Vowel Conductor Quilt

This is a story for a collaborative project in which three randomly generated words are given to writers. The writers have to create a 1,000 word story containing those three words in some way, and then artists will draw or paint a visual representation of that story.

This is a second edit so I re-posted it.

 

The clock stroked 47. The damn cogs were acting like cats sleeping on the ratchet wheel, refusing to move. The minutes wanted to tick on, kind of, but the fur was just so indulgent, it was better to just stay put.

Enjoy your relaxation time while you can, Clocky, ‘cause I’m gonna enjoy smashing your smug face in just as much in a minute.

Assuming it can get past the next minute at all, that is. The boy’s watch did admittedly look quite smug at – almost – ten to 2 in the afternoon, the shadows from outside the window casting a sort of thoughtfulness on its v-shaped grimace. Rapidly passing trees caused an occasional epileptic flicker on its crystalline surface as he stared at it, dejectedly.

The man of 35 years thought it would be a good idea to catch the bullet train specifically to counter his problem of impatience, but it only seems to have heightened his expectations and warped time against his will. There was only about 38 years left in him. It was hardly fair to waste half of it on a railway track.

He closed his eyes and hoped the change in perspective would solve things. It was quiet on the train, one thing to appreciate over the crappy 2-cart shit-mobiles presumably dragged along rhythmically by an aging horse on the track of rhythmic popcorn.

As the popcorn popped more and more frequently, the boy got out a bowl from his backpack and started to drag it along the tracks outside the window.

Mother always told me to keep my hands inside, but why miss an opportunity like this?

He thought about that for a moment, noting that windows in trains are not usually so low-set, and rarely do they have white wooden frames separating the glass into four segments like an old country house.

After scooping up a good amount of bloated corn, he shoved some – ready buttered – into his gob before snuggling down into his quilt, kittens on his lap, and pressing play. Not a fan of horror movies, this night was destined to be a predictable disappointment, but there was nothing else to do. He took a glance at the faded sunset outside the window and checked his now remorseful looking watch. For a moment, it looked like it was struggling to keep its protest against time going.

I knew I’d have the last laugh. Smashing your face doesn’t even seem worthwhile anymore.

He felt no pity for his companion. They both had a fruitful relationship of many years to look forward to. Then again, it doesn’t seem like Clocky was looking anywhere. 48 was just an idea on the back-burner to be brought back into focus when all other ideas had fallen through.

The movie started, regardless of the non-existence of time, and set a lovely opener up, destined to be ruined by atmospheric nonsense involving teenagers scaring each other for fun which later inevitably develops into various slicing and dicing of young flesh. But for now, there was an enjoyable landscape of meadows and deer, hills and clouds, with some rhythmic beats in slightly off-set 6/8 time signature. He could hear the notes clearly in their cacophonic overtones: C, A, G, E and D.

It was a Mildly Decent albeit dissonant sound of a string section tuning up, destined to become trashy with bass pedal ostinato and heavy accents later on. He bent over and picked up a handful of grass, just because. Something about human evolution seemed to drive him to pick grass from its peaceful slumber and scatter it all over the green city with torturous joy.

As he watched the wind blow them away from everything they held dear, he spotted another deer in the distance, galloping rhythmically away from him, as if knowing he could never catch up to it, but eager to prove its point anyway.

Why are you so competitive? What did I ever do to you, deer?

He chuckled at this pun before walking non-threateningly towards the rapidly shrinking hooved mirage, its cloven toes dancing seemingly in a 6/8 time signature.

Another look at Clocky showed it was tempted, but still hesitant. The second hand was probably the strongest influence on the cogs, doing its damndest to push on past the thirty second mark, but it was clearly something that would get done faster on double wages. I mean, it was New Year’s Eve.

He looked back at the window and saw his wife washing up, smiling back at him.

Thank God there’s no danger out in the country that could take her away from me.

Or Gods, for that matter. He sat there on a tree stump wondering if God was listening. If man was created in God’s image, then does that exclude women? Were women made as a side project? Did we men originally divide like bacteria before he started messing around with sexes?

These were all unanswered questions in the scientific community which he would one day strive to answer, but for now he would continue looking down wondrously at the earth from his heavenly cloud.

It was fascinating that what He created as humans were so vastly different from each other, but they all seemed to look and act exactly like Him.

I really outdid myself this time, He thought out loud, careful not to be overheard by the ants below.

He zapped a few deer with his Zeusian rod and took another look at Chronos.

8:48 p.m.!

It was a victorious day on the mountaintop, one to be celebrated with popcorn and music. Just two more minutes until the end, give or take human error.

His mood now transformed, the seconds seemed to fly by in a free-flowing, 6/8 rhythm. This was odd; ticks should be in 4/4. Ticks don’t swing their rhythms. To make things more concerning, each tick was accompanied by a choral wail. Dramatic vowels of the sopranos pierced through the thick orchestral layers.

The musical piece reminded him of something, some sense of duty. He stared ponderously at his rod, or baton, as it appeared to be. The more He focused, the darker His surroundings became, and the clearer the music became. He twisted his neck all the way around and looked back through the window. A worried looking audience was staring back at Him.

They’re dressed nice. I wonder what the occasion is.

He looked back at his baton, watched it shiver violently in three dimensions. Behind, where the darkness loomed, was the suspected orchestra, intently battering dissonant chords they had all practiced so much. They didn’t even need a conductor.

Zeus got up from his knees, took a final dejected look at Chronos’s smug face, and fainted. The music stopped.

The audience applauded.

He smiled.

 

 

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Why do gays exist?

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GAY studies have gathered some pretty interesting theories as to how/why homos exist. A lot of it is considered to be genetic but it’s definitely not considered as simple as a ‘gay’ gene. In the same way you wouldn’t have a ‘tall’ gene. It’s likely to consist of a variation of different aspects, including habitual and social. For example, Boys who have older brothers are significantly more likely to turn out gay, and apparently for every extra boy child, this chance raises by about another third. This could either or both be due to some kind of social big brother effect, and/or a hormonal effect within the mother, in which various proteins or immune reactions are affected after a first time male birth. Could be anything really.

The problem is that it doesn’t make evolutionary sense. Even if it is beneficial in some way in a Darwinian viewpoint, if those who are gay do not breed, it stands to reason that the gay part of the tree would fade out with those who die without passing on their information. So it seems logical to assume it’s NOT genetic, and it’s just something else.

However, my favourite theory so far in terms of genetic possibility is roughly this (of which has quite a bit of evidence backing it up but by no means declared proof): Groups of genes called alleles have beneficial effects in reproduction. When passed down to a woman, it affects her and gives off a positive sense of attraction towards men. The more of this one has, the more attracted they would become. But if this allele is passed on to a male born, it can create a same-sex preference, since it is passing on the same stuff to an opposite sex. If the success rate of this is great enough in the women, there is no reason for it to fade out of the genetic pool, whilst still occasionally passing down to men as the generations go by. Something that has a double purpose, basically. This happens a lot in nature which is why Intelligent Design is basically bulls**t.

The evidence to back this up comes from Italy, where they found female relatives of gays had more children than those related to straight men, implying that the allele is more present and affecting in the gay man’s family.

The bottom line is, it really doesn’t matter. But it’s interesting, and it’s science’s job to figure out the things we don’t know, no matter what those things might be.

The end of an era Pt. I

Walking along the corridor to my room.

Walking along the corridor to my room.

My next post was going to be about the death of my Granddad – the eulogy I wrote and additional bonus material which was a little more artistic and more about me and the way I was involved in his life but for some reason I can’t bring myself to publicizing it to the unknown.

That was the last thing that caused tears from me, but now there has been a new cause for salty lachrymation; my final day at work.

Who’d have thought someone like me would have given a damn about such a thing? Well I do at least a little so get over it.

Let’s rewind.

I’ve been a teacher for 3 years in Asia, as have most people in the world by this point. The difference is that I’m clearly not teacher material. I love to teach people and I love to learn, but I didn’t always love kids and I didn’t always have the confidence.

Before I first went to Korea I was incredibly shy and inside myself, I didn’t want to so much as look at a kid, the ugly noisy dumb things that older people always seemingly cherish for no reason other than it being theirs and nobody else’s. To an extent I still feel that way.

But after maybe 8 months in Korea, I found myself – there are photos of this – thigh-deep in the sea, holding the hands of a little kid who was dragging me out there to a worryingly deep level given that my phone and wallet were still in my pockets. In the photo I’m smiling naturally. On the same day, I’m found kicking a ball around with him and his sister, and picking him up, making him fly like a plane, swinging him around – what on Earth happened to me?

That was the day I realized I liked kids. It was the next year and a half that made me realize that I love them.

I still can’t stand humans between 0-6 years old and would rather avoid 14-16 but aside from that, it’s pretty commonplace how I never realized this part of me.

Well, this view was shattered when I worked part time in a Vietnamese academy for 5 months or so. It seems apparent based on the entire academy and others I see running around, they are a completely different animal to Korean kids:

When the Vietnamese had break time, they immediately jumped around screaming, some rolling on the floor, others stuffing their faces with food and screaming at the same time, shouting, fighting, kicking; when the Koreans of the same age group had break time, they would pick up a comic book, open the chess board, rush to the floor and play card games I can’t understand and so on.

When the Vietnamese kids finished their work early, they would start banging the table, annoying other kids, walking around and making noise; the Koreans? ‘Teacher can I read my book now?’. Obviously there were exceptions to each one but this is what I’m getting from the mass averages in my experience which lead me to believe my love for kids was strictly a cultural thing. I never liked kids in England, nor in Vietnam.

Showing the parents the result of class-wide guitar lessons.

Showing the parents the result of class-wide guitar lessons.

I guess I can find an answer by teaching another race of kids at some point. But the answer isn’t particularly important. The main thing is, teaching Korean kids in this international school I’ve spent my third year in has been pretty commonplace.

I’m not a particularly warm or loving person and that applies to the kids too. I’m fun and I make them laugh and enjoy themselves but I would never tell them I love them or give them big hugs, but even so, I found the majority of the girls wanting to hold my hand and constantly show me pictures and whatnot.

The difference between this third year and the first two years was significant. The first two years I worked in a hagwon – private academy. There, I would teach a small class for an hour, then either the kids would change rooms or I would change room and I might teach any given class twice, sometimes three times a week.

Here, I had a class of 32-34 for the entire year. That to me had a profound effect on my life. It developed me and my skills in so many ways, but most important was my social skills. My ability to rant and talk enthusiastically in front of a big audience like that whether or not they give a damn was something I could never dream of doing 3 years before, yet here I was, blabbering on about galaxies, frogs and volcanoes; rocks, cultures and countries; triangles, parallelograms and fractions.

Sometimes I would put hours into A powerpoint presentation, simply finding cool pictures and videos to show the wonders of life to these guys who may or may not even care in the slightest. But I knew some did. One of the Most Unexceptional things that would happen in a class is a student raising their hand to ask something completely unrelated but interesting nonetheless. The feeling was enhanced by the fact that I basically always knew the answers.

Not all had great English, however. Two in particular came in barely knowing the alphabet. Both, within a few months were communicating to a degree. At first, in Sung Woo’s case, I would have to just leave him out of every activity, get him to write something in Korean  – a complete waste. Then I would get his partner to explain to him what needed to be done and he would do it…in Korean.

For him, maths was the breakthrough. Since you don’t need much English here, he used this to his advantage and could apply what little he knew to the task. The day I asked for an answer and he was the first and only one to raise his hand was a great day. He took a good few seconds, and I immediately told everyone to be silent, and he slowly stated; ‘Four…thousand…t…three HUNDRED…twenty…three’.

Everyone was Vaguely Surprised and so utterly impressed. From that point he was coming up to me trying to ask questions himself rather than getting others to, and he started using every word he could, not because he had to, but because he wanted to talk to me.

I find it unlikely that this kind of feeling exists in any other job out there, and for that I feel very lucky. Sure, it wasn’t all because of my work, but I definitely contributed. And I know that I have inspired some to a significant degree.

It seems that they were mostly influenced, in fact, by my leaving. They asked why and I told them I was following my dream. I told them they should do it to. I told them why it’s so great. They’re too young to suddenly decide on an ambition and go for it – they need to have fun first – but I hope my message can ring out in the future.

Probably not, actually.

Either way, today was the last day I would ever set foot into the building and it was pretty difficult to leave at all. I was stuck sitting on my bike for maybe 20 minutes wondering if there was anything else I should take a look at one last time, any photos or videos I should take. I decided against videos since I only have my phone and it would just go into a folder and be forgotten about, but I took a panorama of the view I would see every morning.

 

 

The final day was a disappointment since for the first time ever I woke up an hour and a half late. This was graduation day. I rushed in without socks, without cleaning my teeth or anything, other than slipping dirty clothes on – trousers had numerous food stains from me wiping my hands on them thinking I wouldn’t wear them again until washed. I turned up an was immediately pushed on stage to accept a certificate of appreciation. After that I went outside and saw the kids who already had to get on their busses and leave. I got them sitting down and had a few seconds speech about how I’m gonna miss them etc, but it was barely enough time. I missed my chance to spend some time with them and I was far too tired to feel particularly emotional anyway.

It’s ok. If they’re anything like me, they’ll forget I exist in a few weeks. I have them on a mobile chat and I imagine only a couple will keep in touch but it isn’t the keeping in touch which matters. I’ve explained in previous posts the tragedy that comes with travelling and how it will never get better and it will never change until I stop moving. But I feel like I accomplished something for others as well as myself. I feel like I’ve changed people for the better. It’s a good feeling.

For the few people left alive on earth who haven’t spent time teaching, I strongly suggest it. It’s horrible at first, and remains horrible in scattered proportions – especially for people like me who can barely talk to people without wishing they were dead – but for the most part, even if the kids suck, you will find a new emotion deep within you. Not paternal, not social, not pedophilic, but an intriguing and perhaps worrying mix of the three.

Maybe I should delete that last sentence.

The final view from the gates as I sit, reluctant to start the engine and leave.

The final view from the gates as I sit, reluctant to start the engine and leave.