I’m not looking for new shows. I still have a bunch of movies to catch up on (I see you, Split) and haven’t even gotten started with Stranger Things Season 2. Still, when you’re Netflix and Chillin, sometimes what is on can catch your eye after. This is the curious way I found my way into Mindhunters, a Netflix drama produced by Charlize Theron. The mercurial actresses production company is responsible for other works including Monster and Atomic Blonde, but this is their second foray into the world of the episodic. This time it worked.
I tend to follow stories that are very good at the things I am not so good at. I do this and call it research. Mindhunters is excellent at dialogue. The characters use dialogue that is so vastly unique to each in terms of both wording and delivery that you are compelled to continue. Seven episodes in and I’m already wondering how we build towards season three. Yeah, some of what is being layered in shouldn’t pop until that far out. They show has structured three very different and interesting love stories on top of a love and power triangle that will definitely change the relationship dynamics once the secrets are exposed.
And that’s not even the B plot.
The overriding A plot dances back and forth between being about the intellectual growth of the FBI and the social/psychological debate about why people commit crimes and how we ought to respond to that. In truth the entire thesis of the show is laid out in a brief, but compelling near one-sided discussion about Durkheim’s Labeling Theory that takes place in the first episode. By episode seven we are living that theory throughout the episodes.
Mindhunters is solid and I plan to continue watching.
- Life is good here. It isn’t perfect and I (always) want that, but it is as good as it gets for now. I can live with that.
I spent some time on twitter this morning trying to get a pulse of the multitude of realities that people inhabit. Even on the same stream the conversation is so, well, divergent, that it makes me question how we are all tied together. The hashtag I explored was the 10yr old thread #metoo, which gained notoriety recently as it has helped topple several high profile sexual predators including Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. I was more interested in the gray areas of the debate–that interpretative line of what is or isn’t harassment and, in particular, the mindset these perpetrators and even victims occupy.
Here is what I think: Boys are being raised to feel like they need to be the sexual initiators–that ‘no’ is part of the negotiation. In other words, some resistance is expected and part of that process is moving through a woman’s resistance by slowly gaining her trust until eventually you get there. In other words, for a lot of these men ‘No’ means ‘not yet’ and for a lot of these women ‘no’ means I don’t want to have sex but lets keep messing around.
Personally, I feel like there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Men always want to go further. My entire collegiate dating history was an exercise in me wanting to go further, if only because I wanted the end result. I was never taught to luxuriate in the stages of a sexual relationship. Everything I saw, heard, read was about the endgame. It took becoming a man to recognize that all stages of intimacy have value and that it isn’t just a race to the finish. I believe men need to learn this lesson a lot sooner and once they do it will have an effect on their relationships with women and their relationship to sex itself.
- I’ve come around to putting up with an extreme amount of bullshit in order to spend my days in a way that fills my heart with warmth. The greatest downside of this on my end is the compromise means I spend all of my nights alone, cold, and empty. I realize we are both compromising ourselves, but I wonder if the why is worth it, or if we are stricken with such a fear as to immobilize us into doing nothing but letting the world spin and tear at us. Perhaps the only way we are comfortable knowing is this one. I certainly hope this is not true.
Call. Coffee. Write.
It has been a while since I’ve fallen into the comfortable rhythm of morning ritual. My writing has suffered for it. Ever since the unfortunate (and hopefully temporary) split I’ve been in a rut, both emotionally and physically. It is simple to call what I am feeling depression, but like a shirt one size off, it just doesn’t quite fit right. Part of being with a person is developing a way of life with them. When things are off my mind falls into this trap of trying to function the way it ought to be and the way it had been while nothing is exactly the same. The effect is similar to filling a gas tank with water and expecting to still drive. I guess what I am saying is I am fueled by love and driving through my day without it is both difficult and damaging to my soul.
I should work on developing a better sense of metaphor. Such things are generally cleaned up in second draft, but here and for the next few minutes there is only first draft. There is another metaphor, for life: You only get a first draft.
The truth is I am a far more complete person when my partner and soulmate is a part of my day. What some have called habit, pheromones, and even blind ego to me bears an ethereal quality. In each other I find a type and sense of belonging that is not repeated anywhere else in my life. In my partner I find the beauty of wanting to grow old with someone.
That I suppose is what makes it so difficult to let go and what makes the absence, if even psychologically, of her so profound. There is an Australian author named Beau Taplin who is blessed with a poetic turn of voice. He writes, “Sometimes, home has a heartbeat.” I find that to be true and fitting.
I find that I miss being away from home.
The last thing I do when I write a story is lay out the plot. This isn’t the way things are supposed to go, but it is how it tends to shake out lately. I start with a scene. It might not even pertain to the story. However, the scene shows me the characters involved and the place where it all happens. I start to build out that world in my head and that build out tends to help me flesh out the characters who I intend to bring to life in the setting. Before long I have the where, when, and who without ever really considering the what or how. It works better that way, because all of a sudden the plot is what happens to the characters on their way to finishing their character arc. It isn’t so much that the plot is incidental, but instead reflects a fully involved world and characters who will make decisions and shape plot based on who they are.
Today I found out that I will be teaching a Novel Writing Course at a local University. This is a different client base than the CC level and, it appears, carries more prestige. I am excited about the opportunity because it allows me to make more connections with different kinds of writers and it extends my practice to another place where I can start to develop more community among people. I’ve come to the none-too-dramatic conclusion that I need more friends. Perhaps specifically people who help foster my creativity, engage me, and help me to become the writer I always have been growing into.
I’m really happy being a writer right now and though the struggle for words is real, I enjoy that it is a central part of my life. What I am struggling with is not being as productive in the other areas of my work, which distracts the mind from writing. I’ll figure all of this out one way or another as I decide what I will write at all.
** For some reason this did not post last night, so here it is**
Today I was part of the Tunnel of Oppression project at my college. My classes developed research posters that informed about different aspects of oppression correlating with the skits in the tunnel—sort of a ‘do you want to learn more’ situation. Honestly, I don’t think it went far enough. There is a real opportunity in things of this nature to do experiential learning. Some of it could be service learning based, but the core idea is to have the students in the environment witnessing the effects of oppression. When someone touches an issue first hand it provides them with a different perspective than someone who has only witnessed it through the glitzed and glam TV imagery or purely through research. To use football terms, it is the difference between playing Madden NFL football and actually playing a game of tackle football and getting hit. Very different scenarios unfold.
In general I feel like there is a lot of opportunity for growth in my teaching and I am starting to sense that spark of creativity that makes me want to do it and to do more. I have to find a balance first, of course. I cannot continue to string myself out with over a half dozen unique course preps each semester. That is not helping anyone in the long run.
- I was reminded this evening that I focus better when I don’t have the TV playing in the background.
- I miss Minecraft.
- Games are simply a distraction to avoid dealing what I’m really missing.
- I am still hopelessly in love.
Believe it or not, I used to be a hermit. I have to go really far back to remember the last time that was true. I remember the exact day even–I was a latch key kid and living in an apartment in New York City. It was sometime between 4 and 6pm and I could hear kids playing in the park across the street and cars moving back and forth on the street below. I remember not being interested in anything that was going on outside because inside the apartment was me and my baseball cards. I used to set them up, putting players in their natural positions and making a game of it. This was expected of a boy who could walk out on his terrace and see Yankee Stadium. I remember thinking how good life was and how content I felt just being in that space alone. I might have been fifteen.
I fell in love shortly after that, and became quickly acquainted with what it meant to be a part of something. That feeling of belonging presented a sharp contrast to the wholeness I felt previously and, honestly, made me feel like the wholeness was a lie.
It wasn’t. I’ve taken a very long time to recognize that. It is possible to feel whole and happy completely within yourself. That feeling of being connected that comes as a result of sharing a life with someone is powerful and fulfilling, but it isn’t entirely necessary. I know there was a time I felt whole within myself and I know that in the spaces between love I often filled the connection void with friendships. Still there was a time when I was all that I needed and that was more than okay.
- The numbering system is beginning to look more and more like star dates.
Do you know what it means to hit bottom? That feeling you get when gravity finally yields and you hit the ground and then miraculously you float. Not much: 2 to 3 inches of bounce if you have enough padding or enough strength left in you. There is that moment of floating where it doesn’t seem quite real–not quite like the end. But then gravity catches up and then the pain catches up to you. Some people call it dead cat bounce.
After that you’re pretty sure what is real and what is fiction and what is going to be and what never will. You might be right. You might be wrong. Above all else you are certain that the pain is just too much to endure. Usually you’re right about that.
At the end of the day you’re still a man, with problems for sure, but the globe is still spinning and people are still living their lives, and children are still laughing, and work still needs to be done.
So you keep going.
You tie a smile to your lips. You let your eyes focus. You watch people. You do everything that you need to and at the end of the day you close your door and you weep. And then you sleep. And then you wake up. And then you do it all over again because that is all you can do. That is all you ever want to do until you really do wake up.
Or you start that hard climb from the pit of your own making to the top lip of the earth where maybe you’ll be greeted by green grass and trees and sunlight of life and love or where it might just be a waste land where there is nothing left but what you thought there was. There’s no knowing without the climbing. But you don’t want to climb you don’t want to hurt in all new and magical ways. You don’t want to feel at all. You just want to sleep and sleep has always moved things along.
So you say why continue? Just sleep. Then you look at the people you love and think about how they would feel, how they would hurt, because your kids and your lover’s feelings matter and you say that’s why.
But it isn’t.
Because you still feel and you still love and down there in the black there are moments like a regular flashes of light–brief but powerful–in the mourning and in the eternity of those moments you feel that everything is right and you feel whole and you feel loved and you feel…
And you feel.
And then the black creeps over you and then it’s a pain worse than dying because dying is instant and then nothing. This this is lasting and strong. This is fire-forged, poisen tinged and sharp. It digs into your gut and digs into your heart and makes you recognize that there is a soul and the soul is capable of hurting so fucking much or loving so fucking much and maybe those two things are the same.
Or maybe it all is just a game.
Every so often there are moments in passing conversation that ring true. Today, for example, I saw a fellow professor walking to class and she saw me as well. She didn’t speak. Her head was down, blonde hair swaying slightly as she turned away to avoid the contact. I said hello anyway. It was polite, but also it was me forcing something in order to see how she would react. She smiled and engaged me in the type of small talk you do while you are both still walking in your separate directions. The kind that rises in volume and withers in value. Still the smile never rose past her cheeks. It wasn’t that she was upset or disliked me. We always have this banter. Instead I believe she was focused on getting to where she needed to be at 7 in the morning and not truly caring about building community while that task was at hand. That there is the true of it. For her it was a moment of deciding what was more meaningful and for me it was recognizing real vs. false. All too often I struggle with recognizing the things that are true and truly right in front of my eyes. The romantic in me likes to believe in the best of a situation, but when you reduce it down to the bare essentials, life can be like that encounter–one person trying to handle what needs handling but kept from that task by someone just screwing around.
I can apply this maxim over and again. It makes for good fiction and harmful reality. The people who tend to interrupt us in life come forward with a different agenda and set of values and ordinations of importance than those trying to accomplish a goal. I remember when my mother came to visit last the kids and I were watching our favorite show and trying to catch every bit of dialogue, as we do. She did not see the value there and interrupted us in order to ask questions and, specifically, question why we were not paying more attention to her in that moment as she was only going to be in town a few more days. Different agendas and one clouds the other.
There is truth in that. Everywhere.