Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Two Biggest Lies of Every Reader

When I'm not blogging or napping, (which isn't very often), I'm most likely slouching in a leather chair, picking my way through a novel or writing one of my own. Now, like most readers, I hate being interrupted. Therefore, when I'm intently reading and clearly do not wish to be bothered, when asked, "What are you reading?", without glancing away from the page, I silently raise my book so that the title is clearly displayed. And sure, it's slightly annoying to respond to such questions as "What are you reading?", but since I as a reader haven't lied yet, no harm no foul.

Now, we all know that one person who insists on a thorough plot summary as well as character analysis in response to the question, "What are you reading?" And when this known individual comes around asking "What are you reading?" while I'm slouched in my leather chair and perhaps sipping a warm drink, without moving my head, I lift just my eyes from the page to glare directly into theirs. Like so.

                              Image result for reading gifs  

And if that isn't enough and a spoken answer is required, all readers (myself included), smile sharply and utter these two lies.
Interrogator: What are you reading?
Reader: A book.
Interrogator: What's it about?
Reader: Oh, nothing.

A book?! Oh nothing?! Now those statements are indeed, the two biggest lies of every reader. When you respond to the "interrogator" with the phrase, "a book," sure, you're telling the literal, fundamental truth, but you're still lying. You're lying, because you're not just reading "a book", you're exploring and discovering a new existence. You're absorbing the lifeblood of another reader who at some point decided that they not only wanted to read and explore, but wanted to write and create. You're not reading words on a page, you're reading the lives and experiences of those whom you have never met before.

And even worse, you have the audacity to say that the book you're reading is about, "oh, nothing"? Because the book you're reading is most certainly about something. And that "something" is important enough to you that you're willing to momentarily leave the "something" of your own life to attempt to experience and understand that "something" of another person's life.

So, the next time you're asked the question, "What are you reading?", be sure that you remain the honest reader and don't answer, "a book." And when you're also asked, "What's it about?", don't respond, "Oh, nothing." Because that would be lying, and only writers lie.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Corners - A Short Story

Writing Prompt: Write about someone that was buried alive.

I’ve always despised enclosed, suffocating spaces. Yet there I was, in an enclosed, suffocating space buried several feet under layers of dark soil. Consequential to hours of incessant shouting, my throat and lungs were raw and tense. In a vain attempt to soothe the pain and conserve the remaining air, I breathed slowly and deliberately, consciously inhaling small sums of oxygen and subsequently holding my breath. However, even in small doses, with each spurt of air I inhaled, claws scraped my flaking lips and slithered down through my esophagus, only to puncture my already coarse lungs.
           Although each inhalation was punctuated by such fits of splintering anguish, as I lay in silence, detecting my haphazard breathing pattern, I realized that I had never considered that the interiors of coffins could be so comfortably furnished. I relaxed and allowed my eyelids to drift to a close, actively prodding and poking my surroundings while delighting in the soft, padded frame of my confinement. Contorting into a curled position, I patted what felt like a blanket covering my lower body and pulled it toward my head, simultaneously nestling the side of my head into a thick pillow.

As comfortable as the coffin’s interior was, as I relaxed, numb to the excruciating pain I had endured for hours prior, I lurched upright, slamming my head into the also padded overhead casing of the coffin. Shuddering, I quickly recovered and concentrated my efforts into escaping my enclosure. Sucking a breath in, I heaved upward, my shoulder rising to shrug against the ceiling of the coffin. Unsuccessful, I tried again, but crouched and braced my legs to provide extra support and leverage. As I strained my neck, tensing every tendon and fiber of my body, my legs soon collapsed and I lay motionless and silent. Raising my hand, I caressed my palm on the ceiling of the coffin, feeling no difference in the overhead casing save for minor creases it had suffered following my attempt to escape.

Returning to a prostrate position, as I squinted, attempting to make out any distinguishable detail from the coffin’s interior, it was only then that I noticed how penetrating the darkness of the coffin’s interior was. I was essentially gazing into a dense, velvet nothingness that folded and twisted around my limbs. I viciously clawed at the darkness, desperately trying to peel away any layer of blackness I could, until I felt an odd protrusion on the far end of the coffin’s overhead casing.

My heart thundering and beads of sweat crowning my forehead, I shifted my torso to face the condensed protrusion. With an outstretched palm parallel to the floor of the coffin, I fingered the ceiling until I brushed across the fine lettering. Punctuated with spaces and capitals, I traced the lettering with my fingernail, struggling to make out the sentence I assumed it displayed. After laboring over the inscription, I finally pieced together the poorly written sentence:
         Corners are escape.
      Without thought or hesitation, I stroked the spines of each corner of the coffin and heard latches snap with each brush. As I reached for the final corner of the coffin and snapped its corresponding latch, I heard a soft ringing overhead.
             As the ringing stubbornly proceeded, I awaited another sound, a voice, a shovel. Alas, still, that was all I heard. I resorted to counting seconds on my fingers in intervals of ten, allowing monotony to reduce my disappointment.Nearing four thousand, I heard it: chink. I had heard it. I had heard the sound of freedom, of rescue, of escape. I knocked and beat on the ceiling of my coffin in response, and was rewarded with the satisfying sound of another chink. Gnawing on my fingers, I hopefully listened for more sounds, removing my fingers from mouth only after the coffin was heaved open and I gazed into the cold, shallow eyes of a bearded man. Sharp wrinkles and creases accentuated the corners of his eyes and lips, and his stringy, fraying hair was caked with grease. Without a word, he hoisted me from the coffin, and scanning the vicinity, lay down into the coffin himself, oddly gesturing to me that I should close the coffin.
    Vigorously shaking my head and denying his unfathomable request, I silently strode away, tripping over a bell I had not noticed, the bell that had been my salvation.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Dishonesty and Taking My Own Advice

I recently wrote a post listing strategies I recommend to boost productivity during the long summer days. Although these techniques are helpful and (most likely) effective, I personally can't vouch for their efficacy considering I haven't utilized or practiced them myself. And because I recently returned from an extensive vacation and consequently neglected blogging in its entirety, I decided to test the tips I gave myself. In hindsight, I probably should have tried and tested these tips prior to writing an advisory post about such techniques.

1. Make a Schedule
The first technique I explained in my previous post was creating a summer schedule. This summer schedule to which I refer is not created by randomly marking a blank calendar or chart, but by taking one's school schedule and substituting summer activities for classes. Although apparently complex, this process is actually quite simple and summarized in the image below. I actually thought this was the most helpful of all the techniques I listed, because I've personally had some difficulty staying on task for prescribed amounts of time. (Outside of school, that is.)

2. Turn Off Notifications
Now, this was a relatively easy one. I've never had any issue ignoring the (few) notifications I receive across all of my devices. However, being a computer and technology incompetent guy, the most difficult part of this procedure was figuring out how to disable notifications in the first place. Although I toiled in the settings of my devices for extensive periods of time, I finally figured it out after returning to a manual. This technique was quite helpful in limiting distractions. Although insignificant for myself, I understand how helpful this strategy would be for those that find themselves constantly wandering to their devices, drawn by the illuminated screen and the banners flashing across its surface.

3. Get Organized
This task proved to be quite difficult, primarily because after returning from vacation, my family and I moved to a new temporary house for a month. Consequently, all, and I mean all of my belongings are stowed away in storage or in poorly labeled boxes. (I'm to blame for that one). However, having a set of essential items in my backpack, I finally managed to gather enough materials to create a makeshift, haphazard environment for my summer productivity.

I may have mentioned in my previous post that I had used these techniques and strategies beforehand and they were supremely effective. And if I do say so myself, they are. However, I obviously should have used these strategies before advocating them, and for that I apologize to the select few readers that are viewing both this post and also viewed post preceding it. Until then, I sincerely wish you the greatest of luck in summer productivity, and if these tips were of any assistance to you or someone you know, make sure to leave a comment.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

How to be Productive this Summer

Now that school has finally finished, I find myself at home and primarily unproductive. Mindlessly watching videos and sleeping are two such unproductive activities consequential to the lack of organization and order in my days. I've now learned that with all of this time on my hands, it is imperative that I avoid all couches, mattresses, and electronics, lest I cannot pry my body from a collapsed, resting position or my eyes from a glowing screen.

So, as I thought about any sound advice to give regarding summer productivity, I finally compiled a list of short tips that may aid you in being productive this summer.
1. Make a Schedule
So, I decided to try something interesting: I took my old school schedule, which lists a starting time of 8:15 and ending time of 3:00, and substituted productive summer activities for the classes on this schedule. Thus, my productive activities are equally divided into eighty minute chunks while leaving the afternoon free. However, minor adjustments should be made to compensate for differences in eating times and of course, unnecessary periods for passing between classes. Furthermore, by following a summer schedule that parallels your schedule for school, the transition back to school in a few months will be seamless.

2. Turn off Notifications
Now this one is more difficult, as it requires a concentrated and constant effort to resist enabling notifications again. However, as I have found, by disabling notifications, whether from social media or even e-mail, it is significantly easier to resist returning to these distracting applications and thus detracting from your summer productivity. This is so because the purpose of notifications is to subtly encourage the recipient of such notifications to return to their corresponding application. And, if you're like me and receive constant updates on various platforms and systems, then the cycle is seemingly never ending. But once you disable those pesky notifications, productivity will be easy.

3. Get Organized My final piece of advice, although probably goes without saying, is to remain organized. It's easy during the summer to become disorganized and disordered, but by adopting a pattern of organization during summer similar to that of the school year, you'll not only be productive during the summer, but be prepared to return to school in the fall. Furthermore, by consistently organizing materials prior to beginning a specific summer project, you subsequently limit unnecessary interruptions and distractions.

I hope that this was a helpful post, (because if it wasn't, I wasn't very productive in writing it). Although these steps are all beneficial in bolstering summer productivity, this isn't the only way to be productive during the summer. I advise you to combine these ideas with your own to produce a summer program that is personally effective and efficient. And with that, make sure to enjoy your summer as well.