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Chapter 1 of Running With Wolves
Written by ChanelleJoy

THE ICE INVASION

So, the world ended. Well, maybe that’s being a little overly dramatic but, it isn’t far from the truth. It started almost a year ago, within the heart of the Arctic Circle. No one noticed at first. Seeing as the Arctic Ocean is always covered by ice to some extent, no one thought much of it when the ice coverage began to spread; that is, until it began to spread quite rapidly and scientists observed a dramatic temperature drop, which continued to decrease at a steady pace. Greenland was the first to go, soon completely swallowed by the fast-moving ice. They had no warning. All life – human, animal and plant – was obliterated by the freezing conditions. After that, word was quickly spread to all countries bordering the Arctic Circle. For East Canada, it was also too late. That was where my home used to be.

I had lived with my parents Ryan and Tina, and twin sister Rowen, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, my whole life. In fact, we had even lived in the same house – a comfortable, double-story, water-front home. As a kid, it had been a place full of magic and adventure. Now, the spectacular scenery that I could recall in minute detail, that had once brought wonderful, warm memories, held dark and foreboding promises instead. I had loved it there, however, as I grew older, my feet began to itch with the desire to explore so, when I finished school, I decided to go to the University of Winnipeg. I had tried to talk my sister into coming with me but, though we were similar in myriad aspects, in this we were different. She had no intention of leaving Halifax and hence started tertiary education in Veterinary Medicine at Dalhousie University.

My parents are dead now – at least, I am fairly certain they are – but Rowen… Rowen is alive. I’ve seen her. She’s not herself, but she’s alive and I am determined to get her back. Born only two minutes apart – myself being the older one – we had always been close. Some twins hate being compared to their sibling, or being viewed as identical. Not us. We tried to be as identical as possible. I always knew everything she was thinking or feeling at any given time; even if she never told me. It worked the other way too. We used to play a game where we would try to communicate with each other telepathically and guess what the other was trying to say. Ninety nine percent of the time, we got it right. Twin telepathy does exist. She was my best friend and partner in crime. I felt so incomplete without her. I could still remember how, when we were little, we would wait until mum and dad had gone to bed then, one of us would creep into the other’s room and into their bed. We had shared a room at one point, until mum decided we were becoming to unhealthily attached to each other. One day, we got home from school to discover we had been split into separate bedrooms. We threw an absolute fit but mum stood her ground. No amount of crying or pleading would change her mind. We had been all of seven years old at the time and still perfectly young enough to share a room in our opinion. So, we tried to make do. Sort of. Usually mum or Dad would find us in the morning, curled up together in one’s bed or the other’s, fast asleep. As we got older, this didn’t happen as often but, every now and then, if one of us had a nightmare or was upset for any reason, we would climb into the other’s bed and everything would be all right again. It was extremely comforting to know that you would never be alone, no matter what happened. Friends and family could come and go, but twins are forever. At least, that was the way we saw it at the time. I feel pretty alone right now.

My name is Reuben and this is my story – the story of the twenty-first century ice age.

************

APPROX SIX MONTHS AGO

I was studying one evening, the television on low volume in the background, when I heard the news reporter mention Nova Scotia. I grabbed the remote and turned it up.

“New fears have emerged today that far Eastern Canada has also fallen to the quickly spreading Arctic Circle. Are we seeing the beginning of a new ice age? Stay with us because after the break we will be speaking with…”

I tuned out. My heart hammered in my chest as I dove for the phone and dialed home. Surely this can’t be happening, I thought. I’ll ring home, Rowen will answer and tell me she knew it would be me calling and everything will be fine. However, there was only a dial tone to answer me. I still would not believe that my family had frozen to death like the poor citizens of Greenland. Grabbing my pack, I began to hastily throw in clothes and other necessities.

“Reuben.” My friend Seth gave me a look of sympathy.

“It’s not true,” I stated defiantly. “It can’t be.” 

My stomach churned, causing the pizza I ate for dinner to threaten us with a second viewing. It can’t be true, I repeated silently to myself. While in denial, I recalled a conversation I’d had with Rowen a couple of days ago in which she had commented on how cold it was there. We were both used to the cold weather so I had thought it rather odd for her to comment on it. “Must be a cold snap,” had been my reply. We usually spoke every day at least once. The next day was the first time that we didn’t. I tried to ring her but she wasn’t available. Nor was she the next day, or the next. She’s just busy, I tried to reassure myself but, I knew it was more than that. Something was wrong; perhaps not an ice age but, something. Now, a small voice taunted me, chanting “ice age, ice age, ice age,” over and over again. It had been predicted of course. Scientists and the like had been prattling on about the dawning of a new ice age for years, saying it was not a matter of if but a matter of when. So, shouldn’t they have seen this coming? That’s how it always seemed to play out in the movies. Only, this wasn’t a movie. This was real life and in real life, my family was in potential danger.

“You going to try get home?” Seth brought me out of my ruminations.

“Yeh.”

“I’ll go with you.” Seth pulled his pack from under his bed and began to mimic my actions, tossing in clothes and other items.

I paused to watch him. After Rowen, Seth was my next best friend. “I appreciate the thought but I’m fine to go alone. Besides, if things are the way they are saying, it could be dangerous.”

“No way, man. I’m not letting you go wandering off into a brewing ice age alone. I’m coming with you and there’s nothing you can say to stop me.”

Sighing, I nodded my consent and we continued to pack in silence until the news reporter began to talk about the evacuation of both our Prime Minister and the President of the United States. I froze. This could only mean things were serious; properly serious. My skin turned cold as I listened to a speech by the Prime Minister.

“…therefore, we are advising everyone to stay away from the far Eastern parts of the country. Do not plan any trips and if you are still there, please, leave immediately. There is no telling how far the ice will spread nor how quickly. The safest option is to get out now.”

I turned it off and raced to finish packing.

On the way to the airport I tried to reach my family again, first calling the house phone then each of their individual cell phones. My parent’s cells did not even ring, instead answering with a message about the phone being off or out of range. But Rowen’s cell… My heart almost leapt into my throat when I hit call and it started ringing. Albeit, it sunk back down again when it continued to ring and eventually rang out. I tried again, thinking maybe she had just missed it. Nothing. It didn’t even ring the second time. Where could she be?

I ran to the desk once we arrived and puffed out my request for a return ticket to Halifax.

“I’m sorry,” the airline employee informed me. “All flights to Halifax – actually to the whole of Nova Scotia – have been cancelled. There has been no contact from there in over forty-eight hours. Planes scheduled to return have not done so and we have lost contact with several planes headed in that direction.”

“What?” I was dumbstruck.

“I’m sorry, sir. There’s no flight that I can put you on.” Her eyes were full of compassion as she told me the absolute last thing I wanted to hear.

Gritting my teeth, I turned away and walked pensively back to the car. “I’m going to drive there.”

It was Seth’s turn to be dumbstruck. “What? Dude, that’s a forty-hour drive!”

“Yep. I’ll leave now and drive through the night. I’ll drop you off at the Uni on my way.”

“You think I’m backing out just because we couldn’t get a flight? No. I’m sticking with you. It will be easier with two people driving.” Seth’s jaw was set and his mind made up. Truth be told, I was grateful. The idea of going alone was not appealing in the least. I just did not want to put anyone else in danger.

I clapped him on the shoulder. “Thank you.”

Seth nodded. “I’ll take the first stint. We’ll take turns in six or seven-hour intervals so, you get some rest and try to relax. I’m sure your family is okay. Maybe the power lines are just down due to the weather.”

“Maybe,” I murmured absently. Rowen, where are you? I pleaded with my twin, begging her to answer me. Of one fact I was sure, she was alive. Suddenly, an image appeared in my mind, a blinding flash of white. “Argh!”

My hands flew to my head. It wasn’t painful, it was just a shock. We had experimented with sending mental images to each other with mild success. It was something we were determined to master. You would think it would be a simple thing, especially between twins, yet even twin mentality has its restrictions. The more we practiced, the better we got, and found that it worked much more effectively if we also attached a strong emotion to the image. Rowen’s emotion in this instance was crystal clear. She was terrified.

“We have to hurry,” I emphasized.

Seth caught on to my urgency and jumped into the driver’s seat. “Then let’s go!”

I threw my bags in the back and leapt into the passenger side. As soon as I slammed the door shut, Seth took off. I’m coming, Rowen. Hold on.

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Chapter 1 of Running With Wolves
Written by ChanelleJoy
THE ICE INVASION
So, the world ended. Well, maybe that’s being a little overly dramatic but, it isn’t far from the truth. It started almost a year ago, within the heart of the Arctic Circle. No one noticed at first. Seeing as the Arctic Ocean is always covered by ice to some extent, no one thought much of it when the ice coverage began to spread; that is, until it began to spread quite rapidly and scientists observed a dramatic temperature drop, which continued to decrease at a steady pace. Greenland was the first to go, soon completely swallowed by the fast-moving ice. They had no warning. All life – human, animal and plant – was obliterated by the freezing conditions. After that, word was quickly spread to all countries bordering the Arctic Circle. For East Canada, it was also too late. That was where my home used to be.

I had lived with my parents Ryan and Tina, and twin sister Rowen, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, my whole life. In fact, we had even lived in the same house – a comfortable, double-story, water-front home. As a kid, it had been a place full of magic and adventure. Now, the spectacular scenery that I could recall in minute detail, that had once brought wonderful, warm memories, held dark and foreboding promises instead. I had loved it there, however, as I grew older, my feet began to itch with the desire to explore so, when I finished school, I decided to go to the University of Winnipeg. I had tried to talk my sister into coming with me but, though we were similar in myriad aspects, in this we were different. She had no intention of leaving Halifax and hence started tertiary education in Veterinary Medicine at Dalhousie University.

My parents are dead now – at least, I am fairly certain they are – but Rowen… Rowen is alive. I’ve seen her. She’s not herself, but she’s alive and I am determined to get her back. Born only two minutes apart – myself being the older one – we had always been close. Some twins hate being compared to their sibling, or being viewed as identical. Not us. We tried to be as identical as possible. I always knew everything she was thinking or feeling at any given time; even if she never told me. It worked the other way too. We used to play a game where we would try to communicate with each other telepathically and guess what the other was trying to say. Ninety nine percent of the time, we got it right. Twin telepathy does exist. She was my best friend and partner in crime. I felt so incomplete without her. I could still remember how, when we were little, we would wait until mum and dad had gone to bed then, one of us would creep into the other’s room and into their bed. We had shared a room at one point, until mum decided we were becoming to unhealthily attached to each other. One day, we got home from school to discover we had been split into separate bedrooms. We threw an absolute fit but mum stood her ground. No amount of crying or pleading would change her mind. We had been all of seven years old at the time and still perfectly young enough to share a room in our opinion. So, we tried to make do. Sort of. Usually mum or Dad would find us in the morning, curled up together in one’s bed or the other’s, fast asleep. As we got older, this didn’t happen as often but, every now and then, if one of us had a nightmare or was upset for any reason, we would climb into the other’s bed and everything would be all right again. It was extremely comforting to know that you would never be alone, no matter what happened. Friends and family could come and go, but twins are forever. At least, that was the way we saw it at the time. I feel pretty alone right now.

My name is Reuben and this is my story – the story of the twenty-first century ice age.

************

APPROX SIX MONTHS AGO

I was studying one evening, the television on low volume in the background, when I heard the news reporter mention Nova Scotia. I grabbed the remote and turned it up.

“New fears have emerged today that far Eastern Canada has also fallen to the quickly spreading Arctic Circle. Are we seeing the beginning of a new ice age? Stay with us because after the break we will be speaking with…”

I tuned out. My heart hammered in my chest as I dove for the phone and dialed home. Surely this can’t be happening, I thought. I’ll ring home, Rowen will answer and tell me she knew it would be me calling and everything will be fine. However, there was only a dial tone to answer me. I still would not believe that my family had frozen to death like the poor citizens of Greenland. Grabbing my pack, I began to hastily throw in clothes and other necessities.

“Reuben.” My friend Seth gave me a look of sympathy.

“It’s not true,” I stated defiantly. “It can’t be.” 

My stomach churned, causing the pizza I ate for dinner to threaten us with a second viewing. It can’t be true, I repeated silently to myself. While in denial, I recalled a conversation I’d had with Rowen a couple of days ago in which she had commented on how cold it was there. We were both used to the cold weather so I had thought it rather odd for her to comment on it. “Must be a cold snap,” had been my reply. We usually spoke every day at least once. The next day was the first time that we didn’t. I tried to ring her but she wasn’t available. Nor was she the next day, or the next. She’s just busy, I tried to reassure myself but, I knew it was more than that. Something was wrong; perhaps not an ice age but, something. Now, a small voice taunted me, chanting “ice age, ice age, ice age,” over and over again. It had been predicted of course. Scientists and the like had been prattling on about the dawning of a new ice age for years, saying it was not a matter of if but a matter of when. So, shouldn’t they have seen this coming? That’s how it always seemed to play out in the movies. Only, this wasn’t a movie. This was real life and in real life, my family was in potential danger.

“You going to try get home?” Seth brought me out of my ruminations.

“Yeh.”

“I’ll go with you.” Seth pulled his pack from under his bed and began to mimic my actions, tossing in clothes and other items.

I paused to watch him. After Rowen, Seth was my next best friend. “I appreciate the thought but I’m fine to go alone. Besides, if things are the way they are saying, it could be dangerous.”

“No way, man. I’m not letting you go wandering off into a brewing ice age alone. I’m coming with you and there’s nothing you can say to stop me.”

Sighing, I nodded my consent and we continued to pack in silence until the news reporter began to talk about the evacuation of both our Prime Minister and the President of the United States. I froze. This could only mean things were serious; properly serious. My skin turned cold as I listened to a speech by the Prime Minister.

“…therefore, we are advising everyone to stay away from the far Eastern parts of the country. Do not plan any trips and if you are still there, please, leave immediately. There is no telling how far the ice will spread nor how quickly. The safest option is to get out now.”

I turned it off and raced to finish packing.

On the way to the airport I tried to reach my family again, first calling the house phone then each of their individual cell phones. My parent’s cells did not even ring, instead answering with a message about the phone being off or out of range. But Rowen’s cell… My heart almost leapt into my throat when I hit call and it started ringing. Albeit, it sunk back down again when it continued to ring and eventually rang out. I tried again, thinking maybe she had just missed it. Nothing. It didn’t even ring the second time. Where could she be?

I ran to the desk once we arrived and puffed out my request for a return ticket to Halifax.

“I’m sorry,” the airline employee informed me. “All flights to Halifax – actually to the whole of Nova Scotia – have been cancelled. There has been no contact from there in over forty-eight hours. Planes scheduled to return have not done so and we have lost contact with several planes headed in that direction.”

“What?” I was dumbstruck.

“I’m sorry, sir. There’s no flight that I can put you on.” Her eyes were full of compassion as she told me the absolute last thing I wanted to hear.

Gritting my teeth, I turned away and walked pensively back to the car. “I’m going to drive there.”

It was Seth’s turn to be dumbstruck. “What? Dude, that’s a forty-hour drive!”

“Yep. I’ll leave now and drive through the night. I’ll drop you off at the Uni on my way.”

“You think I’m backing out just because we couldn’t get a flight? No. I’m sticking with you. It will be easier with two people driving.” Seth’s jaw was set and his mind made up. Truth be told, I was grateful. The idea of going alone was not appealing in the least. I just did not want to put anyone else in danger.

I clapped him on the shoulder. “Thank you.”

Seth nodded. “I’ll take the first stint. We’ll take turns in six or seven-hour intervals so, you get some rest and try to relax. I’m sure your family is okay. Maybe the power lines are just down due to the weather.”

“Maybe,” I murmured absently. Rowen, where are you? I pleaded with my twin, begging her to answer me. Of one fact I was sure, she was alive. Suddenly, an image appeared in my mind, a blinding flash of white. “Argh!”

My hands flew to my head. It wasn’t painful, it was just a shock. We had experimented with sending mental images to each other with mild success. It was something we were determined to master. You would think it would be a simple thing, especially between twins, yet even twin mentality has its restrictions. The more we practiced, the better we got, and found that it worked much more effectively if we also attached a strong emotion to the image. Rowen’s emotion in this instance was crystal clear. She was terrified.

“We have to hurry,” I emphasized.

Seth caught on to my urgency and jumped into the driver’s seat. “Then let’s go!”

I threw my bags in the back and leapt into the passenger side. As soon as I slammed the door shut, Seth took off. I’m coming, Rowen. Hold on.
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An insane asylum plaques your city.
Written by desmondwrite

Bed Springs Insane Asylum

It was a nurse who took down the plaque—the one commemorating "Bed Springs Insane Asylum" and its historic efforts. Partly because there was no Bed Springs Insane Asylum. (This was, after all, the Julie Kryor Hospital for the Mentally Impaired.) Partly because nothing was allowed to be posted on the walls without administrator consent. (The irony of hanging Van Gogh prints in a mental hospital was lost to everyone.) Partly because Dr. Chaudhuri requested it.

The plaque was made on paper because what was the point of wasting good wood or iron? Nor did anyone have access to the shop. It was drawn in crayon because crayons were special to the patients and they wanted the plaque to represent them as much as it commemorated their neighboring city. And the plaque was created by Ms. Zanna Tully, because the other 'resident artist' had asked for a lifetime supply of cigarettes and Joséphine de Beauharnais's hand in marriage, only smoking was not allowed and Joséphine had been dead for two hundred years. In the end, free, free, free was more appealing.

The removal of the plaque caused enough disturbance that Dr. Chaudhuri had to summon Zanna into the interview room. These disturbances were little ways the patients found to riot, like refusing to take pills, or drawing new plaques on the wall right on the paint, or breaking lamps and chairs. One patient—Mr. Bryan Brightley—ate a handful of crayons and pooped rainbows in the parlor. The truth was that not every patient understood the significance of the plaque, but it made them feel something like an eel in the stomach. A good squirming feeling, I should clarify.

Zanna was a frightened young woman—thin and gray and collapsible. Her record was archetypal: schizophrenia, suicidal tendencies, a litany of medications, allowed acrylics and canvas only under the scrutiny of the head nurse. Now Zanna scrutinized the tall mirrors to her left, thinking she could see the outlines of persons like glimpses of another dimension. Before her was a gray-foam table with safely rounded corners, and beyond that was Dr. Chaudhuri wearing a blue blazer that was still clean even though someone puked on it earlier. 

Now the good doctor put the plaque on the table and wondered aloud why Zanna would make a memorial for an "insane asylum city."

The plaque read simply: "Bed Springs Insane Asylum. In the 19th-century, there emerged a need for a place of refuge and treatment for Americans suffering from mental illness. In 1843, the county built the city on an old farm site. The city houses over 2 million patients today." There were no pictures, only blue text on yellow ground.

It took some pleasantries before Dr. Chaudhuri caught some substance on his recorder:

"Someone—I think it was Dr. Glines," said Zanna, hesitating as she gave the mirror a glance. "Someone mentioned that in city hall there's a plaque for our hospital, so we thought we'd do a plaque for the city of Bed Springs. Because we feel bad for Bed Springs. Here we're doing great. We're receiving help. But that city is full of people trapped in disorder and destruction, struggling forever, wearing the straightjacket of the 9 to 5, screaming silently in bedrooms, hearing voices that say 'you'll never be good enough' or 'no one really loves you,' and, well, everyone forgets to appreciate their struggle, too."

"But the city is where we want to send you someday," said Dr. Chaudhuri, adding a pinch of artificial sweetener to his voice. "It's not an asylum. It's real life."

And he went on to describe how there is a natural and healthy rhythm to being human, how spirit and survival dictate society, how a community creates compromise—not crazy. On and on he went, only now that he thought about it, how real was regularity and responsibility, and how awful were clocks? All those tick, tick, ticks like icepicks to the brain telling you when to be awake and when to be asleep and when to eat and when to crap. And many people in Bed Springs took more pills than his patients. And lived in big blocks of cells where they weren't allowed to enter each other's rooms without consent.

But Dr. Chaudhuri could tell Zanna wasn't hearing much of his explanation because her hands were shaking and she was looking fearfully to her left. She was seeing something that disturbed her—probably a visual hallucination. The doctor signaled to aides in the hall, and they quickly took her back to her room. Alone now, he turned off the recorder. The plaque would remain down for nothing should contaminate the asepsis of the hospital—that clinical cleanliness that is not comforting, never comforting, and acts as a platform for despair with uncaring, easily-cleaned uniformity.

Before he left the interview room, the doctor had an odd moment. For a heartbeat (and only a heartbeat) he thought he saw the bald shape of Zanna in the mirror—the suggestion of a silhouete.

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An insane asylum plaques your city.
Written by desmondwrite
Bed Springs Insane Asylum
It was a nurse who took down the plaque—the one commemorating "Bed Springs Insane Asylum" and its historic efforts. Partly because there was no Bed Springs Insane Asylum. (This was, after all, the Julie Kryor Hospital for the Mentally Impaired.) Partly because nothing was allowed to be posted on the walls without administrator consent. (The irony of hanging Van Gogh prints in a mental hospital was lost to everyone.) Partly because Dr. Chaudhuri requested it.

The plaque was made on paper because what was the point of wasting good wood or iron? Nor did anyone have access to the shop. It was drawn in crayon because crayons were special to the patients and they wanted the plaque to represent them as much as it commemorated their neighboring city. And the plaque was created by Ms. Zanna Tully, because the other 'resident artist' had asked for a lifetime supply of cigarettes and Joséphine de Beauharnais's hand in marriage, only smoking was not allowed and Joséphine had been dead for two hundred years. In the end, free, free, free was more appealing.

The removal of the plaque caused enough disturbance that Dr. Chaudhuri had to summon Zanna into the interview room. These disturbances were little ways the patients found to riot, like refusing to take pills, or drawing new plaques on the wall right on the paint, or breaking lamps and chairs. One patient—Mr. Bryan Brightley—ate a handful of crayons and pooped rainbows in the parlor. The truth was that not every patient understood the significance of the plaque, but it made them feel something like an eel in the stomach. A good squirming feeling, I should clarify.

Zanna was a frightened young woman—thin and gray and collapsible. Her record was archetypal: schizophrenia, suicidal tendencies, a litany of medications, allowed acrylics and canvas only under the scrutiny of the head nurse. Now Zanna scrutinized the tall mirrors to her left, thinking she could see the outlines of persons like glimpses of another dimension. Before her was a gray-foam table with safely rounded corners, and beyond that was Dr. Chaudhuri wearing a blue blazer that was still clean even though someone puked on it earlier. 

Now the good doctor put the plaque on the table and wondered aloud why Zanna would make a memorial for an "insane asylum city."

The plaque read simply: "Bed Springs Insane Asylum. In the 19th-century, there emerged a need for a place of refuge and treatment for Americans suffering from mental illness. In 1843, the county built the city on an old farm site. The city houses over 2 million patients today." There were no pictures, only blue text on yellow ground.

It took some pleasantries before Dr. Chaudhuri caught some substance on his recorder:

"Someone—I think it was Dr. Glines," said Zanna, hesitating as she gave the mirror a glance. "Someone mentioned that in city hall there's a plaque for our hospital, so we thought we'd do a plaque for the city of Bed Springs. Because we feel bad for Bed Springs. Here we're doing great. We're receiving help. But that city is full of people trapped in disorder and destruction, struggling forever, wearing the straightjacket of the 9 to 5, screaming silently in bedrooms, hearing voices that say 'you'll never be good enough' or 'no one really loves you,' and, well, everyone forgets to appreciate their struggle, too."

"But the city is where we want to send you someday," said Dr. Chaudhuri, adding a pinch of artificial sweetener to his voice. "It's not an asylum. It's real life."

And he went on to describe how there is a natural and healthy rhythm to being human, how spirit and survival dictate society, how a community creates compromise—not crazy. On and on he went, only now that he thought about it, how real was regularity and responsibility, and how awful were clocks? All those tick, tick, ticks like icepicks to the brain telling you when to be awake and when to be asleep and when to eat and when to crap. And many people in Bed Springs took more pills than his patients. And lived in big blocks of cells where they weren't allowed to enter each other's rooms without consent.

But Dr. Chaudhuri could tell Zanna wasn't hearing much of his explanation because her hands were shaking and she was looking fearfully to her left. She was seeing something that disturbed her—probably a visual hallucination. The doctor signaled to aides in the hall, and they quickly took her back to her room. Alone now, he turned off the recorder. The plaque would remain down for nothing should contaminate the asepsis of the hospital—that clinical cleanliness that is not comforting, never comforting, and acts as a platform for despair with uncaring, easily-cleaned uniformity.

Before he left the interview room, the doctor had an odd moment. For a heartbeat (and only a heartbeat) he thought he saw the bald shape of Zanna in the mirror—the suggestion of a silhouete.
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Written by JimLamb in portal Journal

Sunday Meditation: Puppies, Lambs & God

Mercedes (a.k.a. Mercy) became a member of the Lamb family three years ago this week. She’s three-quarters Labrador Retriever, one-quarter Beagle. I named her after the German car because I’d always wanted a black Mercedes but couldn’t afford one.

Mercy has been a great dog: Barking aggressive and loud when someone’s at the door, going to the bathroom outside, and generally being well-mannered.

We’d had two Chihuahuas prior to Mercedes: Rio, who died of old age, and Coco (his son) who was eaten by an alligator. (Such are the hazards of Florida living.)

I like having pets, though my luck with cats has been better than my luck with dogs; Mercy is the exception.

Pet lovers know what I mean when I say Mercedes is a member of the family: Getting up with my wife and I early in morning, lazing around the house during the day, snuggling on the sofa at night, chasing balls, shoes, and squeaky toys at inappropriate intervals along the way.

In my mind’s eye, I sometimes project my relationship with God along the lines of how I relate to Mercedes. Since my last name is Lamb, you can guess how that plays out: 

“The Lord is my Shepherd.”

Shepherds care for sheep, leading them to green pastures, so they can eat; making them lie down, so they can digest their food; protecting them from wolves, panthers, hyenas, and jackals, because lambs are ill-equipped to protect themselves; leading them beside still waters—because sheep are notoriously skittish around fast-moving streams/rivers, fearing they’ll get water-logged and drown.

I don’t know why Mercedes hangs around our house. For food? Perhaps. The occasional back-scratch? Of course. The playful tossing of toys? Maybe. But I like to think it’s because Mercy knows she’s loved—and that’s probably the reason I hang around with God, as well.

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Written by JimLamb in portal Journal
Sunday Meditation: Puppies, Lambs & God
Mercedes (a.k.a. Mercy) became a member of the Lamb family three years ago this week. She’s three-quarters Labrador Retriever, one-quarter Beagle. I named her after the German car because I’d always wanted a black Mercedes but couldn’t afford one.

Mercy has been a great dog: Barking aggressive and loud when someone’s at the door, going to the bathroom outside, and generally being well-mannered.

We’d had two Chihuahuas prior to Mercedes: Rio, who died of old age, and Coco (his son) who was eaten by an alligator. (Such are the hazards of Florida living.)

I like having pets, though my luck with cats has been better than my luck with dogs; Mercy is the exception.

Pet lovers know what I mean when I say Mercedes is a member of the family: Getting up with my wife and I early in morning, lazing around the house during the day, snuggling on the sofa at night, chasing balls, shoes, and squeaky toys at inappropriate intervals along the way.

In my mind’s eye, I sometimes project my relationship with God along the lines of how I relate to Mercedes. Since my last name is Lamb, you can guess how that plays out: 

“The Lord is my Shepherd.”

Shepherds care for sheep, leading them to green pastures, so they can eat; making them lie down, so they can digest their food; protecting them from wolves, panthers, hyenas, and jackals, because lambs are ill-equipped to protect themselves; leading them beside still waters—because sheep are notoriously skittish around fast-moving streams/rivers, fearing they’ll get water-logged and drown.

I don’t know why Mercedes hangs around our house. For food? Perhaps. The occasional back-scratch? Of course. The playful tossing of toys? Maybe. But I like to think it’s because Mercy knows she’s loved—and that’s probably the reason I hang around with God, as well.
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Written by Sam in portal Stream of Consciousness

3 am thoughts I had at 9 pm

This is ridiculous, but I can't get this shit out of my head and I feel like writing it down will make some of it not only go away, but maybe make some of it tangible enough for someone other than me to comprehend. I honestly can't comprehend a lot of this myself, but these are 3 am thoughts that I feel like I have all the time and I can't even understand half of it myself. I don't get it, and it's pissing me off because the more I try to explain it in my head the more profound and elusive everything becomes because I feel like the language I use is reasonable, but no one else will understand. This is just something for me to jot everything down, but of course, I'm going to look over all of this and proofread because even when I'm rambling I can never leave something that describes even the smallest part of myself at a point where I believe it to be imperfect. I'll try to keep this as true of a narrative as possible regardless.

I don't know where to begin. Whenever I think about myself and my story I always feel the need to start with my parents, because they created the Fundamentalist environment that I grew up in as a rebellious child and later a (slightly) rebellious teenager, but the world they grew up in is so different from mine and I don't think I'll find the answer with them. These are MY questions, and I'll have to dig for the answers myself even though I'll probably never find them and THATS where I want to begin, in a sense. There are questions that can't be answered and there always will be and I don't understand for the life of me how people can willingly believe that there's one simple answer to all of their existential questions or crises or whatever. And yeah, I'm talking about God, because that seems to be what my life revolves around regardless of how I view religion and I don't even have a simple answer as to why I keep coming back to it. People find meaning and comfort in the words of the Bible, just a book, and some devote their whole lives to preaching it and understanding it even though my pastor says you may live your whole life not understanding God's plan for you at all until it's too late. And what kind of fucking life is that, questioning yourself until the day you die?

Maybe this is bias, but I cannot handle the idea of stagnancy, of SETTLING for a life that's unfulfilling and fucking worthless in the end. I don't understand where the irritation comes from, but I used to imagine myself as a writer, living the most comfortable life and still doing what I loved, but doing what I loved meant sitting for hours at a time trying to write down shit that would sell. Now, I can't even imagine myself doing something like that. Maybe it's because I don't think I'm skilled enough to create shit out of thin air that'll become some YA bestseller, or because I don't think any kind of story I could tell regardless of genre would mean anything to anyone. And that's "quitter talk" or whatever, I know, but in my limited experience I have only met one person who ever thought the same things I did about the world, and who still does. Only one person can listen to me ramble about purpose and nod, and agree, and provide deeper insight than I ever will on why the earth spins or whatever the hell we want to discuss, and even then Jesse has his own ideas. Sure, maybe it's dumb to think so, but because only one person listens to me now makes me think that only a handful will listen to me later, when I'm not a kid everyone dismisses for not understanding the world even though the accusers don't even understand it either. Now, after going through what I have, and even though I haven't battled cancer, everything's affected me just like it, and I can't see myself sitting in some cushy office in my cookie-cutter house pulling shit out of my ass to feed the millions of mouths hungry for another escape from the monotonous world they live in. And that's respectable, to a degree, because for years my life revolved around those worlds that I could escape in. The problem was that they WERENT real. But now that I know what IS real, I have this inconsolable urge to fucking do something about it.

My name, Samantha, is Hebrew, the feminine form of Samuel, meaning "messenger of God," or "told by God." And let me tell you, the entire time I wanted to be an author, for a good seven years or so, I thought that shit was divine providence. I thought that my namesake meant that I was meant to tell stories one day, even if they didn't come from God at all. But that's the trick, because what if you believe that the stories still originate from God regardless? Because we're His? I don't know. The point I'm trying to make is that for the longest time I wanted to be an author and was so comfortable with that fact, and now I'm never going to be anything other than a doctor. I won't let myself be anything less because for fucks sake if I ever had a calling, it's for that. Ever since I went out of the country, a small little thirteen year old moron who thought she was the hot shit and who knew fucking all and everything in between, I feel like I've opened my eyes beyond my shit vision. People fucking need help. And if you're thinking this is going to trail off into some liberal ass propaganda or some "capitalism is the true devil" shit, get out of my face. The world is so much more than the limited face of American politics and no one realizes that, but that's a word-vomit for another time. But people need help, and there's something burning inside me to at least do something with my life to help and HERES the kicker for me. Here's the bias. I have been given every opportunity, from a good home life to the possibility of tutors to parents who care about my well-being and academic life, and you bet your ass I'm going to use every bit of everything I was given to do something with my life. I will not let everything my parents worked for, from being dirt poor to self made, go to waste, regardless of how I might feel about them some days. I have the ability and the intelligence (not to sound like a pretentious asshole, sorry about that) to make some kind of difference and whether that's filling out insurance garbage or sewing up someone's artery, it doesn't matter. I'll never understand how people let things like that go to waste. This is where I feel like the world is so much bigger than I am and I hate feeling selfish like that.

And this, THIS is where we breach the main concept that keeps me up at night, and it's purpose. Maybe not purpose per se but MEANING. One of the recurring questions I hear from wannabe philosophers or kids who take religion too seriously (there's a difference between being religious and being a zealot) is "why are we here?" But I don't want to hear that. It doesn't go deep enough. It scratches a surface that people for thousands of years have scratched already and there's no point in scratching it some more. The surface is ruined, blurry. Time to look somewhere else. Time to ask something that looks past a question we're not going to get an answer to. And don't get me wrong, I understand the "why are we here" is linked to purpose and that purpose is linked to meaning, but why not cut out the middle man and ask straight up "what the fuck am I DOING this for?"

I don't know why we're here and neither does anyone else. I feel like we've established that enough as a species and we're wasting our time. Everyone believes we're here for something different and there's no point in arguing about it anymore. I don't want my life to be this constant question concerning the purpose for my existence, because free will fucking exists for a reason and I'm tired of hearing all the bullshit about God giving us the capacity to think for ourselves but still acting in ways that he had planned. What the fuck does that even mean? Are we free or not? Because if we're still behaving in predicted ways, we're not fucking free and I don't CARE. I've always had this underlying problem with authority and I'm sick of people holding the promise of Heaven over my head like it fucking matters in the end. Life isn't about the endgame to me. Heaven is a reassurance that the good are rewarded and the evil get what they deserve but God's concept of justice is molded by humanity's concept of it and justice is just that, a concept shaped by changing times and changing politics. Justice is Guantanamo Bay to some and the right to a jury trial to others. Justice is legal revenge, and everyone thinks they deserve some of it. There's always someone we think needs to be taken down a notch, or hurt, and sure, telling yourself that public enemy #1 is burning in one of Dante's circles might help you sleep at night but what are you really living for then? What's the point then? Why are we living for a Heaven meant for those who can't find peace while they live? Isn't that what we should be working for? Sure, talk to me about the worthlessness of material things. Go ahead, tell me the true meaning of life is to live for God. But why the hell haven't we started living for the general concept of GOOD and not for the benefit of a religion alone? God and good might be a letter apart but there's a bible's worth of words in between them anyway. And that only means that I don't have a definition for "good" but society does, and I guess that's what I'm fighting for. The end of suffering, to a degree.

The meaning of my existence isn't a question of where I came from, but it's a question I can't answer anyway. All I know is that it can't be so simple as "god has a plan." Yeah, God has a plan. Hitler had a plan too.

I think this is why I read so much, or why I'm obsessed with literature and always will be. There are so many perspectives and so many thoughts and ideas that so many people ignore and they can be found in the classics section of a bookstore. It fucking baffles me. Everything is here but because Charles Dickens writes too many words, or because kids read Homer's "Odyssey" in freshman year and don't want to touch it again, there are so many people who don't pick this shit up. People who don't listen. And honestly, Dickens and Homer might not be great examples, they're just classics and that doesn't allude to a deeper meaning or some kind of elusive profundity automatically, but the one thing I've learned from finishing the book "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien is that the story truth and the real truth are two different things and sometimes the story truth, as O'Brien puts it, is the one that carries more meaning. For a book revolving around Vietnam, I've never read something so profound since I picked up something by Robert Penn Warren. To differentiate, the real truth is what actually happens to you. It's the simple war story, told plain, just like it happened. And there's truth to that, there can be meaning for those who find it, but then you start telling the story to wide-eyed Americans sitting at a local cafe thinking poorly of the draft dodgers, or the adults who turn the TV channel when the newscaster starts talking politics, or the people who commit one of the ultimate follies and glamorize the entire idea of war, and they don't get it. They may nod, they may see something, but there's a point they're missing that they'll always miss because they weren't there and you were. That's the con of the real truth, and that's why you have to add things. The story truth is different, it's the story you add to until the moral becomes clear to those with wide eyes, but the act of adding to the original is what hides the real moral. It's a twisted game, but it's easy to ignore the nuances if you don't recognize there are nuances at all. If you're proud of your little boy for submitting to the draft and take pride in knowing he's fighting an ideology that will never really die, you don't see the nuances and you feel secure in the lack of knowledge you don't know you have. That's the gist of essentially the whole novel, and im sure I got O'Brien's terms for the truth and the half-truth messed up, but this is where the concept reminds me of Robert Penn Warren. There's this quote from his novel "All The King's Men," a story based off of Louisiana demagogue Huey Long but creates some kind of moral out of twisting the exact story into something more. It says, "The end of man is knowledge, but there is one thing he can't know. He can't know whether knowledge will save him or kill him. He will be killed, all right, but he can't know whether he is killed because of the knowledge which he has got or because of the knowledge which he hasn't got and which if he had it, would save him. ...for the end of man is to know." It's a remarkable parallel to O'Brien's storytelling.

That's kind of the point, I guess: that the ideas are reflected. But what's also the point is that maybe if I twist what I always wanted to tell as a writer, people will listen. But there's no point to me then, because then no one will really know. No one would really care if I told them my truth, what made me human, because they wouldn't understand. It wouldn't make sense to them. They wouldn't see the nuances.

But I don't want to be a doctor for the sake of trying to be understood. Back to the point of literature, to sum it up, it's where I find the definition of "meaning" that clicks with me. Granted, you can find thousands of definitions in thousands of paperbacks, but digging up the classics is where you find the conclusions that have survived to be read generations after publication, and this is where I first find Faulkner. It's the last book I'm assigned for AP Literature, the book "Light in August," and this is my first introduction to the world Faulkner has built in his fictional little town of Jefferson, Mississippi. After a year of trying to make sense of the fractured, profound thoughts of the man, I finally realize that O'Brien's idea may be found yet again, just now, as I write this. Faulkner writes his stories of characters connected by blood and happenstance as they take place in Jefferson and how they may relate to each other (but those connections are essentially nonexistent in his writing—it's the reader's job to try and create connections between novels out of thin air), and this is the story truth. It may not be truth at all, and regardless of it not being such, it SPEAKS and this is what hits home for me. Regardless of whether or not Faulkner's writing is "truth," I don't think I've ever been more impacted by an author besides Shakespeare (king of nuance and human nature that he is), because Faulkner finds what I've always thought I've found; the meaning in the deep roots of a region such as the American South, a region dismissed time and time again for past mistakes that shouldn't be forgotten but that also shouldn't be allowed to cloud the rest of the history and the habits that make it. Faulkner finds a message in the intertwining of family, of sin and of setting. Faulkner remarks on the entirety of human nature with just a story taking place in a small town that doesn't even exist. Faulkner is considered the primary writer of the south, a god among men for his prose and his stories, but Faulkner dips his pen in the ink and writes of something greater. Like religion, Faulkner remarks of the human tragedy, a death so profound that it exceeds the boundaries of a life now passed.

And honestly, I'm addicted. I know that was a nice little ode to a dead author, but this is what I mean. This is what I mean when I say I seek language to discover what all of this might mean, and even then I can't fully explain why I do. My friend Jesse always asks me "Sam, why do you even like Faulkner?" But he's a Hemingway fan and the underlying message, I think, is the same. Tragedy. But to me, what's tragic is the belief that doom is predetermined unless we subject ourselves to a very specific set of circumstances and devote our lives to prayer.

I still don't even know if this is coherent. It might've helped me organize my thoughts, but they're all jumbled together now and the rant had already spilled out. I don't know if this is all or if there's more to come, but there probably will be more, because I have to take a fucking sleeping aid just to shut my brain the fuck up. I don't know how to conclude this mess either. Maybe it concludes itself, I don't know. I think that's what gets me: not knowing. I crave answers in a world that has none, in a world where the answer is relative to the person answering the question. And sure, I like input on this kind of stuff, but like I said, people don't get it. At least, they don't get it in the way I do, and maybe the bias is back and I unfairly count them out because their thoughts don't match mine, but maybe it goes back to that problem of authority. The people I've met who think they have the answer are so confident that they do, that they don't understand how they're wrong. They think they have something when they don't. And maybe I'm an idiot and have been this whole time and just the semblance of having the smallest piece of an answer is enough for a life to have meaning, but unless that answer is doing something with my fucking life then I don't want to hear it. At least, not now, when I'm a teenager turned bitter by the face of reality forced on me in school, at home, in church. Who knows? Not me.

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Written by Sam in portal Stream of Consciousness
3 am thoughts I had at 9 pm
This is ridiculous, but I can't get this shit out of my head and I feel like writing it down will make some of it not only go away, but maybe make some of it tangible enough for someone other than me to comprehend. I honestly can't comprehend a lot of this myself, but these are 3 am thoughts that I feel like I have all the time and I can't even understand half of it myself. I don't get it, and it's pissing me off because the more I try to explain it in my head the more profound and elusive everything becomes because I feel like the language I use is reasonable, but no one else will understand. This is just something for me to jot everything down, but of course, I'm going to look over all of this and proofread because even when I'm rambling I can never leave something that describes even the smallest part of myself at a point where I believe it to be imperfect. I'll try to keep this as true of a narrative as possible regardless.

I don't know where to begin. Whenever I think about myself and my story I always feel the need to start with my parents, because they created the Fundamentalist environment that I grew up in as a rebellious child and later a (slightly) rebellious teenager, but the world they grew up in is so different from mine and I don't think I'll find the answer with them. These are MY questions, and I'll have to dig for the answers myself even though I'll probably never find them and THATS where I want to begin, in a sense. There are questions that can't be answered and there always will be and I don't understand for the life of me how people can willingly believe that there's one simple answer to all of their existential questions or crises or whatever. And yeah, I'm talking about God, because that seems to be what my life revolves around regardless of how I view religion and I don't even have a simple answer as to why I keep coming back to it. People find meaning and comfort in the words of the Bible, just a book, and some devote their whole lives to preaching it and understanding it even though my pastor says you may live your whole life not understanding God's plan for you at all until it's too late. And what kind of fucking life is that, questioning yourself until the day you die?

Maybe this is bias, but I cannot handle the idea of stagnancy, of SETTLING for a life that's unfulfilling and fucking worthless in the end. I don't understand where the irritation comes from, but I used to imagine myself as a writer, living the most comfortable life and still doing what I loved, but doing what I loved meant sitting for hours at a time trying to write down shit that would sell. Now, I can't even imagine myself doing something like that. Maybe it's because I don't think I'm skilled enough to create shit out of thin air that'll become some YA bestseller, or because I don't think any kind of story I could tell regardless of genre would mean anything to anyone. And that's "quitter talk" or whatever, I know, but in my limited experience I have only met one person who ever thought the same things I did about the world, and who still does. Only one person can listen to me ramble about purpose and nod, and agree, and provide deeper insight than I ever will on why the earth spins or whatever the hell we want to discuss, and even then Jesse has his own ideas. Sure, maybe it's dumb to think so, but because only one person listens to me now makes me think that only a handful will listen to me later, when I'm not a kid everyone dismisses for not understanding the world even though the accusers don't even understand it either. Now, after going through what I have, and even though I haven't battled cancer, everything's affected me just like it, and I can't see myself sitting in some cushy office in my cookie-cutter house pulling shit out of my ass to feed the millions of mouths hungry for another escape from the monotonous world they live in. And that's respectable, to a degree, because for years my life revolved around those worlds that I could escape in. The problem was that they WERENT real. But now that I know what IS real, I have this inconsolable urge to fucking do something about it.

My name, Samantha, is Hebrew, the feminine form of Samuel, meaning "messenger of God," or "told by God." And let me tell you, the entire time I wanted to be an author, for a good seven years or so, I thought that shit was divine providence. I thought that my namesake meant that I was meant to tell stories one day, even if they didn't come from God at all. But that's the trick, because what if you believe that the stories still originate from God regardless? Because we're His? I don't know. The point I'm trying to make is that for the longest time I wanted to be an author and was so comfortable with that fact, and now I'm never going to be anything other than a doctor. I won't let myself be anything less because for fucks sake if I ever had a calling, it's for that. Ever since I went out of the country, a small little thirteen year old moron who thought she was the hot shit and who knew fucking all and everything in between, I feel like I've opened my eyes beyond my shit vision. People fucking need help. And if you're thinking this is going to trail off into some liberal ass propaganda or some "capitalism is the true devil" shit, get out of my face. The world is so much more than the limited face of American politics and no one realizes that, but that's a word-vomit for another time. But people need help, and there's something burning inside me to at least do something with my life to help and HERES the kicker for me. Here's the bias. I have been given every opportunity, from a good home life to the possibility of tutors to parents who care about my well-being and academic life, and you bet your ass I'm going to use every bit of everything I was given to do something with my life. I will not let everything my parents worked for, from being dirt poor to self made, go to waste, regardless of how I might feel about them some days. I have the ability and the intelligence (not to sound like a pretentious asshole, sorry about that) to make some kind of difference and whether that's filling out insurance garbage or sewing up someone's artery, it doesn't matter. I'll never understand how people let things like that go to waste. This is where I feel like the world is so much bigger than I am and I hate feeling selfish like that.

And this, THIS is where we breach the main concept that keeps me up at night, and it's purpose. Maybe not purpose per se but MEANING. One of the recurring questions I hear from wannabe philosophers or kids who take religion too seriously (there's a difference between being religious and being a zealot) is "why are we here?" But I don't want to hear that. It doesn't go deep enough. It scratches a surface that people for thousands of years have scratched already and there's no point in scratching it some more. The surface is ruined, blurry. Time to look somewhere else. Time to ask something that looks past a question we're not going to get an answer to. And don't get me wrong, I understand the "why are we here" is linked to purpose and that purpose is linked to meaning, but why not cut out the middle man and ask straight up "what the fuck am I DOING this for?"

I don't know why we're here and neither does anyone else. I feel like we've established that enough as a species and we're wasting our time. Everyone believes we're here for something different and there's no point in arguing about it anymore. I don't want my life to be this constant question concerning the purpose for my existence, because free will fucking exists for a reason and I'm tired of hearing all the bullshit about God giving us the capacity to think for ourselves but still acting in ways that he had planned. What the fuck does that even mean? Are we free or not? Because if we're still behaving in predicted ways, we're not fucking free and I don't CARE. I've always had this underlying problem with authority and I'm sick of people holding the promise of Heaven over my head like it fucking matters in the end. Life isn't about the endgame to me. Heaven is a reassurance that the good are rewarded and the evil get what they deserve but God's concept of justice is molded by humanity's concept of it and justice is just that, a concept shaped by changing times and changing politics. Justice is Guantanamo Bay to some and the right to a jury trial to others. Justice is legal revenge, and everyone thinks they deserve some of it. There's always someone we think needs to be taken down a notch, or hurt, and sure, telling yourself that public enemy #1 is burning in one of Dante's circles might help you sleep at night but what are you really living for then? What's the point then? Why are we living for a Heaven meant for those who can't find peace while they live? Isn't that what we should be working for? Sure, talk to me about the worthlessness of material things. Go ahead, tell me the true meaning of life is to live for God. But why the hell haven't we started living for the general concept of GOOD and not for the benefit of a religion alone? God and good might be a letter apart but there's a bible's worth of words in between them anyway. And that only means that I don't have a definition for "good" but society does, and I guess that's what I'm fighting for. The end of suffering, to a degree.

The meaning of my existence isn't a question of where I came from, but it's a question I can't answer anyway. All I know is that it can't be so simple as "god has a plan." Yeah, God has a plan. Hitler had a plan too.

I think this is why I read so much, or why I'm obsessed with literature and always will be. There are so many perspectives and so many thoughts and ideas that so many people ignore and they can be found in the classics section of a bookstore. It fucking baffles me. Everything is here but because Charles Dickens writes too many words, or because kids read Homer's "Odyssey" in freshman year and don't want to touch it again, there are so many people who don't pick this shit up. People who don't listen. And honestly, Dickens and Homer might not be great examples, they're just classics and that doesn't allude to a deeper meaning or some kind of elusive profundity automatically, but the one thing I've learned from finishing the book "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien is that the story truth and the real truth are two different things and sometimes the story truth, as O'Brien puts it, is the one that carries more meaning. For a book revolving around Vietnam, I've never read something so profound since I picked up something by Robert Penn Warren. To differentiate, the real truth is what actually happens to you. It's the simple war story, told plain, just like it happened. And there's truth to that, there can be meaning for those who find it, but then you start telling the story to wide-eyed Americans sitting at a local cafe thinking poorly of the draft dodgers, or the adults who turn the TV channel when the newscaster starts talking politics, or the people who commit one of the ultimate follies and glamorize the entire idea of war, and they don't get it. They may nod, they may see something, but there's a point they're missing that they'll always miss because they weren't there and you were. That's the con of the real truth, and that's why you have to add things. The story truth is different, it's the story you add to until the moral becomes clear to those with wide eyes, but the act of adding to the original is what hides the real moral. It's a twisted game, but it's easy to ignore the nuances if you don't recognize there are nuances at all. If you're proud of your little boy for submitting to the draft and take pride in knowing he's fighting an ideology that will never really die, you don't see the nuances and you feel secure in the lack of knowledge you don't know you have. That's the gist of essentially the whole novel, and im sure I got O'Brien's terms for the truth and the half-truth messed up, but this is where the concept reminds me of Robert Penn Warren. There's this quote from his novel "All The King's Men," a story based off of Louisiana demagogue Huey Long but creates some kind of moral out of twisting the exact story into something more. It says, "The end of man is knowledge, but there is one thing he can't know. He can't know whether knowledge will save him or kill him. He will be killed, all right, but he can't know whether he is killed because of the knowledge which he has got or because of the knowledge which he hasn't got and which if he had it, would save him. ...for the end of man is to know." It's a remarkable parallel to O'Brien's storytelling.

That's kind of the point, I guess: that the ideas are reflected. But what's also the point is that maybe if I twist what I always wanted to tell as a writer, people will listen. But there's no point to me then, because then no one will really know. No one would really care if I told them my truth, what made me human, because they wouldn't understand. It wouldn't make sense to them. They wouldn't see the nuances.

But I don't want to be a doctor for the sake of trying to be understood. Back to the point of literature, to sum it up, it's where I find the definition of "meaning" that clicks with me. Granted, you can find thousands of definitions in thousands of paperbacks, but digging up the classics is where you find the conclusions that have survived to be read generations after publication, and this is where I first find Faulkner. It's the last book I'm assigned for AP Literature, the book "Light in August," and this is my first introduction to the world Faulkner has built in his fictional little town of Jefferson, Mississippi. After a year of trying to make sense of the fractured, profound thoughts of the man, I finally realize that O'Brien's idea may be found yet again, just now, as I write this. Faulkner writes his stories of characters connected by blood and happenstance as they take place in Jefferson and how they may relate to each other (but those connections are essentially nonexistent in his writing—it's the reader's job to try and create connections between novels out of thin air), and this is the story truth. It may not be truth at all, and regardless of it not being such, it SPEAKS and this is what hits home for me. Regardless of whether or not Faulkner's writing is "truth," I don't think I've ever been more impacted by an author besides Shakespeare (king of nuance and human nature that he is), because Faulkner finds what I've always thought I've found; the meaning in the deep roots of a region such as the American South, a region dismissed time and time again for past mistakes that shouldn't be forgotten but that also shouldn't be allowed to cloud the rest of the history and the habits that make it. Faulkner finds a message in the intertwining of family, of sin and of setting. Faulkner remarks on the entirety of human nature with just a story taking place in a small town that doesn't even exist. Faulkner is considered the primary writer of the south, a god among men for his prose and his stories, but Faulkner dips his pen in the ink and writes of something greater. Like religion, Faulkner remarks of the human tragedy, a death so profound that it exceeds the boundaries of a life now passed.

And honestly, I'm addicted. I know that was a nice little ode to a dead author, but this is what I mean. This is what I mean when I say I seek language to discover what all of this might mean, and even then I can't fully explain why I do. My friend Jesse always asks me "Sam, why do you even like Faulkner?" But he's a Hemingway fan and the underlying message, I think, is the same. Tragedy. But to me, what's tragic is the belief that doom is predetermined unless we subject ourselves to a very specific set of circumstances and devote our lives to prayer.

I still don't even know if this is coherent. It might've helped me organize my thoughts, but they're all jumbled together now and the rant had already spilled out. I don't know if this is all or if there's more to come, but there probably will be more, because I have to take a fucking sleeping aid just to shut my brain the fuck up. I don't know how to conclude this mess either. Maybe it concludes itself, I don't know. I think that's what gets me: not knowing. I crave answers in a world that has none, in a world where the answer is relative to the person answering the question. And sure, I like input on this kind of stuff, but like I said, people don't get it. At least, they don't get it in the way I do, and maybe the bias is back and I unfairly count them out because their thoughts don't match mine, but maybe it goes back to that problem of authority. The people I've met who think they have the answer are so confident that they do, that they don't understand how they're wrong. They think they have something when they don't. And maybe I'm an idiot and have been this whole time and just the semblance of having the smallest piece of an answer is enough for a life to have meaning, but unless that answer is doing something with my fucking life then I don't want to hear it. At least, not now, when I'm a teenager turned bitter by the face of reality forced on me in school, at home, in church. Who knows? Not me.
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Written by ALifeWitArt in portal Poetry & Free Verse

Revised Hope

I have so much to say, but my tongue has gone dry. My thrush chews on jagged pebbles with a dental spit vacuum suctioning sound.

And my vocal cords snapped. They are the victim of lost resin and pliability, for the chords of my dialect are nothing but a bow broken from passion.

The metamorphosis of faith is nothing now but bartered superstition.

And I am the hardpan beneath an estranged coyote's atopic and raw pads. Walking alongside its own shadow, its death gambles with the fortune teller.  

God hyperventilates through the beast's paper bag lungs. Retracting between rib bones, fate pulses beneath its unsustainable flesh. Its fur falls gypsy from its porous roots, and he watches himself in-pieces carried away by dry wind.

Consumed holistically by starvation, nature has become orphaned and speechless. And as for me, I have fallen mute to the remnants of the stones I have overturned.

Exposing snake skins and whiptails, the fight for survival is moot. For humanity digested itself, lost in its circular time ironed flat until burned.

But I know the truth.

And the truth is a gestational womb of a chrysalis still thriving and preparing for birth.

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Written by ALifeWitArt in portal Poetry & Free Verse
Revised Hope
I have so much to say, but my tongue has gone dry. My thrush chews on jagged pebbles with a dental spit vacuum suctioning sound.

And my vocal cords snapped. They are the victim of lost resin and pliability, for the chords of my dialect are nothing but a bow broken from passion.

The metamorphosis of faith is nothing now but bartered superstition.

And I am the hardpan beneath an estranged coyote's atopic and raw pads. Walking alongside its own shadow, its death gambles with the fortune teller.  

God hyperventilates through the beast's paper bag lungs. Retracting between rib bones, fate pulses beneath its unsustainable flesh. Its fur falls gypsy from its porous roots, and he watches himself in-pieces carried away by dry wind.

Consumed holistically by starvation, nature has become orphaned and speechless. And as for me, I have fallen mute to the remnants of the stones I have overturned.

Exposing snake skins and whiptails, the fight for survival is moot. For humanity digested itself, lost in its circular time ironed flat until burned.

But I know the truth.

And the truth is a gestational womb of a chrysalis still thriving and preparing for birth.
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Written by JimLamb in portal Journal

Sunday Meditation—G'bye Steve & Angelo

I’m back from summer hiatus—that pensive pause I use to let my mind wind down, rest and, wander along soddened paths & concrete rivers. The key for me is to stay away from stimuli, to languor in grays, beige & shadows. It occasionally works. It did not this year.

I won’t quibble minor points (we all have ups & downs, bumps & lumps) but I will mention the deaths of my best friend from Sarasota, Steve, and my cousin Angelo.

Ang & cousin Paul (surnames Cassanese & DeDea) were like brothers to me. I was a smidge older, but not by much. (Joey Cassanese, older than we three, was the significant cousin: He played football & for-money pool.)

Ang was the leader of our 3-pack: he, the strong, silent, front-runner. Dee-Dee (a.k.a Paul) was the clever, funny one. Me? Short & chubby, like Piggy in “Lord of the Flies.”

When we grew up, we went different ways, meeting occasionally at family reunions & funerals. We were courteous. Respectful. But not chatty. I’d heard some months back Angelo was having health issues. (That can happen when you reach your late sixties.) Then, on a recent weekend, my brother Doug called. “Ang passed,” he said.

And that was that.

Angelo was a private guy. He brought genuine presence when he walked into a room, and he did it without being flashy. Just classy. There was no funeral. No memorial service. No open casket. “Ang passed.” The end—an end he knew was coming, like a deadly glacier, inching closer each day. 

He will be missed by family & friends.

Steve (a.k.a. “Santa Steve”) knew death was coming as well. He prepared by meeting with his Pastor at the Sarasota Alliance Church on Bee Ridge Road & mapping out his memorial service. It was quite an event.

Attendees were told to dress festive (preferably red and/or green) & be prepared to celebrate. Steve was with Jesus. (Raise your hands, and Praise the Lord.)

The Sarasota Santa wanted the Gospel preached at his celebration service. (It was.) Songs to be sung. (They were.) Happy stories to be shared. (Yup, check that off, too.)

Goodbye Steve. Christmas will be tinged with a melancholy moment or two this year ...

Sooooo, my Summer Break is done. My mental meanderings complete. There are poems to be penned. Memories to be written. Deep thoughts to be jibble-jotted on scrap paper.

Let the literary tomfoolery begin . . .

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Written by JimLamb in portal Journal
Sunday Meditation—G'bye Steve & Angelo
I’m back from summer hiatus—that pensive pause I use to let my mind wind down, rest and, wander along soddened paths & concrete rivers. The key for me is to stay away from stimuli, to languor in grays, beige & shadows. It occasionally works. It did not this year.

I won’t quibble minor points (we all have ups & downs, bumps & lumps) but I will mention the deaths of my best friend from Sarasota, Steve, and my cousin Angelo.

Ang & cousin Paul (surnames Cassanese & DeDea) were like brothers to me. I was a smidge older, but not by much. (Joey Cassanese, older than we three, was the significant cousin: He played football & for-money pool.)

Ang was the leader of our 3-pack: he, the strong, silent, front-runner. Dee-Dee (a.k.a Paul) was the clever, funny one. Me? Short & chubby, like Piggy in “Lord of the Flies.”

When we grew up, we went different ways, meeting occasionally at family reunions & funerals. We were courteous. Respectful. But not chatty. I’d heard some months back Angelo was having health issues. (That can happen when you reach your late sixties.) Then, on a recent weekend, my brother Doug called. “Ang passed,” he said.

And that was that.

Angelo was a private guy. He brought genuine presence when he walked into a room, and he did it without being flashy. Just classy. There was no funeral. No memorial service. No open casket. “Ang passed.” The end—an end he knew was coming, like a deadly glacier, inching closer each day. 

He will be missed by family & friends.

Steve (a.k.a. “Santa Steve”) knew death was coming as well. He prepared by meeting with his Pastor at the Sarasota Alliance Church on Bee Ridge Road & mapping out his memorial service. It was quite an event.

Attendees were told to dress festive (preferably red and/or green) & be prepared to celebrate. Steve was with Jesus. (Raise your hands, and Praise the Lord.)

The Sarasota Santa wanted the Gospel preached at his celebration service. (It was.) Songs to be sung. (They were.) Happy stories to be shared. (Yup, check that off, too.)

Goodbye Steve. Christmas will be tinged with a melancholy moment or two this year ...

Sooooo, my Summer Break is done. My mental meanderings complete. There are poems to be penned. Memories to be written. Deep thoughts to be jibble-jotted on scrap paper.

Let the literary tomfoolery begin . . .
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Hey there, random proser. I have a question for you which varies based on your genetalia (you'll understand why in a moment; I promise I'm not sexist.) If you are biologically female, describe what a period cramp feels like. Or, if you have given birth, describe the pain. If you are biologically male, describe what it feels like when someone hits etc your family jewels. I understand this will likely make people uncomfortable. But I feel like many people have trouble describing pain and also, as writers, we write about tons of gory topics or *crude* things and thus are used to this kind of stuff (at least I think we are and I know I am.) Thanks for reading this and good luck.
Written by WistfulThinker

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Hey there, random proser. I have a question for you, which varies based on your genetalia (you'll understand why in a moment; I promise I'm not sexist.)

If you are biologically female, describe what a period cramp feels like. Or, if you have given birth, describe the pain.

If you are biologically male, describe what it feels like when someone hits etc your family jewels.

I understand this will likely make people uncomfortable. But I feel like many people have trouble describing pain and also, as writers, we write about tons of gory topics or *crude* things and thus are used to this kind of stuff (at least I think we are and I know I am.)

Thanks for reading this and good luck.

And plz tag me in the comments so I may see :)

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Hey there, random proser. I have a question for you which varies based on your genetalia (you'll understand why in a moment; I promise I'm not sexist.) If you are biologically female, describe what a period cramp feels like. Or, if you have given birth, describe the pain. If you are biologically male, describe what it feels like when someone hits etc your family jewels. I understand this will likely make people uncomfortable. But I feel like many people have trouble describing pain and also, as writers, we write about tons of gory topics or *crude* things and thus are used to this kind of stuff (at least I think we are and I know I am.) Thanks for reading this and good luck.
Written by WistfulThinker
Challenge
Hey there, random proser. I have a question for you, which varies based on your genetalia (you'll understand why in a moment; I promise I'm not sexist.)

If you are biologically female, describe what a period cramp feels like. Or, if you have given birth, describe the pain.

If you are biologically male, describe what it feels like when someone hits etc your family jewels.

I understand this will likely make people uncomfortable. But I feel like many people have trouble describing pain and also, as writers, we write about tons of gory topics or *crude* things and thus are used to this kind of stuff (at least I think we are and I know I am.)

Thanks for reading this and good luck.


And plz tag me in the comments so I may see :)
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Written by Clearly

A Meditation on Meditation

Have you ever had an instance when you are so involved in what you are doing, so busy, so distracted that you don't realise that you've been cut and are bleeding? Perhaps you were on a jog and only when you stop to rest, do you feel a slight pain.  Maybe the pain doesn't even come until you just happen to glance down and see that, sure enough, you're bleeding.  

Meditation can be like this moment of realization.  It can be a moment when you listen to your physical body and your emotional state as well. 

And sometimes it hurts. And you're like "OMG I am effing bleeding!" Maybe a little bit of panic sinks in.  

 

When this realization comes, even though it may involve some pain and even panic, it is ultimately good.  With this realization you may now tend to your wound and wash it clean. Don't be scared to have these moments.  Now you can heal. 

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Written by Clearly
A Meditation on Meditation
Have you ever had an instance when you are so involved in what you are doing, so busy, so distracted that you don't realise that you've been cut and are bleeding? Perhaps you were on a jog and only when you stop to rest, do you feel a slight pain.  Maybe the pain doesn't even come until you just happen to glance down and see that, sure enough, you're bleeding.  

Meditation can be like this moment of realization.  It can be a moment when you listen to your physical body and your emotional state as well. 

And sometimes it hurts. And you're like "OMG I am effing bleeding!" Maybe a little bit of panic sinks in.  
 
When this realization comes, even though it may involve some pain and even panic, it is ultimately good.  With this realization you may now tend to your wound and wash it clean. Don't be scared to have these moments.  Now you can heal. 

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Written by RowRow1990 in portal Fiction

The Soul Catcher book 2

"Can you hear that?" I ask, stopping in the middle of the street.

"Hear what?"

"Screaming, someone's screaming."

I spin around the spot looking for the person I can hear, but everyone looks fine. And no one else seems to be looking.

"Jemma."

I'm startled out of my trance and look into Rippers concerned face.

"No one's screaming Jemma," he tells me.

But there is, I can hear them, and it's getting louder as though the person is getting closer.

Closing my eyes I try reaching out with my other senses.

Instantly I hit something.

A big black roiling mass of hatred and anger. I try pulling myself away scared of getting trapped when I stop.

My eyes fling open and I look around me like a woman possessed.

The screaming starts to get louder, a pressure building on the inside of my head.

"What's happening Jemma? "

I'm only dimly aware that anyone else is speaking to me, all concentration focused on trying to find the screaming.

I open all my senses with my eyes open and start going dizzy as I see everyone's souls kind of floating in front of them. The souls moving a fraction of a second before the body.

Scanning around everyone, I immediately become drenched in sweat and fear as I see the darkness walking towards me. No soul floating in front of the man. Just pure darkness.

He comes to a stop in front of me and my heart freezes. His eyes are dead.

The screaming is louder.

I want to turn away but a movement in the eyes pulls me in. The reflection of a another person staring back at me, screaming for help.

My eyes close tight, trying to block out the terrified face that's looking back at me.

Eventually I feel him walk away and Rippers familiar hands grip into my shoulders.

A near scream tears from my throat and I grip Rippers hands.

"He's got a soul trapped in there, a soul that doesn't belong to him. "

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Written by RowRow1990 in portal Fiction
The Soul Catcher book 2

"Can you hear that?" I ask, stopping in the middle of the street.
"Hear what?"
"Screaming, someone's screaming."
I spin around the spot looking for the person I can hear, but everyone looks fine. And no one else seems to be looking.
"Jemma."
I'm startled out of my trance and look into Rippers concerned face.
"No one's screaming Jemma," he tells me.
But there is, I can hear them, and it's getting louder as though the person is getting closer.
Closing my eyes I try reaching out with my other senses.
Instantly I hit something.
A big black roiling mass of hatred and anger. I try pulling myself away scared of getting trapped when I stop.
My eyes fling open and I look around me like a woman possessed.
The screaming starts to get louder, a pressure building on the inside of my head.
"What's happening Jemma? "
I'm only dimly aware that anyone else is speaking to me, all concentration focused on trying to find the screaming.
I open all my senses with my eyes open and start going dizzy as I see everyone's souls kind of floating in front of them. The souls moving a fraction of a second before the body.
Scanning around everyone, I immediately become drenched in sweat and fear as I see the darkness walking towards me. No soul floating in front of the man. Just pure darkness.
He comes to a stop in front of me and my heart freezes. His eyes are dead.
The screaming is louder.
I want to turn away but a movement in the eyes pulls me in. The reflection of a another person staring back at me, screaming for help.
My eyes close tight, trying to block out the terrified face that's looking back at me.
Eventually I feel him walk away and Rippers familiar hands grip into my shoulders.
A near scream tears from my throat and I grip Rippers hands.
"He's got a soul trapped in there, a soul that doesn't belong to him. "

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Written by Rubenkells in portal Poetry & Free Verse

It Once Snowed

If shola is a boy then Chiwendu should be too, when they have loved the life created for them by family, how sweet could this be?

In the tender of their love, they kissed, and had the best romance any lady could have asked for. Chiwendu could be my only bride as Bisi would promise.

Everything has its peck of purging out that which was most precious, yes that which was most precious. Is it possible to love a stranded stranger with no history? Quite a few would debate on this but yet it may just be the best kind of love.

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Written by Rubenkells in portal Poetry & Free Verse
It Once Snowed
If shola is a boy then Chiwendu should be too, when they have loved the life created for them by family, how sweet could this be?
In the tender of their love, they kissed, and had the best romance any lady could have asked for. Chiwendu could be my only bride as Bisi would promise.
Everything has its peck of purging out that which was most precious, yes that which was most precious. Is it possible to love a stranded stranger with no history? Quite a few would debate on this but yet it may just be the best kind of love.
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