Memoirs From a Nineties Coffee Girl: The Love Story Intro

He with his pipe.

He with his pipe.

I with my coffee.

I with my coffee.

It was his idea, to be honest, to write a nineties love story about us and intertwine it with my Memoirs From a Nineties Coffee Girl. When it comes right down to it, we’re an ordinary couple, but even ordinary people have great love stories — although I’m not sure the nineties was a time for great love stories. They did, however, have their nineties feel to them, which was perhaps different from the eighties love stories that involved playing inappropriate songs such as Just Call Me Angel at weddings, while the wedding party hopped around in bouffant prom-style dress.

One problem with love stories, of course, is their propensity to stop at the moment the couple is married or kisses or walks away together holding hands. They may have already engaged in a sexual relationship; they may have come together and fallen apart, but the end is always their entering into a lifetime of romantic soulmate togetherness. And then the real adventure is left out.

Let me not leave out the greatest adventure. But as the majority of it occurred outside the nineties, let me quickly run through a life together with a guy who struck as all wrong at the beginning. We’ve had four children together, done a little moving here and there, built a house, suffered through various training and education courses to achieve and build a very, very small worldly empire. Okay, so empire is not the word I was looking for. Cave is perhaps a better one. We’ve carved out a life amid the walls of the universal creation, which includes billions of carved out spaces: tide pools in a universal ocean that ebbs and flows. That last sentence HAS got to be a cliche, but who the hell cares? I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, which means I watched a lot of ebbing and flowing tides and examined almost as many tide pools.

Yes, it’s been a time of soulmate togetherness for the most part, although there was a time when I wondered if we had anything in common at all (we did and do — that was a small moment when I was floundering in my early thirties). However, it didn’t necessarily start out that way. In fact, it began with my believing he was all wrong, as I already said. I found him attractive, but he was fairly popular with the girls in our high school, and I tended to find that type of boy intolerable. Narcissistic (he turned out not to be). Obnoxious (okay, he is a little). The type who likewise found me intolerable, as well, as I’ve always suffered from what might be described as an off-putting personality.

Prickly, he called it (but he actually liked it). He also saw me as a girl that was almost pretty. I was only sixteen when we first met and was wan and scrawny; I grew into myself a lot and became attractive to him over the following year. Fortunately, my original distaste for him also grew into fondness. Here was a guy who could put up with my prickliness because he generally wasn’t a nice guy. Don’t mistake me; he was outwardly well-spoken and polite, but he wasn’t a nice guy. He never has been and never will be. It’s anathema to him to play a knightly fellow, riding a white horse and carrying a load of pompous speech on his back. As an extension, he can’t be manipulated or really moved in any tangible way. Manipulative feminine wiles shut him down in an instant.

Although I have the less dominant personality in the relationship, I can’t be moved much, either. I have a sixth sense for manipulation, which makes us a good match. I won’t attempt to manipulate him, if he doesn’t attempt to manipulate me (conditional statement that no doubt has a converse). Being direct is the only way to be. It save a lot of time, energy, miscommunication, and frustration.

This is an intro, as the title claims. This is the backdrop. We’ve had twenty-two years together, which is nothing, really. May we have twenty-two + more.

And now I will proceed to tell just the early parts — the early nineties coffee girl parts — as long as you remember that what came after is what made everything worthwhile.

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Over the Wall and the Second of Three

walls

I’ve hit a wall of work, and this post will no doubt hit a wall just as my thoughts have hit a wall. In fact — and I hate to be a regular overtly profound Pink Floyd philosopher — but there are a hell of a lot of walls around these parts. It took me a moment of intense mental scaling to even recall what my other thoughts were re this post: Sarkeesian’s Gamergate.

But it matters little, as I always have thoughts, and I’m pretty sure they’re all mysteriously connected at some nexus of omniscience. I’m guessing I was originally inspired by the rift that exists between male and female. It’s a rift that has existed forever, but it’s one that is easily manipulable by media, government, and religious spokespeople.

I remember now. I had read an article disparaging the Bible for its lack of morality. The article was not particularly unique. Its basic message went something like this: “How dare Christians take a moral highground on [fill in the blank] when their own Scriptures uphold polygamy, slavery, rape, and wife ownership?” As it’s been too long now for me to remember which parts of the Old Testament the author fundamentally misunderstood, I’ll go with their misunderstanding of essence. I don’t expect somebody not steeped in symbolism, mythology, and religion to understand the development of the gender theme in the Bible. To be honest, I don’t expect anyone to understand, regardless of how well studied they are.

I’m going to keep this as simple as possible. At the start of the Bible, we see an intact relationship between man and woman and God. Both male and female are the “divine” children of God; they walk with him in the garden. Then the shadow element, the serpent, creeps in and disrupts the relationship of male, female, and their place as divine children. The children are cast out. They are beset with a harsh world, where sin reigns. A hierarchy forms, in which powerful men rise to the top, creating a pyramid structure with the weaker elements below. Those weaker elements, naturally, include women, but they also include smaller, less aggressive men, and children.

However, there is a promise of a divine seed to come, and there is a people set apart who will one day bring forth that seed. Those people live in the wicked world, and they act wickedly, aggressing against each other at every turn, but God gives them laws in order to prevent their wickedness from harming the weakest members of society. The essential misunderstanding of people who claim the Bible is therefore evil is so enormous that it’s a chasm difficult to cross. The Bible might have been an offshoot of a deeply oppressive society if God had required his people to oppress the weakest members — or even if God had expected and hoped his people would remain in that place, forever in the shadow of evil and death, their relationships with each other and their creator undone to the point of lost hope.

That is not the case, though. It is interesting to me how the tone of the Bible changes over the course of 60 + books. It has a tone of the mythical from the beginning (and here, I’m not using “mythical” to mean “untrue”, but rather to highlight the style of literature the ancients used to tell stories, regardless of whether the events were true); it develops into prophecy (though there is always an element of prophecy in the mythic as well as the New Testament); it then enters the Aristotelian era of less stylization and more straightforward reporting, including eye-witness accounts and letters to specific people at specific times. Since we’ve long crossed the Aristotelian divide, it’s difficult for us to grasp the mythical storytelling of the Old Testament; we are, ever after, reaching instead for the dialectic. We reach for the dialectic and often miss the essence. In other words, we don’t really understand the book of Genesis, let alone the books of the law.

What am I trying to say, anyway? I’m trying to say (or claim, rather) that the elements of the male, female, and divine child(ren) were reunited through Christ. That’s the development the ancients were promised. Jesus himself was the divine child — a true divine child. He was born of a woman, but walked in this world as a man. After he went to be with his Father in heaven, the Holy Spirit was sent as a friend to believers. There are so many elements of the child, woman, and man being reunited that it becomes difficult to parse through it all, but the ultimate picture is in what we call the trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is the masculine, the Son the divine child, the Spirit-helper the feminine.

This reuniting inspired a different kind of philosophy, and world, to be honest. It inspired Paul in his letter to the Galatians to write, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The elements have been united; the hierarchy crushed. The shadow, or the serpent as he’s called, has been defeated. The story of gender in the Bible is far from being the easy thing that our Aristotelian worldview wants it to be. However, I’m quite sure one thing. It really wasn’t meant for the politicization of dividing male and female against each other. In fact, that’s the exact opposite of what was meant. That’s the absurdity of man, though. You have to hand it to us. We’re insane; you’d think we enjoyed being in a state of constant internal warfare.

¬†As for me, I’d like to return to the garden. I don’t much like insanity. Speaking of symbolism and mythology, I desire nothing more than to crawl under the boughs of the Tree of Life and fall fast asleep. I’ve hit my wall, see. I was just telling somebody the other day that I was superhuman because I don’t need to sleep. I’m really not. I need to sleep. Right now, preferably.

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Connecting Dissimilar Dots: Sarkeesian’s Gamergate

After detecting a pattern of similarities in my social media feed this morning, I felt compelled to sit down and write about it (I have very little time to write these days, so this must be a strong compulsion). It then occurred to me that what I was viewing as a pattern is rather the fundamental nature of mankind. These stories that my mind connected were, in no particular order, about the end of Christianity in the Middle East, the ongoing gamergate, and the typical pitting of “biblical marriage” against same-sex marriage. There are always related subjects that could be added, but these were the three I fixated on. I will, therefore, write three posts, and I will start with gamergate.

I would like to talk about Anita Sarkeesian and her mode of feminist literary analysis that she has extended to the world of gaming. Okay, no I would not like to do only that, to be honest. I would like to give my own literary analysis, as well. If she can do it, so can I. To lay a foundation first, let it be clear that I don’t care what the demographics of games are. I don’t care that nearly fifty percent of the gaming audience is composed of women. The games Sarkeesian analyzes are being targeted at a male audience, and those are the ones she would like to see changed.

That they are targeted at a male audience is frankly obvious from the get-go. How do I know? Men are traditionally the warriors of society. They have been the primary warriors in cultures around the world and throughout history. They are the warriors for obvious reasons: they are bigger, stronger, and more aggressive than women are. The core of video games targeted at men are fighting based. They use an arsenal of weaponry, and bad guys must be killed at every level. Personally, I find the violence downright nauseating and unnecessary. As a woman, I don’t understand its attraction. And yet, it seems to be very attractive to the male mind. Sarkeesian would say this is a toxic cultural ideal of men. However, it’s not a cultural ideal; see above. Men are the warriors of society. They have always been. We didn’t make this up in our culture. We didn’t train men to be this way. They are this way.

Not every video game story involves a Princess Peach; in fact, I would venture to suggest that when moving past contemporaries to Mario Bros, the plot lines become increasingly more complex. But we’ll go with the simplistic notion that video games are not only violent, but they involve rescuing a damsel in distress because Sarkeesian’s worldview is a bit simplistic. The “rescuing a damsel in distress” trope is yet another indication of games being created for a male audience. A man might just as easily go on a mission to rescue a brother-in-arms, but rescuing a woman is attractive to men because [most] men are attracted to women. They are attracted to the female form, such that rescuing a woman with an overblown female form will most likely be even more attractive.

What is happening to the male subconscious as he picks off scores of bad guys and tangles with some bad women, too (maybe even some strippers and prostitutes), in order to rescue a damsel in distress? I suppose it could be exactly as Sarkeesian sees it: women are being used as pawns for male stories; they are being objectified as sexual objects by the active male subjects. What if that isn’t it at all, though? What if, through this process, men are actually learning to integrate with the feminine aspect of the universe? Rather than a feminist interpretation, this would be akin to a Jungian interpretation. It goes about like this: bloody violent male must defeat his shadow nature in order to rescue his anima. Blowing away scores of bloody and violent men and dabbling with prostitutes and strippers equates to shadow and a poor relationship to anima (respectively). Somehow, though, if the male hero is successful, he enters the inner core of his psyche and rescues his enchained anima, thereby integrating as a person who can now lay down his arms.

Looking at video games in this way, I can see they are actually beneficial to the male psyche because they force men to go through this integration process repeatedly. Even Sarkeesian recognizes that media affects us. It affects us on a very deep psychological level. According to her — and I actually agree with her — those who most vociferously deny that media influences us are the ones who are the most influenced by it. Can she honestly discount that utilizing the male warrior wiring to rescue a woman and defeat the negative images of femininity (prostitutes, strippers) throughout game play can positively alter the way men deal with the women in their lives? She can and does appear to view games as having precisely the opposite effect. Whether she is honest is another question altogether. She might simply be deluded in her understanding of fundamental reality.*

*My half-baked Jungian analysis is not fundamental reality. However, Jung had a very fundamental understanding of the genders, and using his ideas is at least a step toward understanding fundamental reality. Like it or not, video games marketed at men are going to resonate with the fundamental nature of men. Likewise, I would expect games marketed at women to resonate with the nature of women.

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Medieval Mars: The Anthology

Medieval Mars Anthology ebook cover

I have a story in this anthology, which is based off Travis Perry’s novella, Medieval Mars (also included in this anthology). The stories are a mix of fantasy, high fantasy, and sci fi. The price is a steal at $1.99. It was a fun collaboration; my story is called Liar’s Paradox, and as one reader put it, it’s “provocative and bit disturbing, as I’m coming to expect from you.” Well, I wouldn’t want to disappoint anyone.

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Toward a Modern Dictionary Experience

Ambrose Bierce wrote the Devil’s Dictionary. We’ve had lexicographers who have determined themselves to be masters of language; Bierce was one of them. However, the truth is that lexicographers are not creators but compilers who reflect common language usage, and they are generally slow to make changes in their dictionaries. Reflection is one phenomenon of “enlightenment”, running after trends another matter altogether. In these 21st C days, though, I’ve come to the conclusion that we need another type of dictionary experience. As I’ve already stated, lexicographers are not masters but reflectors; conversely, the same must be true of dictionaries. They are not the masters your English teacher made you think they were. They merely served to demonstrate how out of touch with common usage and reality you happened to be at any given time in your life when you misused a word; or likewise how you desired to illicit a response from your teacher…and, unless your teacher wasn’t hot, it was an entirely discrete experience.

Positively charged nucleus surrounded by negatively charged phonemes.

Positively charged nucleus surrounded by negatively charged phonemes.

To take this a step further, what is needed is a dictionary that is a better reflector. Definitions in these days change very quickly. Not only do they change due to the onslaught of media everywhere you look, but they change based off what the user of language is feeling/thinking from one moment to the next. What are words but stacked phonemes? There is no reason why phonemes should remain static. In fact, according to the atomic model, they clearly aren’t. I would suggest, then, an algorithm that determines the meaning of a given word based off these factors (given in order from least to most important): A. common usage B. the politics of the day C. the group a user belongs to D. the individual feelings/thoughts of a user and E. the statistical likelihood of triggering someone within hearing/reading range of the user.

Although this product is still currently in the development stage, I’ve launched a GoFundMe campaign to bring it more swiftly to market than the usual multiple years it would take to pore over and rewrite a dictionary. At the rate at which technology and media change, there is a small window I have to toss this out there. If you would like to donate to my project, go to Humpty-Dumpty Media App, GoFundMe But Don’t Break My Damn Shell.

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