Spark

I feel at times like a dark room

Full of possibility, promise, and a hint of threat

A match struck

and revealed in me something

I wasn’t aware I needed.

The red light seared my weakened eyes

And then I beheld it.

 

Dimension, volume, and purpose

And when it left

I’m left with more woe than was ever known before

As if light itself was always meant to be…

Fleeting.

 

With just one flash it solidified my walls

threw away nebulosity

and because of that,

I feel,

I can’t return to the void again.

 

Should I wait

Hold my breath and suffer

or am I subsisting on nothing more than a blank promise?

And if were to come another time

instead of merely beholding it’s quenching glow

I will find my own light switch

and shine the light that was always meant to be mine.

Happy Birthday Jacob!!!

Happy Birthday Brother. I know it’s probably late coming and I’m hoping this finds you well and happy. How have you been? What’s the weather like? I know I’ve never been good with small talk but, I’d I didn’t ask I’m sure Mother would get mad…

I miss you. There’s no easy way to say this cause you’re gone an I’m not. But I miss you. Just because it got easier to say your name and what happened without it sticking in my throat doesn’t mean I love you less.

It’s been eight long years and so much has changed. I don’t go to where we buried you often enough and I hope my silent eulogies are almost as good as vocal ones. I’m sorry if I don’t feel you there. It’s way too quiet for you. You were loud and vocal. In a place where vocal wasn’t always great. But you were great. You were visible when sometimes I wanted to hide away. And you loved like only children can unconditionally and radiant. Being loved by you was such a great feeling.

I’ve changed a lot and I hope that you’d have been proud of me. I learned to lean a little over into loving the way you do and it’s made all the difference. I’ve drawn people towards me that I’ll love for a lifetime. I’ve learned to be vocal. To stand up for the things I believed in and in a world on the cusp of changing, I wonder would you have been there with me? I stopped being nearly so lazy and I’m working and at a much better job than I’ve had before. I’m writing and maybe not the things I always should be but, I’ll work on procrastination later.

I’ve decided to visible to be heard and I hope you’d be proud of me. That you might again look up to me as your older brother. I’d be filled with the most sincere happiness I could imagine.

You were everything to me. It wasn’t easy picking up my pieces after you left but I hope the man I am now will be enough to for you to smile upon. And as I hastily write this before work, I hope you know aftershocks of your kindness are still felt all over. I’m thankful that you have never come to me in my dreams as anger or sorrow. It’s always been one more game, one more show, one more movie and one more hug. It wasn’t easy losing you and I wish I’d seen you in your final moments but, you have given me all that I could ever ask for.

Your Brother,

Warren

Essential

I’m going slowly insane. I mean I’m glad I’ve got my job but, the amount of people who don’t seem to care about the pandemic makes me want to pull my hair out. I just don’t know what needs to be done so that people won’t come into my store with their entire families… It all just makes me want to scream. Why don’t they care about being sick?

It’s not enough that they don’t care about themselves but when we walk away because they’re too close they follow us like it’s no big deal. They squeeze in behind us and reach over us like we’re mannequins. I’m so tired of it. If we get infected in a great enough number the store closes.

We had our first confirmed case at the store this week. There’s no telling who could have been infected it’s made a huge change at work. People who were unworried before are now wearing masks and gloves and actually staying away from each other. Things we were always supposed to be doing but, we foolishly thought we were safe.

My friends range from essential to laid off and they’re all worried about me. Somehow that’s not really the attention I like. I feel bad for those that lost their jobs and I feel lucky to have mine but, somehow the apocalypse isn’t great for my mental health. Who would have thought?

Sorry about being late on the book but, you already know the score. Things are looking a bit better for me right now and I think I need this way too much not put my all in. Thanks for being patient I won’t make you guys wait too much longer.

Hunger

She lures me in,

Bright and shy,

I caution myself

Too wary to try,


She bites full lips

And I lick mine.

Her eyes make contact

and dart away.

I follow them

I’m drawn in

Predator and Prey


I slink closer

my body reacts

About to pounce

There’s no turning back

I bite in

Taking what I deserve.

Our bodies tangle

I can’t tell where we begin

This is it!

What I’ve waited for…

Satiation

 

My fly wide

I left myself open

She knew I would

I sink my fangs in

But there is no purchase

Red Tide flows

She lifts me from off my feet

With practiced ease.

I’m on my back

she pins me down

I whimper and beg


I see my reflection

In hungry bright eyes

She lured me in

To my demise

 

Captain Spirit (Life is Strange 2 Prologue?)

I loved DONTNOD’s Life is Strange 2 prologue? (Question mark because at first, they said it was something like a demo but, playing it seems like something more like the first chapter [I’ll probably remove this when I’ve started the main game and find out where this fits in.]) It really did a lot to put me back in the shoes of being a kid and long for a bit of the old days, when my brother, my friends, and I would play imaginary games. The whole thing flooded me with more emotions than I ever thought possible. I thought that this was gonna be a pit stop on my way to bawling my eyes out city with Life as Strange 2, turns out I wasn’t ready for the wave of emotion that hit me with this game. When the credits rolled, and even now thinking back on it, I realized that I’m already hooked on Chris’s story. And like Life is Strange the original and Before the Storm, it’s probably going to linger with me a long time.

-Major Spoilers-

for Life is Strange 1 and Before the Storm

Life is Strange the original is one of my favorite games of the current generation. I loved Max and Chloe’s journey through re-connection, reconciliation and in my game romance. I remember all the major narrative beats and how each twist story hit me so hard. From Kate’s attempted suicide, alternate Chloe’s injuries, Jefferson’s heel turn (Yes I was actually surprised by it. I shouldn’t have been but, I was really just enjoying the story.) Things moved so quickly for something many consider a “Walking Simulator.”

Before LIS I didn’t know a narrative-based game could hit me like that and because of it, I’ve played games like Detroit, Until Dawn and Telltale’s Borderlands which are games I always gonna recommend to anyone into the genre or even just starting out with it or games in general. I guess I’m the perfect audience for more cinematic games. It’s probably because movies can’t always hold my attention and this allows me to not only interact with the story but, tell it my own way.

I chose to let Chloe die. That she needed to go to back to the beginning and die so that everyone else could live. It was so hard but, after bawling my eyes out I realized that this not only what she wanted but, it was kind of a redemption for her. She did probably the hardest thing possible. Max would unmask Jefferson and save Kate. Nathan would go to jail most likely but, he’d be away from his dad and finally get the help he needs. Victoria will probably be heartbroken but at least she’ll be saved.

Part of me thinks that Chloe might have wanted to die because she felt guilty about the ultimate fate of the love of her life Rachel Amber. But, I think she also felt guilty for the pain she put the rest of the people in her life through. She might not have seemed so much like that in the original but, as we see in Before the Storm she’s way more vulnerable then she lets on. Her relationship with Rachel probably hardens a lot of her exterior. All and all, I have to say The first Life is Strange put me on a feels train and now Captain Spirit is the next stop.

End of Spoilers

for the Original LiS and BtS

And

Major Spoilers

for The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

I say it right now, I couldn’t help but smile as the song Death with Dignity by Sufjan Stevens came on. I didn’t know the song but, it somehow it held a bit of the wonder I always have when I start a game like this one. There’s a bit of child-like wonder when I’m about to dive into something that I know will tell me a great story. I get the same feeling for a book I want to read, an indie movie, a slice of life Anime, and a great number more. A warm feeling with a low rumble of excitement. I love this feeling. It’s the feeling I chase when I consume things, a little like an adrenaline junkie. The song itself fits so well into the game because, the tone of the song kind of belies the intent of the lyrics. The whole thing lulls you into a false sense of security which is exactly what this game does.

The scene comes up on Chris, our POV character, as he starts drawing the titular Captain Spirit. You make a few decisions on what he’s gonna look like and whether he’s colorful or a bit dark. I chose light armor and a much more subdued design, mirroring some of my favorite characters from youth. he decides what he wants to do for the day. There are tons of options like playing around with his toys or getting to know Chris through his room.

Before I knew it dad was calling and I wanted to check out more than one thing and apparently, that was the wrong choice. When I finally answered and left to go to the kitchen he was angry. It wasn’t even that late and but it kind of in a way set off a bit of a chain reaction.

At first, I thought Chris’ dad was just going through a hard time. Living on without his wife and partner in raising their son and being unemployed. He is easy to sympathize with. While all of that may be true, Charles Eriksen is abusive.

Not just once or twice we keep finding evidence that the way he treats Chris in this game isn’t a one-off. We aren’t seeing the beginning of this, not the inciting incident. We are dropped into a just a normal Saturday in the life of Chris and Charles. This is their life together. Charles can be nice one moment and slinging abusive comments the next  DONTNOD has captured a chillingly realistic picture of an abusive parent. I know because it happened to me.

There’s a lot to unpack about the way Charles and Chris interact. Chris dutifully does chores around the house which should have been done by his father, like clearing the porch of snow keeping the water heater running, and wood stove on to heat the house. I found myself doing these plus the dishes and laundry for to get some kind of approval from the dad hoping that if I (Chris) was good we could somehow prevent another outburst and I could get myself and Chris out here unharmed. This was something I felt many times in my life. If you’re good enough then they will go back to the way they were before. Charles does realize and say something a bit demeaning like, and I’m paraphrasing here,  it’s like having his own maid. The comment felt a bit like a slap in the face for how hard he was working.

Charles drinks way more than is probably necessary and it’s not just one or two beers to watch the game. He’s three beers in while cooking breakfast and the half a bottle of the hard stuff while watching the game after promising his kid they’ll get a Christmas tree after the game. You can mention his drinking but, I didn’t choose those options because I was trying to be as small as possible. The thing is his drinking has a real consequence and that being his son. He will forget things he’s meant to do for him. Charles doesn’t always eat. He often gets angry at Chris for saying he should slow down. Chris has connected the causality of his father drinking with mood swings and even violence. This most assuredly negatively affect Chris’ relationship with drinking going forward.

Charles isn’t all bad. He isn’t evil. He doesn’t seek out to destroy Chris’ life. He has moments where he’s a good father. Like leading Chris to believe he isn’t getting a really good present to surprise him on Christmas day. Or when you shoot him with your nerf gun he plays along. Taking a moment during halftime to talk to him. He locks the firecrackers away from us when he realizes we can’t be trusted with him. Built a treehouse for Chris. He’s given a lot of freedom to be his self. The only problem is a lot of this comes as a detriment other places. The play box console that Charles buys is a replacement to the one it’s insinuated he broke. The treehouse is unfinished and actually dangerous as we see at the end. Chris is pretty unsupervised and even though his maternal grandparents want to help out Charles has kept them from him.

End of Spoilers

A lot of what went on with this game forced me to remember different parts of my childhood and unlike Chris, I had brothers to lean on when things got overwhelming. I don’t think I would have survived without them. They gave me something to live for. My Father wasn’t drunk so he couldn’t blame it on the alcohol not that it gives Charles any kind of leeway. I was sent back into myself in multiple ways to the kid I used to be and the whole thing hit me so hard. I’m so happy I played this.

 

Ps. Sorry this took so long to get out but, works been busy and I had to figure out what I wanted to say in here. If I wrote this when wanted I feel like I would have gotten a lot wrong and maybe even misrepresented myself. Thanks for your patience.

Confidence.

I’m confident in a lot of things about me. If you ask anyone close to me they’ll probably tell you how I can talk about myself for hours. Which is probably true. I am not afraid to talk myself up. I don’t mind putting my best foot forward and I think people actually respond fairly well to it. Am I a little cocky? Probably. Does that make me a bad person? I don’t think so. But to get to my point there are a couple things I’m not too confident in.

I don’t think I have much to offer people. It’s probably the last dregs of that teenage low self-esteem angst but, I’m not sure how much I add to people’s lives. I mean they tell me they like having me around but, everyone lies. People get into relationships (all types) because they want something from someone else. Whether it’s companionship or because the person is smart and they can help me get ahead or do good on a math test. Whatever that is they offer something. I don’t know what my thing is and I overcompensate.

I try to be a big part, helping them through their pain and troubles. A shoulder to cry on when they’re in need. If they need something they can always count on me. I push myself way too hard to be available and ready with the right thing to say.  Not that I’m bad at that part but, it weighs on me. There’s sometimes when I’m an absolute mess and there’s no one to talk to. They tell me their problems and I try and fix them. It’s easy not because it keeps me away from my own problems because it makes me feel useful. I like feeling useful. I like knowing that no matter how low I get someone’s life would be worse without me in it.

Does that make me selfish? Probably. Do I tell them? Yes. I tell them that I’m self-centered that I do most of these things for myself. Do they believe me? No, they just think I’m being humble. If there’s anything you learn from reading this blog, other than the fact that I’m an overthinking basket case, it should be that any bit of demureness that comes from me is due to uncertainty.

The other thing is my writing, it’s not as interesting as the earlier topic, not much to analyze here. I guess I’m the same as everyone else here. We’re all just trying to get through the next project and hopefully, one day write a hit. I know I’m not alone in wanting this so bad you lie awake at night hoping just hoping that it’s good enough. That the right person thinks highly enough of it and tells all their friends about it. That it somehow gets on the right person’s blog and they read about it and love it. And everyone is just clamoring to get their hands on your book like it’s the only one out there. They read it all in one night or savor it over a week. They love your world so much they dream up their own characters to fill it. (Deep breath. I actually did this while writing this.)

I want what every writer wants. What every person wants. To be loved for what I bring in the world. To be admired for what I can do. And to be cherished by the people who love me.

PS. Sorry, this is so heavy but, I had a lot get off my chest.

Vultures

Some people are vultures circling and circling hoping to find you when you’re weak and needy and take advantage. What do they want from you? How far will they go?  Does it even matter? How can you spend your entire life around Vultures and not turn into one?

I’ve got this friend and she’s been going through it these last few years. She’s been very strong and tried to keep her head down but, in light of what’s gone on, she’s starting to see the people around her for who they really are. The only problem is when all your friends are vultures how do you get away? I want to help her but, she says she knows what she’s doing… And I don’t really know if there’s anything to do. She’s got a lot of feelings of attachment to these people. Some have been her friends for a long time and others are even family and she feels more than a bit of responsibility toward them.

I no longer have vultures in my life. I don’t really entertain that kind of behavior in any real capacity. If I see them flying overhead I show them exactly why I’m not the guy to pull that shit with. There is a difference between people who seek to pull others down to their levels and those people who need a little help to get out of a jam. And the differences are readily obvious. I don’t ignore people who need help but, I can’t stand the people who seek to make others miserable.

My advice for dealing with Vultures and people surrounded by them is Stay vigilant, they always show their true colors eventually. It’s frustrating watching people get taken advantage of but there’s only so much you can handle. You can’t only help those who need it when they’re ready to listen about it.

Goals (At least the ones that don’t have to do with writing.)

My friend has been really going through it this past couple of months and for the longest time, I didn’t know how to help her. I won’t really talk about what happened because even though she might not care, I’d rather keep her privacy. I gave advice and it didn’t work. I was a shoulder to cry on that they didn’t take. For everything I tried to do nothing seemed to work. I hated the idea that I might have to watch all of this come to a head and not be able to stop it. The whole thing vexed me.

I knew it wasn’t about me. I knew that what she was experiencing had absolutely nothing to do with me but I wanted to be there for her like she had been for me. Without meaning to she dug me out of a hole I was in due to my depression. It was the only reason I really got back on board with my writing and the only reason. I got back involved with the blog. So her friendship, needless to say, is very important to me.

This is the first time I’ve ever been actually able to help her in any meaningful way. And though I’ve been on call for the past couple of days (gently woken up by text notifications) I haven’t been happier. More well rested maybe but not happier. Being able to be there for a friend really makes me feel fulfilled in a way. I’m sure that says something about me and my overall psychological state, in a psychology textbook somewhere.

Needless to say, I wouldn’t want what happened to her to happen to anyone else. I just think when this is all over we’ll be closer. I hope that I can pull her out of the same hole she did me and we both can move on.

Thoughts about my name and death and things that happened on a Monday.

If you haven’t guessed by now my name is a pen name. Honestly, the quiet refusal to show my face should’ve been your first tip off but I digress. It is as much something given to me as something I’ve chosen. I get to sit at a keyboard and be something different from myself. It is incredibly freeing.

This Monday, I paid my respects to my last grandfather. He was a lot of things to a lot of different people. To the people of the church, he was a good Christian man. To the people he worked with, he was a hard worker. To my father, my uncles, and my aunts, he was a father and a powerful man. To me, he was Granddad, the person who had this laugh that will echo through me and make me smile whenever I think about him. A person who connected me to a large part of my heritage. I couldn’t always understand him, he had a thick accent but I’ll remember the twinkle in his eyes and the hat on his head.

I’ll admit I wasn’t as close to him as I probably should be but, I’ll miss him all the same. I hope some of his tenacity rubs off on me. I hope I can be half the man he and my father are. The Dalton part of my name is a goal and something to look forward too. I hope I can make something of it.

The hardest part of funeral’s are watching the people you thought were so much larger than life be human. Seeing them cry and feel lonely and diminished. I couldn’t breakdown with them. I hurt so much to see them and I wanted to join them be overcome but, I think something broke inside me when my brother passed. I don’t know if anything will hurt me like that again. I don’t know if that should be comforting  or a sobering. Probably the worst part is seeing my father standing there like that so much pain in his eyes but, not being able to release it.