Strip Minecraft

Moorelove
See that right there?

Lilibeth
Yeah, okay… Hey, you! We’re playing Strip Minecraft in ten seconds so get your act together. Check body parts and undergarments at the loo.

Oren
I’m in.

Lilibeth
Pour yourself some wine. It’ll be extra fun if we all get smashed.

Oren
Thanks.

Maggie
Wait, what are we stripping?

Lilibeth
Yourself. I hope you’re wearing a lot of underwear. I want a slow buildup of tension. You in, baby?

Moorelove
Absolutely. Let me finish setting up and I’m all yours.

Lilibeth
If your tongue finds its way into your partner’s mouth, we will not look away. Maggie, you good to go?

Maggie
I’m … I …

Lilibeth
Come on now, you’re married. We know you do it. It’s just that now you’ve got a live studio audience.

Oren
C’mon, it’ll be fun.

Maggie
I am not sure where this is going. I am not into the kinky stuff.

Lilibeth
Married couples making out is so hot. It’s like love, commitment and lust. If I had a penis, I’d have a boner right now just thinking about that.

Maggie
It’s a bit personal. I think it’s most appropriate for the bedroom. I’m a lady.

Moorelove
If you’re ladylike you’re not doing it properly.

Oren
Amen! What’re the rules, first of all?

Lilibeth
I’ve never played Minecraft before so I’ll make it simple. If we build something you take off something. One item per pair, per turn.

Oren
When is it over?

Lilibeth
When his face is buried in my crotch and my eyes are rolling over in my head.

Oren
Game on!

Maggie
Wait. I don’t want to be the subject of gossip back home or read about this on social media. If my crochet group found out, I’d be salted.

Lilibeth
Margaret, we are all adults here. Who cares what we do in a dark room while drunk? God, you’re uptight.

Full Penetration

Lara
I think I get it.

Jupiter
Tell me what you get.

Lara
He wanted a motorcycle. A motorcycle is easy to handle. Easy to fix. Within easy reach. It’s small. You can lift it. I’m not a motorcycle. I’m a mini Concorde. I need lots of fuel, a flight path, schedule and crew. I’m hard to get but once I’m got I can’t be got rid of.

Jupiter
So you’re saying his type is low end?

Lara
No. I’m saying she’s easy to get along with. I am the opposite. I don’t listen, I’m opinionated, arrogant and I’m usually right. He can overwhelm his type. With me it will take too much effort. Being financially constrained and dependent on others for sustenance, I had no choice but to be nice to everyone. I had to swallow my pride and bury my feelings. There is a freedom in being well off and exclusive to a few people. The results of the first one week experiment penetrate fully now.

Jupiter
Your expression tells me you’re not fine with the outcome.

Lara
It’s just that I feel judged because he didn’t want me. I felt like he was telling me I am not good enough for anyone at all. The entire planet worships blonde bombshells. I’m already at a disadvantage. I feel pain because of that.

Jupiter
Do you want him to apologise to you for his preference?

Lara
I don’t want him to say I’m worthless.

Jupiter
Why didn’t you see all this in our session three weeks ago?

Lara
My pride was hurt. I really mind being seen as worthless because of what I look like.

Jupiter
Other insights?

Lara
The passivity is deliberate, I realise. I flirted with every man I came across. I pretended I wanted to sleep with them because I wanted to be fed.

Jupiter
Did you enjoy dating in this altered state?

Lara
No. It was wreaking havoc on my real social life. I had to say no to a night out and a fun weekend trip with my friends. I needed to not spend the money and yet I felt a power in trading my outspokenness for meals.

Jupiter
Why not tell your friends? Let them look after you. It’s the easy way out.

Lara
I wanted them to think my fresh new body and youthful energy were doing everything for me. I didn’t want people feeling sorry for me.

Jupiter
Did you feel good about being desired?

Lara
Yes. It was a good feeling. On day seven, I went to a cocktail party for a client just for the food and a tall good looking Russian patted my bum at the buffet table. I felt confident that it was because I was blonde and skinny. I introduced myself because it was an opening for a dinner invite. We chatted for a bit and made out in his limo while he was giving me a lift home.

Jupiter
Did you feel coerced?

Lara
I was really attracted to him. He’s the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. He asked for my number and we met a few times. He spent time talking to me about his problems. Of course, I slept with him too but the point was that I listened without interrupting because I wanted his charity more than his respect. I took a risk towards the end of the week. I told him I’m a natural brunette, I’ve had plastic surgery and I’m in therapy for self esteem issues. He immediately handed me the keys to an antique dealership on Thirteenth Street. As it turns out, he already recognised me, based on my work with his best friend and wanted to be business partners. He thought that this slutty deluxe persona was satire, so he was playing along at the party. I completely misread the situation. How weird is that?

Jupiter
It wasn’t “weird.” You were not focused on outcomes. Anything could happen.

Lara
The first week, I had to eat what was in the cupboards at work and I hid food in my desk drawers. I realised I couldn’t even afford to buy milk.

Jupiter
Depravity is understood. But let’s talk more about passivity. You said it was on purpose.

Lara
The passivity is a symptom, too. I was exhausted all the time, so it was hard for me to do my real job. It was frustrating to not have access to all of my mind.

Jupiter
Why didn’t you give up?

Lara
I realised that this is a game. There are various levels of freedom. The price I paid for the freedom to be myself was that others would not choose me.

Jupiter
What does his motorcycle feel every day?

Lara
I had a safety net, which was my real life, so it’s hard to be fully objective. I should say that it’s not the man she wants or needs. It’s what he can give her. I can afford to have an opinion. Because I actually have a professional standing, I was in the orbit of men who were attracted to me. However, I’m a mini Concorde. I’m hard to get and hard to get along with. This new person wasn’t looking for an easy situation, but saw my manipulating behaviour as a chance to get close to me for a relationship.

Jupiter
Good. We have some progress.

Lara
Do I continue with the relationship?

Jupiter
Do you want to?

Lara
Yes. I have his respect and love. I enjoy his companionship and my new business venture. I want to embrace all of it. I’m happy.

Jupiter
My concern is that at times a new relationship can be a bandaid for rejection. We use it to be spiteful, vengeful or competitive. This would not be fair to your new partner. As you’ve said before, there’s a part of you that has left the initial situation unresolved.

Lara
We still have to fix that, huh?

Jupiter
Yes, you do. While you’re preparing for our next session, I need you to think about your “manipulating behaviour.” What are the implications for the man you wanted? Do you think he would have wanted to be manipulated by you in that way?

Lara
We’re assuming he is even aware that his type might be manipulating him. I haven’t spoken to him in three weeks.

Jupiter
No need, just recall things that were said to you and discuss them with me. More journaling?

Lara
Ugh!

Graham’s Crackers

N’Thulu
What in Klingon ragamuffin hell? Is he joining us?

Kuku
No. He’s a side piece.

Lulu
Sounded like more than that. You were giggling to him like a lovesick teenager just now.

Kuku
I am a teenager.

N’Thulu
You’re twenty one. And does your boyfriend know about the Klingon?

Kuku
Ex boyfriend, please. I was lonely last week and decided to have some companionship. It was no big.

Nguni
I like a man who’s well groomed. Your fling is … An unkempt Hobo. It’s a hyperbole, I know, but that’s a tragically screwed up presentation. Does he not have access to a stylist?

Kuku
You know, the only reason he’s interested in me is because I was introduced to him as a princess? He is planning our future together right now. Wanted me to introduce him to my mother. I had to escape.

N’Thulu
Why did you tell him who you were?

Kuku
No. I didn’t. Loudmouth Craig told him. We hadn’t broken up as yet. He was showing off. As usual.

N’Thulu
What’s this guy’s background?

Kuku
Here on a student visa. Started his PhD in political theory in 2003 and still hasn’t finished writing his dissertation.

N’Thulu
He’s clearly outside his scope of ability.

Lulu
Political theory. Is that why he’s showing interest in your mother? That’s a premeditated usation, right there. You were right to usate him back.

Kuku
He’s subsisting on bursaries and scholarships at the age of 40.

Nguni
Poor little boy.

Kuku
He has a thirteen year old daughter, and …

N’Thulu
… still living like a carefree undergraduate. That is strange.

Kuku
He tried to feed me boiled white rice, mackerel from a can and tap water when I was at his place.

Nguni
Like you’re a pet. Ugh!

Lulu
How rude! I hate how Africans get treated like we are all destitute and happy for any form of hospitality.

Kuku
It upset me so much, I cried right there. Of course, he thought I was homesick. But, I mean, how can someone live happily on canned food?

N’Thulu
Stop sleeping with that man. He’s a social climber but has no ambition. That makes no sense.

Nguni
Got milk?

Lulu
Nguni is trying out American slang. We start with the out of date ones.

N’Thulu
Don’t bother, you won’t be here long enough. When Uncle Abu is eventually ousted in a coup, he will have you shipped to Belgium.

Lulu
Be nice!

N’Thulu
Dunno about you guys, but I’m super horned up. Roger and Tito are waiting in the suite. You girls prepared?

Lulu
I got Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.

Nguni
I ordered mushroom soup and Graham’s Crackers from the concierge. He’ll bring them up himself.

Kuku
Which one is Graham’s Crackers?

Nguni
It’s the new designer wafer that melts under the tongue. Pickled plum flavour. Ingredients rhyme with Madonna, minus the first two vowels.

Kuku
Ahhhh. Sounds good. Lulu, I think, mentioned video recording ourselves?

N’Thulu
Yes. We are using Glass. After Google officially stopped sales two weeks ago, I was able to buy six pairs at a tech auction in Singapore. They’re already connected to my Mac over the hotel’s wifi. I will do some choreography to make sure it looks good when the footage goes in for editing. Be warned, the room temperature is very low because I do not want a single drop of sweat ruining the fantasy. I want a ninety minute masterpiece out of this, so you girls had better keep up. Yet I am sure you will be fine as you are experienced.

Lulu
We should definitely call this Glass Encounters of the Third Kind.

N’Thulu
Marchande Black is going to edit the final cut.

Kuku
I love her work. Was she expensive?

N’Thulu
Yes, but instead of cash, I guaranteed her a year’s supply of pure white sugar. I’ll just borrow some from Papa’s stash. It’ll go a far way to offset her personal expenses.

Nguni
As long as we don’t get too high. I’m not going to the emergency room again. Father threatened to cut my allowance last time.

N’Thulu
Noted. Allons-y!

Camera Obscura

The body is a container.
In it we protect the vital parts of our physical selves.
It’s a minimum representation of the self
and should not weigh heavily in judgement of who we are.
When we adjust it to alter how others relate to us, it becomes, at that point,
a
camera obscura.

Jupiter
Tell me about your week.

Lara
It has been a revelation. I made minimum effort at everything. On the first day, I walked into the office with my shirt half buttoned, chipped nail polish, hair unkempt. I greeted no one. I found it interesting that no one seemed to notice me. It occurs to me I want a medium tan. Carla Paine. She just oozes self confidence. So I walked out and did that. Missed an appointment with a client. I had him meet me for brunch at the Trattoria. I lied and told him I was working on his stuff and used the travel time to punch out a strategy. He kissed me full on the lips after hearing my pitch. I sauntered back into the office at two and my boss asks me to run point on a huge account. Day one. I literally did nothing all morning. As you’ve heard, the rest of the week goes like that.

Jupiter
It seems to me that with the freedom of being, you exuded this power.

Lara
It would seem so. I got things done while relaxing. This makes no sense though.

Jupiter
Before questioning the fairness of it, how will you use your power?

Lara
I don’t know. I’m overwhelmed with this feeling of wholeness. I want nothing. I need nothing.

Jupiter
Let’s cement this idea in our cloud because these feelings can be transient. What does “want nothing” feel like?

Lara
I have everything and it’s all a rich, palpable having. The answers are all up to me and they’re all correct.

Jupiter
I’m going to note that statement for later because I really need you to discuss the meaning in depth. It’s time to move to phase two. After this session ends, go to the Thermage Therapy Centre on Lexington Avenue. The treatment will burn out all of your fat cells. They’ll roll your skin flat and PowerPlate you to get things moving.

Lara
Wow?!

Jupiter
That’s not all. Through separate procedures, fat will be injected into your breasts and blood proteins into your face. They’ll pump you full of placenta, glutathione, Vitamin C and growth hormone. You won’t need to exercise for six months. I made an appointment for you. You get forty percent off.

Lara
Okay …

Jupiter
It’s preparation for an experiment. I’m making a point but you need to put yourself through this first. Then, go to my salon tomorrow afternoon. They will colour your hair blonde and flatten it. In the evening, get rid of every shoe in your closet that’s lower than four inches in heel height. Dress as you’ve done this week.

Lara
Okay.

Jupiter
Then, you’re not a smoker, so develop a video game habit. I have some suggestions. If you feel a deep, self reflective thought creeping in, grab a game. Focus. When the thought goes away, stop.

Lara
No problem.

Jupiter
What’s the most menial task at the office?

Lara
Coffee runs, filing, archiving, stationery inventory.

Jupiter
Go to the office an hour early and do the filing and inventory. Repeat for one hour at the end of every day no matter how late. In fact, go to your office on Sunday and work on the backlog. Do it thoroughly and double check your work.

Lara
Alright. And…coffee runs?

Jupiter
Yes. Do them every morning for the rest of the month. Inventory and filing exercises go for these two weeks, too. No longer. I want to be able to bring you back. Most importantly, you cannot spend more than one hundred dollars in the two weeks. This is a prepaid credit card. Keep the receipts. We will go through them. You may accept charity, beg, steal or trade sexual favours. If you can’t afford to eat, go hungry. Subsist.

Lara
I think I understand where you’re going with this. What’s the outcome?

Jupiter
You’re now a minion. Outcomes are not part of your cognitive framework. You have no higher order thinking skills. Survival is the name of your game. I want you to really feel that side of her. According to you, she’s the perfect woman. She is coveted by the man you desire. What does a skinny blonde of average height with a smoking habit and an entry level job feel every single day? Occupy that existence. Answer the question by living her life.

Crazy making/Toma de loco

This has been my entire week. One colleague.
Esto fue mi semana con una colega.

€@%£
Crazy making. Is that one word, or two? Let’s make it one word.
Toma de loco o tomaloco. ¿Debe ser una sola palabra o tres? Debe ser una palabra.

SB
I agree. It’s a great idea.
De acuerdo. Es una buena idea.

@%£
No. That’s wrong. It’s two words. 
No. No tienes razón. Son tres palabras: toma de loco.

SB
I agree. Let’s make it two words.
De acuerdo.

€@%£
Okay. But don’t you think it’s better as one word?
De acuerdo. Pero ¿No piensas que debe ser una sola palabra, tomaloco?

SB
Let’s do that, then. It works as one word.
Por supuesto.

€@%£
Why don’t we put a space between the y and the m?
Por favor mete un espacio entre el a y el ele y añade de.

SB
That would make it two words. Is that what you want?
En este caso tendremos tres palabras.

€@%£
No. It has to be one word.
No. Debe ser una sola palabra, tomaloco.

SB
If we add a space, it will be two words.
Entiendo, pero si regresamos, otra vez, tenemos tres palabras.

€@%£
Oh, you’re right. It is two words. So let’s remove the space and make it one word.
De acuerdo, son tres palabras. Quitamos los espacios y la de.

SB
Okay. It’s now one word.
Bueno. Ahora es una sola palabra.

€@%£
But I like it as one word. It shouldn’t be two.
A mi me gusta una sola palabra. No debe ser tres.

SB
Okay. I’ve just made it one word.
¿Cómo no?

€@%£
Why did you make it one word?
¿Por qué estás escribiéndolo como una sola palabra?

SB
You’ve just said, you want it to be one word.
Como tú has dicho, en este momento, debe ser una sola palabra.

€@%£
Yeah, but it needs a space between the y and the m.
Sí, faltan dos espacios.

SB
That will make it two words.
Pues, tenemos tres palabras.

€@%£
I don’t think so. It’s one word with a space. Isn’t it?
No, no, no, no. Es una palabra con espacios. ¿No?

SB
Okay. Change it back.
Podemos regresar …

€@%£
But people will think it’s two words, so can we take out the space?
Pero nuestras colegas van a pensar que esta palabra es realmente tres palabras.

SB
Okay.
De acuerdo.

€@%£
Yes, but it’s one word now.
Sí, pero en este momento es una sola palabra.

SB
Because we removed the space.
A causa de que hemos quitado los espacios.

€@%£
Yeah, but it should have a space. Don’t you think?
Pero necesita unos espacios. ¿Sí o no?

SB
Okay. Let’s put the space back.
Sí. Por supuesto. Otra vez.

€@%£
Wait. I’m getting confused now. Is it one word or two?
Espere un momento. En este ahora estoy muy confundida. ¿Debe ser una palabra o tres palabras?

SB
Hmmm. Which one you prefer?
Vamos a ver. ¿A ti qué te gusta?

€@%£
One word. Hmmm…
Por supuesto una sola palabra.

SB
Good.
De acuerdo.

€@%£
But…
Pues…

Denise

Martine
You called for a consult?

Paige
Thanks for coming in Dr. Russell. The patient is a female, mid- to late-forties, presenting with severe internal trauma after a traffic collision on Route 27 East. Her sternum was cracked open after she presented evidence of internal bleeding. Her aorta was torn just above the left ventricle.

Martine
How is she still alive?

Paige
We tentatively diagnosed her with antiphospholipid antibody syndrome. I’m waiting for test results. If yes, it may have been undiagnosed. In which case, the accident triggered catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome.

Martine
A thrombotic storm.

Paige
Luckily for her, this caused her blood clotting factor to overreact at the trauma site. We were able to patch her up because her body did most of the work. We’re now worried that some clots might reach her brain, and undo all of this.

Martine
That’s what Dr. Fisher is here for.

Brooke
Yes, but there’s nothing I could do except apply blood thinners and hope they pass without incident. I am about to put her on full bypass and filter out any large clots from there.

Martine
Okay, so you guys have the thing under control.

Paige
That’s the thing, Dr. Russell. She was wearing this medallion when she was brought in from the accident site. Do you recognise it?

Martine
Yes, it’s the badge my father’s foundation gives to people who agree to submit to experimental heart surgery procedures in case of emergencies… Which is why I’m here.

Brooke
So, is there something you are empowered to do here?

Martine
Yes. My team has just finished testing a new three D printed bioceramic tube using fetal stem cells. Let me show it to you on my smartphone. Here. We fortified it with a positively charged copper ion coil to disinfect the patch site on an ongoing basis and to boost the immune system’s acceptance of the tubing.

Brooke
Obviously, you have no idea if it’ll work.

Martine
Obviously.

Paige
Dr. Fisher, please put the patient on bypass immediately, and in the meantime, Dr. Russell will prepare for the aorta patch with the new tubing. Nurse?

Hannah
Yes, doctor.

Paige
Can you tell Dr. Deza that we’re going through with the bypass and one other procedure and that she is to consult us for an update STAT?

Hannah
Yes, Ma’am.

Rare Earth Investments: Astro OVB2389IAXN

An
There’s too much interference …

Millen
Is any of the data useable?

An
No. It’s corrupted.

Millen
The chief will not like this. (Speaking to Haggis) This probe was mandated to bring back usable data.

Haggis
And soil samples.

Millen
No. Exposing the Earth’s atmosphere to extraterrestial samples may have serious consequences for the natural environment. (To An) Ms. Andreyvich, send out the Nevada photos again. Add another layer of sepia and rotate the camera two hundred degrees.

An
Yes, sir.

Mellen
The last time an asteroid probe brought back rock of unknown composition, it sucked a massive volume of oxygen molecules out of the upper atmosphere. The reaction was catastrophic. The sample itself completely disintegrated and that compound is now part of our atmosphere. We’re not taking that risk again.

Haggis
When was this?

Mellen
Thirty years ago.

Haggis
It should have been on the news, something that big.

Mellen
You heard, but it was reported as a manmade anamoly. We allowed the environmentalists to run with it. Back then, civilians didn’t have the same monitoring capacities that the military did. We lost a good team in Antarctica.

Haggis
Antarctica? I don’t remember any major manmade anamoly reported in nineteen eighty five. Anyway, you mentioned Nevada photos.

Mellen
Your security clearance allows you to know this.

Haggis
How come no one realises they’re the same photos as before?

Mellen
In truth, there is only one set of photos. The public wants reassurances that the planet is desolate. They want to go back to their TV shopping and can’t be bothered about us. Most people think that what we do is a waste of time.

Haggis
So, if it’s desolate, why not just show the real photos?

Mellen
Martians don’t want humans or our probes there. They have no use for our primitive way of life.

Haggis
First of all, what’s primitive about us?

Mellen
Apparently, we run our society according to power hierarchies and assign gender roles. They have a system of democracy the world is just not ready for. Can you imagine a world in which we respect and trust each other completely, have no race or religion, open access to all data, and don’t use words like “rich”, “elite” or “establishment”? How could we survive this rat race if no one is in charge?

Haggis
Have you met them?

Mellen
No. We don’t even know what they look like. That red “dust” is an electromagnetic shield. This probe was destroyed because the asteroid we want to mine was getting too close to the planet.

Haggis
How exactly did you get this information about Martians?

Millen
We kept sending probes up there, but each one got destroyed. We wouldn’t stop trying. That’s why they sent NASA messages in Icelandic, Azerbaijani, Malay, Magalasy, Amharic, Russian and Spanish. In that exact order. They call their planet “Red Star.” Their messages arrived in patched up conversations they picked up from recorded phonecalls. They were the ones who gave us the idea to create technology to capture, transcribe, translate, archive, and analyse phone conversations.

Haggis
I’m in a weird head space about that, not that anything surprises me anymore after TARP.

Millen
Now, we mine asteroids full time. At the moment, and this is what we discussed earlier, we’re looking at superconductors that can give perpetual power to satellites. What I didn’t say was that the minerals were coming from asteroids, and that testing and manufacturing are done by robots on the ISS.

Haggis
I thought the astronauts did that work? They are on the ISS, right?

Millen
No way, that’s too risky. They’re suspended in a vacuum, eight stories below ground in the Gobi desert. They are helping us collect physiological and psychological data about future deep space explorations.

Haggis
This is not much different from banking. People don’t care how they get more money, they just want to see their net worth go up every quarter. But let’s talk about the reason I’m here, which is to help each other make lots of money. How can my firm sell rare minerals extraction as a lucrative investment instrument when no one’s supposed to know where it comes from?

Millen
Well, as you said, you do God’s work, so you tell me.

Haggis
Since we’re being honest, I haven’t made use of my brain since Wharton. I need to get this to my team so they can devise an instrument and marketing strategy for us.

Millen
We can’t give clearance to anyone subordinate to you. You need to find a way to translate this to your team so you don’t commit treason.

Haggis
All right. Give me an hour, and I will have a plan and a story for you. Can I use your WiFi?

Millen
Actually, the room will activate when I exit, so speak and the AI will work with you. Her name is SOCA. She has access to every password protected database in existence, and does searches in all, simultaneously.

Haggis
This is scarier than learning that Martians are eavesdropping on my phone calls.

Millen
I know. But they’re not interested in us. SOCA’s already authenticated your credentials from your iris scan and logged you into your email accounts and office database. She can conduct up to ten phone conversations simultaneously, using your voice print, from your stored call history.

Haggis
Holy crap… I think I’m going to throw up.

Millen
This is what top secret clearance gives you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to do some damage control. I will see you in an hour.

Haggis
SOCA?

SOCA
Welcome to the Joint Asteroid Extractives Initiative, sponsored by NASA, JAXA, ESA, Exxon Mobil, Toshiba Corporation, Daimler Benz AG and The Boeing Company. Please select your language: American English, French, Hebrew.

Haggis
English. Am… American English.

SOCA
Before you initialise data collection protocols, this may be of urgent concern: Denise has sent a text message to her therapist. She is on her way to meet your wife. She will arrive at your home in … eighty minutes. She is driving the twenty fifteen Lamborghini Huracán LP six one oh dash four you gave her on January one. Would you like me to intercept with a phone call?

Haggis
No. Shut down her car. Erase her phone logs and message histories. Do the same for her therapist.

Cloud therapy

Lara
I feel so used, and just icky!!

Jupiter
What does that have to do with you?

Lara
I don’t understand.

Jupiter
What’s wrong with you.

Lara
Nothing. He flicked me away like I was something stuck to the bottom of his shoe. I’m out of ideas about how to prove myself to him.

Jupiter
What are you proving? Tissues.

Lara
Thanks. My value. My worth.

Jupiter
Alright. What if I said, objectively speaking, a man would be blind to not notice you?

Lara
That is my problem. I was rejected anyway.

Jupiter
Again. What’s wrong with you?

Lara
I’m the problem?

Jupiter
Yes, you are the problem. I would like you to take responsibility for the rejection you’re facing. Do not blame him. He is not wrong to be indifferent you.

Lara
This is hard. Isn’t he wrong to not acknowledge me as a sexual threat?

Jupiter
No.

Lara
I can’t do this right now.

Jupiter
Let’s work this out today. Let us work towards a consensus that you can lean on during the upcoming week. We will stamp it out in later sessions. Come on. Tell me what’s wrong with you.

Lara
I have jet black hair. It is really frizzy. Oh, God… I’m short. I’m … uhh… struggling to be at my ideal weight. I dress conservatively because of my job so I can’t look fuckable on a twenty four hour cycle!!!! I obsess about Karajan and I get a small panic attack if I have to pick things off the floor. I’m in my thirties. I have crooked teeth?

Jupiter
What does he want?

Lara
Blonde Kim Kardashian lookalike with blue eyes, spotless complexion that feels like marshmallow to the touch, early twenties with perfectly white teeth, D cup and a tiny waist. Her naturally blonde hair is very long, luscious, super soft and tossed dry, it’s perfection. She’s sweet, easily influenced, passive and not opinionated. She smokes, has a minimum wage job and dresses provocatively all day, every day. If I looked like that, he would be nice to me…

Jupiter
Leave him out of this.

Lara
I’m not effortlessly pretty. I work hard at looking like a woman. It’s time consuming, expensive and I need a team of friends to fix me. I overthink things, have too many hobbies and interests and I work hard to cultivate friendships. Being me is a full time job.

Jupiter
So you’re a short, fat, ugly nerd with a mind of your own and friends who look after you.

Lara
Yes.

Jupiter
Say it slowly.

Lara
I’m a short, fat, ugly nerd and I need friends who look after me.

Jupiter
Say it again. This time, take a deep breath and say it like it’s a compliment.

Lara
I’m a short, fat, ugly nerd and my friends are really nice to me.

Jupiter
Say it again. Transform into a vampire and stare me down.

Lara
I’m petite, I’m plain and I rock the androgynous look. I live in my head. I don’t have friends. I have minions. They worship and adore me.

Jupiter
Let’s put this last concept in our cloud. The concept that all this is part of your glorious being.

Lara
Okay. I hate that I’m not good enough…

Jupiter
Stop. It’s in our cloud. This upcoming week, voice record a journal. Make as many entries as you like. When you feel something, record it. Message all memos to me without editing. You will normcore it to work. Make minimum effort. Wear the same clothes every day if you like. Do not blow dry or iron your hair after a shampoo. Moisturising products only. Don’t wear makeup.

Lara
Alright.

Jupiter
Do not pay lip service to this. I need you to feel a freedom in being yourself. And you do that by embracing those things you say he’s rejected. You own them, you display them. Pay attention to your feelings and let’s get on this next session?

Lara
Thanks. I’m sorry, I just …

Section Two: Present Day

January 21 ‐ February 1

Fictional posts and art go above this sticky header. There may be some not safe for work material, so please be over the age of consent in your country. The contents of this blog may not be safe for work, and that’s the best thing about it.

The preface explains what I’m doing in this installation. Some of the characters have appeared in previous stories, and they include Jupiter, Lara, Marcus and Storm.

If you’ve landed here from outside of the WordPress box, you may want to look at previous art projects including the sticky ones below, or fiction scripts. If you press the like or follow button or leave a comment, please make sure that your website information is correct otherwise, I won’t be able to find your blog.

My heartfelt gratitude goes to readers for your warm support for Section One.

End of Section One

Thank you for your warm gestures of support in this installation so far. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Mil gracias y mil abrazos. Gracias por su confianza y su atención. I thank you for your trust and attention.

I have attempted to explain the meaning of fiction stories in the first section in a reflection called Commemoration. If you have not read it as yet, please do. It ties the stories together.

The scripts posted above this note are set in the present day.

Warmly,
SB

Commemoration

There’s a rational explanation for everything, but we are not open minded creatures. We cannot do away with what we think we know. To bravely embrace the complex and the unknown, we have to first accept that some explanations are bigger than our capacity for understanding them. We may have to shed identities and associations as a result. Changing our minds can be scary.

I’ll illustrate my point with an interesting conversation I had last Saturday about an episode of House, MD (3.23 The Jerk). I wrote down the chemical formula for nitrogen, NO2, which someone said was “water”. I tried again with, seventy eight percent of the air’s composition? Ahhh… That. Nitrogen is the building block of protein molecules. Surely you learned this in tenth grade chemistry? No. Since I don’t have the chemical structure of a typical protein stored in memory, not that it would make a difference, I stated my point simply: some people’s bodies cannot break down nitrogen. As a result, they suffer liver damage. Therefore, those people cannot eat lean protein, or meat. They can have a small amount of protein from a vegetarian diet. Ahhhhh.

There are things I can’t understand, like Big Data. Even Big Data experts don’t get it. Because, it’s too big. Or SEO. Or Ariana Grande’s baby hairs. I will happily exchange a twenty minute overview or a five second glimpse for a four hour particle physics lecture or rewatch that five hour final between Nadal and Federer. I try to draw those comparisons when people tell me they can’t wrap their mind around something.

Ancient man had access to Big Data, but being free of bias, having recently emerged from the soup, he may have been more open to creating comfort and stability for his community. However, it might have been difficult for him to explain how he came by his information on social engineering, scholarship, exploration, geology, art and philosophy. So, he invented a Holiness to explain the source of his inspiration to build civilisations.

We are still limited in our understanding of the universe, so we will plod along in our absurd and often lethal interpretations of our predecessors’ methods of preserving their data for us. We don’t speak the same languages. Furthermore, subsequent civilisations destroyed, suppressed or distorted data that was not amenable to their political agendas.

To some degree, untruths have prevented us from devolving into a complete state of chaos, out of which we would need to work hard to recreate stable societies. Gomorrah was the centre of a civilisation more advanced than ours is today, and its destruction after an unforeseen seismic event illustrates what happens when we do not listen to learned counsel. In its aftermath, it was necessary to construct meaningless totems, and use these as reminders that we are not alone in the universe. In other words, ancient man made up something that we would understand just from the sight of it.

Sadly, we suck at interpreting information presented to us. We drive cars and talk to smart phones. We are closed minded because we believe our handling of gadgets makes us superior to those who have not. In truth, our attention to them is distracting us from turning on each other.

Let’s say that the boy on the savannah represents humans one hundred million years after we crawled out of the primordial soup. We were literally fish out of water. The boy grew up to be a man. He has no idea where his guidance came from just before the Deluge, as the sequence of events was presented to him as images.

But, the moon loomed large in his eyes as testament to his deliverance from cataclysmic changes in Earth’s climatology. The moon appears shortly before this change. It became a symbol of survival. The boy’s journey upward, to higher ground, was the first purposeful form of exploration ever undertaken. It is not moon worship that we are looking at, but a timeless commemoration of that moment of deliverance.

The Earth is a living breathing organism that shifts under our feet. It is a perfect living thing and boundless in its beauty. In a way, we are still fish out of water. It doesn’t matter what paleoclimatologists, geologists or biblical scholars tell you. No amount of digging or incanting can change how we got here, or help us truly know what happened in the past. We dig and we pray to escape the weight of a most pressing responsibility: We alone hold the future in our hands.
Update: February 2, 2015
Illustrating my point about “moon worship” is a recent article about Norse worship in Iceland. Örn Hilmarsson, high priest of Ásatrúarfélagið, said “I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet. We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.” Membership in Ásatrúarfélagið is currently at 2,400 members.

La codicia

A algunas personas no se les puede ayudar. Trate de imaginar a alguien que venga a usted tiritando de frío. Usted ofrece a la persona una manta caliente. A cambio de su bondad, al día siguiente, se le acusa de intentar quemarla. La persona consulta con abogados, demanda dinero, y toma su casa. Cuando haya terminado con esas tonterías, le invita a usted a tomar un café y dice, con toda seriedad, “¿Cuál es tu problema? Somos amigos.”

Esto es una exageración, pero hemos encontrado esta situación al menos una vez. Pues la manta es la amistad con confianza. La casa es la tranquilidad de espíritu, un trabajo, un amante o una idea.

En Francia, cincuenta personas intentaron robar esta imagen.

Joachim Roncin experimentó ese problema. Cincuenta personas en Francia han solicitado la marca registrada de su logo “Je suis Charlie”.

¿Cómo se define la codicia? Para mí, es la obstinada negativa a amarse a sí mismo. No hay suficientes cosas para robar que llenará el hueco profundo dejado por este déficit trágico.

Love vs Love (2/3)

When I say I love someone, I actually do. For most people, love is a salary for a high stress job and you need to do lots of things to earn it. It’s wrapped up in some velvet purse, and it’ll only come out when the right recipient appears.

In truth, the deserving one will always remain elusive. Don’t vie for my love, you thunder and roar. This is Mount Olympus. You’ll never get there. Complete the form and submit your fingerprints for checking. Finish all the tasks on this list.

But you’ll never qualify because, as summer college flings proclaimed, “you are not a blowup doll” or “your legs are too long”. Rubbish. That’s not why. You want what you can’t get. When these boys eventually got their precious listed items, they were sorely disappointed. Out came another list, and another. More and more women were needed to make up the right one. I was overjoyed to learn of their misfortunes.

Love is not a tangible quantity. We can’t hoard it. It has to stay always at the surface or our consciousness, as an offering of goodwill to all, even those that don’t make our cotton candy, soda pop shortlists. When I love someone, I know that the more I give, the more I have left over for myself. Love is not a muscle you can touch but it needs to be stretched to places that are hard to reach: Backstabbing friends who abandon you when you’re sick, gossipy clients, untrustworthy and self obsessed colleagues, suspicious neighbours.

I got loved in spades over the past week, from people I never expected to receive it from. Last Tuesday, while recovering from an autoimmune flareup, I went to the office to organise my work projects for the year. I was carrying a heavy tote and caught my foot on a box. I tripped and slammed face first, full body weight into a doorknob. I gashed the side of my face a half inch away from my eye. My Gucci frames saved my eyesight. They don’t have a scratch on them. However, the skin on my left palm, knee and a small area near my left eye, are held together by tape. I also have to visit the hospital every day to check the healing and change bandages. Today, I’m finally able to bend my knee and move my face.

The colleagues who scraped me off the floor, who rushed me to hospital and waited patiently for me to be released, are the people I loved anyway.

Si me deseas

Rol
¿Cómo estás?

Sol
Muy bien, gracias. ¿Y tú?

Rol
Ha pasado demasiado tiempo.

Sol
Sí, eso es cierto. Pero mi hijo tuvo fiebre. Mi esposa y yo teníamos que traerle al boticario.

Rol
Lo lamento. ¿Está bien, tu hijo, ahora?

Sol
Sí. Por favor no me mires así.

Rol
¿Cómo?

Sol
Como si estuvieras a punto de devorarme.

Rol
Deseo lamerte la cara. Lentamente. Y después, tengo ganas de tocarte profundamente.

Sol
Por favor, debemos preparar por el Consejo.

Rol
¿Me deseas? Déjame acariciarte.

Sol
Sí, te deseo, pero hoy, no puedo.

Rol
¿Qué pasó? El otro día estuvimos en la pasión del fuego.

Sol
Tú solamente tienes ganas de beber de mi sangre.

Rol
No, no, no.

Sol
¡No me mientas!

Rol
Por favor, mi amor. Pueden oírnos. Tú me dijiste que a tí …

Sol
¡Basta ya!

Rol
Bueno. Podemos discontinuar, pero hazme el favor de creer que te quiero. Ven acá. Voy a besarte. Te he esperado desesperadamente. Déjame meter la lengua en tu boca.

Sol
Rol, por favor…

Rol
Ven acá.