Composing a Life

I decided to type out my first toastmasters speech aka ‘The Ice-Breaker.’ Note: when speaking publically it is my custom to not properly write a speech, but instead outline one to develop a solid skeleton on which I drape an assortment of examples\anecdotes\facts. This helps me focus on what I want to communicate rather than slavishly trying to recreate the words on page. Also, because I’m practiced, keeping the speech ‘loose’ helps me feel more natural, aids in transitions (as, one missed line won’t hobble a segue) and (most importantly) this helps me expand or contract my talk based on time restraints and audience reaction.

 

Composing a Life

 

One of my favorite podcasts is ‘On Being’ and on a recent episode I heard the guest speak about ‘composing a life.’ I appreciated this metaphor; so often it’s been easy for me to fixate on this or that monolithic aspect of my life and view *that* as the arbiter of everything important… defining myself by a single relationship or a job say. What I like about trying to view my activities\life as a composition is that it brings renewed attention & interest in all the little things I do, it relieves some of the anxiety that any one thread has to be ‘all-fulfilling’ and reassures me that I have innumerable options by which to reach better balance. Today, I wanted to discuss three different practices I engage with to compose my life.

First, I practice Continue reading

Pokémon Go and the Invitation to Play

I considered –briefly- writing an essay about why I’m not playing Pokémon Go despite it seeming to be nearly perfectly designed to appeal to me: a breakout, hyper popular Augmented Reality Game (ARG) that is currently dominating the overall geek conversation that all my friends are playing *and* you catch + battle Pokémon? That checks off so many of my ‘interest’ boxes it’s almost obscene. But simply put, I’m not playing because -at this point in my life- I have to be almost Spartan in my selections of past-times & hobbies, and I’ve decided that I don’t want to add any that involve a screen (since so much of my life is staring at one anyway) even if the screen in question is mobile and is actively aimed at getting me to interface with (a mediated version) of the larger world. I can’t do everything, I can’t play every game; and endlessly chasing the new hotness means I’d never get to enjoy anything.

However, I did want to touch upon the great promise of Pokémon Go as the first ARG to hit critical mass and so fully breach into the popular imagination. I also wanted to explain what it is about this promise that I believe makes it one of the most helpful trends I see in the world right now. That is, I wanted to write about Pokémon Go and all the ways we are getting better at inviting ourselves and one another to play. Continue reading

The Second Assault

A couple of weeks back, there was another spectacle of mass murder here in the United States. This one happened to be the worst in the country’s history since the template was established with the University of Texas Clock Tower Sniper shooting in 1966. This particular tragedy plugs into the rampant homophobia of our culture, homophobia that is perhaps in a reactionary uptick following the notable moves towards equal rights of the past few years. Like other televised, firearm enable spree killers, this horror-show incites conversations about mental illness, about toxic masculinity, about ISIS and the potential for self-radicalization (irrelevant to the particular case in my opinion, although absolutely integral to people with radically different fears than mine), about a lot of issues that we’ll argue as to how much they matter and what we should *really* be thinking about Continue reading

On Wearing Disco Booty-Shorts

On Wearing Disco Booty-Shorts

*Disclaimer* In this essay I discuss the fact that I have a penis, and how that influences the etiquette and logistics of wearing extremely tight clothing. If you find that distasteful, feel free to skip this piece.

Halfway through 2013 I was 29, just about to turn 30 and my wife were having the time of our lives going to some most excellent parties and music festivals.. One of the prime components of this scene was the incredible costumes; the more garish-ridiculous the better. Swept up in the glamour, and wanting to be more fully a participant, I supported a kickstarter to gain an article of clothing more revealing and absurd than any I’d ever owned (or will probably Continue reading

Love, Werewolves & Algorithms – An Afterword

(A slightly altered version of this text first appeared as the afterword for my short story collection Love, Werewolves & Algorithms)

I’ve been writing short stories and selling them for fourteen years. I’ve been married now for a little over seven. The stories contained in this slim volume originate and were developed along several different points in that continuum.

Throughout my writing practice, I’ve had people comment on how they were particularly interested in this or that story of mine in light of what was happening in my life; a sentiment that has been shared, certainly, concerning some of the love themed stories contained in Love, Werewolves, and Algorithms. Personally, I feel as though there’s not a whole lot (directly) about my life in my fiction; at least my realtime life rather than my ‘life’ as dredged up from the murk of misremembered past. I feel somewhat vindicated in this thinking simply due to the fact that -generally speaking- when I write fiction there’s a lag of about 2 years between me first attempting to draft a piece and anyone else seeing it.

If there is ‘me’ in these stories, I think it’s through this particular lens; having a great relationship built on honesty and communication (and having a really freaking hot wife) allows me, and encourages me, to imagine the inversion. The instinct to write fiction usually develops, I think, from obsessively creating alternative history versions of the writer’s own life. I’ve spent far, far too much time conceiving of the world’s lamest ‘What if?’ stories; mostly concerned with what if I hadn’t done that (still) cringe-worth embarrassing thing in middle school.

Oh, so in my marriage we talk about our problems? What would happen if we didn’t? Throw in some werewolves and we’re good to go.

Considering the short stories I included in LWA, if there is a common thread to these relationships gone wrong (and hence a clue to what I feel, think, and am) it’s that all the relationships discussed are interrupted by some form of mediation, usually driven by fear of direct communication and the inherent vulnerability that attends it. In fiction it’s mediation via data mining by next year’s social network or scheming D’jinn; but in the real world there seems to be no end to the amount of ways (and the money to be made) in catering to people not directly talking to each other.

The only ‘happy’ ending here is the one where the mediation is brought to an end, so some teenagers can make out.

If I have advice, it’s to learn to relate to the people who are important to you without an intervening institution, mediation, or mythological being.

Even when it’s difficult.

Especially when it’s difficult.

Or at least it’s always worked for me. But then, I’ve always been lucky in love.

I hope you get lucky too.

<3

A love themed, valentines day [in]appropriate short story collection from author J.M. Perkins featuring werewolves, augmented reality, science fiction,  fantasy, social networking, and transhumanism.

Buy your copy of Love, Werewolves, and Algorithms here.