ChangingStory1.5-Testing

testing-testing-123
Since I was in the seventh grade, my story has included a chapter explaining how I don’t test well. In seventh grade, I learned how to perform poorly on tests. Before then, I seemed to posses that innate ability The Muse still exhibits: I could pass most any exam I took. Since then, exam success has seemed more crap shoot than skill-related, a random event unrelated to what I know. I suppose my current state springs from my exposure to the French language, for which, like all languages foreign and domestic, I had little aptitude. Later, of course, this budding ability migrated into math, then most every subject.

I could be excused for thinking I was somehow growing dumber with each passing year, and I remain grateful for that high school guidance counsellor who headed off deeper discouragement by convincing me that I was not, as he phrased it, “college material.” I most certainly was not, and perhaps most persuasively because I then, much more than now, believed that the purpose of testing might probably be to assess my level of retained knowledge, whatever that means. The Muse insists that she can pass most any test, and always could, because she somehow figured out that testing could never say much about who she is or what she knows, but might instead assess how skillfully she navigates that alien environment, one almost completely unlike the real, lived world, where right and wrong answers exist, like some prehistoric bug suspended in amber. Maybe she’s just a good guesser, but I don’t think so. Slip over here for more ...

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ChangingStory1.4-AdaptAbility

multitool
I feel about as adaptAble as the typical stone. I might hail from some native stream bed, but I could find myself anywhere: sidewalk, lawn, kitchen sink, inside some shoe. I suppose my very presence suggests some sort of native adaptAbility—I mean, I AM there, after all—but I feel more natively alien there than just another homebody. I feel like the resident sore thumb.

I stay on guard, watchful, uncertain of the local customs. I suppose I plot and plan, developing contingencies before engaging, because I really don’t know, can’t anticipate how even the most otherwise pedestrian excursion might turn out. Consequently, I seem more shadow than substance. Slip over here for more ...

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PureSchmaltz-ALS-Bucket-Challenge

bucket
I've been receiving ALS Challenges for the last couple of days, and I've been considering how to respond. I thought about filling a bucket with ice water then pouring it over my head while making a video of the experience, but The Muse is out of town this week and the cats, though talented, refuse to apply their skills to videography. If an ice bucket empties on my head and there's no video recording of it, could it have really happened?

I take a cold shower every day, more than one daily in the steamy summertime. I've long done this even in winter to remind me that this life isn't just comprised of warmth, but shocking experiences, too. They help keep me awake. Cold showers seem so same-old, same-old to me, and represent no real challenge. Slip over here for more ...

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ChangingStory1.3-DayOne

DayOne
I calibrate each year twice, on New Years and on my birthday. Though nobody drops any lighted balls in Time Square in mid-August, my birthday feels the more significant milestone point. New Year seems to be one of those generally agreed upon celebrations, like George Washington’s perennially Monday birthday, which consensus set for the convenience of long weekend Federal employees rather than to denote any real event. I have documentary evidence that I was, indeed, born on the nineteenth of August, on a kitchen table in a country doctor’s house that served as the hospital in a tiny Eastern Oregon town.

Those comprise the facts. The rest of my beginnings might be no more than myth, for every human’s early life comes shrouded in the proud if unreliable testimony of sleep-deprived parents and siblings too young to remember with any clarity. A new child suspends history for a few years. No matter how carefully anyone might try to chronicle the baby steps, most of them will go unobserved by anyone but the child, and he will not yet have become entrained in the curious art of observation, and merely experiences without jotting even a memory for future reference. Slip over here for more ...

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ChangingStory1.2-Observing

observe
Jerry Weinberg used to insist that non-fiction must be a fictional notion, since all writing gets filtered through a writer first. Some so-called non-fiction seems more self-reflective than others, and perhaps this observation supports his point. Few authors, I suspect, ever get through to the bottom of writing anything without stumbling upon an unexpected, sometimes unwanted participant: self.

Likewise, Cyberneticist Heintz Von Foerster insisted that objectivity qualifies as a delusion that one could have an observation without the trouble of including an observer. The presence of an observer engaging in the observation nudges the notion of objectivity nearer the subjective end of the scale, a relative value rendered in rather definite terms. Since no observer can be certain of just how they filter what they report they observe, we might just be better off remembering Weinberg’s Insistence: non-fiction can’t exist. Slip over here for more ...

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ChangingStory1.1-Dewing

dewing
I suppose every writer lives in an echo chamber, a place where the primary dialogue unfolds while words appear. The echos sometimes deafen to the point that the writer cannot quite comprehend what’s appearing on the page, as if reading while a background radio’s playing way too loud. The words on the screen seem impenetrable then. The story, lost in inept translation.

For me, writing’s best attempted early in the morning, well before the sun comes up, before the sound of speeding Metro trains starts chewing up the solitude. If I’m up and doing in the wee hours, I might be almost accomplishing something. My head, which never seems to completely shut down even during sleep, seems most manageable then; most malleable, too. Words flow, meanings emerge, I feel my own presence. Slip over here for more ...

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ChangingStory1.0-Catching

catch1
I’d grown tired of my story long before I caught myself repeating it. I’d felt my enthusiasm fleeing whenever I mentioned the unfinished book, not initially noticing the connection. One can apparently repeat some actions over and over and over, without noticing. Then I caught myself simply being myself, and blushed. The second time I caught myself, I began to understand the source of my shame.

My story seemed even to me to have grown into an excuse rather than an adventure, an explanation which could not possibly impart understanding. If it baffled me, how could it do any better with anyone else? My words and my music had fallen out of synch; I kept right on singing. Slip over here for more ...

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SpliceOfLife1.21-Seamless

hillofbeans
I’ve hung enough wallpaper to understand that seamlessness qualifies as no more than a relative term, one of many haranguing me these days. Each declares itself by what it is not, dogs whose sole distinguishing characteristic seems to be the absence of barking. Be wary of the dog that never barks, as if you’d ever know it was there.

With wallpaper, seamlessness means one cannot easily discern where the seam might be, but it’s an optical illusion; one built upon both clever design and skillful application. Look closer, though, and you won’t miss them, for they are there. Slip over here for more ...

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SpiceOfLife1.20-Bi-Bye

bi-coastal
Because our relocation to the East Coast was kinda forced, we never divorced the left coast when we moved back here. That change left ragged liaments from our former rooting which encouraged us to feel exiled for the longest time. We decided last New Years, by fiat, to declare the exile over, but the connections remain. My excursion back into that space only re-encouraged those connections.

One should never revisit the scene of any crime or blessed event, lest the witnesses implicate you. They were there. Though you might strenuously deny your presence, they’ll have you out, and your credibility should plummet. But I didn’t deny my presence, I more than implicated myself. I explicated myself, kimono wagging in even that slight breeze. I’m exposed as a principle. I have no credible defense Slip over here for more ...

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SpliceOfLife1.19-Purposed

porpose
I’ve long contended that the best stuff begins under false pretenses, but I’m only beginning to appreciate how close this is to a universal law. I might restate it as ‘all pretenses prove false,’ though that statement feels altogether too radical. It’s probably true, though.

Many have written, some even eloquently, about the importance of purpose. I saw a report on a recent study which suggested that people with clear purposes might live longer than those without them. And I’ve fussed plenty in my life, trying to identify The Purpose behind whatever I was intending to pursue. Of course, even in those rare instances where I could distill my aspiration into a single motivating meme, I’d stumble across better or multiple better along the way. Crossing the finish line, I would find that I’d satisfied a purpose I could not possibly have seen or appreciated before departing. Slip over here for more ...

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SpliceOfLife1.18-Word-ing

wordle
I take in most of my information through my ears. My eyes routinely lie to me and The Muse insists I’ve never been very well connected to my rumored sense of touch. I can tell when supper’s done cooking by the smell, but I live most of my life in dialogue; most often with myself. I can be found with my headset plugged in, listening to some podcast, where I cannot hear you calling my name. In short, I’m verbal and unsurprisingly auditory.

The past month, most of my dialogues have been with myself, a delightful companion. I’ve forgotten to plug in while weeding, for instance, and found the company so delightful within my portable echo chamber, that I’ve been playing my own soundtracks and following my own, personal inquiries. I become a machine then, able to work through otherwise long hours, finishing refreshed and surprised at the aches I find lingering. My step son can’t quite comprehend how I manage to complete so much, but my secret might lie in the fact that I’m not really working when working, but chatting with myself. Slip over here for more ...

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