Nothing Like the Sun

When I first started writing fiction, I had no idea how to write women. My early stories had all-male or almost all-male casts. Eventually, I realized that had to change. So I fixed the problem in the simplest way possible: I took a character in a story I was writing and made him female. Instead of a tough-as-nails ex-marine mourning the death of his wife in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, she was a tough-as-nails ex-marine mourning the death of her husband in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. That seemingly-cosmetic fix added layers of depth to the story that I hadn’t even dreamed of. Since I made the character black as well, she was basically Zoe from Firefly. These days, I make every effort not write mostly-male stories just because I am male, but sometimes, that’s inevitable. The Wire is a phenomenal show with a mostly-male cast because the world it depicts does not contain many women. Creator David Simon was just reflecting the world as he saw it. In order to pave the way for more strong female characters in fiction, we must empower female writers. There is only so much that men can do. And we must remember that masculine is not bad, just as feminine is not good. People write what they want to write.

Speaking of which, I was offered the chance in high school to apply to the National Honors Society. There wasn’t much to it, really, just a short essay detailing my many accomplishments. That didn’t interest me, however, so instead, I turned in a short story in which I stopped an intergalactic civil war. It was pretty entertaining, although not, if you want to get highly technical about it, true. Turns out that was pretty important to the admissions board. Oh, and speaking of admissions boards, I just got rejected by the housing unit that I just applied to. I know why they said no: they wanted somebody who would fit into the overall community, not just somebody who could pay for a room. But they really aren’t looking very closely if they don’t think I could fit in. Maybe I should have begged rather than assuming a tone of confidence. Perhaps I should have lied and said there was nothing in the world I wanted more than to live with them like I had over the summer (they rejected my fall application). But I wasn’t going to do that, because that wouldn’t be honest. And ultimately, they value conformity over honesty.

I just got notified that I failed my first final. This was a class that had been causing me stress all semester. I was stupid enough to think that after the professor handed me a card saying that it had been a pleasure to have me in her class and even inviting me (along with everyone else in the class) to her New Year’s party, she was going to grade this final less stringently than she had all of our quizzes. It’s possible that she’ll have mercy on me and give me a passing grade anyway, but I doubt it. Then again, maybe, but I don’t want to get my hopes up. From a mathematical perspective, I have definitely failed this class. That’s the first time that’s ever happened to me. I let go of the part of me that throws a hissy fit every time I get an A-minus long ago, but this still bugs me. Sometimes I honestly do wonder why I even bother. I don’t yet have a place to live this January and my final grades are likely to be the worst they’ve ever been. I deserve better. A few minutes before writing this, I checked the mail, hoping that a good friend of mine living in Ireland had sent me a Christmas card like she said she would. It’s been several weeks. Maybe she hasn’t gotten around to mailing it yet, or maybe it just hasn’t arrived. But I’m not feeling very wanted right now.

So, back to writing. I’m just trying to make the dogs in my head stop barking, actually. More to the point, I am tired of having my world upset. Part of the reason Deep Space Nine is my favorite iteration of Star Trek is that it’s the first Trek series to show any willingness to upset the status quo. Part of that is attributable to the evolution of TV over the past half-century. Even so, DS9 takes risks that neither the Original Series nor The Next Generation would have even conceived. Generally, I prefer my TV to be either formulaic or serialized; I have little use for anything in between. If it wants to be comfort food and offer up the same basic beats every week, that’s fine. If it wants to tell an overarching story that requires the viewer to pay careful attention in order to keep up, I’m okay with that as well. But shows that act as if they are building towards something only to have everything reset itself at the end of the episode bore me. Life isn’t like that. Whenever something terrible happens to me, I keep hoping that it’s all a mistake, that there is some way to go back to the way things just were. And every time my world gets turned upside down, I have to just deal with it and move on. It sucks and I hate it, but other people make decisions and I have to live with it. Most of them are too dead-set in their ways to ever rethink anything just to suit me.

Some people learn. Some people never change.


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