I’m tired.

I have to be real with you all. I really don’t want to write this post.

But there’s this stubborn part of me that’s saying, “You only write two posts a week, so just do it, dude.” So here I am, 8:30 and still at work staffing an event for the library, and I’m scheduled until 10. I’m gonna get off shift, head home, eat something, and go right to bed.

You know, it’s weird. The past two weekends all I’ve really wanted has been something quiet and low-key. And yet in both of those cases, I’ve had these weekends that somehow became a whirlstorm (yeah, I invented a word) of activity. I guess that’s what being an adult is.

Still, though, it feels kind of gratifying being so busy. I feel like I’m a real contributing member of society.

Anyway, the event’s wrapping up right now, so I should probably go help break it down. AND I POSTED, SO THERE.

Love you all. Hope you’re having a wonderful Thursday night.

Yours,

-R.R. Buck

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Reed’s Top Three – Blogs

(Reed’s Playlist for the occasion: Man Overboard by blink-182)

What is this madness? A post in the middle of the day? Am I shirking my work duties to write this to you? Perhaps I’ve been “in the bathroom” for the past half hour furiously typing away on my phone.

Nah, I just have the day off. Which is nice, because usually if I have a day off later on in the week, I’ve already built up a to-do list that stretches on and on. So today all I had to do was get a haircut (check) and write an actually normal amount of words in my novel (check, 1026). So I’m feeling pretty great – in fact, after this, I actually have nothing left on my to-do list.

So let’s talk about my problems. Don’t worry, just one – I’m not very good at promoting my blog. I can’t tell if it’s because I really don’t care about this, or if I just feel uncomfortable trying to make people read what I write, but whatever the reason, I don’t do as much as I could to make myself public.

On the other hand, I love talking about other people’s blogs on here. It seems there are a lot of people with much better niches or much more wisdom to impart, and I’m glad to be able to let my readers know about them. Maybe in that small way the good karma will come back around to me, but if not… well, I can settle for 60 followers.

So let’s get started with my top three favorite blogs:

NUMBER THREE: LITTLE FEARS

Dude, I freaking love this blog. Especially because I really don’t have that much time to read stuff anymore, Little Fears is perfect for me. Every day (or most days), they post a three- to four-line short story. It comes in the form of either a bad pun or a creepy moment. Their characters are super cute, their jokes are terrible in the best way, and their creepy stuff is actually really well set-up for being only a few lines. Both the puns and the creepy stories have this kind of “aha” moment in the last line which makes them incredibly satisfying to read. Be sure to check them out, especially if you’re trying to amp up your dad joke game.

NUMBER TWO: BEAUTYBEYONDBONES

This blog is incredible, and one of the first blogs I found when I was on here. It’s hard to encapsulate everything this woman talks about in her pretty much daily posts, but two main topics seem to come up time and time again – her battle against an eating disorder and negative body image, and her spirituality. She’s got this kind of no-holds-barred approach to describing her ED and the struggles it’s put her through, and although there are a lot of dark moments in there, I feel like it’s a really uplifting message overall – not to mention an incredible resource for anyone who’s having similar struggles. Plus, it’s beautiful to see her spirituality being her anchor.

NUMBER ONE: RACHEL POLI

She’s a great writer and supporter of beginning bloggers. She’s pretty much the only one who comments on the things I write here. And she’s got such an incredible wealth of resources about the writing experience and mechanics on her blog. Honestly, I may not have continued with this blog were it not for Rachel’s assistance, and I’ve tried to call her out numerous times here to help her with publicity (not that she needs it). If you’re a beginning writer or someone interested in the craft, I need not point you any further than Rachel’s blog. And if you’re a videogamer, she also runs a blog with her sister called DoubleJump which is pretty kickass, too.

There are a lot of other great blogs I’m subscribed to, most of them other beginning writers. Honestly, it’s kind of overwhelming to see just how many of us noobs there are out there. But there’s a silver lining to this cloud of first-time writers and artists – we have an awesome network of connections, advice, and wisdom accessible to us if we just reach out and take it. So if you’re a blogger or a new writer, do some exploration. It can only help you.

Yours, finished with his to-do list before lunch,

-R.R. Buck

8 Things I’ve Already Learned from Working Full-Time

(Reed’s Playlist for the occasion: And Now I’m Nothing by the Wonder Years)

I know, it’s a clickbait title. But hey, I’m too tired to care. I’m too tired for a lot of things.

Okay, that’s a little bit overdramatic. It’s crunch time at work – the beginning of the fall quarter always is when you work at a university – and I’ve been zipping all around, patching holes and putting out fires. And I’m not even the busiest person in my library. Hell, I only work 32 hours – that’s barely full-time!

Honestly, though, I’m learning a lot. And that’s why I wanted to write this post, despite almost being too tired to put a sentence in coherent order. It’s half for my parents, so they can laugh at my introduction to the business world, and half a warning for college students or people just about to start out in said world.

So here are some things I’ve learned about working full-time:

  1. The first few weeks are always slow. Last year, when I started working for the library, I had to find busy work to keep myself productive (I hate feeling like I’m wasting time at my job). This year, I was afraid something similar would happen, especially when during the first few weeks, it didn’t seem very busy.
  2. …but it will pick up very quickly. I’m sure it changes from job to job, but within the third week, I kept getting pulled into new projects and tasks, such that I could barely remember what I had to get done on a given day if I didn’t write it down.
  3. Free time is no longer a thing. I only work four days out of the week, and I always thought the other three would be a great time to relax and settle down. But then there’s lab, and lab managerial duties, and laundry, and HOLY SHIT HOW IS THERE NO FOOD IN MY FRIDGE, and other teeny menial tasks that add up across the week. No such thing as a day off anymore.
  4. You will cherish the last few hours of the night. Because I’m an idiot who wants to live longer, I go out exercising three times a week with my girlfriend. On those nights, I’ll get back and start dinner at 8pm. That gives me three hours from the moment I get home until I have to go to bed again – and one of those hours is cooking. I’ve learned to love those hours like fluffy golden puppies. They’re the only time I have left anymore.
  5. Getting up a half hour earlier than you need to is the best thing you could do. It’s so stressful in the morning, trying to rush off for work and (maybe) get a bite of breakfast in. When I started waking up a half hour early, despite loathing the morning, it really made me feel more relaxed. I even got a bit of time to read, which is precious to me.
  6. You will really have to push yourself to find time to write. In the last week or so, I’ve barely written 1200 words, and my pace has just slowed to a crawl. It’d be one thing if I ended work on time, but sometimes I’m a half hour (in today’s case, an hour) late to end. Then you really don’t want to be sitting there typing for another hour. In fact, today I’m just writing this post and then going home – a compromise with myself that, as long as I write something, even if it’s not novel writing, I’ve done my job.
  7. Your coworkers become more like comrades during crunch times. I look around and I can see how everyone else is affected by this beginning-of-year slurry of requests and emails and appointments and meetings and reservations and everything else. And they can tell how it’s affecting me. We find little pockets of time to be with each other during the day, moments where we can put our guard down and indulge in a moment of calm before picking it all back up. Those moments are worth a lot to me.
  8. You’re going to miss your friends. I especially feel this way because I’ve kind of sort of a little bit halfway moved in with my girlfriend, spending a few nights a week at her place as a kind of moving-in experiment. I feel like I don’t see my roommates and friends as often as I used to, and the few times I’m with them, I’m just too tired to hang out. But even when I’m exhausted, just being able to spend time with them makes me inordinately happy. Maybe because I’m not trying to laminate a sign that’s had its design changed four times in the last week.

I hope I’m not representing it in a bad light – despite the exhaustion, I really feel like I’m doing good work for the university, and I have a lot of job satisfaction. It might be that the stress of missing yet another lunch period gets to me at some point, and then this blog might bear the brunt of my ramblings and ravings. But right now, I kind of like being this busy. I feel like I’m actually adulting, like not just playing at it. And that’s a pretty nice feeling.

I do wish I had some more time to write, though. But hey, if you really care about something, you’ll make the time for it.

And speaking of things I care for, my roommates should mostly be at home right now. So although I love you all very much… I’m gonna bail.

Yours, with stomach a-rumbling and head a-spinning,

-R.R. Buck

The School

(Reed’s Playlist for the occasion: Soul to Squeeze by the Red Hot Chili Peppers)

I hate mornings.

I hate being dragged unwillingly by the toes and the eyelids from golden sleep. I loathe having to tiptoe past my roommates and the various others sleeping at my apartment as I stumble into the shower, stab at my teeth with a brush, and crunch through yet another bowl of Cheerios. I detest feeling the morning chill. I find the rising sun odious and the quiet tranquility of the growing day disgusting.

But there is one moment I love in the morning.

It happens when my sleep-addled brain is bouncing around in my skull as I walk my daily path to campus. My eyes are laden, my ears wrapped in a cocoon of calming music – a playlist I have specifically reserved for mornings. I do not raise my head, and I look around only as often as needed to be safe as I make my laborious way up and down the hills, up and down.

And then I am there. In front of the long tunnel underneath the ground, now surrounded by other students and faculty making their way onto campus. Many of them are like me, swaddled by earphones and bearing pinched, exhausted expressions. Some of them are awake. Some of them are jittery. Few of them seem to be paying attention to one another.

But I’m paying attention to them. I find myself moving through the crowd, trying to edge around them to see if by the time the light changes and we get to that tunnel, I can be in front. It’s a futile gesture I repeat every morning, and when the light goes green, I’m still somewhere in the middle of the pack, plodding along after the slower people in front of me. And for a while, I find myself dully annoyed – as annoyed as I can be when my morning state is apathy – that I can’t move at my pace.

But something happens in that tunnel. I’m moving along, and I start to force myself to relax my pace, and suddenly I am one of them. I move like a fish through a school, the stream of people steadily bearing me towards my destination. They wear the same faces; they find the same ways to avoid listening to or looking at one another. But somehow, in this awful morning moment, we are all the same. None of us want to be here, and we are united in that.

We move as one, speeding up and slowing down, and I can’t help but think that at least one other person is looking up and around like me, and thinking the same thoughts as I am. It’s something quiet and beautiful, to imagine that someone else sees things the eccentric way you do.

I wish this was every morning. Often enough, I’m too preoccupied with the incoming stress of the day, with the things that will happen tomorrow or the weekend, to even be aware of this single moment of togetherness. I move as the others do – without recognizing themselves as part of the school.

Yesterday, I noticed – only because of one other man. He was weaving back and forth, shaking our foundations in our ranks, trying to move past the others to the front. I watched him struggle, caught in the net, until the barest gap of space appeared in the front line of slow-moving people. He made his way sideways through them – I held my breath watching – and out to the front. I would have cheered, but I didn’t want to disturb the silence.

He made like an arrow away from the group, accelerating into his natural stride. And I watched him go, thinking about how I always tried to jostle myself to get into the same position at the front of the school. And I realized that on the days I succeeded, I looked like him – speeding away from those others who were so similar, who didn’t want to be here in the early morning walking under the bridge to class.

I thought about how, on those days when I’ve made it past everyone, I don’t feel like part of a group. In fact, I feel more like an aggressive loner, trying to smile at the people he’s striding past but unable to really pull the muscles of his face into a grin. Compared to this moment, now, suspended in a crowd, I realized that moving out of the school is so… lonely.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll forget all this and make it to the front to dash away. Or maybe I’ll jostle for the front, but only halfheartedly, knowing that I really want to be amongst this school. Maybe I’ll even stay towards the back, let the whole experience unfold in front of me like a flower coming into bloom. I know that if I hold onto the moment too tightly every day, its beauty will be ruined for me.

But every once in a while, I’ll let myself be a part of that school, and I’ll feel one with the people around me. And maybe that will make my morning a little bit less shitty.

Yours, contemplatively,

-R.R. Buck

Reed’s Top 3 – Board Games

(Reed’s Playlist for the occasion: Pirates by Bullets and Octane)

You know, for a while, I was thinking about narrowing this to just “fantasy board games” or “high skill board games”, but maybe this will force me to be a little more selective. And that way, you all can be assured you’re getting the cream of the crop in… random blogger board game reviews.

Eh, whatever. If you didn’t know from any of my other posts, my roommates and I are avid board game players – but it goes back even further for me to my childhood memories of playing board games with my family. I remember bringing friends over and that’s what we would do instead of (or in addition to) video games, talking about girls, and stupid kid stuff.

Of course my favorite game of all time is probably Dungeons and Dragons, as it’s essentially collective storytelling (and we all know how much I like to tell stories). But this one’s for the non-nerds, the people who just like a good solid board game and might want some new recommendations.

For that same reason, I’m gonna take out the “classic” board games from my potential selection as well. Chess might be one of the greatest games ever made, but it’s not a relatively unknown thing; if I want to give you all some recommendations, they should be something other than chess or Clue or Twister.

So here we go with Reed’s Top 3 board games you may or may not have heard of:

NUMBER THREE: SETTLERS OF CATAN

(Skill level – High; Nerd factor – 2/3)

This one’s relatively well-known, so you might have heard of it. Catan is one of those classic high-skill diplomacy games, similar to Risk and, well, Diplomacy. But the main benefit of playing this game is that it’s not super long – a game of Catan can run anywhere from 45 minutes to over 2 hours, although it usually settles in around an hour and a half.

In the game, you play with up to three other people who are trying to settle an island called Catan. The island’s format changes every game, but there are always five different types of land available which produce five types of resources. Your goal is to gather resources to build yourself a little network of cities and roads – which then help you gather more resources, which help you build more, and so on.

Since the resources are spread out, it’s difficult to get everything you need, and that’s where the bartering comes in. You get to make any trade with another player, resource for resource, each trying to get the upper hand in the negotiation. It makes for some tense moments, but all in all it’s a really fun game.

NUMBER TWO: BETRAYAL AT THE HOUSE ON THE HILL

(Skill level – Medium; Nerd factor – 3/3)

I’ll be the first to admit that Betrayal is not for everyone. It’s one of those special games that’s reserved for fans of “crawlers”, like dungeon crawlers or house crawlers. And that’s exactly what this game is – a house-crawler horror game where you end up turning against one another. I picked it out from a very extensive board game store in Los Angeles and I’ve been really stoked with the choice ever since.

The premise is basic – you and your fellow players are cooperatively exploring a house, the format of which changes every time. When you open up new rooms, different events happen to you – everything from having a phantasmal corpse reaching out for you, to finding a sacrificial dagger you can use as a weapon. Infrequently, you find “omens” – powerful items that boost your character’s stats. And each time you get an omen, you take a step closer to the second phase of the game.

In that second phase, one of your fellow companions betrays the rest of the party and becomes the “traitor”. The traitor then gets their own set of rules and a brand-new group of monsters under their control. The rest of the players – the heroes – have to try to fight off the traitor and the monsters long enough to accomplish their goal. The betrayal aspect is really the best part of this game to me – having your friends suddenly not on your team makes for some tense and exciting gameplay.

NUMBER ONE: 1313 DEAD END DRIVE

(Skill level – Low; Nerd factor – 1/3)

This game has been around in my family for more than a decade, and I’m so glad to have had it as a kid. And it tops my list not because it’s my favorite game – I love all three of these games for different situations and co-players – but because I think it’s the most universal game of my list. Pretty much anyone, from parents and children to young adults to experienced board game players, can pick it up and have a good time.

The game begins when sixteen people are gathered around a table, reading the will of their recently departed Auntie Agatha. These people all have millions of dollars coming in inheritance, but before they can claim their money, they have to escape the mansion alive. You as a player are given a set of heirs that are “yours”, meaning if they make it out the mansion, you get to keep their money – but which heirs you have are kept secret from the other players. Then everyone takes turns moving any of the heirs, including ones that aren’t their own, around the mansion.

The fun comes with the killing. Because the will hasn’t been officiated yet, any heir who dies while still in the mansion has their money transferred to the next heir in the will. So what you’re trying to do is surreptitiously move your own heirs out the door, while running other people’s heirs around the mansion, setting them up on the various traps (including a blazing hearth, a falling boar’s head, and a rickety set of stairs) that could lead to their demise. If you play your game perfectly, you can transfer millions of dollars to your heir right as you move them out the front door!

This game isn’t “low skill” in the same sense that Uno is low skill. It takes some foresight to try to move your characters in a way that allows you to accomplish your goals while hindering others. But really, the strategy is pretty easy to pick up, and it’s hilarious watching each others’ hopes rise and fall over and over as an heir is moved towards the door, then away, back to a trap where they’re killed.

If you’ve not played any of these games, I’d assess your desire for strategy and your overall nerdiness level, and choose based on that. The way I put it is, my mom loves to play 1313, and I can occasionally get her to do Catan, but she’d never really be interested in a game like Betrayal. Pick the game to fit your playstyle!

And that’s all for me folks. Here’s hoping that your September is significantly less sweaty than mine here in LA.

Yours, just now realizing how many of his favorite games involve murder,

-R.R. Buck

What Does it Mean to be Empathic?

(Reed’s Playlist for the occasion: Tradewinds by Pepper)

I guess I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about the way I interact with people. Some parts of the human-to-human experience are really easy for me – far too easy, in some cases. When I hear of someone’s pain, I can feel it and empathize with it. When I hear someone talking about something they’re passionate about, I almost find myself resonating with their passion, experiencing it vicariously through their words.

On the other hand, I often fail to understand when I’m crossing some sort of line in social interaction. A situation that to me feels entirely appropriate is actually taboo; a misplaced word or two leads to some strong offense taken. I’ve tried to be more vocal recently about explaining to people that I find it hard to interact, and to ask them to help me learn the skill better.

The confluence of these two places – my best and my worst – is when I hear of someone’s problems or issues. I think I talked about it in regards to my third tattoo, but I’ll reiterate it here: because of my intense feeling of empathy towards a person when they’re in trouble, I end up trying to control them, thinking in my own misguided way that I know the best solution for their problems. It’s a thing born out of love and a desire to help, but ultimately it’s a horrible thing.

So recently, trying to exercise my tattoo, I’ve run across several situations with friends and family where I tried to take the back line. Instead of telling them what to do, I listen, I offer support and a shoulder to cry on, and I hope that they’ll be able to make the decision that leads to the best outcome for them. And yet somehow, during all of that, I still end up at least interjecting my opinion a little bit – I don’t know if I would ever be fully able to keep myself from speaking.

It’s interesting, though, because as I’m listening more, I’m noticing how differently each person I interact with wants to be treated. It was a surprise to learn that some of my friends actually want me to make decisions or suggest courses of action for them; they felt too tangled up in their own troubles to be able to extricate themselves fully and make a decision.

All of this is surrounding an idea I had recently. It’s one of those nuggets of a self philosophy that you start to form when you’re changing something major about yourself, a little witty piece of text that will stick in your brain every time you’re confronted with a new situation.

The idea is, “Love someone the way they want to be loved. Help someone the way they want to be helped.”

I know, it sounds stupid, right? It’s a testament to how far behind I am that I’m just now discovering this. But interestingly enough, I have friends and family members who disagree with me on this point. They say, rightfully so, that this is in essence pandering to someone, instead of giving them what they need.

That’s a scary thought, because it’s one I had a lot as a kid. “Oh, you don’t know what you need, but I do. So I’m going to tell you what you need and you’re going to do it.” It’s that kind of egocentric thinking that assumes I know the world and you better than you know yourself, and I alone can treat you the way you need to be treated. It’s the kind of thinking I’m trying to stay away from.

Sometimes, it’s really hard to tell what someone needs. At those moments, even though I feel like an idiot for doing so, I ask the person directly – “What do you need from me right now?” And sometimes I feel like the person is internally rolling their eyes at me, wishing I would just know what they needed.

But if they answer honestly, I feel this – well, it’s like a surge of confidence that underpins the emotion I’m feeling. It’s like I finally understand exactly what I can do to help them, and when I’ve done that, I don’t have to lay awake agonizing over whether I did the right thing or if I did enough or if I could have done something else – I just know that I did, at the very least, what they told me they needed me to do.

And I guess that’s why I like this new philosophy. It doesn’t rely on me being a better judge of what is right and proper than someone else. It takes away that feeling of condescension, and even more importantly, that sickening feeling of having a friend in pain whom I can’t help. It makes me feel like I can do tangible things, make real steps in assisting friends with their troubles, without muddling the whole thing up with my neuroticism.

I don’t know why I’m talking about this. I was just bored and I started writing. But I guess maybe I’m asking you to reflect on it, and if you have an opinion, to tell me what you think. At times like right now, when so many people are getting offended and communicating poorly and not really trying to see the other side’s perspective, we could all benefit from open ears and shared opinions.

Man, what a strange mood I’m in. I guess I’m pretty tired.

Anyway, before I get too melancholy, I’ll sign off. Just… love each other, okay? Do your best to really listen to each other. I think that might heal a lot of our issues as a planet.

Yours, semisweetly,

-R.R. Buck

Streed of Consciousness [Part 7 – Gone Clubbin’]

(Reed’s Playlist for the day: This Party Sucks by the Wonder Years)

Whoo. I am… tired.

How tired? Well, I’m writing this at my work computer instead of taking my usual stroll over to lab. I’m pretty much gonna head back right after this, collapse at my girlfriend’s apartment, and eat some dank soup we made earlier this week.

I’m tired enough to be dreading what happens this coming evening. That’s right, folks – it’s time for your favorite 6’4″ pale-as-moonlight gangly awkward little shit to go to a club with his friends.

How did I get bamboozled into doing something so against my nature? Well, the truth is, it’s not exactly against my nature. It’s just more something I have to have the right attitude about in order to enjoy. And that attitude is, for one, not being tired. So we’re gonna see how tonight goes.

It’s kind of interesting. Maybe I haven’t talked about this before on my blog, but I’m straightedge. It’s a punk rock movement that came out of a Minor Threat song back in the 80’s, which was basically combating the then-accepted norm of “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll”. The basic principle was no drugs, no drinking, and no frivolous sex.

Growing up in a family where me and my brothers went to a lot of pop punk and hardcore shows, I had this straightedge mentality kind of pressed into me from a young age. On the whole of it, it’s not that bad of a concept, right? I mean, my parents loved that I wasn’t getting into a bunch of high-school party shenanigans like other kids my age.

Straightedge was a double (straight) edged sword for me, because while it definitely kept me away from doing anything irreparably bad to my body, it also gave me a pretty strong stigma against partying in general. And when I say strong, I mean like… strong. (I was trying to think of a polite analogy to make and none came to mind.)

I thought everyone who so much as touched alcohol was a tool; those who used recreational drugs, sealing their own fates; and anyone who had sex before marriage, deserving of a pregnancy. I’m not proud to admit it, but hey, I was a little douchebag in high school. (You can thank my girlfriend for pulling me out of my own ass.)

Anyway, the point is that up until sophomore year of high school, I really thought drug culture was horrible and everyone in it an idiot. I went to one or two parties, almost like I was going to the zoo, watching the horrible things these people did under the influence of alcohol. I felt so smug.

Then a lot of my close friends started drinking, and I started getting uncomfortable. It’s difficult to maintain the illusion that everyone who drinks is a moron when it’s not people close to you. I had to make a choice to either outcast myself from my friends or to realize that sometimes it just comes down to a personal decision about how to have fun.

Luckily, I made the right choice.

It’s still hard sometimes, when friends get really really shit-faced and do something really bad. It’s especially difficult for me to not try to influence people like my girlfriend away from drinking. But honestly, the prejudice against partying is just like any other form of prejudice – it’s bad, closed-minded, and ignorant.

What does this have to do with clubbing? Why am I asking myself so many rhetorical questions? The answer to both of those is, “I don’t really know.” Clubbing does usually mean drinking, but never that much – after all, we have do drop all those dank moves on the dance floor. But I guess the “club” scene falls to me in the same category as the “party” scene – an awkward place where everyone else is less inhibited than me, drunker than me for sure, and a better dancer/socializer/beer pong champion than me. I find parties are the times where I feel the most introverted – not that that’s a bad thing, just a different thing, and sometimes an uncomfortable thing.

I force myself to go out because, on rare occasions, I have fun at these places. It’s easier if Lindsay is there to make me feel like not so much of an idiot, but it’s always a struggle. Dancing is one of those few activities that makes me feel so self-conscious, so awkward, that I can hardly stand to do it. And that’s all you do at a club.

Shit, maybe I do need to start drinking.

But all jokes aside. I don’t often find that the word “timid” describes me. Maybe it’s just in these situations where I feel completely out of my element. But maybe that’s the point, right? If you feel uncomfortable about a certain situation, every time, you should try to examine what exactly makes you upset, and see if there’s a way to change that. Mitigate it, focus on the part of the experience that you like, try something new in the situation. That’s forward progress, right?

And in the end, it’s never as bad as I make it out to be. It’s just… awkward. But hell, I’m awkward already. So I may as well embrace it.

Here’s to all my awkward anti-socialites. May your legs stay skinny, your dance moves unconventional at best and dangerous at worst. Bless you and your eccentricity.

Yours, preparing for a long night of the white dude shuffle,

-R. R. Buck

Life Counselor #3

(Reed’s Playlist for the occasion: Better Together by Jack Johnson)

Sneaker hug!

I’m hoping you still read these posts. I know you’ve been really busy lately, and I wasn’t ever sure how much you were able to read my stuff, especially because you’re not on Facebook.

To be honest, there are a few people I’m kind of holding back on writing about, even though they’ve been instrumental in the formation of me as a human being. There’s just no way to really, truly explain the tangled mess of things I feel about you all. But shit, I’m gonna give it a try.

When I tell people about you, the first thing I say to them is that you’ve cared for me so much. And I think that’s the right word for it. It’s not just like you loved me, or raised me, or helped me become who I am. You cared for me in that you caught me when you knew I was going to hurt myself, and you let me fall when you knew it was important for me to know the pain. You cared for me in that you watched over every homework assignment, every school play (Seriously, though, why did you film all of “Going Buggy”? Waste of camera memory.) You cared for me in always nudging me towards the right direction, but never forcing me to go there.

You know, it’s funny. When I considered what a parent is and does, I always just assumed this was par for the course. It’s the true hallmark of a role model that, for most of the formative moments, you don’t even realize what they’re doing for you. It’s only time and retrospect that let you see that they were behind you the whole time, supporting and uplifting you.

And I know you know this, but you were not par for the course. The story started pulling apart when I got to college. When I heard about your own family, and their fragmented state due directly to a lack of good parenting. When I heard about how you and Dad waited for decades for a divorce so that we would all be grown up and not ruined by the split. When I heard about a friend’s mother, and how horrible a parent can actually be to their child – even just through negligence or turning a blind eye.

There are so many ways you can parent “wrong”, and only a few that you can parent “right”. And I really think the root of all good parents, those I’ve had the privilege and luck to witness in my life, is that caring.

You always tell me how you’re looking for a person who will be as good to you as I am to Lindsay. That statement kind of breaks my heart, a little bit. Because I care for Lindsay, as I was taught by you. Without seeing the way you loved me, I would have no idea how to love another human being that fully. And God knows if someone deserves to be loved that fully, it’s you.

Every time I speak of you, it’s with admiration. I want to be like you – your responsibility, your gentleness, the ease with which I can approach you. Most of all, I want to care like you. It’s been my goal in life since I ever really started considering what my goal in life should be.

I want you to know how much I love you. I want you to know that you did so well raising the three of us. I want you to know that I believe you’re going to find a person who cares for you the way you cared for us. And I want you to know that on that day, I’m gonna open up a big-ass can of “TOLD YOU SO.”

Thank you, for everything. I wish I could do better than this, but words are all I have right now.

I love you.

-Reedy

Movie Review – It

(Reed’s Playlist for the occasion: I Won’t Say the Lord’s Prayer by the Wonder Years)

Hello and good Tuesday to you all.

Man, it is hard trying to post every day with a full-time job. By the time I get out of work and type up my 1,000 words or so of my current novel, I would rather do anything than write more.

But here I am. Aren’t you lucky?

I’m gonna start trying to make a regular weekly schedule – one that I can actually stick to. Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday will be my posting days. It’s not as much as I’d like, but hey, quality over quantity, right?

…which is why I’m doing a movie review in a writing blog.

Speaking of which, let’s get down to the review. I’m not a very big fan of classic horror movies – my tastes are a lot more Shutter Island than The Ring. But when I hear a movie is getting really good reviews, no matter what the genre is, I try to see it. Well, unless it’s a romance movie; I really can’t stand those.

Anyway, I heard from a lot of people that It was good, and the overall critical review was pretty damn positive. So I bugged a few friends of mine, including those who hate horror films, into going with me. And I have to say, the movie lived up to its reputation.

Now, from what little I know of the book, this version is a lot less dark and significantly shorter. (1,000+ pages into a 135-minute movie just has to be that way.) But, according to a friend of mine who’s read the book, it actually follows it pretty decently, as much as it can.

The cool thing about It is it isn’t just a horror film. Half the movie is this kind of coming-of-age story about a bunch of preteens discovering themselves on the path to adulthood. They all come with their own unique upbringings and their own preconceptions of what it means to grow up, and the events of the movie change that in more ways than one.

It also makes for some nice relief to what otherwise would be a near-constant stream of creepy, disturbing scenes. The child actors are freaking hilarious, and their interactions are a lot more like real middle schoolers’ than I would have expected. They took the kid from Stranger Things and made him this thirsty, sassy little bastard, and even in the most tense moments, he somehow managed to make you laugh and calm down a little bit.

That’s not to say that the movie isn’t dark, or serious. It manages to blend these two genres – the horror and the coming-of-age comedy – into something that throws you into emotional overdrive. And the best part about it, in my opinion – something that I notice in many Stephen King novels – is that the mundane horrors are worse than the supernatural ones. Through excellent writing, acting, and cinematography, the abusive father is so much more real and terrifying than the shapeshifting killer clown. It’s almost like this juxtaposition between what we wish we could fear – something obviously evil like a child-eating monster – and what we have to fear, like the abuse of our own family.

I’d recommend it, unless you really can’t handle horror. It’s not too jump-scare reliant, which is something I hate, and overall it was totally worth the $13 (yeah, movie prices are bullshit now) that I spent on it.

Reed’s Rating: 9/10

Yours, sincerely hoping you have a wonderful day,

-R. R. Buck

Project Update: New Novel

(Reed’s Playlist for the occasion: Tongues by Pepper)

Hey, all. I don’t have a lot of time – I’m in lab and my labmates are trying to get me to go to dinner – but I did want to drop a quick update about the novel I’ve been writing.

If you didn’t check out the first post, I’m trying to write a novel without any sort of planning or outlining done. Instead, I’ll be using three things to guide my novel – a premise, a purpose statement, and one character.

This book is a young adult dystopian sci-fi novel (yeah, I know, I’m writing one of those) that deals with mental health and mental illness in modern society. I think it’s of a lot of timely importance, so I really wish someone better than me was writing it.

Heh. Heh.

But anyway, to the update. As someone who’s planned out all my novels in the extreme so far, I wasn’t very confident that this project would get off the ground without a clear path in my mind when starting. But I’m actually surprised at how well it’s going – I have about 20,000 words down so far and I’m going strong still. I’m enjoying how the writing seems to feel more natural, the pacing a LOT more smooth, than my previous projects have been.

In fairness, there have been a few drawbacks as well. I’m noticing that, without a solid plotline in mind, I tend to ramble and write scenes I can tell immediately will be cut in the second draft. And I also am finding it hard to really know most of my characters from the beginning; it’s kind of like they’re only just now taking form, and the versions of them in the first few chapters are much flatter than they are now. But none of those problems can’t be cured by a good editor and a clear mind during my second draft.

So, basically, it was not nearly as much of a disaster as I thought it would be. I won’t post any material here, because there’s not really a good sample chapter that isn’t a flat beginning, but I will definitely post some stuff after I finish the first draft when I’m starting to work on the second.

You should give this method a shot! That is, if you don’t already.

And that’s about it for the update! Have a great Friday and a relaxing weekend. I know I will; my girlfriend is coming back to LA tomorrow. 😀

Yours, hungry as hell,

-R. R. Buck