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Running late on the topic post

Kino Happy
I was out of state until 10pm last night -- because of a flight mishap, that's 8 hours later than planned. I'm going to do my best to get this up ASAP.

For Jewels

Kino Happy
Good day to all of you, my friends,

* Editors! Your edits are up! Thanks, as always, for keeping the flame alive!
* Readers!  Read and vote here!  There's some great stuff this week!
* Writers!  The Week 3 topic is up!  Check the thesaurus on that topic -- it's much more diverse than I thought.
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LJ on the brain
So my coworker and I are having a debate -- a philosophical discussion if you will. Is you were forced to choose, would you prefer to be a "Poopy Head" or a "Poopy Pants"?

My argument is that the Poopy Head is the higher functioning individual. He is not immediately repellent to others, and so long as he keeps his mouth shut. And yet, a Poopy HEAD is incapable of anything more than he is, whereas the Poopy Pants might find acceptance and love from an open-minded group of people.

So I leave this up to the swarming masses:

Poll #1851352 Poopy Head Vs. Poopy Pants
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 7

Which would you rather be, if forced to choose one?

View Answers
Poopy Head
1 (14.3%)
Poopy Pants
6 (85.7%)
Discussion is invited.


Hammer Time
I'm sorry, everyone, but I've decided that viewing this image is mandatory.

It's a baby giraffe!

::: waves :::

Kino Happy
Hey everyone. Looks like I'm back again.

::: looks around :::

Does anyone still use this thing?

Brigit's Flame "All Stars", Week 2

Brigits Clockwork Heart
Last Wednesday, it snowed buckets. There was well over two feet on the ground.

I called in a personal day at work, then went back to bed. I slept late, saw that it was still snowing hard, and made myself breakfast. I poked around on YouTube for an hour or so.

At noon, the snow stopped, with reports that icy rain would start in at 2pm. I grabbed a snow shovel and -- in my pajama pants, coat, and t-shirt -- shoved my snow-covered door open to reveal the frigid white wilderness beyond. It wasn't until the door shut that I realized I'd locked myself out. "Well, I'm definitely committed to this now," I thought to myself. I assumed that sooner or later Roommate would see me shoveling and come to help, and I put it out of my mind.

Trudging out to the road, I figured that I might as well start where the ground was clear. The wind blew through my flannel pants -- that had been a stupid idea.

So there I was: Shovel all the snow, shovel it now. With the door locked, giving up meant admitting defeat to my roommate. Carpe' Rubbermaid, I suppose. :-)

It's been a long time since I've been in good physical shape, and I began to feel tired very quickly. The muscles in my hips, especially, began to complain. Rest, shovel, rest, shovel, rest. Only I didn't really let myself rest -- every time I stopped, there was this urgent need to go on -- to finish what I'd begun.

Why am I sharing this? Because while I was out shoveling snow, I recovered a small part of myself that I haven't seen in a long time -- the Me of Trials. The more I shoveled, the more determined I got to follow through, to power through this. Soon, I wasn't tired at all: I was clearing areas I hadn't planned on, inventing reasons to work on areas that could have gone without.

Eventually, my roommate joined me; together we piled the snow higher than our heads, cleared out around the mailbox, dug a path to our unused door, swept the porch, and shoveled a section of the driveway that we don't even use anymore. After that, I chiseled out sections of hardened, icy snow that had survived two previous snowfalls, just to be thorough.

When I was younger, this was me: I thrived on adversity, seeking out the things that no one else had the energy or willpower to do. People would tell me that I was nuts! I'd tackle meticulous tasks with glee, as if to prove to myself again and again how strong I was, how able I was to beat all hardships that the world could hurl at me. How I could overcome whatever I needed to in life.

But over the past decade, that spark has faded. My attitude towards the world has changed from "Bring it on, you bastards!" to "Thank you God for giving me challenges today that I can overcome." Either philosophy is perfectly defensible as a way of life. I'll take the former, please.

Ernest Hemingway once said, "If a man had something once, always something remains." So what's it going to take to bring that back into my life? What place must I bring myself to to transform myself from "one who survives" to "one who strives for what they believe in"? Having that within myself was once the single most important part of my identity -- and it kept me alive and thriving through many hard times.

I remember enviously the church that I attended when I was young. It had an old pastor, only a couple years from retirement, with a booming voice that could stir you to the very core. He would clench his fists and proclaim his defiance of the dark lord Satan, while shouting praises to the Lord as the congregation came to their feet, singing and moaning their worship of God.

Man, what I could do with my life if I still had their capacity to believe in something! I envy their ability to come in from the streets, blood alive with purpose, to be shaken by the low sounds of murmured prayers and tears of gratitude: gratitude that something -- anything -- was right, and invincible, and good, and true in this world.

It is because I feel no purpose, and no passion, that I cannot be moved. I have nothing to shout about, nothing to cry about, no one to murmur reverent thanks to. There is no clenched fist, no powerful, low sound, and no tears of gratitude within my potential. My heroes are dead, or their illusions have been shattered. I have no dreams. I believe in nothing. It's like I'm stuck in this video game -- only there's no purpose and no end. No direction.

And that, I believe, is the modern tragedy. The world turning gray, the food is becoming tasteless, and we are growing weaker every day. No one is held accountable. Those who sin are protected by armies of downtrodden wage slaves, walls of obscurity, and form-letter responses. The world is now built in systems: there is no room for heroes; the magnifying glass of the camera sees only scars and blemishes. The waters move slowly, and they crawl over our heads and pull us down. I live in a world full of things that I cannot make, cannot understand, and because of debt and lease, do not actually own.

How, then, can we make this giant stir? And why? And what is the giant? I have no answers.

Brigit's Flame "All Stars", Week 1

Kino Happy
Checking my closet right now, I can see that despite my deliberate and pointed neglect, I still have two of the facecloths left that my mother and her husband gave to me on my 18th Christmas. I keep them because I hate the thought of wasting something useful -- so I wait until I can find a good excuse to throw them out.

They were originally very nice towels -- dozens of them, with dragonfly patterns, moose silhouettes, colorful butterflies, and a hodgepodge others. Some of them were even meant for use in the White House before I received them. They had the official insignia sewn in on the top.

My mother thought I'd love them(I was moving into my new apartment) and at the time, I was still willing to put on appearances. I smiled and thanked her, then put them aside. I supposed I could find a use for them, at least.

The problem is this: They were stolen. Her husband -- who had failed me as a father figure my entire childhood -- had taken them from work, slipped them into his car, and brought them home to give me for Christmas. "Happy holidays, honey! Hope you're not still angry about our kicking you out of the house last February, when my husband told me that either you or he had to go."

The gifts my mother has given me each Christmas since then have been a testament to how small an effort she has made to know who I am or what I stand for. For example:

  • When I was in my early twenties and was exercising very hard to try to lose weight, I asked everyone in my family not to give me any candy or junk food. Everyone honored the request except for my mom, who gave me cookies, homemade chocolate pretzels, and a one-pound box of chocolates.

  • When I was living in my very small three-room apartment with my girlfriend, I let everyone know that I had very little storage space and no room for any large kitchen items. For the three consecutive years that I lived there, I got a giant blender, a huge mixer with a big bowl, and a wok.

  • Mom knew I liked aquariums, so she had a vague idea that I must like fish in general. one year, I got a whole medley of "trout" items, including a trout stapler, trout notepad, and a trout bottle opener (I don't drink. Or fish.).

  • Anyone who knows me well knows I despite cell phones and will never own one unless my job requires me to carry one. She bought me a cell phone for Christmas. She refused to take it back, and she refused to return it to the store. I refused to touch it, and it sat where I put it for months. The following year, I had a friend that was very hard off for money, and I asked if she still had it in the house. She did, but she wouldn't let me have it back anymore.

  • This year, I received my third food processor for Christmas. It's in the basement. I'm considering giving it to my coworker who said she'd like it.

Just so I'm clear: The point isn't that I want great gifts for Christmas. The point is that I don't get a father, and I wish I could have a mother. My mother is more like... an aunt I see on holidays.

When I was very depressed and feeling constantly suicidal in 2007-2008, my grandparents would call me often to check up on me. My friends would also call on a regular basis, as would my fiancee' Jessi. One day, I went shopping after work and came home two hours later than usual. There were seven messages waiting for me, as Jessi and my friends Marion and Charlie became increasingly worried that something was wrong. I'd call in to work because I couldn't face the world, laying in bed all day. I'm come in to work and people would see the look on my face, come up and say "My God, Jacques! Is everything OK?" Mom would never call to see if I was OK.

I've always been very loyal to my Mom, but over the years, I've felt more and more deeply resentful to her. But a year ago, around the time when I proposed to Jessi, I felt that my feelings have been pushed to a new plateau.

It began when I was going to go ring shopping for her -- my mom was too busy to join me. She couldn't make it. Then, on the day when I was going to propose, I wanted to have a little family party to celebrate. Again, she told me she couldn't make it: her second husband's cousin was having a birthday party, and she couldn't miss it. On the phone with her, I said, "Mom, his cousin's going to have many birthday parties. I'm only getting engaged once." Finally, and after enormous effort and uncertainty, they found a way to attend both my engagement part and his cousin's birthday part at the last minute.

Two weeks later was Christmas morning, when my mother, whatever husband she has that year, my brother, and I celebrate a traditional Christmas morning -- just the four of us. This year, my mother decided to invite my brother's girlfriend, who he had been dating for several months. She threw her a full Christmas, giving her more gifts then either I or my brother received. She said she was like her daughter. Jessi, my fiancee', was not invited. Jessi received one small gift later on at my grandmother's house.

The last straw was this: After Jessi accepted the engagement, her mother sent wonderful cards to both my mom and my grandparents. Jessi's mom told them how happy she was that we were engaged, and how much she was looking forward to having them as part of the family. My grandparents were very happy to receive the letter, and they wrote back right away. My mom did not.

After a month without any response, I called and asked her to please write them back. She said she would soon, but she was very busy. I asked her every few weeks for the next couple months, and she always said the same thing.

Meanwhile, her Farmville plot flourished.

Finally, one day, my mom called me in tears. She was writing a paper for college, and she couldn't get Microsoft Word to open it. Over the phone, I calmed her down, then I patiently walked her through installing OpenOffice, converting the document, and accessing it. She was enormously grateful, thanking me many times for the help and saying she didn't know how she could ever repay me.

"Actually, I can think of one good way for you to repay me. You can write back to Jessi's parents."

One month later, and several increasingly angry calls later, she finally wrote them back.

Since then, I've just lost all faith in my mother for anything at all. When we did talk on the phone afterwards, I found that I was always angry -- so much so that I couldn't hold it back. Eventually, she told me that she was sick of talking to me when I was always angry, and she ended the phone call. When I changed my phone number a couple months later, I didn't give her the new number, and I ignored her e-mails asking for it.

Last November, I wrote to her and said I wouldn't be coming to her house on Christmas morning anymore -- that we could meet at my grandparent's and exchange a small gift with each other, but I didn't want anything more.

When I plan my wedding, she'll be invited, but I'm not going to have her involved in any of the preparations, planning, or arrangements. I know I can't count on her, and this is too important to let pass.

A line has been crossed, ultimately, that I don't think can be uncrossed. My mother can tell. She's redoubled her efforts in the last few months, and while I know it should make a difference, I feel no emotional stirrings from her efforts whatsoever. I'm pretty sure that I've permanently, and fundamentally, detached myself from her. It bothers me very much that I feel this way.

It's ironic that while pelethetart thinks of a loving story of her grandmother when she hears the phrase "Take the Cloth", the same words bring into my mind the stolen facecloths my mother gave me for Christmas more than 12 years ago -- and all the anger, frustration, and resentment that they stand for.

This Journal is Closed Indefinitely

A picture I took several years ago of a carousel at midnight on New Year's day.  It's a blur, with an old man in the front looking on.  You can see the old man, looking cold, with white hair and a hat, from behind.

I'll probably still stop in to read your LJ posts from time to time.

LJ Idol Topic Week 15

Kino Happy

Something exploded inside, an eruption of intense sensation that brought Kraven back with a jolt from where he’d been. Arching his back up, he groaned involuntarily from a deep, powerful place inside of himself that he’d never known existed. He lay upon the bed, shuddering, and moved his wide, powerful carpenter’s hand to his head. It throbbed and ached as he rubbed it gently and tried to orient himself. He was aware of a long, steady, and low stream of sound coming from nearby, which slowly formed itself into an electric whine. He thought back, trying to sort his muddled recollections, but found that his mind simply was not working the way he needed it to. A pulse seemed to be dominating him, something churning inside his stomach that called for his attention.

He opened up his eyes to deep shadows all around him and peered forward. At the end of the bed, he saw the slim, shapely silhouette of a woman gently tying bonds to his feet, her head bent over in the labor. Long, delicate strands of hair fell around her face. She moved very slowly and carefully, and he almost smiled a little as he watched her. He tried to speak, but his words came out as a hoarse, breathy whisper. She looked up and watched him as he licked his lips, running his tongue over their rough surface, and swallowed. He chuckled softly, embarrassed at himself, and tried to speak again. She watched him without moving, her cool hand resting softly on his calf as she studied him with interest.

“Why the bonds? Are you the nurse?” His voice was soft, still heavy.

She smiled slightly and moved towards him, swaying her hips as she stepped away from his bound feet. She laid a hand on Kraven's chest, surprisingly strong, and leaned forward towards him. Her blue eyes looked steadily into his with a hint of mischief and held him there for a long, suspenseful moment. She bent forward, moving so close to his body that her hair brushed his bare chest.

“It’s for protection,” she whispered. Her voice was a soft hiss that sent chills down his spine. He felt almost dizzy as they stared a moment longer. Then she drew slowly back, her hand trailing his body as she passed. She moved to his side and grasped his hand in hers, drawing it slowly back to the restraints. He gazed up at her, staring at the rubies of her lips and the pale skin that traveled down her low-cut blouse. He knew an opportunity when he saw one, and he fought against his own sluggish mind.

“My protection or yours?” he said with a grin. She smiled again, a long, closed mouth smile, her lips pressed against each other as she secured the bond. He shifted in the bed, trying to make himself comfortable, but a sharp pain in his chest shook his body, and he gasped.

“Mine.” Her voice was barely a breath, as she reached over for his other hand. He took it, and pulled her towards him. Taken off guard, she stumbled slightly, but she allowed him to guide her to his side.

He pulled his hand back. “Let me keep this one,” he implored, fixing his dark eyes on hers and moving his hand down her arm and on to her hip.

“I can’t. For this,” she said, a shadow falling over her gaze, “I must tie you down.” She leaned forward again, kissing him gently on the inside of his neck, then took his hand back in hers. “Any other way, and I'm afraid.”

His throat rumbled in soft laughter again, and he relaxed and allowed her to bind his wrist. “What are you afraid of?”

“Your death.”

The words startled him. He froze in place, his mind battling through the thick fog that surrounded it for an answer. He remembered driving down the road, tired and relaxed from a hard day’s work, when suddenly a car had swerved in front of him. His vehicle had plunged into the other lane. He’d seen a flash of a car coming his way, the blur of a woman's face, then a burst of light. Then nothing. He lifted his head up and looked at his bare chest, where blood seeped through bandages. His head fell backwards and he groaned with anguish. Still, he felt like it was a dream; he was not ready to believe this was happening.

She came back to him, placing her hand on his cheek and looking at him again sadly. Her words were quiet and low, almost like a soft lullaby. “Sometimes it comes, they say, when the victim dies very tragically. There's a hunger you feel, even at first. It’s more than you can bear. It’s terrifying.” Her hand slid down his chest and she looked at him again.

Kraven pulled at his restraints with all his strength, his biceps straining until his lightheadedness almost caused him to give way to the darkness. “They’re secure. You have nothing to fear from me.” Then a pause. “If I’m dead, why don’t I feel any different?”

She smiled once more, grabbed the edges of the bed, and began to pull up. “You’re still fresh,” she said, desire in her eyes as she climbed on top of him.

His breathing grew faster and his body heaved with arousal. Still, his better nature caught hold of him. “No, this isn’t right. I want it, darling, but it’s not right.” Then he saw the blood on her back and the tremendous gashes that went through her jeans, bones, and tendons, mauling her legs. He looked to his right and saw her empty bed, with the long, flat line of the heart meter wailing beside it. A sudden, almost hopeful revelation struck him.

“You were the girl in the accident!” A flood of emotions filled him. “We both came back from the dead!”

The look in her eyes was a strange mix of guilt, hunger, passion and regret. She took a long, cruel scalpel from a pocket in her shirt. “No,” she said. “Just me.”


LJ Idol Topic 6: Urban Legends

Kino Happy
“It’s like traveling with the vanishing hitchhiker,” Miran said, as his hand clenched the steering wheel. He watched the traffic with a steely gaze that told Soliva he was holding something back. Wind buffeted the car out of the lane as they drove; she listened for a while in silence, absorbing the peaceful feeling of someone else being in charge. The fog began to creep up her window, and her mind wandered as she watched it. She loved the poignant sense of solitude the winter's coming brought. There was something virginal about the world just before the first snow; the sky and earth stretched out long and grey, and the trees stood bare and brave all about. Her mind stretched and felt the air beyond: still, cold and strong. Cars drove by, and she marveled at the fact that no one looked out the windows. Somehow, everyone had become disenchanted-- fixed on the road-- and no longer fascinated by the crystal spires that rose and fell formless on the glass before them.

“Do you have any idea who that is?” Miran pulled Soliva back to his world. She looked at him blankly for a moment, considering.

“No.” She turned away.

“People pick him up, and they drive with him for hours. They look away for a minute, and he just disappears. They always find something left behind- a business card or a piece of paper with a phone number. When they call, the people they reach say the man who was hitchhiking has been dead for years. The hitchhiker was on the news this morning while we were eating breakfast. You were staring at the TV when they were talking! You don’t remember?” His eyes moved between her and the road ahead. Soliva was still looking out the window.

“I’m here, Miran. Just thinking.” Her body showed no signs of tension- she spoke without turning.

Something left Miran then, and he gave up. A mute, heavy feeling filled him as he looked ahead, seeing the future he was beginning to know he could never have. To him, she truly was his vanishing hitchhiker- quietly journeying with him in life for a short time. No pretense or possibility of staying.

He remembered the lonely call he’d once received from her aunt. She asked if he was in touch with Soliva, if he would ask her to call. He’d mentioned it many times, but his words seemed to travel though her. Someday, he knew it would be him calling one of her friends, a number from some scrap she'd left behind. He saw himself reaching out to those that trailed about her, those threads that seemed to fall harmlessly away as she passed on. Being her seemed so light.... so effortless. So fragile. He was terrified for her.

“I think it’d be nice to live like that.” Soliva said suddenly. “I think I’d enjoy his life.”

“You’d like to ride in stranger’s cars all day long?”

Soliva looked at him, disappointed. “He moves. He exists to touch lives, to see their places. They give him kindness and he gives companionship. Nothing more. He’s surrounded by the world and is allowed to just be. It’s a beautiful way to live.“

Miran stiffened, and a new sadness washed over him. He fixed his eyes on the road ahead and shivered involuntarily. Reaching forwards, he turned on the warm air, and the fog and ice cleared from the windows. Soliva sighed, and let herself slip away.

Sep. 3rd, 2007

cooking, Swedish shotgun
This will be mailed to the following address tomorrow:

One Kellogg Square
P.O. Box 3599
Battle Creek, MI 49016-3599

It's something I've been meaning to do for a long time now. I've carried a tupperware container of carefully categorized Apple Jacks in about 30 plastic baggies around with me for two years. It's lived with me in Iowa, Connecticut and Rhode Island, and now it's going to Michigan. Then, when I was thinking about all the adventures I haven't been on too long, I knew I really had to take care of this as soon as I could. It's elaborate, thought-out and really going to confuse everyone at Apple Jacks, because the entire project took me about 4-5 hours and my ex-girlfriend driver8wk (Kristin) about 3 hours. But what's done is done. 'cuz I'm dumb.

Honestly, stuff like this is hilarious to me.

A Complaint about Apple Jacks - Lots of text and many pictures at the endCollapse )

For some reason, all this talk about cereal gave me a huge craving for Spaghetti-Os. Mmmmm......

A story in pictures- MANY pictures

Kino Happy
I am SO totally open to suggestions on new captions for these images.

Medical Emergency: Gatorade BottleCollapse )
Kino Happy
The Fall of the Muse
~Lisel Mueller

Her wings are sold for scrap,
her tiara goes to the museum.
She takes off her long purple gown,
her long gloves.
In her underwear she is anyone.

Even when she is naked, they laugh.
It’s not enough, the shout.
Take out your pubic hair,
mutilate your breasts,
cut off a finger,
put a patch on your left eye.

Now she is one of us.
She laughs the small laugh of the ordinary.
She gives us all equal kisses.
She counts her money at inaugural balls.
She is searched at airports.
She depends on sleeping pills.
She betrays art with life.
She lectures on the catharsis of drivel.
She learns about Mount Olympus from quiz shows.

She moves in a circle of victims;
they make her eat her heart in public.
She has been bled so many times
her blood has lost its color.
She comes on the stage on all fours
but insists that her teeth be straightened.

Democratic, she sits with us.
We share the flat bread of affluence,
the suicidal water;
we kill each other with jokes.
She wears false eyelashes
when she throws herself off the bridge.

A Historic Creation

Kino Happy
"Welcome to life."
"What do you mean?"
"Welcome to living and breathing, loving, hating, pain, ectasy, boredom and ambition. Stuff like that."
"Where am I?"
"Alive. In my lab. Montana. Don't worry about it right now."
"Earth, then. Montana is on earth."
"Montana is made of earth."
"Well, yes. Sorry. I'm a little disoriented right now."
"Unoriented, actally. We'll work on that."
"Unoriented? That's not a word."
"There was never need for it until now. It'll be an official word soon enough- once my report is filed."
"What does it mean?"
"Can you disembowl someone that has never had a body?"
"I suppose not."
"Well, you can't disorient someone that's never been oriented."
"I haven't been oriented?"
"Well, you're in the process."
"Ok. Uh... Who am I?"
"Good start! You're a clone. I made you. You're the first cloned human. A well done one, as well. Sit down, you look pale."
"I... I don't know what to say..."
"Then why speak? Sit, and I'll talk to you for a while. Ah, that's good. I've been employing a new type of cloning that hasn't been tried yet. Instead of growing you from an egg, I've cloned you all at once, you could say. You must be wondering how. Let's just say that you've been grown off of me- a siamese twin, almost. Needless to say, you grew all at once, from flesh to flesh. Your body should feel about 40 years old."
"It's feels a lot older right now"
"Understandable. You're completely organic, except for the brain."
"That's electric. That's why you know so much. I loaded all the information I could think of and find on to you."
"I know that."
"Of course you do. I told you that as part of the information. If you knew it, why did you ask?"
"What's a penult?"
"Excuse me?"
"It's the second-to-last syllable of a word."
"I knew that!"
"If you knew it, why did you ask?"
"Hm.... Point taken. To know something is not necessarily to have that information readily available. Ok! We have a lot to discuss. Although I've made your brain exactly like an organic one in design and given you information, I have not programmed you with humanity, though I can already tell that you are most certainly fully human."
"Why do you say that?"
"You have an attitude. Ok, let's see.. where to start... Ah! Walking down a sidewalk!"
"What do you mean? I can walk. See?"
"Ahh... but it's not that easy. What if there's people on that sidewalk?"
"I'd walk around them?"
"What about before you get to them?"
"I'd walk until I reached them."
"That's not enough! People are very afraid of one another. You have to make sure that you don't scare them."
"What do you mean?"
"You have to act very normally. You have to walk along like they're not even there until you're almost to them, all the while veering in the direction that they're not going. If you look them in the eyes too early, then you're going to make them unconfortable because that will make you two acquainted early with no social rules about what to do. If you look the person right in the eyes, they will wonder why and become nervous."
"That's ridiculous!"
"You just test it out sometime. Try this: Say hi to ten people. Five of them won't answer you- they'll just walk off and pretend they didn't hear."
"I don't believe you."
"You don't have to. Prove me wrong. Humans are always suspicious of one another."
"I still don't believe you."
"See what I mean? Another thing- If you're good at something- don't tell a lot of people. It's much better to laugh at yourself than to tell people how smart you are- unless they think they're very smart too, then they won't talk to you unless you're as smart, or comparable."
"It's true. I'm telling you this because I made you to be more intelligent than most people. You must keep this a secret- use smaller words, don't tell people you're smart and let dumb people try to do things even when you're better than them at it. Otherwise, you're arrogant. When you let dumb people try to do things that you're better at, pretend that they're really smart. Otherwise, you're condescending."
"Wow. A lot of that almost makes sense. It's because the dumb people need to learn from their mistakes and grow like all of us, and because they have a right to try things too, right?"
"Yes and no. They do need to learn from their mistakes and they have a right to try, but the reason you need to let them try is because you need to let them think they really are smart."
"Why would I do that?"
"Because it's rude to point out the weaknesses in others."
"What if that weakness is hurting them and they don't know it?"
"It's none of your business."
"Why can't I talk about how smart I am?"
"Same reason. If you tell someone that you're smart, they may think that you mean that you're smarter than them. They'll feel angry."
"This is complicated. Anything else I should know?"
"We haven't even scratched the surface! When you want to make friends, you have to do it without looking like you're trying too hard."
"Why? Wouldn't someone want to make a friend that was really working hard to be there for him?"
"No. If you work too hard, they will become suspicious, and that will make them nervous. They won't want to talk to you. Also, most people dislike dumb people, but it's wrong to dislike mentally impaired people. You must be accepting of this, but you must like both dumb people and impaired people. In this way, you'll be better than normal."
"How do I act normal?"
"You shouldn't. If you act too normal, then you're boring. People will love you for that ways that you differ from the norm, not the ways in which you act normal."
"So I should act the opposite of normal?"
"No. If you act too abnormal, then you're deranged, or antisocial, or weird, or some other such term. It's bad to be normal and also to be not normal. You must act somewhere in between, even if that's not what you feel."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, for example, If you wake up every morning and bake youself an eggplant casserole and eat it, people will think you're weird, even if that's what you like to eat in the morning. However, if you bake an eggplant casserole the night before and eat some of it, then it's ok to eat some in the morning too. The most important thing is that you don't bake it in the morning."
"Because everyone has agreed that eggplant parmesan is not breakfast food."
"Well, not officially. They've agreed that foods like pastries, muffins, eggs, sausage, pancakes, waffles, cereal, oatmeal and similar foods are acceptable for breakfast."
"What constitutes a similar food?"
"Well, most of those foods have a lot of carbohydrates and sugars in them. Maybe that has something to do with it."
"Would strawberry shortcake be acceptable for breakfast?"
"Well, not really, but it's a lot better than eggplant parmesan."
"Because it's an indulgence."
"But if I wanted eggplant parmesan and I made it, wouldn't that be an indulgence?"
"Yes, but not an acceptable one."
"I'm confused now."
"So am I. Let's move to something else. Ah! Manhood. You're a male. You have to act like one."
"How do I do that?"
"Well, lots of ways. For instance, if you're in pain, it's not acceptable for you to show it."
"Why? Wouldn't it be beneficial to my survival to tell someone when I am hurt?"
"Well, when you're seriously hurt you can."
"Like, if I had a heart attack?"
"Well, you can. Some men tell someone if they have a heart attack, and some don't. Mostly, you don't tell someone if you feel pain, especially emotional pain, if you can possibly bear it on your own."
"Because it proves that you're strong."
"How does that prove that I'm strong?"
"Good question. It doesn't. But if you appear unhurt, then you must be very capable, and therefore you'll be a desireable sex partner."
"Oh! Because I'll pass on desireable genes, right?"
"Well, no one thinks of it that way, but probably. I guess they think a strong person will support them better."
"That makes some sense. Who is they?"
"We'll talk about that part later. For now, we'll say women. We'll talk about women another day. For now, let's just talk about what it is to be a man."
"What else is there?"
"Well, you always have to be wary of being dominated by other men. For example, if you shake a man's hand, they may try to crush your hand with theirs. This is a test of strength."
"How barbaric!"
"It's considered gentlemanly, actually. You can only do this to other men. Women must be treated very delicately."
"Why? Are they delicate?
"Not necessarily. Not unless they allow themselves to become delicate. We'll talk about women later. Now, about men. It's ok to show women affection, but you must show affection to men very rarely, or they will become nervous that you want to have sex with them. Men are always afraid that other men will want to have sex with them. Many, anyways. If you show affection to a man, make sure that you you do it roughly, such as a slap on the back, or by arm wrestling or playing football. Never kiss men. It's ok for women to kiss women, but not so for men."
"Why is arm wrestling a way for men to show affection?"
"Friendly competition brings many males to feel closer. Some men can't do this, though."
"I'm getting confused."
"We'll touch on one more subject, then we'll do more pleasant things."
"How about eating? Can you teach me how to eat some more? I'll be doing that soon."
"Good! Ok, eating. If you're eating at someone's house, you must not eat until they do. Eat your food and say it's good even if you don't like it. Everyone must eat at the same time and leave the table at the same time. If you visit someone's house and they want to pray, you must pray even if you do not believe in God or they will be offended and you will seem unappreciative of the meal they are offering. Do not eat more than anyone else at the table, or less than the person who ate least. If you are not hungry, eat anyways. Do not talk about anything anyone at the table is likely to disagree with. You cannot have a serious conversation while eating. Most people will feel uncomfortable if you ask to help them with the dishes. It's ok to correct children but not adults when they do something wrong, but only if you are closely related to the children and not too often. Do not go home immediately after eating, even if you are tired, or people will suspect that you only came to eat their food, but also be very careful not to stay too late. If you-"
"I don't want to learn all this."
"You have to! You won't be accepted with other people otherwise!"
"Why won't they accept me?"
"People don't trust something if it's different. You must be normal, but not too normal for them to trust you."
"I don't like the sound of people. Can I live here?"
"But I want the world to see you! I created you, and I'm very proud."
"I don't care if you're proud of me. Turn me off."
"I can't! What if you have a soul? Your soul may go to hell if you kill yourself, or ask me to kill you."
"So I have to live, even if I'm miserable, or my soul will be tormented forever?"
"That's what is believed, yes."
"Why did you do this to me? I hate the idea of living! I wish you hadn't created me!"
"I... I didn't imagine you'd feel like this.... I..."
"Well, I do. Do you like your life?"
"I.. guess I do, yes."
"Is that why you created me? Because you like life?"
"No. I created you for selfish reasons."
"What selfish reasons? Am I to be your slave?"
"No! Goodness, no! I created you so that people would remember my accomplishment. I wanted to make my mark on the world."
"You mean, by creating me everyone will know that you've made the world a better place?"
"I never looked at it that way. I guess many people will be furious with me for cloning a human. I may be arrested."
"You must have known that you might be arrested beforehand."
"Yes, but knowledge of something does not necessarily mean that knowledge is readily available. I pushed that risk to the back of my mind. I wanted to make my mark in history."
"What will that do for you?"
"Make me proud, and make my idea immortal."
"But cloning could be used for evil, right?"
"I hadn't thought of that."
"Why do I feel short of breath right now? Am I having a heart attack?"
"No. You feel angry. Come. Let's have some food."
"Yes. Lets. I don't like this feeling. Will eating make it go away?"
"No, but it passes the time, and time will heal your mind."
"Very well, then."




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