNoWriMo has ended, our stories have not. There are many more tales to tell of life in the System, and rest assured, more will be told. Until then, remember that I love you, I’m proud of you, and you are truly beautiful. 

I’m still working out what, exactly, I am going to be doing with my time now that I am not, technically, obliged to write 2000 words of prose a day,.

I want the energy to keep going. I’ve been a happier person than usual in the last month. Having such a potent outlet for all those words in my head has been good for me. I feel like some of the messy fog in my head has gone away, perhaps because it was no longer needed. The word-pressure in my mind has slackened and I really do not want it to return to pre-November levels.

And there are so many questions I have not yet answered. Who won, the Black Star or Sun Pony? What’s the family that forgot to arm their alarm before going on vacation doing during this big old orgy?[1] What’s up with the Barnacled Hermit? What was his homecoming like?  Was he overjoyed or did he get freaked out and hide again?

Amd for Shor’s sake, how the hell does a genderless robot get laid?

I said everyone had amazing sex, and he’s definitely one of the 217, so he had amazing sex too. But how?

I don’t know yet but it will involve the word “dongle”. Of this, I am certain.

And so forth and so on. I need – on a personal level – to write satisfying conclusions to all the dramatic threads I have left dangling.

And besides, I have grown quite fond of many of my characters. Even poor Eegee. It’s not his fault that he’s insane with a particularly nasty form of Borderline Personality Disorder. And with help from Eric and Bumper, he will get better.

As long as I write it that way. And I will.

And what happened to Tiny, Slipper, and Wembley after they got rich and famous? What did they do with the money? How did they handle being a seven day sensation and then being forgotten?

And what do robots spend their money on, anyway? They don’t need food, water, or rest. They do not need homes as humans would define them. They have almost none of the passions that drive human beings to do what they do every day.

So what would they spend it on?

Very fancy metal polish?

And what of the Four Cool People Who Travel Together? Did Tammy react with horror when she learned about what a bitch her “friend” had been when she was playing Tammy’s character? Did it make things “weird” with the other players?

And what does one do with several tons of dead dragon, anyhow?

And so forth and so on.

So I refuse to abandon my pet universe. I will add conclusions to all the storylines eventually. And of course, in a world made of fictions, there are an infinite number of possible stories to be told.

As shared universes go, it’s a rather flexible one.

By design, of course,

And I promise that I will provide an explanation for how the System came to be and what happened to it after the operator died and so forth and so on.

But not for a long time. There’s too much fun to be had before then.

As for the nature of the project itself, I feel that I did succeed in writing only the sorts of things I enjoyed writing.

That didn’t magically turn it from “work” into “play”, of course. That’s a myth peddled by big corporations and greedy universities and desperate guidance counselors.

Life is work. There is no escaping it. Life takes effort and focus and doing things you would rather not be doing. You have to invest your energies in life with no gaurantee of a solid return on your investment.

The real mistake in modern culture is that people think that “work” is the opposite of “fun”. As if having fun was something the universe owed them and therefore it’s some kind of injustice that they should have to do anything in order to get it.

It’s school that does it. The modern North American model of education is so poorly designed that it teaches people to divide their lives into the good part, where you can do as you please, and the bad part, where you have to do things whether you want to do them are not.

And anyone who actually wants to do those things society deems to be “work” is told by society that they must be some kind of brown-nosing pathetic geek with no life.

This thoughtless division of life into the good part and the bad part is very injurious to people because it excludes the possibility of working very hard and having a lot of fun at the same time.

And it’s totally doable if you only open your mind up to it.

In fact, I am pretty sure that it’s the best of all possible ways to live.

Aaaaanyhow, my point – I think – was that writing is always work. It takes sweat and toil and sacrifice and commitment, just like everything else in life that’s worth doing.

But I also had a lot of fun while working hard at the writing. I wrote a lot of stuff that I think is pretty good for a first draft, and it feels good to have something that I can hold up and say “See? I did something with my life!”.

The question now is whether I can take the next step and actually do something with all the good stuff I have written. It will require a great deal of proofreading and polishing before it is presentable, and that will require a lot of work that I do not find fun at all.

But I can’t let go off all my new people.

So I guess I will have to do it.

I’ve missed talking to you nice people. This was good. And of course…

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.


Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Don’t worry, the answer will not be scary or gross. For now, just know that there are no children in the System. But there are plenty of people like Karlo.