June 2, 2022ArtSooo, when you’re taking six college classes and running off of stress and caffeine, how are you supposed to keep your brain turned on during lecture?
Simple. Draw pictures! (And take notes too, obviously. I guess. Just so the professor knows you’re really listening.)
Anyway, here are some of my doodles from last semester.
This was my first doodle in sociology class. Eh. It’s okay, but…
It gets better. I call this one, “The Industrialization Horizon Plus Balloons.”
Then, next, this absolute masterpiece. Kind of mystical or whatever. But wait—
This is one of my favorites. Still from sociology class. I wasn’t feeling the greatest that day, alright?
But then, this one. It’s a little happier…right? Some kind of prehistoric planet type thing.
Not really sure what this next one is, but anyway, here you go.
And then! Another of my favorites. This one took a very long time and used up the ink from like two pens.
Finally, these next two were from geography class and I’m just throwing them in, because, why not?
Well, there you go. There are my doodles from last semester. There is the result of several pens sacrificing their life juice for the sake of art.
Oh—one final picture. This one wasn’t from class, though. I drew it in California, and it’s actually based on a real bridge that I sat and stared at for a significant amount of time in order to complete this.
Okay, well, the end. I have no more at this current time. [...]Read more...
April 3, 2022Thoughts on WritingHere are the top seven things to do when suffering from acute writer’s block:
Feel like a total failure. Spend hours and hours staring at a blank screen, or worse, at a screen covered in your frail and unseemly attempts to create a story. Forget all of those times when writing was easy for you, and bask in the horrible knowledge that you will never amount to anything. Ever. The end.Force yourself to keep writing stuff and deleting it again in an endless cycle of dissatisfaction. Never take a break. Remember that your identity as a writer lies in your ability to put words on a screen, and nothing else. Except, those words on a screen will never be good enough, and the longer you stare at them, and delete them, and stare at them again, the less good they will appear.Embrace your career at Walmart. Remember that Walmart always needs workers, and you could actually be quite happy there. You didn’t really want to be a writer anyway.Cry. Because it is never logical, crying is the perfect response in illogical situations such as this one. So, yes—cry as much as you want. I won’t judge you.Read books by other (read: successful) writers. This will remind you how far you have to go. And no, these writers were never in your shoes. Writer’s block is a unique failing experienced only by a few unlucky souls. Don’t flatter yourself by imagining you have anything in common with your favorite authors, who inspired you to write in the first place. You don’t.Be mad at everyone and everything. Be so mad, you forget all your dreams of becoming an author in the first place. Delete all of your works in progress and then wake up to profound regret the next day, when you realize they were actually kind of good.Write a blog post like this one. Pour your sarcastic rage into other people so they may become as depressed as you are. Make people worry about your mental state (more than they already do). Wear all black and howl at the moon.
Wow. Okay. You really just read that. You have now explored the inner turmoil of writer’s block, and derived amusement from my pain. Congratulations. You’re a sadist—I mean, a writer.
(By the way, please don’t actually worry about my mental state. I’m fine, and if I wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t tell you anyway.)
Okay, also, please forget this post even exists, like I did when I let it sit as a draft for like the last ten months or something. Ugh. Also, yes, I know the featured image is just glorious. I spent like five minutes making it because I didn’t feel like drawing something. Now it just looks like a low-quality meme, but I can live with that and so can you. [...]Read more...
March 7, 2022PoetryThis is a poem about the human experience.
We climbed a million mountaintops, We walked a million hills. We fed a million orphans, And we downed a million pills.
We chased a thousand fantasies. We dreamed a thousand dreams. We bought a thousand worthless hopes. They did not set us free.
We stared into a trillion stars, And wondered, “What is life? “Why are we, though finite beings “Entangled in this strife?”
Then we beheld the mystery, The hope of ages past—Perhaps there is a deeper truth, Than we had ever grasped.
Perhaps beyond this breath of life, Beyond these fleeting years, Beyond this sin and pain and grief, A country without tears. [...]Read more...
December 23, 2021Short StoriesI laughed, staring at the river below me.
Ironic, wouldn’t it be, if I jumped? The girl named River, drowned in a river. If I could drown, which I probably couldn’t.
Or could I? I was mostly human, after all. Maybe lack of oxygen would kill me. Or maybe, water saturation would destroy me in the same way it would destroy my phone if I dropped it in the toilet.
Would they have to put me in a giant bag of rice then, to draw the moisture out?
I laughed again, imagining it. Hopefully they’d use dry rice. I’d seen a story about some idiot who tried using steamed rice to save her keyboard from a drink spill. People were so clueless sometimes.
I pulled my phone out of my pocket for no particularly good reason. I’d started to think of my phone a bit like a pet. Organic humans had organic pets, like dogs or cats. I had electronic pets, like my phone. I also had a strange attachment to my Roomba. I’d even given him a name. Charles. Which was funny, because I didn’t even like the name Charles. It just fit his personality.
My mom had said that once. She said her cat just seemed like a “Gavin,” despite her impartiality to the name. I’d never seen why. Maybe that should have been a warning sign right there—I always felt as if machines had more personality than living creatures.
Or were machines living creatures?
Or was I?
The questions flooded back, and the river started to look appealing again.
I glanced at my phone screen. One notification from Billie. I sighed.
Billie was a girl, despite her name. In fact, she was one of the most girly of girls. Short and perky, and…well, I don’t want to be mean, but she wasn’t much like me. Even before I found out how messed up I was, I felt like a robot around her. Example: once, she convinced me to meet her at the park nearby for lunch. So, here comes me; black clothes and a ball cap pulled down over my face. Probably could’ve mistaken me for a dude, if not for my ponytail. Then, there was Billie. Pink shirt, makeup, and hugging me before I’d even had the chance to say hello. And then, flirting with the guys at the park—like, seriously? Why?
Fact was though, she happened to be my best friend. So, I dutifully opened her text.
She’d sent me a link to a song. A girl-power song. A girl-power rap song, with preteen dancers in pink sweatpants waving their hair around.
How was I supposed to respond to that?
Cool! Thanks! Can’t wait to listen!
It sounded fake. Not just sounded—it was fake. Fake, like every attempt I’d made at showing excitement, or any emotion at all for that matter.
I clicked the phone off and dropped it back into my hoodie pocket. Little did Billie know, I was standing on the edge of an abandoned bridge, contemplating the existential fact of my own existence.
I sat down on the guard rail. Well. What now?
I stared at my hands. They sure looked human. Hey, my fingernails even looked good by Billie’s standards. And if I cut myself, I would bleed. And it would hurt. But underneath—underneath my skin, I wasn’t human.
I didn’t really understand how it all worked. Some old scientist had figured something out and gotten sent to jail, and something had infected me and made me into a robot. Or something. Oh, did I mention?—I had literally no idea how it all worked.
I also really didn’t get what all that had to do with me, with River Miller, a random white American woman in a cheap black hoodie. Hardly even old enough to be a woman.
Hardly even human enough to be a woman. I mean…I thought back. I still couldn’t remember a single guy I’d ever had a crush on. Not even as a younger girl. Not even like a summer camp crush. Sure, I could objectively recognize if someone fit the current cultural standards of attractiveness, but that hardly meant I was attracted to them.
Then, not even speaking of romantic interests—I’d never particularly liked anyone. I smiled, thinking about it. Billie was basically my only friend, and she could take all the credit for that. For some reason, she’d found me amazing enough to stick around for. Everyone else kind of disappeared after my apathetic responses to affection.
I’d been cool with that, too. I’d just thought, hey, I’m independent! Not, hey, your brain is dead and you’re a robot.
I stood up, and started to walk toward the other side of the bridge. I felt the heat radiating up from the asphalt. It was still high noon. Shouldn’t I be hungry? Oh, well.
I wondered sometimes if the whole robot thing hadn’t quite worked on me. Maybe the programming had messed up somehow. I remembered when the guy from the government had come to talk to me. He’d been surprised about something; muttered something under his breath. I think it was something about my age, or the age that I’d been infected with the robot virus thing. I think he said it was “too young,” or something of that nature. Apparently, I’d been infected as an infant. No clue how. Like I said, I didn’t much understand any of it. I did wish my parents had said something about it, if they’d even known. Yikes, it was confusing.
My main concern now was how it affected my life—or lack thereof.
Was I alive?
Did I have free will?
Did I have a soul?
Were my thoughts my own, or were they preprogrammed; nothing more than the whatever that old scientist person had randomly decided years ago?
Would it even matter if I jumped off the bridge?
Was there an afterlife?
If there was, could I ever get there?
What did it mean to be human?
Sometimes, I just wanted to scream. Or blare loud music on my headphones. Or—well, I’d never actually felt like punching something. Maybe that was one of my allusive feminine traits.
I kicked a piece of gravel off the bridge, but couldn’t hear the plop as it hit the water below.
Free will. Didn’t everyone on the planet struggle with that issue? Or was it just me, because I thought too much? Maybe. Even before figuring out I was a robot, I struggled with the idea.
See, I was—or maybe am—or something—anyway, I’m a Christian. And I’ve always thought though, if there’s an all-powerful god, then can I really decide anything? Am I just like some kind of robot? Ah, the irony then, to be a literal robot! God must have a sense of humor.
I reached the far side of the bridge. I paused, shoving my hands into my pockets. What was I doing?
The questions wouldn’t go away. I pulled my lips into a wry smile. Cursed with intelligence in an oblivious world! Sometimes I envied Billie. It must be nice to have a mind filled with little more than hair styles and cute boys. Except, I didn’t even know what “cute” meant. It seemed like rather a degrading term to me, like something I might call a fluffy kitten or a puppy.
The road on this side of the bridge led into a tree-covered hill. I started walking again. Maybe I should just contact the government guy again. Maybe he could explain the whole robot thing another time. Maybe I’d understand it better.
But probably not.
Why was I always such a pessimist? Yikes, lighten up, River! Maybe a smile or two. No, no, not the sarcastic smirk, that really doesn’t help.
What was wrong with me?
I looked up at the tree branches, arching over me in an intricate green lattice of leaves and branches. Natural, and more alive than whatever stupid virus was in my head. They were beautiful. I knew that to be true, but I felt nothing. No sense of awe or inspiration. Leaves. Trees. Sky. A gorgeous day, a perfect day, and I felt absolutely nothing.
That was it. I was just a robot. No feelings, no humanity. That was my answer.
Or maybe I was just a psychopath. There were humans without emotions too, after all.
But I did feel emotions, sometimes! I felt frustration, I felt boredom and anger. Didn’t that make me human? But even animals seemed to feel emotions.
I stopped walking and looked around myself. The forest was silent, save for a squirrel here or there, skittering through the branches of a tree.
I lowered myself onto the pavement and laid out flat on my back, staring through the branches at the sky above me. Feel something.
I started studying the patterns of the trees over my head. For a few moments, I forgot about myself. I forgot about the questions rotating through my brain like it had been caught in some sort of electronic short circuit. I looked at the trees, waving gently in the wind. I felt the hard asphalt beneath me.
I remembered something I’d heard once. Someone told the host on a podcast I was listening to, “I’m struggling. I’ve been contemplating solipsism—the idea that we can’t really know anything material exists. It’s really been bothering me. What can you say to help me out?”
The podcaster laughed and said, “I wouldn’t say anything. I’d punch you in the face. That way, you’ll see just how much the material world exists.”
A leaf fluttered down and landed next to me. I started to laugh.
It took thinking for myself to wonder if I could think for myself. It took being conscious to wonder if I was conscious. And how many animals think about being human? How many computers do?
No, one could even say…
It took being human to wonder what it meant to be human.
I picked up the leaf and held it above my face, studying the veins running through it. Trees didn’t think. Robots didn’t think. But I thought. Perhaps that was all it took to be human.
I pulled myself up off the pavement. And if I was wrong, well, what did I have to lose? If I was simply a computer, I would one day cease to function like my old school laptop. I would know nothing greater. But if I was human, then I had eternity to think of.
Think of! Eternity, infinity…my thoughts fell through layers of darkness into the inevitable nothingness I always beheld when I contemplated infinity. Ah well. I had the rest of my life to come to terms with that unknown.
I pulled my phone out of my pocket and started playing one of my songs, probably frightening all the wildlife within a three-mile radius. I grinned as I jogged back down the hill and across the abandoned bridge, and back to a life full of silly, emotional people. And I realized something, something inexplicable, something, if I may say so…incredibly mind-blowing.
I realized I was happy. [...]Read more...
December 7, 2021ArtI have a very important announcement to make. I am done college. As in, I am done my first full time semester of college. As in, my first semester as a legitimate college student, not as dual enrollment. Oh, yeah, and I’m graduating this spring. As in, graduating with an associates degree before I transfer to a four year college. As in, if you ask me where I am in school, you are going to get a very complicated answer.
Anyway! I love taking notes in class. Not because I actually love writing down everything the professor is saying, but because it gives me the excuse to make sketches in my notebook.
As I was unpacking my backpack and flipping through the three-thousand pages of notes I created, I decided some of these sketches were such masterpieces I should share them with the world…
Ah, yes. Life. This was the first sketch I made. Really an uplifting sentiment for the semester, you know?
Some of the others were more encouraging, though…
Okay, not sure if that one’s better or not. I did draw some cute animals, though…
Still not buying it? How about this? (Yeah, not sure why I drew it sideways…)
Still no? Well, I do have the stretch my biology professor asked us to make of what we could see in the microscope.
I mean, that is just adorable, right?
Cue the crow of judgement:
Fine, I’ll show the dogs and cats!
Happy now? Here’s a tsunami destroying a city.
Speaking of cities, I do have a couple other landscapes and such.
Oh, and more animals…and plants…
And random patterns…
Oh, and lest you doubt that I was actually paying attention and taking real notes, behold, the proof!
Have a nice week. [...]Read more...