What do you want to change in your life? Seems like a straight forward question, right? Well, it is. The answers I have heard are similar from person to person. I WANT to change "this" or I WISH I could do "that". Okay... what I hear is that person wanting or wishing for things to change, but where is the WILL? I WILL improve my mental health. I WILL dedicate myself to getting more in shape. I WILL ______ (whatever you PLAN to change). I also find myself doing the same thing, but have been working on making myself aware. Put your goals into a plan and make it happen. A person cannot be motivated all the time, this is where dedication comes into play. You have to truly want to put forth the effort in order to will the change. There are many days that will be hard, but keep pushing through. Have faith in yourself and know that you are worth it. No matter what "change" may mean to you. - A. Stuebbe
Sitting in my chair with silence all around Pen in hand, wanting to write but can’t get it down I try and try and try some more Only to crumple another piece of paper and toss it on the floor Us writers know this feeling all too well Our mind shuts itself in a mute, dark cell Pushing against the bars to try and break free But our psyche has hidden the master key This key that holds our ideas in every part of our being Praying our imagination is at least in safe keeping Today I might have to embrace the unwelcome quiet Hoping tomorrow my visions will escape in a riot - A. Stuebbe
I remember reading the short story "An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge" By: Ambrose Bierce. This story teetered on the cliff of life vs death and perception vs reality. But, this story got my mind questioning the depths of our psyche. If you have read this story, you know most of it takes place in Farquhar's "fantasy" his mind conjures as he is minutes from his death. In his fantasy, he creates himself as the town hero or "hero of the south"", and is able to make a daring escape from the Union Soldiers scrap free. Reality is still there... waiting. Once he comes back from his "vision", he finds himself hanging off the bridge; meeting his untimely end. So, where am I going with this? Let me start by saying that many of us are not comfortable with the idea of our own demise. Throughout our life, we either make peace to accept it or deny it until our last breath.
Perception and reality. Would you say there is a fine line between the two?
I am sure you have heard of “my life flashed before my eyes” when a near death experience happens.
Constructing questions on the "nature of the Universe" because there is so much to mankind we do not see. Maybe perceptions mask denials and truth. For Farquhar in the short story (minutes before his death), maybe his psyche was able to create a new level of reality... Think about it. Maybe this perception is one that can not be seen during life, but only given moments before death. If any of these random thoughts make sense to you, let me know what you think between the two! ... and that's the tea. - A. Stuebbe
An addiction that can not be tamed This high coursing through my veins is permanently ingrained. A rush that pushes me to the limits And the ones who judge are seen as cynics. The control of my life is in my hands A risk that not many truly understand. Thrumming to life with the most seductive sound Drowning out any noise in the background. The throttle fits perfectly in my grip Accelerating at high speeds down the strip. Splitting through the wind like the red sea Never looking back, I finally feel free. - A. Stuebbe
I could see the way he gazed at me. How those bright azure eyes could not quite hide his thoughts churning inside. Wanting me, though I could tell, he is shy. One step at a time, we walked towards each other. Until our heart beats met, and our breathing began to flutter. Our love was high school innocence. I was a hopeless romantic, sucked into teenage bliss. New, young love with hearts in my eyes. Is that why I always cried? I had never been in love before, I thought I had it… I thought wrong. He was humorous, he was sweet, he was gentle… Until the lights cut out, showing is true sinister self is not sentimental. I could see the way he gazed at me. The sapphire eyes I would get lost in, pierced through me with spiked ends. Assaulting my mind, dragging me under like quick sand. Hardening grips and guilt trips. Makeshift nooses wrapped around his neck, just to make me stay, feeling wrecked. The broken tears that fell upon my cheek, only made me feel weak. I could see the way he gazed at me. See the glee in the depths of his crystal eyes, filled with delight, relishing every piece of my soul he takes to terrorize. My juvenile heart shattered like a broken vase, crushed under his possessive gait. His anger attached to a short tether, the rise in his voice would detonate with pleasure. The mental whiplash is more than I can endure, seeing the red flags blaring in my face. His approach is targeted, the stench of stale booze invaded my space. I could see the way he gazed at me. See the gleam in those cobalt eyes. Burning deep into my sixteen-year-old face, promising his demise. I felt the push and the free-falling dive. The gush of wind that swirled through my hair. The feelings coursed through me like a cosmic flare. Regret? Shame? Am I to blame? Anger seeps into my bones, turning my heart into impenetrable stone. Daring a glance at the boy who once had my love, as sorrow seizes his eyes from up above. Was the forced smile on my face so easy to fool? No one noticed my pain, no one ever asked if I was okay… even though his deeds severed my veins. I wish I could have seen behind his mask. If only… If only I could have seen beyond the way he gazed at me. -A. Stuebbe *Find your voice*
That’s all anybody wants, right?
To feel safe and warm all night
Finding herself held tight in his embrace
Her heart frantically begins to race
His searing green eyes drink her in
Sparks ignite against her petal soft skin
Tangled in cold sheets until first light
Welcoming the morning rays that shine bright
Admiring the glints of yellow glowing across his face
As her fingertips lightly caress his jaw at a lazy pace
Her heart soaring knowing this is not a fantasy
Because he centers her, becoming her gravity
Happy wife happy life? But what about happy husband happy life…?
Is this never said simply because it doesn’t rhyme?
I always, ALWAYS hear the first phrase, never the latter. How is that fair? Husband and wife, we are equals. Give each other 100%.
Ladies, if you find yourself reading this, then let this be a reminder that we are not more deserving than our spouse when it comes to happiness. Mom’s are always saying they will raise their sons to treat a women right, but what about your daughters? Teach them to treat men right.
I understand there are good people, and there are bad people. But, there is too much expectation on singling men out for how they treat us. And I am talking about everything aside from common courtesy and being polite. Men need women to go the extra mile and find ways to make them smile. Even if it’s the little things.
So, here’s what I say. Let’s stop the stigma and treat men how they have been told to “treat” us.
… And that’s the tea.
The light would fade in an hour, and darkness will take over the forest. I could see my breath and feel the crisp, cold air straight to my bones. The breeze’s bitterness made my body feel stiff and my muscles burned with every step I took, but now I have slowly started feeling numb. My threadbare clothing underneath my cloak does nothing against the frigid air. Hunger was consuming my every thought, and I felt my body struggling to keep pushing forward as exhaustion was slowly creeping in. I have been traveling since early this morning and am thankful that the snow has not started to fall yet. Winter is close to arrival, making my task at survival that much harder.
Deciding I need to rest and replenish some energy, I gathered up some wood for a fire and will try to shut my eyes for a few hours. I hated not being aware of my surroundings when I had to sleep; it makes me an easy target to the hunters who have been after me since I was young. Prior to starting the fire, I needed to hunt before the sun completely vanishes from the sky. Retrieving my bow and arrow, my limbs protesting as I began my search, hoping this wouldn’t be another fruitless hunt like yesterday. The animals have been scarce since snow is almost here. All I have left in my bag is the end of a stale loaf of bread.
Twigs and leaves crunch underfoot as I slowly scoured the forest. Crouching beside a tree, trying to ease my breathing, and straining to listen for any hint of game passing by. Readying my bow as slight movement rustled the bush ahead. Holding my breath, my stomach aching for food, a rabbit appeared in my line of sight. I needed to be as efficient and silent as can be. I drew my bow back, feeling the smooth wood against my cheek, readying my aim. I was reasonably good with a bow, I learned when I was young since it was my primary way of filling my hunger, aside from the minor stealing I have had to do. Drawing my bow back a little farther, I took my shot. Letting the arrow race towards its intended target and I would have hit my mark, but something soared overhead that startled what would have been my supper.
Glancing upward to where the moonlight is slowly filtering through the trees, searching for anything overhead. The forest around me became eerily quiet; the only sound I could hear was my pounding heart and the faintest whirl of the wind brushing the leaves. The hair on the back of my neck prickled, my body and mind frozen but alert. Substantial black wings zoomed above the trees as quick as lightning. Panic seized me, clutching my bow and arrow as I took off through the woods. The will to live overpowered my body, demanding me to rest. Racing between trees, dodging branches, and leaping over roots, my lungs stinging from the exertion. Before I could form my next move, pain blasted me in the back of my head, and everything went black.
The light started filtering in as I began to peel my eyes open. My head pounding as I took in my surroundings. The contrast from the vast darkness that overtook me to the blinding light caused me to squint. How long have I been out? Where am I? Fear gripped me as reality caught up to me. My vision blurred for a minute before my eyes could fully adjust. The room was cold and musty; the stench of urine and something rotten instantly made me nauseous. The floors were damp, the old tattered brick walls were stained with dry blood. Probably from the previous victims that were captured. With force, the truth settled in my chest as if it was being crushed by a stone; they caught me. Shit.
I have been hunted my whole life by the demons, and I still have yet to figure out why. I am just an orphaned human girl; my parents died in a house fire when I was twelve and have been on my own for 10 years. Unable to settle anywhere for long, I have not been able to make friends either, especially the part of putting them in danger. Every few months, I have to find a new location to lay low for a while. Why do the immortals want me? I have no ties to the supernatural realm. Looks like my luck has run out. Escaping wasn’t on my side this time. I didn’t even get a fighting chance; they knew my location earlier than expected and ambushed me. Now I am chained in some wretched cell, the sharp cuffs digging into my skin. I stalked up towards the thick iron bars peering down the hall. A clinking sound snapped my attention to the cell adjacent to me, and I sucked in a breath. Another girl who looked a little younger than me stared at me with wide eyes, curled up in the corner. Her clothes were torn and covered in filth, her skin pale, and her body looked haggard from whatever suffering she has endured. Her brown hair is dull, cheeks sunken in, and dark circles under her fear-filled eyes.
Carefully I lowered myself to her level to try and get some answers from her. “Where are we?” She stayed silent; maybe she was mute or too scared to simply talk. I crossed my legs on the floor and tried again. “My name is Natalia; what is yours?” She opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. She swiftly glanced around and whispered so soft that if I wasn’t so focused on her, I would have missed it. “Elise.”
Phew. Okay, not mute. I tried again. “Are you able to tell me where we are exactly?”
She double-checked to make sure we were alone again before she quietly spoke. “In the realm of the underworld. The Dark King’s castle.”
My jaw hit the floor … did she just say the underworld and Dark King?! What the hell would he want me for? I have done nothing to him! Putting my fear and confusion aside, I wondered why Elise was here. “Were you hunted down too?”
She tilted her head slightly, turning over what I just asked. “No … my mother could not pay off her debt, so he took me as a prisoner in exchange. Uhm, did you say hunted?”
I regarded her curiosity that hung onto her question, but before I could say another word, footsteps sounded down the hall. I took a quick glance at her and watched her cower closer to her corner. Dragging her knees to her chest and tucking her chin down. I was terrified and lost, but I did not want to show an ounce of fear. I needed to shove that down right now and put on a strong front.
Three mountainous-sized men appeared in front of my cell. Two of them looked like pure blood demons with their grayish skin, horns, bat-like wings, and pale eyes. Their stare felt like they could see into my soul, causing me to want to shrink back. The third one was slightly different looking; maybe he was half-demon? His wings were black but with soft, beautiful feathers, no horns, golden skin, and searing green eyes. His eyes widened when he noticed me, but just as fast, his eyes hardened again.
The one pure-blooded demon banged on the iron bars with the handle of his sword. “Well, well, aren’t you a pretty little witch.” He spat, seeming intrigued and disgusted at the same time. Wait… witch? They definitely got the wrong girl. I gave him no reaction, just a cold hard stare. Clenching my fist to help me focus on not making the wrong move. The demon unlocked my cell, grabbed my chains, and yanked me across the floor to him. My knees banged on the ground and I landed on my side. He leaned over, getting in my face, “Let’s have some fun with this witchling, shall we?” He went to kick me in the ribs, but before the blow could land on me, he was thrown back into the wall. The third demon, who looked different, glared at his companion.
“NO harm is to come to her, Amon! Those were direct orders from the Dark King.” This man was seething and was about one second away from ripping someone’s head off. He stalked towards the demon, who apparently is Amon, and grabbed him by the front of his armored tunic. “Get out of my sight! Both of you! Let me deal with the witch.” The two demons bared their teeth but followed his orders, nonetheless.
Once they were gone, the half-demon crouched down next to me, offering a hand. I shoved his hand away out of anger and got up on my own. When I looked up at him, it seemed like there was concern in his eyes. He stood up and folded his arms in front of his chest. “I’m Damien and am on your side” Hold up… what the heck?!
“What side?! You DEMONS have the wrong girl! I’m human, not a witch! Is this why you have been hunting me? Because your “Dark King” thinks I’m someone else?!” I was fuming, and from all the confusion, lack of food, and just overall being kidnapped, I took it out on him. I am pissed.
He took a deep breath in and sighed. “Look, Natalia, I can’t get into all the details now, but I am here to help you escape. I have been here for years undercover in case you were brought in so I could make sure the Dark King doesn’t get his hands on you.” I stared at him in shock. Before I could say a word, he continued. “To be blunt, you are a witch who was hidden amongst the humans. The Dark King wants to drain you of your powers to have them for himself and become even more powerful. We can’t let that happen; I need to get you out of here. I can explain the rest once you are safe again.”
I eyed him suspiciously, not sure if I can trust him. But what other option do I really have? I need to get out of here, and then I’ll process everything he just told me; it’s too much right now. I peered over at Elise. “Okay, but I won’t leave unless Elise comes with us.” He looked confused and jerked his head towards her cell. He sighed, closed his eyes, and swiped his hand down his face. Dragging his stare back to me. “Fine. But she will need to do what I say and keep her mouth shut. This is already risky enough. I will be back at nightfall.”
This story is narrated by a parrot, which I found oddly unique and definitely not something I would normally read. Overall, Chiang was able provide big ideas and direct questions. “Why aren’t they interested in listening to our voices?” and “Aren’t we exactly what the humans are looking for?” (Chiang, 231). Chiang definitely pulls his audience in, and at times I felt like what I was reading was real. As if, this was non-fiction. A way for Chiang to open our eyes and put those thoughts/ideas into our heads. Maybe even wanting us question our own thinking? The story is delivered in sections and gives with it different mysteries that in the end, all combine as a whole. In the beginning sections, an example about the African grey, Alex is explained about how this parrot demonstrated to humans how parrots can understand concepts; such as shapes and colors. As well as a parrot’s unique contact call, how they can learn vocally, and empathizes with humans for assuming we weren’t “bright” from not recognizing a parrots intelligence right away. Next, Chiang dives into Hindu and the parrot describes the Hindu concept “the universe was created with the sound “om””. (Chiang, 235). We learn that parrots have their own myths that are at risk of dying with them, even though we are never actually told what that is exactly. But… maybe that’s the point? I am not sure if I am responding to this part correctly, since this story is different from the typical plot arc.
As for the resolution, I feel there is no straight to the point conclusion. Aside from the parrot accepting their fate, and the upsetting realization that it cannot be changed. Not placing blame for humans being the reason for their extinction, “They just weren’t paying attention.” (Chiang, 235). The ending is not a happy one, but simply a message the parrot left with us that amplifies the sadness of the undeniable truth. Repeating what Alex, the African grey said to the researcher right before the parrot’s death, ‘You be good. I love you.” (Chiang, 236).
But… What does “You be good. I love you.” (Chiang, 236) reveal? What does it mean?
I feel that could be the parrot barring farewell, with forgiveness. Repeating the same mantra as Alex. Sending the message out there for us to hopefully hear them. Since mankind is so focused on seeing what else is out there, instead of seeing what is right in front of us. Question is, how will we be able to forgive and love ourself?
Ted Chiang. Exhalation : Stories. Vintage, 2019. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=nlebk&AN=1868206&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
What in the…
Alright, I was at a loss for words through most of the story and at the end I fist-bumped the air like nobody’s business. Like holy freaking crap, the emotions Poe evoked from me were irrevocably insane. My jaw fell straight to the floor when he axed his wife… like what in the heck?! Talk about an escalated plot twist! The tone I got from this story is ironic. While the narrator is trying to convince the audience that he is sane, all the while going into detail about his horrific behavior. In the beginning he states “From infancy I was noted for the docility and humanity of my disposition” (Poe). Ironic, right? He is the COMPLETE opposite of what he is telling us. All of the grim events that he inflicted, like stabbing the eye of his cat and then killing it and murdering his wife; he then went on with casual indifference. Acting with out a care and showing no remorse, even as he carefully and meticulously tombs his wife’s body in the wall. By the way… I noticed that after he murdered HIS WIFE, he then refers to her as “the corpse” or “it”. As if she never was and held no importance to him. The ending is also ironic, because the narrator is overly confident with his “burying the wife” skills. Tapping on the wall where his wife resides, unbeknownst that the cat (beast) he so dreadfully despises will meow back and cause his evil deed to be revealed.
The mood is pretty on point, going with ominous and horrific. Poe provides dark language throughout the story, and even named the cat ‘Pluto” which means roman God of the Underworld. I mean, that right there is gothic and dark. There is superstition with the black cat and the house fire, providing symbolism with the wall left standing with a mark that looks like Pluto when he was hung. The symbol being revenge. Along with superstition, we were then introduced to another cat who resembles Pluto. It is obvious this is horror fiction, because of the narrators cruel intentions and murderous crimes. I even felt half-crazed just reading this, tapping into the mind of an unstable, violent individual.
Here I just wanted to drop a few examples of figurative language I found in the text. Yes, I know there is more. For this though, I just wanted to keep it short and sweet.
SIMILE – “But my disease grew upon me — for what disease is like alcohol!” (Poe). Obviously comparing alcohol to a disease, amplifying the negative effects of alcohol. Perhaps Poe has experienced the ill effect of alcohol firsthand, since the narrator in the story is consumed by it from beginning to end.
HYPERBOLE – “The fury of a demon instantly possessed me.” (Poe). Clearly exaggerated, but another way to show his violent side from his indulgence of alcohol. Showing us his short fuse and bad temper, allowing his rage to take over. A way to let the audience know that he was so angry, he was seeing red.
PERSONIFICATION – “I was aroused from sleep by the cry of fire.” (Poe). Fires do not not literally cry, but it provides us a way to envision the sound that woke him up. Giving sound effects to create the atmosphere being told.
Poe, Edgar Allen. “The Black Cat”. 1845. https://poestories.com/read/blackcat