Another quick post with a bit of previously-published flash. This one, a writing challenge but one with a twist. The challenge/prompt was a picture of a stone archway. There was no specified theme other than having something to do with the archway. 

Beyond

© 2015-2018, E. J. D’Alise

Looking up from her chores, she watched the sun rush to meet the horizon. She stopped working and made her way to the archway. Standing a few feet from the ancient stones, she felt the breeze at her back pick up as it did every night at sunset. She watched the rays of the setting sun illuminate the arch. The thermal currents gathered strength,  the breeze turning into a wind pushing as if wanting her to step through and beyond. 

Leanne Cole does a weekly Monochrome Madness post consisting of all monochrome (mostly B&W) photos submitted by users each week. It’s not a contest, but a place for photographers to show their B&W work; anyone can submit photos and it’s also a good place for seeing what can be done when it comes to B&W. 

At the beginning of each month, the submissions are supposed to follow a theme and for next week — Monochrome Madness No. 216 — the theme is Season(s)

This has put me in a bind of sorts . . . you see, when I do these themed posts, I tend to cycle through multiple choices for what I could offer and — of course — that’s what I did last year when Monochrome Madness had the theme of Season(s) (see THIS post and the associated monochrome madness,  MM 4-15).   In fact, the above is my submission for last year’s Season(s) theme. It done uses up shots I could have used.

I’m in a time crunch and so I’ll post another one of my previous flash/short stories in lieu of coming up with amazing and original prose. It’s a story that’s buried in a post about writing and so unlikely it’s been read by many. Hope it’s enjoyable. 

Guido takes a walk
Copyright 2015-2018, E. J. D’Alise

It had been a long day, the third in a row. Guido looks at the sofa; so inviting. He then looks at the TV. He was halfway through streaming the Claymore series episodes.

He looks to the window . . . raindrops are leaving streaks on the outer pane. Sighing, Guido puts on his hat and slicker, grabs the keys, and heads out. He holds little hope of success; it’s been a week since he last had a glimpse, and even then he’d not been sure.

As he steps out, the drops seem to converge on him. He looks up . . . just darkness. He looks both ways and then decides to head north. He’d be walking into the wind, but at least the rain would be at his back on the way home.

There are always good days and bad days.

I seldom never speak or write about bad days. 

What?! You complain all the time!” some of you would say.

Oh, I see the problem now; some of you confuse emotions with feelings. 

OK, I’m about to insult some people (perhaps, many people). If you are a person who tends to confuse the two, you’re likely a person who doesn’t dwell much in introspection and understanding yourself. 

But, before you write me off completely, hear me out.

Me writing an opinion about one thing or another is usually spurred by an emotion; anger. Something I hear might piss me off and that spurs action . . . I write about what pissed me off and why it pissed me off; my justification for being angry.

On the face of it, most people don’t like change. This isn’t a scientific statement; it’s just my impression.

I’m sure one can find articles arguing for or against that view but my experience is that people don’t like change. 

I’m ambivalent about change. There are a lot of things I would like to see changed. I also don’t mind things changing when the change is for the better. However, my experiences made me wary of change and, as a general rule, I’m pessimistic of it.  

Meaning, I’ve seldom experienced change strictly for the better. Something might be “improved” to fix one problem but in the course of “fixing” something, two or three new problems are introduced. Moreover, I get a sense of dread when something is changed for the specific purpose of “improving” it. 

As previously mentioned, software companies are some of the worst offenders . . .

There’s a narrative that has been irritating me more and more each passing day. It’s something I used to believe. It’s something that’s is at the cornerstone if not the entire foundation of our country’s identity. 

It’s the idea that all you need to succeed is to work hard. That’s it. Work hard and the world is yours . . . so says every successful person in the world. 

Let me tell you a secret. A secret that the majority of people intuitively know. That view is the stuff that comes out from right under the tail of a bull. 

That’s not to say that hard work is not a part of the overall mechanism of success. 

Let me give you an extreme example. Say I play the lotto (I do). Say I happen to defy the 1:272,000,000 odds and win a jackpot (very and extremely unlikely). I might be then tempted to say I worked very hard at never missing buying a ticket. I might even say that deep down I always “knew” I would someday win and that’s why I persevered. 

A few posts ago, I mentioned Wabi-Sabi and how tourists value “hand-made” trinkets over mass-manufactured trinkets. But, how does one know if something is man-made by a true artisan of the culture or man-made by cheap labor in a third world country?

Some of the hand-sewn Hawaiʻian quilts one can find in local shops are hand-sewn but imported from elsewhere. Plus, sewing machines can now be programmed to produce irregular stitches making it seem as if the product was hand-sewn. 

Soon — if not already — automation will be good enough to mimic the imperfections of humans. In fact, AI-driven machines may surpass human ability to make something look like it was made by a human. 

It’s a bit ironic, don’t you think? If some artisan slaves away at making something and by sheer determination and skill manages to produce a flawless product, people might think it was mass-produced. Clams face the same issue when making pearls. 

This being Sunday (I think — I’m writing this on Wednesday) I thought I’d keep it light and reward the few new readers who stop by with something from back in 2015 when I did a post about Romance. You don’t need to click and read it because I’ll bring in the funny bits from it. 

First off, I tried my hand at writing traditional romance. Note: I edited and changed the name of the horse from PileDriver to Destiny. That’s because in the process of responding to one of the comments I realized that was a much better name. Anyway, here goes . . . 

Disperser Writes Romance

© 2015-2018 E. J. D’Alise

The wind kept Bafio’s hair from blinding him as they raced atop the black stallion, Destiny. Unfortunately, Bafio’s hair lashed at Iofna’s face as she tried holding on for dear life while sitting behind him. Her arms barely encircling his sculpted torso, she wished he hadn’t shaved his chest hair. At least that way she would’ve had something to grab onto. Iofna buried her face in the crevices formed by his also sculpted back muscles and pleaded for him to please stop.

I mentioned views and likes and comments . . . what I didn’t mention is that I tag all of the Project 313 posts the same: doodles, humor, photographs. Nothing else. 

This goes against what most people advise as far as increasing traffic to your blog. You want to let potential readers know if they might find something of interest in your blog. Plus, you know, if someone is looking for humor, they might be surprised at finding 300-400 words dealing with serious and often depressing subjects. Where’s the humor, they ask. Well, there’s always a cartoon, but it’s like dieting so you can have an extra piece of chocolate after dinner. You won’t enjoy the dinner and the chocolate is not enough. 

I suppose I could change the tags, but that too can be misleading. Unless dealing with a specific subject, it’s difficult condensing the content of a post into one or two tags. 

I just looked and I have 1,330 blog posts and over 2,300 tags. I don’t think I actually have 2,300 different topics I’ve covered, so that’s more a matter of me being sloppy with the use of tags. That’s another thing they tell you when advising blogger what to do for increasing readership. 

I’ve recently got reminded of Wabi-Sabi. Boy, if only the publishing industry accepted the idea, I’d be in great demand and have my stuff swamp everyone’s lives. Come to think of it, if that aesthetic concept had any merit, my blog would be the N0. 1 stop of the blog-reading public. 

On the other hand — as it seems primarily a Japanese culture aesthetic — it just could be I’m in the wrong country or continent. 

For them not familiar with the concept, Wabi-Sabi attests to imperfection and transience as having inherent value if not outright desirability. Based on the idea that nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect, the concept seems — at least from my non-Japanese perspective — very conducive to the appreciation of the world as is and valuing our differences instead of condemning them as flaws.  

Interestingly, many people instinctively apply the concept . . . hand-made things are often valued more than mass-produced items specifically because you can see the imperfections. The uniqueness of those imperfections creates a value beyond that of the object itself.

There’s been an interesting depressing shift in the way people discuss, report, debate, or otherwise explore pretty much any topic. 

I don’t know how many people know Ray Dalio . . . well, I don’t “know” Ray Dalio either. I’ve read some of what he’s written, watched a few of his videos, and did some light research on the man. None of that matters here because I’m sure if people are interested they will do their own research. I also want to stress I’m not a critic of the man and I’m not a fan of the man . . . like I said, I don’t know enough about him. 

. . . but I read something he wrote and it struck me how much it encapsulates the social, political, and economic states we find ourselves in. Here’s what I read . . . 

“It pays to negotiate by finding out what the other party wants most and try to give it to them and to have them reciprocate rather than to find out what will hurt the other party and give that to them because little wars have a tendency to quickly get out of control to become big wars and anyone who has ever gotten into a big war wishes that they hadn’t because they are so horrible.”

I’m cutting this close . . . This is supposed to go live in less than three hours. 

I was a bit distracted by something odd; I had many, many messages letting me know of “likes” to the previous post. And all of them from readers with weird long names . . . and all of them from Russia. I had over fifty notices of “likes” and the visit map showed the majority were from Russia. I occasionally get one or two views from there so this jump was . . . different. 

As I write this, all them “likes” and “views” have since disappeared. I assume WordPress took care of something or other that was happening. Still . . . I now have to wonder if I’m about to get elected President. 

Anyway, as I’m late in writing this, I thought I would copy and past one of my many flash fiction pieces since I got such a tremendous response to yesterdays fiction . . . not!

I mean, I knew from experience that my fiction gets minimal views, so it wasn’t a surprise and as the following is a rerun, it’ll draw even fewer pair of eyes. 

An Ordinary Hero

Copyright 2014-2018, E. J. D’Alise

The farmhand lifted his hand, shielding his eyes from the glare of the sun. He looked around. His adopted parents were working another part of the field, and his step-brother was getting a drink from the well.

This post is long (but less than 1,700 words) because it incorporates a short story. It’s fiction. Flash fiction. It’s the first fiction I’ve written in months. It’s kind of silly and not that well-written, but just ride the notion of it and don’t look at the vehicle too closely. 

Here goes nothing . . . 

New Kid in School

© 2018 E. J. D’Alise

Dean waved at his mother as, by agreement, she left him at the curb and drove off. First day at a new school was bad enough, but to be accompanied by his mother would make him an immediate target.

Other students were also being dropped off and most paired off or joined existing small groups heading toward the front door. Showing a confidence he didn’t have, Dean merged into the flow; the new kid in school heading into the high school already in the middle of the school year. He knew from experience it wouldn’t be easy. 

I learned a new acronym . . . FoMO. Apparently, it’s a common condition suffered by many of today’s digitally connected individuals. 

For them not in the know, it’s Fear of Missing Out

I’ve done some reading and to me — the amateur observer of the human condition — it seems no different from something I’ve noticed all my life. Meaning, people have a desire to participate in and/or experience events. This desire is especially strong if two conditions are present; if the event is deemed more interesting than one’s life and if the people involved are deemed more interesting than ourselves. Underlying this desire is another desire; the desire for attention and/or recognition. 

I do think the advent of the InterWeb and social media has amped up the FoMo anxiety.

It’s Sunday . . . well, not as I’m writing this, but I’m projecting. Sunday is one of the two days each week when we don’t visit the gym. 

Statistically, it’s also the day of the week the blog (this blog; not other blogs) receives the fewest views. 

I’m debating whether I should reward my few readers with some of my deep thinking or reward my few readers with a day free of any deep thinking . . . hmm . . . decisions, decisions. 

You know what? I think most readers would appreciate a shorter post.

You are welcome.

And now, the photo: