writing chapter 5.5
taking a passage, sitting with it, hearing someone discussing it in some context. pulling in things from other research not just in a conversational way, but as a reflection of the process going on in my head, where i’m trying to make some amalgamated sense of it all. trying to make fiction of it. i’m pretty sure other writers don’t do it this way. i think they come up with the story first, and do the research later. in my case, i kind of did that in the general plot outline, but then i did massive research – nine months of nothing but research – and am now sorting thru the research to find the plot. i think that’s backwards. i’m pretty sure it is. i’m doing the same thing as taking a message and weaving a story around that, and that kind of process results in the celestine prophecy.
fairy had shared her issues with the 7×7 grid of game facts with radhu, especially her difficulties fitting the different religious periods and technological advances into the array. as they talked about it, it became apparent that radhu thought about these things very differently, in terms of changing styles of communication, of adaptation within a closed system, of different worldviews. the first two levels were subsistence level, oral cultures, explaining things with myths and stories. the second two levels were agricultural, their communication written, their explanations edicts and laws handed down from the gods. the fifth and sixth levels were industrial, the fifth focusing on the spread of knowledge and learning, and thinking was idealogical and dogmatic. the sixth level was computerized and wireless, the control monolithic and sadistic, independent thinking was underground and individualistic. and the seventh level was a leap into global consciousness, empathic and interconnected. she updated the grid accordingly, and showed it to josh, who said ‘whatever.’ fairy was becoming dependent on radhu, like having an extra set of arms. he was always asking for more work, and never asked for anything but her thanks, and always did professional work that she was not ashamed to call her own. she appreciated him because he was so willing to be used. she’d sleep with him if he were in the same country.
caroline failed relationship, used again. bitter and self-absorbed. comes over and talks to nathan as he’s sitting there doing his homework. has the same exfood deal kurt does. doesn’t like kurt. whines all the time to nathan. alludes to her life in law enforcement, swaggers but no details. complains about her love life, wants to shock nathan by being butch lesbian but he’s okay with it. he’s just glad she’s not going to come on to him, tho he’s not entirely sure because he catches her leering at him.
on the way home, nathan sat in front of two men who were worriedly consulting something on their phones and talking. just the one blip about 12 hours ago, and nothing since. grid lit up like xmas, then went out altogether, then right back to normal. nope, not a solar storm. there’s a couple of sunspots but they’re quiet, and not pointing in our direction anyway. plus satellites unaffected, and our phones still work. what about earthquakes? the usual range of 4s and 5s around the ring of fire, 2s in iceland and the mediterranean. rest of the world not directly affected, secondary effects from cascading power grid incidents. i mean here where the effect occurred. oh, a bunch of fracking-related 2s and 3s from me to tx, nothing unusual. they kept shaking their heads in wonder. look at that signature. i’ve never seen anything like it. like a billion lightbulbs. they can’t find a source, this guy’s saying it was like the earth got a static electricity shock. what could it be? cyberattack? they looked puzzled at each other for a moment, then went back to their phones. huh. we don’t have anything capable…? not even close. that’s what i thought. and them? not unless they’re space aliens. everybody’s investigating this, we’d know if it was planned. but it’s not the sun. fuck. what? i’m being reassigned. when? effective 12 hours ago, apparently.
nathan was way late getting home, and he arrived with a head full of dreams. he loved the kind of world where a guy like kurt could make an insanely powerful nano computer at home, and just wear it on his wrist. something you could never buy. something custom made, that nobody else in the world had. it was so different from the world Nathan lived in, where everything came from Walmart and Ikea and Target, and before that, from some factory in china where kids younger than he was were chained to their workstations and beaten for lunch. and everything was cheaply made, and always broke, and never lived up to the advertising. nathan wanted to live in a world where everything was custom made, and everybody did things differently. worked things out for themselves. made their own decisions. that’s why it was so hard to take Dad, who forced everybody to do everything his way. the stupid way.
he covered a sheet of paper with scribbled notes all the way home, fascinated with kurt’s prototype. he was still pulling the paper out of his pocket and adding thoughts when he walked thru the door. dad snatched it out of his hand. what’s this bullshit? math, huh? what’s this? does this say quasiparticle? he turned the page to examine it. infinite sheets of superconducting qubits? orgone? flux/charge transistor? he crumpled it and tossed it back. your handwriting really sucks, it looks like you were running when you wrote this. i’ll take a calligraphy class, nathan offered as he edged toward his room. get me a beer. smartass. not pansy handwriting, just legible. my writing’s not great, either, he reflected as he popped the top. i guess you must get it from me. why don’t you print instead of trying to write, like i do? then everybody could read it. like i want you reading my stuff, nathan mumbled as he closed his bedroom door.
he was still hiding his job from his dad. he’d already saved up enough money for his dragoncon ticket, and now he was saving to get mom one so they could go together. they were planning their costumes. superheroes or disney characters. they decided to pretend nathan’s frequent lateness was because he had gone out for sports and was now doing…something. nathan could say wrestling, but then dad would challenge him. he couldn’t really say football or basketball because he didn’t look the part, and he didn’t dare say baseball because his dad was a big fan and would insist on showing up for his games. so he said he was on the soccer team. dad made fun of him for playing with girls until nathan explained that soccer was wildly popular everywhere but the US, and featured lots of macho men, and then dad made fun of him for being an elitist and a faggot, and, when he actually saw footage of a game being played, called nathan an elitist faggot mexican. but he didn’t forbid him to play, and that meant he could disguise his work as something his dad wasn’t the least bit interested in.
he’s a bully, we can’t just let him win all the time, we have to confront him. nothing will change until we do, and by standing up to him we’ll be changing the way we relate to each other. i guess he’s right in his way, but it’s so hard. he’s so mean sometimes, and he’s wrong, and we still have to let him have his way. but we have to put up with it. he may be wrong, but it’s his family, and he’s got a right to do as he sees fit. but he’s wrong. he treats you badly. we don’t have to put up with it. it’s not like it’s okay for him to be wrong. isn’t it our obligation to do what’s right no matter what? not if it goes against your dad. it’s not no matter what, then. no. you’re right. but we have to excuse his maybe slightly abusive actions because he’s only trying to do what’s right for us. no, he’s trying to suit himself, he doesn’t care about us. we’re his servants. your father loves you, in his way. he’s using crazy wisdom, tough love. you have to trust him. well, i don’t. he knows best, you know. didn’t we already agree that he doesn’t? she shrugged and patted his shoulder.
once upon a time, there was a good kid, and a bad kid. we’ll call them goofus and gander. is that right? yes dear. gandalf? no, it was gander. gambler. something. anyway, the good kid did what he was told without trying to second guess his elders, he showed respect for adults and knew his place, and didn’t go around asking for things, he just worked hard and looked forward to his reward in heaven. the bad kid thought for himself, and did what he wanted, and didn’t pay attention to what anybody told him. anyway, shit happened, and the bad kid ended up really really scared and then died because he was too stupid to follow orders. the end.
lights flickered all over the eastern third of the country this weekend in an incident that experts are calling a transient surge, possibly the result of a solar storm. assure the public no radiation or emp, and most devices rebooted without trouble. unfortunate incidents caused by momentary power surge followed by momentary power loss. it only lasted a fraction of a second, but affected hundreds of millions of electronic systems. it will take weeks to reckon the damages and possibly months to recover. crashed computer systems, lost or canceled financial transactions, multiple traffic accidents, resetting of life support systems as backup generators failed. power is still out after a substation exploded, airport near misses after momentary shutdown of tower tracking equipment as well as midair emergency shutdown and restart of airplane engines.
today, the president signed into law a controversial new bill confirming parents’ absolute right of authority over their children. the ‘every man’s castle’ law provides the death penalty for rebellious children as laid out in Deut 21:18-21. critics decry it as morally backward and neolithic, but supporters hail it as a powerful incentive to get children to respect their elders.
well, there you have it. it’s a law, so don’t you dare disrespect me. obedience and discipline at home is the bedrock of civilization itself. i have the right and the duty to make you respect your parents, and if you disrespect me then i will not hesitate to make an example out of you, as a lesson to all children about the importance of family discipline.
dad makes mom go over the bills once a week. he has to do enough recordkeeping and number crunching at work, and it gives him a big pain in the ass, so mom has to do it. show checkbook, checking up on spending. she has better things to do but thinks of it as quality time together where she pays a lot of attention to him and lets him think he makes all the decisions, she trots out all the purchases and attributes the decisions to him as if complementing on his wisdom and beneficence. she’s doing it to salve his poor ego which suffers at work, letting him have the head of the family to make him feel better. he controls finances, the car, what they’re allowed to do, who they can see or talk to, what they read, where they go. he gets mad if he thinks she’s done something without checking with him first. because she doesn’t know all the facts and is making bad decisions because she’s got a woman’s brain. he watches her, looking for wrongness he then has to correct, anxiously waiting for her to fuck up and look to him to fix it. she walks around on eggshells waiting for something to set him off, explaining every little move so he doesn’t get the wrong idea. he gets set off a lot now that there’s an ominous silence from management. he got his reports in on time and made a show of cost cutting and efficiency improvements, proud of himself for saving on wages by making crew work thru unpaid lunch. but where’s his raise, where’s an attaboy, where’s the notice for his innovations? his boss isn’t returning his calls.
mortgage and insurance 30% our salaries. consume and buy more intelligently. walk away, move to cheaper place. own my house. really only rented, still not even paying principal. borrowing quality of life/lifestyle from banks and credit cards. the credit card is maxed out. get an extension. i called, they said no. must sustain standard of living / stop consuming and buying now. renting backward step, no equity, mercy of landlords, mark of failure as real adult homeowner.
sis gets another speeding ticket, mom finds out, sis threatens mom. self-pity, depression, anxiety, anger, looks to dad to rescue her and make everything better than before. no responsibility for self because overindulged, entitled, misunderstood and wronged. ruins clothes mom took pains to get for her then demands even more pains to replace it. take me out and get me another one, now. invalidate mom, opinions and emotions are bad and worthless. just someone to make the tea. mom obsessively worried about sis, feels guilty then outraged by behavior, venting hostility. sis works between mom’s guilt and anger, inducing one to stop the other. practices same thing with others/nathan.