Just Write (it’s going to suck sometimes)

One of the great things about thinking about the world being a great big disc instead of, say, an actual sphere, is that it opens up a whole realm of story possibilities.  I’m not sure that I’ve read any stories based on a flat world.  So here a couple off the top of my head:

A quest to reach the edge of the world.  A pioneering band of friends sets out to reach the great wall of Antarctica, climb its face, and trek across the top to find what happens when they reach the place where earth and space meet.

A trip to the moon and beyond.  By flat-earther calculations, the sun and moon are both only 3,000 miles above us, circling over the earth’s face.  Since space travel hasn’t been achieved yet, what with NASA conspiring the space race only to prove that we can beat the Soviets, no one has been in space.  No one knows how many more great discs of rock and sea are out there supporting life.

What’s on the bottom of earth?  What lies just underneath us?  What if one man decided to dig straight down, and he didn’t stop until he came out the other side?

The bizarro side.  The opposite place.  The bottom of the earth.  Who or what dwells there, and how do they compensate for a near-zero gravity existence?

I should probably have a love story somewhere on that list.  Then again, any one of them could have a little romance built right into it.  The point I’m trying to make is this.  Okay fine, the world may not be a flat disc.  It may be a sphere, or a triangle, or a huge 100-sided Dungeon and Dragons die.  But the ideas will come if you just sit down and write.  If you take a little time every day to let words flow from your mind down through your shoulders and arms and right out of the tips of your fingers, your own voice will shine through all the other noise.  Whether you’re typing on the keyboard of your mom’s old laptop or writing longhand into a spiral bound notebook, writing is the practice of giving your words a personality all their own.  It is an essential element of becoming the writer you want to be.

Not Sure About That One…

I’ve been watching a live stream of the International Space Station on NASA’s YouTube channel.  It’s really fascinating.  There’s an astronaut outside and she’s moving the camera around so you can see some of the different parts of the station –  the capsules and shiny panels, the arms and wires, and a constantly spinning satellite dish.  She’s even turned the camera around to give us a selfie view.  Truthfully I don’t know if it’s a male or female astronaut, but I’m trying to get out of the habit of automatically assigning male gender to people or animals if it’s not immediately apparent.  

I decided to do a little research into where the ISS is right now, maybe I’ll be able to see my house down there if I squint my eyes and really look as the earth slowly rolls below.  One thing that keeps coming up, aside from the station being somewhere over central Russia, is this theory that the earth is flat.  

Apparently there are people who believe – or at least they’re trying to convince other people that they believe – that the earth is flat.  That the earth is this giant disc.  I know!!

So the earth is this giant disc, with the North Pole in the center that the whole thing spins around like a record (or a CD for you younger folk).   The whole thing is flat, and it’s all held in by Antarctica which is actually a giant wall that goes around the entire rim of the disc.  This is also why you can’t sail off the edge of the earth.  

And the best part of it all?  Gravity.  Where does gravity come from on this great spinning disc we all inhabit?  Dark matter.  Dark matter is pushing the world up at just the right speed.  Yes, up.  And since the world is flying upwards, we’re all being pushed down into it.  

There have to be at least a couple good stories there, right?

Is My PB&J a Healthy Meal?

How healthy is your peanut butter and jelly sandwich?  This is a question that I think about almost everyday, as I tend to enjoy a PB&J almost everyday.  While most people think of the classic sandwich as a midday staple, I can enjoy one for breakfast or dinner just as much as I enjoy one for lunch.  Sometimes I’ll have one as a replacement for dessert or a midnight snack.  On days when I’m feeling especially lazy – or I just don’t have much food in the pantry – I’ll even eat two in a day!

Which leaves me wondering, am I fueling my body  with healthy goodness, or am I just filling up with sugar and carbs?  So i decided to do a little research, and here’s what I came up with.  Maybe this will help you decide if it’s time to reunite with your childhood favorite, the PB&J.

Just so we’re all on the same page, I’ll define my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I use regular store-bought peanut butter, grape jelly, and italian white bread – all from major labels.  Nothing fancy.  I don’t use organic, low-fat, low-sodium, or any other stipulation that could adversely affect the full richness of flavor I expect from my PB&J.  If I’m going to make it, I say full speed ahead!

There are, of course, myriad combinations of flavors, brands, and sodium, sugar, and fat reductions that are available, as well as endless choices of bread, but I keep my sandwich very straightforward, so this analysis will be similarly narrow-focused and not at all comprehensive.

A serving size of peanut butter is listed as two tablespoons on my plastic jar with the greenish-blue cap.  While that’s rich in fat, it’s mostly unsaturated fat, which is the good kind, and zero trans fat (which we all learned from Mayor Bloomberg is bad, right?).  It has 150 milligrams of sodium, which accounts for six percent of your recommended daily allowance (not terrible), it’s low in sugar, and has decent amounts of both fiber and protein.

A serving size of my grape jelly is one tablespoon.  This is where I steer off the healthy path.  In my full-sugar, name brand grape jelly, the only nutrional value is 13 grams of sugar, probably due to the ingredient list being dominated by corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup.  Luckily, ingredient numero uno is grapes, so that’s something, right?

As for my bread, the only thing it’s high in is sodium, at a whopping 240 milligrams per two slice serving.  That sodium intake makes up ten percent of my RDA, and when combined with my PB, that’s 16 percent of my recommended daily intake of sodium, all in one sandwich.  Yikes!

So I have some thinking to do about my old standby any-time-of-the-day meal.  On the one hand, I’m getting some good fats, some protein, and vitamins from my peanut butter, my jelly and bread choices aren’t adding much value for me.  I think I can throttle back from full speed ahead a couple notches until I find a healthier, yet just as satisfying, grape jelly and bread.

What I’m Reading

I’m really proud of myself for reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.  I’m about a third of the way through, and I’m enjoying the journey.  I spent two years in college as an English major and I wasn’t able to read Shakespeare, Chaucer, or Joyce without getting stuck at the bottom of the first page.  All the words would just jumble up in a big pile in my head and I’d have to start over.  More often I’d just give up.  I’ve never been able to get through real literature because of that.  With a fresh mind and some new strategies, I’m re-visiting the classics – one by one and slowly.

I’m also reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

Why I’m Writing this Blog

I started this blog to be a brainstorming place.  Somewhere I could spitball ideas, kick around the random thoughts in my head, and divert me from the regular pressures of writing, studying, and my day job.  I’m generally an anxious person, and though I try to come off as cool and level-headed, often I’m wracked with tension about writing, studying, and my day job.

I try to write as much as I can.  And by that I mean I think about writing a lot, and by 4 o’clock it’s time to pick up the kids and I haven’t done much writing at all.  There are many reasons for this, but a couple main ones that I’ll list here.

I’m self-conscious about what I write.  I’m afraid someone will read my words and think, “you know, that Chris, he really has no business writing about this.”  Even if it’s freehand into a notebook that I keep in my drawer that no one will ever read, I still think like this.

I’m a procrastinator.  I’ve spent most of life strategizing how to put off whatever work I have for as long as I possibly can without getting kicked out of school or fired from my job.  Yes, I realize this is a serious issue, and it’s one that I’ve been working to solve.  I’ve been relatively successful, but sometimes it’s still hard to win against thirty years of habit.

I’m currently studying for a promotion at my day job and the exam isn’t until August.  See above paragraph.

Work is the least of my worries, but it gets in the way of writing.  I work lots of nights, some overnights, and tend to sleep way less than my body craves.  Often I’m tired and cranky and I would rather curl up with a blanket under my desk than sit at it and write.

All that being said, here I go with my blog.  Let’s see what’s bouncing around my head.  Also, feel free to read my other blog  City Soldier.  It’s mostly fiction ideas and short stories, with a little bit of beginner poetry sprinkled around.

Sometimes I Pee in the Shower

Do you pee in the shower?  This is question the answer to which , for me, has been a very adamant no for most of my adult life.  All of my adult life, really.  Why pee in the shower when I almost unfailingly pass a toilet on my way in?  It’s never been an issue of sanitation.  It’s just simply been about the proper order of things.

Recently my opinion has taken a turn.  My profession requires me to sleep at work quite frequently (I may get into my day job during a later post).   Of course I’ll take a shower after sleeping at work in one of the two shower stalls, which are available for anyone else at my job to use.  The cleanliness of these stalls leaves so much to be desired so I try to minimize my time spent in them.

One recent morning I woke up late and, in my rush to get to my desk by a reasonably explainable time, I decided to postpone my morning pee until after my shower.  When I stepped into the shower and under the hot water, I learned something new about myself that had up to this point eluded me on my strict toilet first, shower second bathroom itinerary.  When I really have to go, the temperature change from cold bathroom to hot shower drastically increases my urge to pee.  Standing as I was in an already less than clean shower stall that I will at no point be responsible for cleaning, I decided – under extreme duress, mind you – to give myself the release.  I peed in the shower.

I must say, it was a tremendously liberating experience.  No longer was I bound by the unnatural shackles of aiming for a receptacle.  I worried not about dripping onto a rim.  I was free to expel the way my maker meant for me to expel – like a lion.  And what a glorious time it was.