Category Archives: writing exercises

Elitism and Confirmation Bias

Classism and elitism bring with them a whole set of blinders that people don’t know they have or don’t care they have. Elitism comes in many forms, from intellectual, dietary, monetary, bloodline, social class, race, religion, experience, politics, location, work, title, or simple arrogance. But what they have in common is the disdain of one or more other groups or people because they are less than in some way.
The owner of a company that considers his employees less than him and nothing more than cogs serving his wallet does not see a problem in his behavior. For him, his time is worth more and his skills are better because he deserves where he is for some reason. He may think he worked hard for it or has better breeding, or better education, or better skills. Sometimes he just thinks he is better and more worthy or obviously they would be where he is.
Recently I had dinner with a vegan group on the other side of town. The food was good and the people nice but several conversations reminded me of others I have had and I was struck once again by the inherent classism in many vegan groups. Maybe it’s the type that tend to form the groups but there is a blindness to the basic need for a reasonable amount of money to afford the ingredients to support a healthy diet or alternately the storage space and transportation to make your own alternatives. The idea that a Sam’r membership was out of my reach and that I share a small apartment with 4 strangers and no ac was beyond their comprehension. The expensive meat alternatives are simply not in my budget. I use mushrooms and other things when I can afford them but when I am offered a good, healthy free meal I accept meat or no meat. The snide comment that I would grow a better backbone as I grew older does not make me want to be rude to my friends or go hungry, it just assumes I have the funds to eat how I prefer.
As a gamer I interact with a lot of random people of all types and it is interesting to me how different the response is from active game groups to some things that other groups I deal with. Maybe because we are so mixed and we have a different perspective because of it. But at work I always get shocked or degrading comments about my neighborhood and how unsafe it is. Many of them are racist in nature but most are economic because I am near the low income housing in an inexpensive area. On the other hand when the group at game heard I walked to the game because I lived nearby the general response was jealousy because they loved the area and all the stuff available there. It was a completely opposite response and one based in a different perspective.
The same variance in views occurs in various groups I visit or interact with around the world. A lot of them fall into various forms of confirmation bias and the tendency to disregard information that does not agree with you. Sometimes I get the impression is is an arrogance based in fear of failure and weakness. Sometimes they genuinely think they are better and that is why they have more. Sometimes they don’t even realize they act that way.
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Abecedarian Collection

This first one can also be seen on Writers digest in the forum https://www.writersdigest.com/prompts/abecedarian
Writing our Minds (A Poem in 27 Lines)
Abnormalities are the normal place for writers who
Began their path through experiences and stories.
Cars provide a private space to tell a story to yourself
Doing nothing but the composting of the writing process.
Eaters of experience we reach
Frankly for the reality of the world
Going inside our minds and stories to find the
Hero that can touch our heart and expand our world.
Indigo or blue we wonder as we debate our use of
Jargonistic phrases and obscure terms.
Kelp waves gently under the surface of the ocean like our stories.
Limbs on a tree reach for the sun and we see
Money and industry, life and lovers, history and future
Naively seeing the tree and all that happens under it like an
Orifice opening to show us glimpses of life with pains and
Paeans that ring out in our minds both loud and
Quiet in their passion.
Radicals and racists
Sadly showed their violence in those branches.
Tall in the night the tree remembers lovers sprawled
Under the sheltering canopy of leaves.
Vassals shared their meals under these branches.
Wind blew across teachers and students in the afternoon sun.
Xenophyles, we reach across the world through the leaves of a tree.
Yielding ourselves to the stories told in the wind and the bark we
Zone out of reality and into our pen.

The Bus to Work

Around 6 am I leave my room and catch a
Bus rattling and jerking its passengers to their jobs and homes.
Casual observers see people bored and irritated
Deep in their own spaces, phones, needs, and fears.
Examination shows otherwise.
Friendships are made on the bus.
Groups share space each day of their lives.
Haphazard groupings linked by shared routs.
Individuals that know the daily habits and patterns of the others.
Just as they know idiosyncrasies and dreams of their bus rout companions.
Kindness to strangers vies with the need for distance in confined space.
Languid tourists join the groups in passing and roll luggage down the aisle.
Mild mannered introverts read or watch the city pass.
Noisy extroverts converse across the aisle and over the seats.
Obvious homeless clutch their possession and warily watch
People passing too close for their comfort.
Quickly passing stops keep the flow of conversation new and fresh.
Respect for personal space varies by need as the bus fills.
Strangers stand shoulder to shoulder and smile awkwardly.
Tense individuals try for isolated seats and physical barriers.
Unnecessary anger surges when paranoia threatens.
Very patient strangers step in to sooth or eject ruffled emotions.
Wide gaps of experience and lives interact in a tourist city bus.
Xylocarp smells waft from lotions, lunches, drinks, and grocery bags.
Yes, the bus is a microcosm of society interacting and living together.
Zonal interactions confined to a movable space within society.
2019
Analysis
Becomes
Cultural
Dissonance.
Empty
Fabricated
Geoeconomics
Hurl
Intoxicating
Justifications.
Kneejerk
Lies
Manipulating
Nakedly
Opportunistic
People
Quickly
Retelling
Stories.
Tenuous
Unrelenting
Victimization
Worsens
Xenophobic
Yearning
Zealots.

Alone

Living alone in a city I have only been back in for a couple months I joined several groups to keep active and around people, and to hopefully make some new friends. But sometimes it is really hard to get out the door and join a group of people and smile and be social. Usually I feel better after, if very tired. Social activities leave me tired and both drained and restored.
This week has been a particularly challenging one for that. I am not ready to face my emotions and thoughts around the insight and choices in front of me. Writing has been difficult and drawing just hasn’t happened. Sometimes I am very calm because I did find the insight I needed. but often I’m just numb.

I spent today playing video games. I don’t do that often, it’s a waste of time. But I just couldn’t get myself ready for a group. If the morning one hadn’t cancelled I would have gone to coffee with them but after that…it just wasn’t happening.
I’m not upset anymore, not right now. I have a life to live and anyone that wants to be a part of it knows where I am. But I am remarkably grateful I am here in the place I chose and have the ability to wait it out. I can be at peace while I work through the thoughts and emotions and act when ready. In the meantime , I am living again not just surviving.
Money is short and I am lonely but I am active, doing things I enjoy and things I believe in, I am working, I am growing things, and I have a room to live in that is clean and simple. I game, volunteer, cook, swim in the ocean, read, sew, meet people, and meditate. It is enough to live and I will recover.

Weight

What do you say when your emotions have given up trying to keep up and you are just tired? It is hard to write and hard to think beyond the basic tasks in front of you. Your mind hovers, not stopped but unwilling to
touch the items pending and straining like a weighted cloud over you. The world around you is heavy and distant like you are working through a perfectly clear morass. Nothing directly hurts but your body aches like you have just finished a hard
day of martial training and bruised and strained everything. You aren’t sad or angry because that would focus on it and take an effort you just can’t muster. Motivation drains away like someone pulled the drain plug and if you manage to think of things to do it is a constant effort to actually do them.
Numbness is much worse than sadness or anger. Numbness comes
after the pain and anger and saps you of the strength of will to do something
about it. You know what is happening. You know what you need…well sometimes you do. The problem is you can’t pin it down and act on it. Even focusing on the thought is like holding a giant jelly ball that won’t be still. You feel the wrong size for the world around you and like you are moving the wrong speed. Your hair feels wrong and the world sounds too far away.

These are often times you don’t recognize yourself in the
mirror or can’t think of things about yourself. Good things bring a moment of light or lifted weight but it can’t hold it off you long enough to get free. Certainty that things are going wrong or will go wrong grows and the thought is more resigned than warning. Someone that normally stand up to anything and can go through anything can be stopped in their tracks by this weight of
depression. These are the ones least prepared for it and least sure how to
cope. Most likely there is an actual physical component that should be treated involved but they are very unlikely to seek the help they need.

Connection

It seems every time I write lately what I write about comes up in what I read the next day and what I read about comes up in the talks at meditation. Not the topic and action that I start on, the deeper parts.
Today I wrote about a moment that changed everything. The story meandered through the past and the memories of my husband and moments of impact.

It ended with a thought about his calm acceptance of what everyone sees as my sudden decisions. I was trying at one point to explain how they aren’t really sudden even if they are. After leaving the Lanai to catch the bus home I went back to reading.

The chapter I read was The Third Thing. It talks about this very topic. That when you are torn between two things you need a third thing. Two things is not a choice. But a third will come and balance things out, offering the way forward. It appears sudden but it is the culmination of the process that the two things created.

my first meditation session with this group they talked about dealing with intense emotions and sadness. I cried on the way there and going to sleep for several nights before.
The next time we talked about what is and the whole talk meshed into what I read the days before. I had been reading Writing Down the Bones. The idea of using writing meditation as a path to not following the thoughts and emotions when sitting meshed interestingly into the talk about sitting.
The last thing I read before one session was that a well that dashes about cannot draw water. We cannot do happiness, it flows through us in our stillness. I was a few minutes late and sat in stillness with the group. She talked about ending suffering and sharing love. We talked about enlightenment being a moment to moment thing not a permanent state. The balance of mind, and the four keys. She talked about the calm acceptance of what comes that you feel in enlightenment.
Saturday we sat on the ridge through the day. I was at a crossroads in my mind and emotional state. I had one of those two choices that need a third way. I didn’t realize that is what I needed. But in stillness I found a moment of peace and acceptance of what is. it didn’t change the situation but it let me see what is and reach a new possibility.

I went to the meditation Sunday lonely and sad but more at peace. Leaving , when she hurried over, obviously she had somewhere to be she was putting off, to give me a flower it struck a light in me. I’m not alone even if I have no close connection here. We are all one and connected. It is enough.

I don’t know what now but I do know I will be here for it.

An Office Divide.

Politics, the great divider. It is interesting that the thing designed to run our society and equitably distribute power is seen in people’s minds as a way to control power and ensure their way which they know is the only right way is done. People argue and discuss, fight and work without hearing one another or understanding the reasons.

Compromise is not always the
answer, often you cannot compromise and move forward. When you continuously compromise with one that is extremely wrong you move gradually closer to that wrong. The person with the destructive plan may have other good concepts and desires, may care for their family and friends, may stand as a beacon in some things. None of that in any way changes a destructive or hateful trait that must not be allowed to dominate a society.

Early morning discussions of politics in the office almost always devolve into arguments and disagreements that fall back on irrelevant statements that misdirect from the discussion and inflame responses by sounding taunting and snide. That does not lead to understanding but people are not trying to understand they are trying to win. Politics is about wining and it is reaching into every area of life.

Outside the team is working too hard to have these discussions unless they do it on lunch. But in the office you hear these most days. The same men that talk about wanting to hang a basketball court to prove to the crew that they are better at physical stuff because they can play a sport and entertain themselves with sports all day bring that same mindset into a political or racial discussion. The boss that firmly believes each race can be categorized and slotted into a work and skill level will argue politics on any topic with no regard for human decency because in his mind they are the other. Throwing fallacies, irrelevancies, and false information into arguments is common in discussions and it prevents any of them from actually becoming a
discussion.
Living in Texas religion and politics were intricately tied together and one rarely was discussed without the other. Here in Hawaii it is different. Not that people’s religion does not affect their political stances but discussions are different and even when directly opposed there is often a smile in the voice and an underlying knowledge this is someone I like even if we disagree. One man in my office is incredibly religious and blatant about it. His religious stance is drastically different than mine but unlike the similar stance people I was around in small town Texas, here we not only get along well and work together but we only discuss it when on non-confrontational topics. There is a customer that is of an opposing faith that brings it up on most calls and
insists there is religious discrimination happening. The interesting point is that none of us knew his religion until he started doing that and we never discuss religion in the office.
I often have lunch with the crew working the warehouse that day and discussions with them are about life, working, playing, the island, families, and what we are doing to earn money on the side. We discuss the future and our goals. We discuss how people eat and live and the cost of living. Politics is a side note that is discussed only as how it impacts people. Religion isn’t discussed often. Some of the office people understand that and discuss it with an attempt at balance and compassion but that can be a challenge.

This is the difference, politics as a discussion or power or politics as a discussion of impact.

Just writing

Chill air from the AC feels like it is cooling my bones in my bare arms. The odd wavering drone of the long flat ceiling mounted unit above my head can be felt in my head where the pressure from the back of my neck is trying to produce a migraine. The first thing I do on arrival is reach
up and lift the vent to direct more of the air away from my desk. I didn’t move to Hawaii to be cold. Pulling on my hoodie the soft fuzzy interior brushes my arms lightly with a silky softness that doesn’t really match the heavy grey exterior. Staying on track when writing has been a challenge so I have started using the Shut Up and Write group as a place to do writing exercises and practice just writing or specific skills in writing. Some of them I post here, some of them I don’t. My primary goal write now is to write, and when that isn’t happening, to draw. I practice tones, descriptions, PoV, and styles. I practice topics, timing, speed, focus, freeform, and themes.
I get the exercises from writing magazines, talking to writers, reading books about writing or comments from writers, a few came from online. Some are hugely helpful, some just keep me writing. I am once again
building a collection of scenes and moments, thoughts and characters, lines and stories that are swirling in the back of my head trying to become a coherent story. Like Sir Pratchett talked about it is still like standing on a mountain looking across a valley and seeing only the highest peaks as you slowly lower the clouds and reveal more and more spots until the whole valley is cleared and coherent. I have a sense of it but it isn’t clear to my coherent mind yet.
The light in this room is adequate but dimmer than it seems. When you enter from good light you see the off tinted dingy feeling light that lends the old white walls a greater age than they have. Highlights in grey and tan increase this rather than combat the sense of tired efficiency. A quiet competence fills the space but radios and videos play here and there, competing for attention from a group that each has different interest and taste. A mix of rushed immediacy, detail specific, and relaxed tolerance pervades the workspace with a tension born of loose structure blending with OCD details. A need for a constant inflow of cash means an urgency touches everything and errors are a risk so the tolerance may be natural but it is pressed back out of necessity.
Doing more, being more places, being around more people, seeing more things – all of this feeds my writing. When I hide in a hole and see no one I can’t write. Writing for me is visceral in a way that requires experience and sensation. The feel of the sun as I walked down the hill from my car to the office at the garden was a pure experience that inspired a myriad of sensations and thoughts, memories and questions. Watching the people swarm at the intersections in Waikiki with their chattering noise and bright colors like
plumage of birds on display inspires amusement, observation, stories, loneliness, comfort, anxiety, and memories. The birds diving out of the tree for bugs in quick short swoops reminds me of the kittens learning to hunt and the bees moving between flowers. Each thing is a host of trains and streams of consciousness that arise from the scent, the sound, the colors, the pattern, the words, and
the moment.

Why do I Write ?

Today, another writing exercise. This is a sort of stream of consciousness based on what is around me and a question. It is unedited and random.

Why do I write? That is an interesting question, and one I
am not certain I can fully answer. I write to express myself. I write to get
the words out. I write to remember. I write to describe. I write to share. I
write to heal. I write because writing is part of who I am. I am not writing
but writing is and writing is happening. As Writing the Bones said “writing is
writing.
The sun is out. The ac is on. Heat wraps around you with a
wet blanket. It isn’t hot like I remember as a child. The stifling, heavy heat
that press on you and pushes tendrils into you sapping all your energy is
pervasive in Texas and Louisiana. The damp heavy air makes the heat oppressive
as it nears or passes 100 degrees. Mosquitoes and gnats swarm and bite causing
you to bleed and itch into your dripping sweat. Plants wilt in the sun and
often in the shade. You can’t water during the day or you burn them but you
have to water or many plants will die from the heat and dehydration. This same
dehydration will hit you if you spend to much time out in it when hiking,
working, camping, walking, or playing. People frequently fail to notice just how
dehydrated they are. In some areas the dry air draws the moisture out of you. In
others the heavy, wet humidity causes you to sweat it out.

A pounding echoes through the shop as the crew loads and
unloads materials and preps those that need pre-assembly or dismantling. Hearing
the sound outside the glass door my mind tries to picture what they are doing
and what equipment they are working with. I am uncertain what crew is here
today, although I have seen several of them coming in for equipment or paperwork.
Having taken the time to get a tour of the shop I know what equipment we supply
and assemble here. It helps me to follow the calls and conversations around me
if I know the materials we are working with. Having grown up on construction
sites and reading blueprints all the details make sense but the names are a
blur and a mystery. I don’t remember names. I remember the sounds of metal
alloys as they are worked or hammered. I remember the sounds or the specific
tools. I remember the smell of sawn wood and how the acrid touch of arsenic
touches the treated boards lending a different smell than the white pine or the
rich cedar smell.