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Working Class Heroes, Their Boomsticks and Their Dreams

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life, The Writing Process (How do I Come up These Beats?) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 05/12/2013 by Angel D. Vargas

What happens when you try to fly solo?

I start my blog entries like that these days.  The above question looks very straight forward. I want to know what happens to the person who decides that they’re going to make a go of life on their own. I want to understand how an individual functions when they try to pull themselves out of mediocrity and live their dreams.

We live in a curious time in American History. Western culture demands that the average individual seeks guidance as a youth. A person is supposed to depend upon their parents for warmth, shelter, wisdom and love. Moms and dads nurture their children by providing the basics as well as opportunities for their education.

But children grow up. Expectations change. Life becomes high school (or is it the other way around?) Children are taught to believe that they are supposed to broaden their minds with books and technology. Yet they are also supposed to round out their learning experiences with intense athletic pursuits or “extra curricular activities.”  Meanwhile, if adolescents succumb to the bombardment of commercials, internet ads, or peer-pressure situations in which they find themselves, they learn that silence is no longer golden. To survive, one has to be a social butterfly, not just in real life, but on the internet. Social Media websites commit younger and younger people to creating a secondary persona that either modulates or inhibits their popularity in school or in other social situations.

A self-reflecting adult might scratch their head at the contradictory messages they received  about life. I was raised as a child of the eighties. Adults of our generation were taught that education was the key to financial success. I used a have an enormous, light-up  picture on my wall with three fancy sports cars in a three car garage by the beach. The motto that was emblazoned at the top of the picture screamed “Justification for a Higher Education.”  Enough Said.

Except not everyone who gets a higher education automatically get those sorts of things. Even going to a top tier college in the country guarantees nothing if you don’t get to know the right people and you don’t focus on the things you love. Anybody who tells you that time is money hasn’t had to look for a job for the last five years in this country.

“The economy is in the crapper.” Those were the words of someone who interviewed me for a sales position years ago. They still pretty much hold true.

Somehow despite all the contradictory forces screaming for our attention, we’re supposed live our dreams. We’re told that we’re better off pulling ourselves out of mediocrity by our bootstraps. We’re also reminded by oversimplified hallmark moments on television shows and food advertisements that we somehow can’t do it alone.

We have to do it by ourselves, but we can’t do it alone.

That includes living our dreams, doesn’t it?

I’ve been sick for the last week and a half. This is the cold that never ends.

Major illness tends to sharpen one’s focus when they begin to recover from it. I, for one, will make it through a major cold like this one and begin to take stock of how well I’m doing living my dreams and meeting my personal goals. Since my largest one by far is writing, I have to remind myself that I can and will write every day.

But like the rest of this story, I’ve come to learn that I can’t really make my dream a reality all on my own. While I try to get my name out there by submitting more and more of my work to various publishers for consideration, I’m getting to the point where I spend a lot of my time with my nose to the grindstone. I push so hard to get more and more writing done, it feels like I’m only picking my head up to notice that everyone else walked off to some social gathering. I’m perfecting the swing of my samurai sword, and everyone else walked to the river to drink beer and sake.

From a professional standpoint, my current solo method seems like a piss poor way to garner real opportunity. From a personal standpoint, I feel more and more like a lone warrior. What happens to warriors who stay alone for too long?

They go nuts and start saying things like “This is my BOOMSTICK!”

Now that I more or less know where I am from a professional and a social standpoint, the question I have to ask myself is “What now?” It’s one thing to understand how much one misses social connection when they’ve been ill for more than a week. It’s quite another thing to realize that this uniquely Western notion of “independence” is not quite all that it’s cracked up to be.

Nobody ever really meets their goals without help, even on a minute level. I’d love to sit here and tell you that I got my first short story published because I woke up one day and inspiration struck me like a bolt of lightning. But that isn’t even close to the truth. I got that story accepted by a publication only after my first attempt with them flopped. I never even asked the editors why I was rejected. I got really annoyed and decided to up the ante. I thought I was a warrior recovering from wounded pride.

But this isn’t about revenge, proper action or silt. I would not have even bothered to finish the story had it not been for my friends, writers or otherwise, who were there to encourage me from day one. My friends are still around, though it’s been a while since I’ve been willing or able to talk with them.

It’s also been a while since I’ve felt like I was a part of a real writing community. I don’t know if I need that feeling again so that my writing can reach the next level, or if I want to be a part of a community so that my social skills don’t fade while I write my next manuscript.

At any rate, here I am world. I’m not quite recovered my from my eternal snot fest. And yes, I know that that description of my illness will make everyone want to stay around me. I’m going to start small and post this blog entry. I’m reentering my former social media sites. I’ll keep on writing, of course. Maybe I just won’t use all of my words to add to the chapters of unseen stories and manuscripts.

What is Real? – Thoughts on Authenticity..

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life, The Writing Process (How do I Come up These Beats?) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 05/11/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

There is a word that people have been throwing around for the last decade as part of what might be seen by some as a movement, of sorts.  This word is “authentic.”  There are those of us who seek to reclaim our own authenticity in a society that is replete with the means to defeat that purpose.  The irony that social media is touted as a means to “represent your individuality” as you flit around more or less anonymously from twitter to facebook to your own blogs and then to “klout” is not lost on me.

 

And I haven’t yet become so immersed in all this that I’ve forgotten what I am doing even as I post this comment.  It’s like railing against the “capitalist machine”and then going out and buying a white chocolate mocha at Starbucks.  I’ve seen pretentious beret-wearing motherfuckers do this in New York City, and I do nothing but shake my head and laugh.  I haven’t really got the motivation to point out the hilarity of what they’ve just done.

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  My hypocrisy will only extend so far.

 

But what are we trying to do in the modern world when we define our authentic selves?  Is it right to say that the people who read my blog and who share my facebook posts and wall pictures really know who the hell I am?  Is it healthy to feel a sort of rejection at not being “retweeted” or “given klout points” at least once a week?

 

I’m not going to lie to any of you.  I ventured into twitter and the social networking scene with serious trepidation.  I didn’t want some image or caricature of myself to be the only thing that people really understood about me.  I don’t want the darkness of the fiction I write to be the only thing that registers with people every single time they view my profile picture, and I don’t particularly care to see others as one dimensional visages of the night, sparkly vampires, dark lords, or anything of the sort.  The novelty of that wears off pretty quickly for someone like me because I’m the type of person that is interested in the layers underneath the facade.  Maybe it’s because I studied psychology in college and worked in mental health for almost 7 years, but the fact remains that it isn’t easy to sort through all the bullshit to get to what’s real for each of us anymore.  We can pretend all we want to that modern technology has created easier means through which to communicate, but that’s only a part of the process.  I would argue that modern technology has simply afforded more of us a global reach with our words, images, and quirky surface level personalities.

 

But if I was to pick ONE Of my blog or twitter followers right now and attempt to have a real “conversation” with him or her, I would have to start from the beginning with the word “hello.”  I would seek to find out how they’re feeling in that very moment, how their days have gone, and what’s so special about their lives that they feel the need to share it with the world.  And it would not be meant as a means to denigrate or to spew invective about how “eccentric” or pretentious people can be.  We all have those tendencies. It’s almost imperative that we do in order to stand out nowadays in social media…

 

Where do the false expectations from our World Wide Web followers and public supporters come from?  Do we pigeon hole ourselves with the images that we create; the avatars with which we “dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?”

 

Writers seem to have a particularly nuanced way of doing this through their use of social media.  Simply put, social media has become a means through which writers can “show their wares.”  I can think of a few people who simply want their writing to speak for itself, and yet I can think of quite a few others who are so desperate to sell their writing that they would sooner have me follow them on twitter just so that some bot that they took the time to set up months ago will automatically bombard me with their inflated egos.  That bothers me, but not because I am not curious about their writing.  Goodness knows that someday I hope to be shilling my own wares on unsuspecting victims..I mean a captive audience.  But I have to wonder if the author behind the bot really intended for people like me to be turned off or simply bemused by their stunning lack of personal connection with one of their potential readers.

 

And then I realize as I have this thought, my mind circles back to the word “authentic.”  What is the authentic essence of the person behind the bot?  Who the fuck are they, really?  Do they want me to know, or are they trying to evoke an image in order to strike a chord and sell me something?  And how does MY authentic self fit into this equation?

 

Am I buying what they’re selling?

 

No lie, sometimes the answer to that last question is a resounding YES!

 

Can we strive to be “authentic” then in a world that practically demands that we put on airs? Let’s face it, even at our regular places of employment, most of us are busy doing and saying things that we don’t want to be doing or saying, especially nowadays when it is so imperative that we keep the jobs that we have.  It can be such a tiresome process.

 

Yet the few people who truly know the “real” me didn’t garner that information purely from social media.  For those who didn’t meet me before my amusing adventures on the internet, something about the image that I evoked sparked enough of an interest from them that they took their curiosity to the next level.  The reverse has happened to me on rare occasions too.  I’ve attempted real communication with a select few of my slowly growing list of followers on websites like twitter.

 

In the end, the people who really begin to get to know the real me are the ones who can close down twitter, facebook, klout, and all the other internet bullshit and just hang.  I can talk to them about things that have nothing to do with my writing, and have just as much fun.  We can chew the fat about our day to day thoughts.  I can congratulate new parents, ask my female friends why the fuck I don’t understand the sizes pertaining to women’s fashion, and I can even sit with the best of them in comfortable silence and just “be me.”  That is a rare thing indeed, and nothing offered by digitalized personae will ever come close to that.

 

 

I know I know.  I’m posing more questions than I’m answering.  But what’s life without these kinds mysteries?  Are you reading this right now and wondering if this is the real me?  Maybe you should wonder.  Better yet, drop me a line and find out for yourself. 😉

 

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