(sometimes withershins, widershins or widderschynnes) means to take a course opposite that of the sun, going counterclock-wise, lefthandwise, or to circle an object, by always keeping it on the left. It also means "in a direction opposite to the usual," which is how I choose to take it in using it as the title of this blog. We're all in the same world finding our own way.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Letters vs Postcards

At their most fundamental levels, sender and receiver must be at odds and this shows up in the ways in which they communicate with each other. The meaning a message takes on is proportional only to the meaning given to it.

The following is an excerpt from my personal correspondence.
What's the difference between a letter and a postcard? There's the obvious physical distinctions; it's hard not to tell the difference between a closed envelope and a single sheet card. There's an inherent secrecy to the former because save for the intrusion of prying eyes/hands the envelope hides and protects the sender's message. It would seem then that a postcard most likely represents one of two options: it is a watered down, sanitized or encoded message or the sender trusts the messenger to know the message. It would appear that the first is the more common occurrence because in its transparency the postcard leaves itself open not only to the messenger but any person who happens to come across it between the sending and receiving.

And so far as I understand, this is a bad thing because to send a message is to exert control over it. There's a narcissism involved in that "I" sent a message with a sole intended recipient. For others to partake in the message then is to diverge from that direct line. It interferes with my intent and therefore is unacceptable. But such invasions intrude on the recipients privacy as well. This letter/postcard was sent to me not to you/them. We allow these kinds of trespasses in post mortem and found readings because the reader is either an other in the sense that they are removed from the conversation as a stranger or are temporally distant enough that their knowledge of the message will make no difference. In both scenarios, the reader lacks a certain amount of context.

Barring the disclosure in the message of a preexisting dialogue, it is inherently more acceptable for the sender to violate this unformalized connection in correspondence because whatever is contained in the message is their words. It is less culturally taboo because by virtue of sending, I include part of myself as the message. The message represents an aspect of me that I send to you, but because I separate myself from it, it gains autonomy and becomes its own thing, the message. Despite its autonomy as a separated thing however, I am still included as a part of it, and this part of me contained in the message is vulnerable because it cannot respond.

Here, Alex, is the part where I question who has more (for lack of a better word) power in correspondence. Most everything I've stated thus far has been fairly obvious. What happens if the sender opens the message beyond just the intended recipient by making a copy and posting it on an open forum like their personal blog? It eliminates that vulnerability, yes, but devalues the message to the recipient. It's no longer quite so personal knowing the message belongs to everyone.

And historically, it's the ability to do the opposite, to take a message for the masses and make it feel like you were speaking to each audience member individually that has marked a good leader as also being a good public speaker and thus something more than merely a good leader in what they were able to do.

But the message is and would be the same regardless of recipient. The biggest change is in how it is received, how it is interpreted.

It would seem then that the role of messenger is to act not only as means of delivery, but as a mediator of sorts.
I’ve just received your last letter and am immediately replying. You’ve asked if I’ve received your last letter and if I intend to reply. If I may, please let me point out that your having sent your last letter makes the letter you previously sent no longer the most recent, and if I reply, as I am now doing, it is not in response to your second-to-last letter. I cannot, therefore, satisfy the requests you’ve made in your last letter.
While this is a nice discourse in semantic, the real meat of Monsieur Jacques Roumbaud's poem, Correspondence, at least in how it pertains to this post, shows up in Letter 3:

I’ve just read your first letter (dated 23 November, 1960. You have therefore written, on average, since that date, one letter every six and two thirds weeks (there never was an interval shorter than six weeks or longer than seven weeks between two of your letters)) and something has struck me. You had written (I remind you, in case you have forgotten): “Have you received my last letter? If so (and I would be quite surprised if you had not yet (though, should that be the case, do let me know)), do you intend to reply?”
The first letter implies and queries about the existence and response to a previous that, because this is the first letter, cannot exist.

Thoughts to be continued...

PsyFly: A Dream

I know on plurk at least I've mentioned my dreams and given shorthand versions of them. I figure though why not expand them into full length  transcriptions since I haven't done that in a while. 


I'm involved in some kind of war, but the fighting is distant. I don't know who I'm fighting with, my allies, because they stay just on the edges of my vision. But I get the distinct feeling we're not human.

We're flying. The air is light and clear, the sky a kind of blue-green like the world was some kind of giant television set and someone had been playing with the color settings. We're flying in formation though I have no proof because everyone else remains just behind me. But I'm flying, flying and filled with a kind of simple joy because of that. All I can see is the sky in front of me and the land below me.

It's a strange land too: Islands covered in massive trees the likes of which don't exist on earth. They seem to be floating in water the same color as the sky but a deeper color. They aren't floating, they're too big for that, but they are mobile. Huge, old growth forests on islands right up to the edge, and I'm high enough that they seem like toys.

For some reason I land on one of these islands. I descend down through the trees and land on the forest floor before I even know I'm landing. None of my fellows followed. I can tell as much that I landed alone, but I am not alone. Am I looking for someone?

Regardless, I find someone. And like everyone else I have encountered they remain beyond me. I know they're right in front of me in a small space free of undergrowth no more than 6 feet wide but I can make out no characteristics, not even the shape of their body. Feeling back at this dream though, I get the impression that this person was female. She's scared, but being brave.

I'm oblivious and approach. And when we're standing together I become aware of something on the other side of the trees. Whatever it is, it's hidden on the other side of the foliage. I realize that it's because of this thing that she's scared.  We turn to face it, together.

There's a soft rumble that makes me realize this thing is big. In a sudden movement, the shrubs and plant-life concealing us from view are brushed aside. Before me stands what I can only describe as a bear. It's slightly cartoonish, but in that vicious anime style. It's huge, at least as big as an elephant, a kind of mossy grey-green that makes it feel old.

It looks at me, no, through me and knows me. It is sentient and powerful, psychic on a level I don't fully understand, but it is not some kind of forest god. No, this is merely a denizen of these strange islands. It looks at me, through me and in doing so, in coming to know me, it sees my good intentions and leaves me in piece.

Something about this exchange strikes me as being entirely too fantastical and I think I achieved a moment of lucidity in the dream, or perhaps it was the lines of different dreams blurring. Regardless, there is a shift. I am removed from the epic worldscape and find myself surrounded by something more akin to reality.

I'm with with a man now. He seems familiar, like he's someone I know. I'm wrapped in his embrace, folded into his arms, folded into his lips. We're kissing. We're making out, fooling around. There is a fire in my stomach and he pulls it out of me with his lips on mine, with his fingers on my skin. Where it passes, I'm left tingling.

A hand on the back of my head pulls me in. Teeth and tongue graze my neck. I shiver. More. Words and thoughts trapped in the back of my throat escape as a gasp.

Lips touch lips. My heart races. I pull him to me, wanting, needing. This. I explode outward. My arms. My hands. My fingers. Down to the bone. It hurts. I feel it. I want more. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My June in Picto-Review

After a successful school year at Western, our triumphant hero takes his widdershin ways back to Puyallup for the summer.
Even after losing a pint of blood, I still color coordinate my bandage with my t-shirt.

That's the hole where they inserted the needle. I actually watched the nurse put it in this time, watched as she twisted it around searching for a vein that jumped out of the way at the last minute.

My Kombucha has been brewing for going on 11 days now. I'm not sure what it's supposed to look like except for the fact that there's a "mass" at the bottom I assume is something like a scoby.  I'm glad I happened to have that muslin cloth handy because the fruit flies seem oddly attracted to the sugary tea drink (big surprise right?)

I'm still a little pissed about this show. Miyavi made us check out cameras at the door so I didn't get any shots of the silly little j-rock/scene kids. But I got in free and had a fun night out with friends, why am I complaining?

This lovely young lady is Dani (one of many in my life) and her best friend Matt. They're the reason I got into the Miyavi concert free and hopefully one of the reason I will get hired at Regal within the next few days.

Nikko. He's an Australian shepherd, fiercely loyal to anyone in the family, but kind of anti-social when it comes to anyone else. We originally tried to name him Neko (Japanese for Cat, I know, I know, we're horrible) but since I was the only one who could pronounce it correctly, it became Nikko.

I needed to dance. I was home alone. So I threw on some music (and my fairy wings) and flew.

Came across this strange assortment of papers while walking to the library. There's a birth certificate for a boy named Nathan Gantz, his immunization records, his parent's marriage certificate among what I am certain are even more important legal documents. My only question is how did they all get here?

I can only assume that the child pictured here is the Nathan Gantz, unless he has siblings. He would be going on 6 years old now.

It was out on the side of the road for one day and then it was gone. I wish I had stopped and watched the cars slow down.

Silly Dairy Queen sign, it's "they're" not "there."

Where exactly is ahead when your message is facing the sky?

Found this pretty little yellow pansy surrounded by purple brethren beside a church while walking home from the library.

Found these two bits not 5 feet from each other while loaded down with 4 bags ($45) of groceries and texting my friend Jesse. I'm seriously amazed how I was able to pick them both.

This is the deliciousness that I had for dinner. Spinach, mushroom, onions and Monterrey Jack cheese over a garlic ranch sauce and homemade dough. It was glorious.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Musings On the Life of Playing Card

I am a playing card.

You call me, Ace because I am less than three. But I wonder, and here I question myself even, am I really?

What is less than three? In becoming Ace, it was <3, a simple way of saying a heart.

I could just as easily have made myself the lovers, two less than three, which would mean I am one and two and three. But no, I am Ace. Other than a number, but not quite royalty. I do not seek to put myself above.

And yet... and yet, and yet, and yet, it is a question we always start with: "Ace's high?"

No, thank you, I tend to stay away from marijuana on my own, though I find I'm less averse to recreational substances in social situations, except when athletic or scholastic endeavors expressly forbid it.

You see, numbers are tricky things with their subtle in-betweens. They are gradients full of infinities. Less than three is more than me, so I'll take that nasty little letter (better than an F as they taught us in school) with it's up down illusions of grandeur parked right at the beginning of the end.

But nay, do not set me aside to fade in the glory of the sun. Shuffle me back into the deck with my brethren.

I'm touched. Really, I am. Your dirty fingerprints are all over me. Stains of chocolate and juice and grease embed themselves in my vinyl-plastic coating.

Shuffle, bridge, shuffle, clack. Cut the deck and there I am, hiding right on top. Did you ever see such sleight of hand?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Augmented Realities

I've decided I'm going to drop English 335 for fall quarter.

When it comes down to it, it really wasn't that hard of a decision and it says a lot to me that it was such an easy decision to make. I don't need the course other than as another elective with Tony, and while I like Tony and I like what he has to offer, I keep returning to this question of what am I really getting out of it?

What benefits do I receive by taking this class? More explorations into postmodernism, poststructuralism and all these other post-philosophies through literature?

English 335. From what I understand of it from talking to Tony, it's part 3 in a series started with Nanotexts. Bookending itself with The Invention of Morel. But if there's one thing I've picked up from classes with Tony, it's that it doesn't end. Sure, you might move on. You might take a break and explore some other realm of thought, but it's circular. Everything returns. Everything crosses back on itself.

It's the natural rhythm of things. For every up, there is a down. They are inseparable.

Doing that independent study project with Tony, I learned some things. I also learned there's a lot that I don't know and have quite a bit to explore. But what I'm getting at is this question of how necessary is Tony to this: as a professor, as a friend, as a mentor, as a resource.

These are baby steps at best, but I think it's time I walked on my own. I have the tools and knowledge at my disposal to try to figure this out on my own. The class would be fun, but really, I'll be "in" it whether I'm there or not. I know half the people signed up (you know who you are) and in fact will be living with one of them next year.

This summer I started an autodidactic project wherein I plan on exploring the nature of messengers, messages and communication through this postmodern lens. It's one of the reasons I froze my Facebook account for the summer. And so far it's been just as engaging and interesting to me as any of the classes I've taken with Tony. I'm asking questions and looking for answers, deconstructing and tearing apart the very words I use to talk about this.

I'm going my own direction with this, and by that I mean that I'm moving forward in these thoughts. I don't know if it's necessarily the "right" direction, but I could ask the same thing of Nanotexts, of Parasites or of Augmented Realities. Because really, the only difference between those courses and this is that we relied on Tony for direction and have been trusting that it's right. It might be. He does have a few years seniority on all of us in this, but so what? Tony himself has said that his cult-leading days are behind him and on the last day of class spring quarter Alex said something to the effect of

"Tony doesn't need followers. He doesn't want them."

Consider this me losing the training wheels. I'll be around. I'll keep exploring and thinking. But I'm striking out on my own. If I think I need help, I know where I can turn, but until such time I'm taking this into my own hands.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Reaching 100 karma is as Good a Time as Any to Look Back

I wanted to write this post because I'm about to hit a huge milestone in my plurk existence: I've reached 100 karma.

It's not something I've really been aiming for. I personally try very hard to keep karma out of my decisions when it comes to plurking, karma is not a goal, it is a result of "having fun" on this site.

I'm acelessthan3 and this is my plurk story:

It's hard for me to believe that just over a year ago (432 days ago to be exact) I signed up for an account with this funny little side-scrolling social-networking site through an English class at my college.

"Plurkers of the World, Unite! 15%
This component is very much like attendance or participation. However since our class has a different focus I wanted to do something experimental. Each of you will set up a Plurk page where you will post several short (140 characters) messages throughout each week of the quarter. This way if you are in class or out of class and want to bring something to our attention you can Plurk everyone. We all have laptops and phones so this is a way in which we will all be connected like a large Superorganism."

I signed up for my account sometime after midnight the day before the first day of class: April 1, 2009.

My first update wasn't until the morning though: "acelessthan3 hates that he is currently unable to upload his spring break videos to YouTube." I've since been around to Mark All as Read thousands of updates in addition to the thousands I've read and responded to.

One of the first things out of Nanotext's mouth was "This class is not a joke."

There were about thirty of us in that class and five plurkers from the previous quarter's nanotexts session, but what was more interesting was the retention, the people who kept using their plurk accounts even after the class ended.

It helped us keep in touch over the summer and many of us became close friends. When Nerbiotxiste and I found out we had a different class together in the fall, we used plurk to communicate about the assigned readings and assignments.

Things really changed though when I took another class with Nanotext in the winter, this one called Parasites. Here, plurk became something different for us. There was an overlap of timelines because many of us had accounts already, but the majority didn't and so those of us who knew our way around the plurk-o-sphere found ourselves in this position of explaining and mentoring (or at least leading by example) our peers.

Over time, our conversation on plurk for this parasites class evolved. Nanotext for all intents and purposes deactivated his account halfway through the quarter in favor of a quieter, more private, secondary account. Leaderless, or at least left to our own devices, we turned this micro-blogging social network into something more resembling a community.

We have a tribe of sorts that's slowly growing and for most of us takes up (for college students) even more of our time, interest and energy than does Facebook.

Along the way, I've met a ton of interesting people from near and far. There are plurkers on my timeline from Texas and Pennsylvania, I have followers from Taiwan and the Philippines, but the ones who really matter to me are the plurkers closer to home, the ones who have become good friends.

They're my plurkies and I don't know if my life would be quite the same without them. I'm guaranteed to find an interesting link or image or lolcat or conversation going at pretty much any time of day. It was through our mixed interactions on plurk and in class that I really got to know Jack_Hatter and I'm going to be living with him next year, it's the kind of dynamic I would have never dreamed possible a year ago.

Plurk has become my social network of choice because I've put my life on the line. So thanks, plurk, for making this possible.

Monday, June 7, 2010

On the Performance

The more I'm here, the more I realize we're all children. We're – and it’s a scary thing to face: the knowledge that before us stand mountains. I’m lost and scared and lonely and there’s a whole wild world watching me, waiting for me to fall or fly.

I talked with Jack the other day and he expressed some discomfort at this idea that our lives are a performance. What does it mean when every action is a performance of the Self? When are we real? When are we not acting?

It’s an uncomfortable question to deal with because it raises this question of who are we? Or rather, who am I? When am I really me? It’s almost impossible to separate life from the performance because thinking about it creates a kind of meta-performance.
When we start focusing on not performing, we start to perform for ourselves, creating intention and meaning by not performing.

Don’t think about elephants.


Image of an elephant

Jack talked about feeling this constant undercurrent of paranoia, stemming at least in part from not knowing who we perform for. I thought I could identify with him at the time, but now I’m not so sure. It just doesn’t click with me that feeling like we’re performing is a bad thing. And I think it goes back to this idea I have of serving. "The better you can explain who you serve, the more of a purpose you will have in life." Yes, but so long as you’re doing “good” or for that matter doing something, anything at all, does it really matter?

In this performance we call life, it’s all improv anyways. We aren’t reading from some secret script (or at least I’m not. Sometimes it feels like all the rest of you are just to fuck with me). I guess what I’ve come to peace with in this is that it’s always a performance. It’s always been a performance. I’ve always been serving someone or something, be it my friends, my parents, my teachers, whatever undefined higher powers I believe in, or myself. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter and I can accept that I don’t necessarily know.

I've been called an old soul, and I'm not always sure what that entails. I know that in part at least it's related to the way I view the world. I'm constantly observing, watching. It's one reason why I considered being a journalist or a writer. I notice the details, but also am constantly trying to fit them into the bigger picture, always have.

And, growing up, I know for a fact that it separated me at times because I knew things. I could see what was going on because I was paying attention. I was always paying attention and asking questions.

People thought I was smart, and yeah, I guess that's a part of it, but it was usually more that I'd been paying attention and caught details other people missed and filled in blanks.

I blush and stammer or casually brush off when people call me smart because I secretly hate it. That's not a role I want to fill. Again it comes back to halfdome's half-joking question last quarter as to whether or not I was a TA for Tony.

I provide help, I ask questions, I push people to think as much as I know how because that's what I do. I see a need and if I can, I fill it. I don't want to be special. I don't want to be set apart.

To put it another way, I don't want to be king, but I wouldn't mind being the power behind the throne so to speak.

The performance is about having that control for me. It means I can create who and what I want to be and not rely on everyone else to do that for me. Yes, I'm putting on a farce and becoming someone else for everyone else. But I'm the one who gets to choose how much and for how long. It's my performance.

It's always been my performance.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Deep Breaths

I'm tired. I'm hurt. I'm stressed. I'm lonely. I'm burning out. It's that part of the quarter where I always feel my limit approaching and there's a mental and emotional breakdown just waiting somewhere around the corner.

So I'm going to take a small breath and do the last thing most people would expect. I'm going to use this space to thank the people who've had an impact on my life this year.

I want to thank Brooks. You're a great guy, full of laughter and energy and love. It's because of your initiative in starting the Acts of Kindness Club that I've been able to find in myself a kind of leadership I've always known I had, but not quite known what to do with. You have a great balance between a can-do attitude and understanding the practical nuts and bolts of the system to realize what we as a group can feasibly get done. But you're also perceptive and truly care about the people around you and I know that balancing that kind of caring with leadership is something I want to aspire to. You're gonna go far in this world, dude and I wish you only the best of luck. Congrats on successfully finishing up your undergraduate career.

Tony, I consider you a mentor and a friend. You've provided me with probably the best introduction into postmodern thought anyone could have done here at Western, and I appreciate that, but I think what's more important is that you've taught me not to be satisfied with that.

I tried to stay as hands off this quarter with your spring Parasites class as possible, because I felt like an outsider. I know what I think, I know what I got from the class when I went through it. I wanted these new people to form their own opinions. Which is why I tried to restrict my contributions to questions that would hopefully prod everyone else into talking. But clearly through plurk and my constant blogging, I failed. Even now, at the end of the quarter, I'm being quoted for my thoughts. I'm going to take this as a sign though that perhaps I have something valuable to add.

It was an interesting experience for me because I always felt slightly trapped, straddling that line between the academic environment you needed to use plurk for and this social community created by the winter Parasites, so I very consciously made efforts to limit myself and keep from updating about the parties and mayhem that would flood the timeline. Still, I know it was a strain for you. So I hope this little break you're taking from everyone helps, lord knows you need it.

So thank you, Tony for being a rock. For being steady for me even when you were shaking yourself despite everything I know was bringing you down, for always taking the time to notice when I was even a little down and commiserating.

I want to thank The Acts of Kindness Club. You guys fucking rock and never failed to make my day this quarter. Whether I saw you as a group or individually in passing, it left a smile on my face. Anyone who doesn't have this kind of supporting, loving group that is willing to put themselves out there and accomplish some amazing things together is missing out. So Grace, Cara, Danny, Eliza, etc, etc, thank you for being the light of my Tuesday afternoons.

There's a girl in my life I should thank. She's my name-brain twin. We haven't been as close the last month or so just because of scheduling conflicts that mean we never actually get to hang out, but Dani, I wanted to thank you for introducing me to crew and being the kind of big/little sister I never had (Charlie doesn't count because she's exclusively my big sis). Those 4:30 carpools will forever be engrained in my subconscious. You are my coxswain and my friend and if you ever need someone to relay messages from the bow end, I hope you know who to call.

Andrew, you continue to surprise me. You and I have learned a lot about each other and about us as friends this year, and I guess I just want to say that I'm thankful that we can be the kind of friends we are. There have been so many potentials for things to get really awkward really fast and yet here we are, arguably closer than ever. I don't think I really give you enough credit sometimes and I want to apologize for that. I might not say it enough, but it means the world to me that not only do you care but you're willing to show me you care and express concern on my behalf unasked. I think of myself as being so independent and alone doing all the things I do in this world and it's nice that you know how to remind me I'm not alone. Keep pushing me, will you?

Jack. Jack, Jack, JackJack Jack. I'm still not quite sure what to make of you. You're abrasive and loud and intoxicating to my life (in more ways than one), which I don't think is a bad thing. In fact it's quite wonderful and refreshing and the contrast in how we deal with life and thought is going to mean we learn a lot next year when we're living together. You I want to thank for questioning me, for challenging me. With you around I don't know if I'll ever be able to be completely complacent in anything.

I know there's a lot of people who could and should be on this list, and I thank you and love you, but there's only so much I can write before the laundry list loses it's meaning. Some of you could figure out who you are and why I'd be thank you, others might not know just how much you've affected my life. Regardless, thank you.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Two stories

Let me tell you a story that goes like this:

I am a Virgo. Maiden daughter of the mother earth. Mercury rules my house. He is my lord but not my master, he who plays dice with the fortunes of the world.

Do you know the story of Astraea? She carried the scales of justice, a maiden pure and strong and when evil was unleashed upon the world, she was the last to leave. She became Virgo when she ascended to the stars.

Tonight I am feeling her influence. Tonight I have risen.

The invisible trickster is home, that wise fool on winged feet.

I am caretaker of the harvest and the sustenance. I provide.

Tells you another story:

There once was a knight named Tam Lin or Tom Line. He was cursed and captured by the fairie and roamed the forests, capturing the maidenhood of passing girls.

It came to pass that one day a maid passed through and found this knight. As the story goes, Janet, for that was her name, picked a rose, thus summoning the wandering knight. He took her and as is want to happen, she fell in love. But it was not to be because he belonged to the Queen of the Fairies.

If she truly loved him, she would save him from this eternal damnation as a plaything of the Fey. At the next full moon (or some other relevant holiday or event) he would passing through the same stretch of forest where this maid met him in the entourage of the Fairy Queen.

She would recognize him for his white horse.

Janet was lost to Tam as much as he was lost to the Fairy, so sure enough she showed up and upon seeing her love, she seized him as instructed. The Fairy in the kind of cruel games that they play, transformed him into all manner of beasts. He became a serpent and a bear and a wolf and a pig and an eagle and a fish.

But Janet's love was fiercer still and no matter what he became, she held on. Eventually he became a burning coal that Janet threw into a nearby well. He emerged a naked man, a mortal once more, and Janet won her knight, much to the displeasure of the Fairy Queen.

And of course they lived happily ever after, immortalized in song.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Dripping and loving it
Soaked to the bone
I have found my home
And it was laughing
It was laughing at you.
It was laughing at me.
It was laughing at this construction of we.
I am a child of the rain.
Soak me through.
Drown me in your sorrows and your happiness.
I can take the pounding, thundering, roaring
I am sound.
I am silence.
I am the up down yo-yo that spins circles around you.
You call this form?
It contains, it traps, it holds, it comforts.
Do I contradict myself?
Hell no.
I meant what I said and I said what I meant
But I'm not some big eared beast.
People always blame the sun
When it's the rain they should be watching.
Watching before it washes you away.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Four Questions

I'm responding to Jack's 4 questions post from the other day.

Does it bug you when people misinterpret your writing? Why?

It depends on what I'm writing. Sometimes in my writing I'm asking something of my reader, I'm attempting to direct them down a specific path of thought. When those kinds of pieces are misinterpreted, it's frustrating. But once I've written something, generally I let go of it. Like those butterflies I remember watching from hatched eggs to cocoons and beyond back in elementary school, they are beyond my control and so I must simply watch as they take a life of their own.

By no means does this mean I have to be passive. Like any good parent (or pimp, depending on what you think about authors), so long as it's in my house, under my rules, I have a say in its life. I can respond and that in itself is a beautiful thing. It means that so long as I am around, writing is not a static process. It's not a monologue, but rather a dialogue.

What do you think about porn?

As an industry, I have nothing against porn. I really don't see it as a degradation of our society for people to get paid to have sex with each other if they're consenting adults and to be honest, children and teenagers aren't half as innocent as Western society makes them out to be and where there's a will, there's a way.

But as far as the porn itself, well that's a different matter entirely. As a single gay male with access to the internet, I admit to using it for my masturbatory pleasure (sorry, mom, if you didn't want to hear that you should have stopped reading as soon as you saw the question) and I find nothing wrong with that. Attractive bodies are arousing and if they're doing sex and stuff sometimes even more so. But it's no comparison to the real thing. Straight porn really isn't my cup of tea though. As I've stated again and again, boobs… meh. And the guys tend to be moderately attractive in a certain light to just plain fugly. Mostly watch straight porn for the lols.

What does it mean to kiss someone you're not going out with?

I've kissed three people in my life. The first was at the start of a short lived relationship. The second was a close friend whom I love dearly and know the feeling is mutual, but know a relationship really isn't in our future. And the third guy? He's a strange one, and I'm still trying to figure out exactly what kissing him means.

In general though, I guess I'm not opposed to the idea, especially if both parties know where the kiss is going. Is it just making out or are there deeper emotional strings attached, which opens the question to, is the kiss just a kiss or a precursor to something else? This differentiation changes how I feel about it because in the latter, it's not just a kiss: it's a contract, it's a promise. Much as I'd like to say I can let go and not be in control, I can't make those kinds of decisions at the drop of a hat or in this case, the parting of lips.

Do you dominate conversations or find yourself listening more often than not? Why do you suppose that is?

I tend to listen, but it also depends on the topic of conversation and who I'm talking with. To clarify, I'm an extrovert (in talking with any interaction between me and other people, it always comes down to me being an extrovert) but one thing I like to think I try very hard at is empathy. I want to be able to try to feel what the other person is saying in order to truly understand what they're meaning. It's a level of perception beyond just listening and as such it requires knowing when to say something and when not to.

Some people like being listened to and if you don't stop them, they'll just continue to talk. Other people need a little more coaxing, need a little more direction and push in order to open up. I find that I fill that role and adapt to the situation (i.e. the person) at hand.

As a choice though I would rather listen. Even when I'm filling that role and talking to quiet people, it's in an effort to get them to open up so I can listen to what they have to say. It's why I ask so many questions. It goes back to how I feel about wanting. To want is to take. To talk is to want attention, is to take attention. I would rather get attention other ways. To listen though is to provide in a different way. It is to provide space, safety, an outlet. Yes, I'm taking in the other person's words, but bigger picture, I'm usually giving them something they need.

Hell, even when I'm talking I'm listening. I'm watching body language and looking for recognition in the other person's eyes. I can't effectively multi-task while in conversation. The other person always takes precedence and my whole body gravitates to pay attention to them.

This is one reason I like writing. It's my turn to talk and I don't have to feel guilty about dominating the conversation because you don't have to read it.

Talking to Strangers

Stop me if you've heard this one before. So I was walking home to shower on Monday after a fairly raucous evening at a friend's when I happened upon a man and his daughter sitting at the stairs by Red Square on campus.

I thought nothing of it at first until he called me over asking what my shirt meant.

"My life is my message. That's an awfully powerful statement to have on a shirt, where's it from?"

Having explained that it was a Gandhi quote, he then asked me what my message was. And so we talked. And I found myself spilling to this stranger the kinds of spiritual beliefs I carry with me and rarely talk about.

He asked me which, if any, religious affiliations I made for myself. He asked what I was doing here at Western, but unlike most people, followed it up by asking why.

He in turn shared with me that he was Josh, a Heretic and reverend and that the small, blonde, blue-eyed angel splashing her way through the puddles was Virtue.

Our conversation was short, 15 minutes at most and often interrupted by a sopping Virtue who came to share her dripping love.

He'd been in the army but had been kicked out for "entrepreneurial enterprises." Josh told me that some time after this, he became a Christian and learned Scripture well enough to be a reverend, but because of some of his more radical views, has had trouble staying with any particular church.

Silly little girls in silly little puddles
Now, I'm pretty skeptical of the whole religious experience; there's so much hypocrisy and hate within the history of the Christian church and I don't feel I'm educated enough in other doctrines to truly be able to accept them for myself, but I cannot shake the feeling that this conversation was a message to me from whatever higher power I'm serving.

"The better you can explain who you serve, the more of a purpose you will have in life."

Last night at Jack's I lost a part of one of my necklaces, a small clear marble that I got at the end of my volunteering with Power of Hope last summer. At the end of each camp session we hold a closing ceremony wherein everyone leaves something behind and takes something with them symbolically in the form of pebbles or the like and shiny stones or marbles.

At the end of this particular camp I was looking for direction. I was looking for purpose. So when I picked that clear marble, I called it my heart compass and imbued it with the power to serve as a reminder to trust myself, to trust that I know intuitively where I'm going. Later that same summer, I looked up wire wrapping online and turned the marble into a necklace most of you have probably seen me wearing.

I carry a lot of sentimental value in that little necklace, so it's loss only served to compound the quiet emotional struggle I'd been facing since early this morning or I suppose late last night depending on which side of sleep you look at it from.

In that sense, I was feeling down when I ran into this man. I was mentally heavy and weighed upon by a myriad of things and this short conversation was enough for me to decide I want to reevaluate.

There is power in the connections we make. If you imagine scale being a reflection of magnitudes, then the bonds we make as people are like the atomic links that form molecules a thousand fold stronger, and even short connections that can be counted in minutes have the power to change lives.

Like I said, I want to reevaluate. I want to take Josh's advice and figure out who or what I'm serving with my life, which admittedly has been a process I've been going through for some time now, just maybe not in those words.