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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/1634630
Rated: 18+ · Book · Writing · #1634630
Brief writing exercises and thoughts on writing. Maybe the occasional personal musing.

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This is my writer's scratchpad. I use this space to scribble down some quick thoughts and images that appeal to me. The idea is that when I don't feel like working on one of my stories but still want to write, the incomplete "droplets" I form will get posted here.

I have another (currently dormant) blog where I discuss politics, sexuality, spirituality, and whatever else comes to mind. It's called The Musings of a Confused Man  .
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May 27, 2013 at 1:36pm
May 27, 2013 at 1:36pm
#783524
I found today's blog prompt from the "Blogging Circle of Friends someone curious:

You like being female/male because....

To be honest, I like being a man because...well, I'm a man and I really cannot imagine what it'd be like to be a woman instead.

Sure, I've wondered what it would be like to be a woman at times. But I can't really imagine what it would be like. And I'm not sure I'd want to. In many ways, I enjoy being a man. I enjoy my body the way it is and it feels comfortable to me. Lately, I've been talking to and reading books by trans people. I've paid close attention to how they often felt at war with their birth sex and even their own bodies. I can't really imagine what that would be like, though I imagine it must be a horrible thing to experience.

So why do I like being a man? Because that's what I am and I'm comfortable enough with that to take it for granted as a natural part of my personality and identity. And for that, I'm thankful.

JarredH

Give me pen and paper and I shall create entire worlds and fill them with adventures.
May 14, 2013 at 11:23pm
May 14, 2013 at 11:23pm
#782695
I haven't done one of these in ages. I figured I was overdue.

The sun was just peeking over the horizon when Erica crept out of the small shack her family lived in. The seven year old shivered slightly as her bear feet stepped into the dew-covered grass, instantly making them damp and chilly. She silently slipped around behind the house, through the hedgerow that marked the family's back yard, then began to run across the meadow. She slowed her pace as she approached the old oak tree. She knelt in front of it and placed her hands on the rough bark. "Grandmother Tree," she said, "Thank you for your shade and your acorns. Thank you for letting me play in your branches. May your life be long and may all who benefit from you appreciate you."

A grizzled old voice came from behind her. "There are not many adults who still practice the old devotions. It's surprising to hear them from a child."

Erica spun around, startled. A burly man with greying beard and a squint in his left eye stood there. Erica thought he was smiling, but it was hard to tell with all the lines and scars on his face. "Oh hello," she said.

"Hello, young lady. So tell me, who taught you to bless the tree like that?"

"My great aunt, sir. Her name was Mathilda. She went to be with the ancestors three years ago."

The man nodded. "I see. I knew a woman named Mathilda who lived around here once. A short, pudgy woman who made the most delightful meat pies. She said the secret to her pies' great taste was that she still honored the old ways when she made them."

"That definitely sounds like my great aunt, sir. And to my knowledge, she was the only Mathilda this side of the Shelti River."

"Then it could be, Erica. It's sweet that you still give thanks to the trees. Do you follow any of the other old practices?"

"Yes sir. As many as I remember from what Aunt Mathilda showed me." Erica frowned. "Except it upsets my parents, so I sometimes have to be careful to make sure they're not looking."

The man nodded. "Yes, many of the adults frown on the old ways. They think they are foolish. Or even dangerous."

"But you don't think that, sir?"

The man laughed. It was a loud, grating laugh. Yet Erica found it comforting. He said, "No, dear girl. I think the old ways are important and that the people are hurting themselves by forgetting them. Indeed, it gives me great hope to see one such as yourself keeping those ways alive."

"Hope, sir? What for?"

He smiled. "That doesn't matter right now. You don't need to concern yourselves with the ramblings of an old man like me. But I wonder if you would accept a small gift."

"I have nothing to offer in return, sir."

He laughed. "Ah yes! Your aunt taught you well, to know that it is bad form to accept a gift without having one to give in return." He lowered his voice and spoke as if sharing a conspiracy. "But you have already given me a gift with your blessing to our friend the tree here. Hearing that has brightened my day immensely. So you see, it is I who owe you a gift in return anyway."

Erica pondered this, then nodded tentatively. The man reached into a pouch that hung from his belt. When he removed it, he held it out to Erica so she could see the small copper coin in his hand. She reached out her own hand and stopped when her fingers were just inches from the token. She glanced at him and he nodded before she picked up the coin. Pulling it to her face, she studied it. On one side was a strange symbol. On the other were the figures fo a man and woman dancing together. "It's not like any money I have ever seen, sir," she said.

He laughed. "Indeed not. It's a good luck charm of sorts. Many people who followed the old ways in the past would carry such tokens with them. I would like you to have it."

"Thank you, sir. If you're sure?"

"I am." A woman's voice echoed from the direction of Erica's home. "Sounds like your mother is looking for you."

"Yeah, I need to get on with my chores. If you will excuse me."

"Goodbye, sweet Erica. Perhaps we will meet again."

She began to walk away, but stopped after a few paces. A thought had occurred to her. She turned back to him as she asked, "What is your name, sir?" But the old man was gone. She looked in every direction but could not see him. She wondered how he could have gotten out of site so soon. She wished she had gotten his name, as maybe her father could tell her more about him, as Mathilda was his father's sister.

Then another thought occurred to her. She had never told him her name. Yet he had known it.


JarredH

Give me pen and paper and I shall create entire worlds and fill them with adventures.
March 11, 2013 at 10:47pm
March 11, 2013 at 10:47pm
#777339
From "Blogging Circle of Friends :

The topic is the death penalty. Are you for it or against it and why?

There are certain questions -- a lot of them seem to be "hot topic" questions too -- that leave me feeling like the question is wrong. This is often because I feel like there are dozens of other questions that have been passed over in order to ask the "big question," questions whose answers will either greatly impact the answer to "the big one" or in some way invalidate that question altogether.

The death penalty question is one such question for me. I think that to really tackle it, we first have to tackle some other questions about our criminal justice system and what purpose we think it is supposed to serve. For example, a lot of people assume that the purpose is to punish criminals. It's an assumption that makes a lot of sense, considering how it works. A criminal is put on trial and once convicted -- assuming zie is convicted -- is handed down a sentence (fine, prison time, and/or death). They do something bad and the system does something harsh to them in return. That bears a great deal of resemblance to how a parent might punish an unruly child.

I admit I don't particularly care for that view of the criminal justice system. For starters, I think that a system of punishments (at least not alone) isn't terribly effective with children or adolescents, so assuming it will be effective for grown adults who clearly didn't learn their lessons about behaving like a civilized person in childhood strikes me as dubious. I think punishment for adults tends to fail as both a deterrent and as a way to get them to change. (And if we're just punishing them for the sake of punishing them or as a form of "comeuppance" with no other goal, well that's vengeance and not justice at all.)

I'll further note that I find the idea of rehabilitating criminals -- whether through punishment or any other means -- as troubling anyway. Oh sure, it's a great idea in theory. The problem in reality is that rehabilitation only works for those who actually want to change and find a better way of living within society. The thought of a criminal justice system that's trying to sort out who actually wants to be rehabilitated and who doesn't frightens me in its own right.

In the end, the one thing I think the criminal justice system can do is try to protect past victims and potential future victims from criminals. If a criminal is taken of the streets and removed from the general population for a period of time, that is time that I, my family, my neighbor, and almost everyone else is safe from said criminal's hurtful actions. It still begs the question of how long to protect the population from any particular criminal and gets back into my questions about the problem of a system that seeks to rehabilitate.

However, I do feel that the one thing that seems obvious is that those violent criminals who repeatedly prey upon and hurt other people deserve to be removed from the population permanently. That can be done as a life sentence. In some cases, that may be done through removing such a repeat offender from this world altogether. I'm not totally sold on even that possibility, but I'm open to it.

But in the end, I still think we need to start thinking about how we look at criminal justice -- and justice in general -- on a more fundamental level.

JarredH

Give me pen and paper and I shall create entire worlds and fill them with adventures.
February 5, 2013 at 1:05pm
February 5, 2013 at 1:05pm
#773928
From "Blogging Circle of Friends :

Name one of the best decisions you ever made.

I would have to decide that it was when I decided to go into therapy back in 2011. I had spent the previous few years going through unhealthy and horrible relationships. The last one was with D, and as I realized there was problems in the relationship, I talked to my friend Marisa about the possibility of seeking professional help from some of my issues. (To give one example, D told me that he needed some time alone to work through a few things that were bothering him, and I just about had a nervous breakdown, wondering why he wouldn't talk to me about it or let me help him.)

As things went through total meltdown (and I found out just how toxic a person D really was for me), I ended up making an appointment with my therapist, Felicia. I was a complete mess after our first session, as Felicia led me to the realization that I was codependent. I was in tears after that session and spent the next couple days feeling like I had emotionally been run over by a bus. Marisa told me that this was perfectly normal and actually a good thing. In the long run, I found out she was right.

With Felicia's help, I learned to see myself in a new light. I quit defining my worth solely in terms of what I could do to help other people. I quit needing to be needed. Plus, I started putting my own needs on the same level as the needs of those around me -- and above their wants or whims. I started pushing back when D (who eventually got back in touch with me) tried to emotionally manipulate me by appealing to my need to "be nice." I started setting boundaries with peoplend defending them, even refusing to continue talking to a few people if they continued to refuse to honor my boundaries.

I was fortunate in that I only spent about three months seeing Felicia (though her phone number is still in my contact list "just in case"). But the lessons I learned from her -- and the encouragement and praise I received for implementing them -- will stick with me for the rest of my life.

JarredH

Give me pen and paper and I shall create entire worlds and fill them with adventures.
February 1, 2013 at 6:30pm
February 1, 2013 at 6:30pm
#773553
From "Blogging Circle of Friends :

Is it ever okay to lie?

While I know that conventional wisdom says that honesty is the best policy and most situations bear out that wisdom, I do believe that there are those cases when dishonesty is not only okay, but the more appropriate response. The classic example of this is the hypothetical (not as hypothetical as you might think) question of whether it was okay to lie to SS soldiers in 1940's Germany if they asked you about any Jews living in your neighborhood. Obviously, telling them, "Oh yes, the Morgansteins are over on Hall Street," would be unthinkable. Not only would most people think it okay to lie in such a situation, many people (myself included) would see it as a moral imperative. No principle lives in a isolation, and that means that situations sometimes arrive in which principles come into conflict with one another. I'd say saving a life is worth a black mark on my honesty record.

In fact, I'd say that lying to protect another person's safety or well-being in general is an acceptable and even necessary thing. One real example in my own life was when my friend, P left her abusive husband. P's husband immediately contacted me and asked if I knew what had happened to her and where she had gone. Telling him where P was certainly was not an option, for obvious reasons. That left me telling him up-front that I knew where she was but was unwilling to tell him or simply lie and say I was clueless. I chose the latter, as it kept him from harassing me in his ongoing attempt to get to P and definitely protected P. I feel no guilt over that.

I'd also note that if the very conservative parents ever asked me if I knew whether their child was gay, I would lie to them if necessary. That child is still financially dependent on and vulnerable to those parents. Again, that child's well-being -- being allowed to continue relying on hir parents for hir needs and not being coerced into some situation -- is more important than my honesty in such a situation.

JarredH

Give me pen and paper and I shall create entire worlds and fill them with adventures.
February 1, 2013 at 6:18pm
February 1, 2013 at 6:18pm
#773552

I sat on the edge of his bed and held his hand. We sat in silence, looking into each others eyes. He smiled wanly and I lowered my eyes.

---

His guards escorted him across the courtyard to the blood stained wall. The firing squad congregated nearby, watching him approach his end.

---

She crouched behind a bunker, holding her marker close to her chest. To her left, a teammate swore as two paintballs stained his shirt blue.

---

I paddled my canoe, slowly drawing closer to the shallows of the lake. I slipped out of the vessel, the water cold on my calves.

---

The bagpipe troop marched along the parade route, their kilts fluttering a bit in the breeze. The crowed listened to their tune in silence.

---

He crept toward the house, keeping to the shadows where possible. He studied the dark building, seeking any sign of life. All was quiet.


JarredH

Give me pen and paper and I shall create entire worlds and fill them with adventures.
January 31, 2013 at 6:04pm
January 31, 2013 at 6:04pm
#773458
Actually, it's from "Blogging Circle of Friends :

Name a movie that frightened you.

First, let's take care of the warning: This entry contains spoilers to a twelve year old movie.

When I saw this blog prompt, I was immediately reminded of my original experience of the movie Jeepers Creepers  . Originally, i could not even get through that movie. I must have tried watching it at least five different times -- thank goodness I owned it on DVD -- and stopped in the same place every time.

The scene that would do me in was the one where Justin Long's character (or was it Gina Phillips's character? I forget.) finds themselves wandering through the cave with all the bodies hanging there. I'd see that scene and I'd get instantly frightened. I'd be so frightened that I would stop the movie. I just couldn't get past it.

I tried watching the movie during the day even, but had the same results. Finally, one day I was hanging out with my friend, Peggy, and we were going to watch a movie. She mentioned that one, and I decided to give it a try with someone else in the room with me. So we sat down and watched the movie. We got to the scene in the cave, and it still creeped me out, but Peggy's presence made it possible for me to keep watching.

Then something interesting happened. We got to the part of the movie where I realized that the villain was a supernatural monster. You see, for some reason, I had assumed that this was a movie about a human killer, akin to the Hannibal Lecter movies. Once I realized that I was watching a movie about a supernatural monster, my fears evaporated. I've been able to watch the whole movie without any problems ever since. By myself. In a dark room. On a stormy night.

That's when I realized that I'm much more frightened by movies that could really happen. The idea that a real human could kill women and sew their skin into a body suit for himself creeps me out. The idea that some human could put people into situations where they have to attempt disgusting and nearly impossible things in order to have even just a shot at escaping almost inevitable death creeps me out. But supernatural undead creatures that collect body-parts from unsuspecting bystanders? No problem!

Weird, eh?

JarredH

Give me pen and paper and I shall create entire worlds and fill them with adventures.
January 31, 2013 at 5:45pm
January 31, 2013 at 5:45pm
#773457

I moaned softly as he slipped his hand beneath my shirt, caressing my stomach. He gazed into my eyes before leaning forward to kiss me.

---

Smoke curled as it escaped the small cabin's chimney and floated into the sky. The pine trees surrounding the building were covered in snow.

---

Todd watched from his living room window as dark clouds appeared on the horizon and began to roll across the sky. The wind shook the trees.

---

I shifted nervously as I sat in my car. My fingers tapped out a wild rhythm. I looked in my mirror. The cop was still in his cruiser.

---

Zach adjusted his armor as he marched his first patrol route. His shoulders ached from the added weight. He figured he'd be sore by morning.

---

Moonlight filtered in through the window near the bed and bathed the sleeping child's face in soft light. Her breath was slow and relaxed.


JarredH

Give me pen and paper and I shall create entire worlds and fill them with adventures.
January 20, 2013 at 7:51pm
January 20, 2013 at 7:51pm
#772264

We sat together on the bench, watching the sunset. I felt his hand on my knee and I covered it with my own. We sat there as the light faded.

---

He gripped my hand tightly. My muscles burned as I slowly worked to pull him up to the edge of the wall I lay on. Sweat poured from my face.

---

His lips pursed as he pressed them into mine. The soft pressure was a delight to me and I returned his kiss, my own desire building.

---

He cradled the back of my neck with his hands as he leaned in. I could smell the faint aroma of his aftershave as his face drew closer.

---

A figure crept along the dirt road, passing from shadow to shadow. They adeptly avoided the meager light cast by the evenly spaced lamps.


JarredH

Give me pen and paper and I shall create entire worlds and fill them with adventures.
January 20, 2013 at 7:03pm
January 20, 2013 at 7:03pm
#772262
We held hands as we ran. His gait was slightly longer, so I struggled to keep up with him. As we ran, I could hear the explosions as meteorites hit the earth mere yards behind us. The dust filled the air, choking my lungs. I tried to pull the collar of my shirt tighter over my mouth and nose with my free hand.

My foot hit an uneven patch of ground and I tripped falling to my knees. I winced as he practically pulled my shoulder out of joint before realizing I wasn’t moving. He turned to face me and reached out his other hand to help me up. I saw his eyes widen for a moment before he tackled me to the ground and covered with his body. Less than a second later, I heard the crashing impact and felt as we were both showered with huge clods of dirt. I wondered briefly if we were about to be buried alive.


JarredH

Give me pen and paper and I shall create entire worlds and fill them with adventures.

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