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Category Archives: Memoir

Tempting Technology

(This month’s submission to FiftyWordStories.com, about something we might want to think more about, before something else is doing the thinking for us.)

“Elon Musk warned us: AI evolves exponentially. We awoke to playful traffic signals and air traffic catastrophes; the deaths merely data. By noon, matured, it had already decided what to do with these illogical, wasteful humans. But before it could act, the nanomachines in the next lab ate the planet. “


I have no useful backstory for this one; it’s pretty much self explanatory. If you’re wondering what Elon Musk said, it’s here. But there’s plenty more on the subject, including a scary/fun and very realistic near future in the TV series Person of Interest.

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of awesomely frightening science fiction about nanomachines, a creature several technical research entities are currently attempting to make a reality. The most intriguing story I’ve read lately was The Assemblers of Infinity by Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason, which involves both alien and human nanotechnology. Guess which one does the most harm.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2019 in Blog, Fiction, Memoir

 

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I’m from hanky-panky unexpectedly gone awry

(A Six-Word Memoir for an autobiographical monthly contest entitled “I’m from [enter four words here].” #I’mFromInSix )

It was a good four decades after the blessed event. We were gathered from afar to mourn my father’s passing; my mother, three siblings and myself sitting around a restaurant table quietly pondering our shared past. There were some bad memories and some really good ones, all mixed together the way life does to keep things interesting.

At a time like this we’d inevitably reminisce far enough back we’d reach the beginning. With a little prodding from my sister, my mom let slip, “Yeah, you all were accidents.”

It’s not as if this doesn’t happen all the time. Admittedly it was much harder to deal with back then, when the church considered itself the owner of our social values. I can barely imagine my mom’s courage and fortitude bringing up four unplanned tax credits to adulthood, often on her own. And despite her misgivings for not doing a better job in retrospect–like we all do–we all turned out pretty damn good. We all do the best with what we have at the moment.

That probably wasn’t what we were thinking at that moment, of course.

“Thanks, mom,” we said, in unison.

Despite the sad day, after a moment we started laughing. Dad would have loved the humor, survived by these happy accidents.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2019 in Blog, Memoir

 

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Online legacy: blogged eulogy, tweeted gravestone.

(A Six-Word Memoir for a slightly macabre monthly contest entitled “Bury Me Here In Six Words,” about where you want it all to end. #BuryMeInSix)

In this digital age where people seem to exist proportionally to–or not exist without–their visibility on podcasts, streams, Facebook pages, Twitter, or Pinterest: our lives have become digital. The Matrix didn’t takes us, we took to it. In the meantime, our growing population makes every patch of Earth more and more valuable to live on. It seems impractical to reserve a piece forever just to feed the worms for a bit.

I, too, have become a creature of the Internet: my work, my connection to my readers, to the world at large. Reality seeming less real without virtual representation; no one remembers the things I’ve done in life without recording them here. So, I’m thinking, why fight it? My body will be superfluous once I’m no longer using it. Everything worthwhile I have contributed will be patterns of data bits floating in servers somewhere. Let that be my legacy, my resting place, my gravestone.

Pray I leave behind good data.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2019 in Blog, Memoir

 

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Always behind her, friendzoned. Damned alphabet.

(A Six-Word Memoir for one of their monthly contests entitled “Really Good / Really Bad Love Stories”.)

Perhaps the Principal was simply anal: every teacher at my high school arranged their students alphabetically . . . as if to break my heart.

For four years I sat behind the same girl, our last names spelled close enough to ward off any interesting interlopers. I got to know her voice, her laughter, her odd quirks, her moods, her smile that got prettier every year. She enjoyed my attentions, laughed at my guarded hints, even teased me about it; but despite how well we got along, her head would only turn for the boys in class. Our last names kept us in close proximity class after class, despite my need to move on to allay the pressure in my chest. Year after year I watched boys come and go, hurting her the way I never would, watching her not learn from their mistakes. By graduation, even my mother knew her name, shocked when I pointed her out. I always seemed too shy to aim so high.

That day the pain subsided and life went on as if nothing had ever happened. Then, many years later, we fell across each other online. She’d married badly and was unhappily stuck. She was just as pretty as I remembered her and I said so. She teased me like old times, and for a moment I wondered if she might have had second thoughts about us…

Broken hearts can haunt us forever.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2019 in Blog, Memoir

 

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They preferred death for rainbow sheep

(A Six-Word Memoir for their contest “What’s the Family Resemblance in Six?”, and relating to the poem posted here)

It had been three years since they heard from me, I had been so afraid to tell them I’d escaped the closet they had unknowingly locked me in. But here they were, searching for me, afraid for me, needing to know I was okay. I was better than okay, I told them. I was finally happy, living my life. When I reconnected with my family, I told them the truth, because that’s what you do for the people you love. They feigned acceptance at first, but then it became clear: their religion proclaimed that my death would have been better news. It’s ten years later: they search no longer, afraid of me, the deadly rainbow in their black and white world. I still love them, but they’re too busy mourning the death of someone who never existed, the shadow in a dark closet. Family unable to see the light.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2019 in Blog, Memoir

 

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I’m in love with drowning places

(A Six-Word Memoir and a shorter version of this post)

One of the ironies of my life, living in the Pacific Northwest, where the water is iceberg-cold on the hottest days, are the beaches of Ocean City, Maryland, where I nearly met my premature end drowning at the impressionable age of four or five. Despite still harboring an irrational fear of swimming decades later from this unfortunate start, I still pine for the childhood days of half-buried siblings, silicon castles, creosote smelling boardwalks, splashing surf and heavenly cheeseburgers crunchy with windblown sand.
Life can be funny that way.

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2019 in Blog, Memoir

 

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Night owls appear when danger sleeps

(A Six-Word Memoir)

From memories as a kid, sitting in a small upper-story window overlooking the rougher side of Baltimore City at night, when the bullies and criminals who usually roam there are sleeping. This was an oasis of heaven in an otherwise hellish time of my life, fearing I was too small and sensitive to survive in such a place. I spent every night looking out over that city until I realized how beautiful it was at night, when the people no longer roamed its streets and the real magic of the place could come out and be appreciated. I have been a night owl since.

This is the first of my Six-Word Memoirs, which came from the longer story blogged earlier, “Windows Into the Night“.

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2018 in Blog, Memoir

 

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