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Sleep deprivation is the best for creativity


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So. Lack of school work has left me with a lot of free time. I've been trying to ignore inspiration for a while, as sleep is always a priority, but today the itch was too strong. It's not really any good, but I managed to write over 3k words in a couple of hours. I hope you guys enjoy reading this crappy start as much as I enjoyed writing it. It's loosely based on a frustating encounter I had a couple of years ago, but it's mostly fiction. Keep in mind that this is not edited and I was half asleep when i wrote it just a few hours ago! It took me ages to find out where I'd written down my AD username/password. Here are the preface and the first chapter.

PREFACE

Sooooo… the fork in the road. Right. I guess it’s karma (or maybe just plain funny) that I should be afraid of the fork when all of my life I’ve struggled to free myself from my hand’s own grip on such a utensil. You could say I have an eating problem-- and you, of course, would be right. I might be irresponsible and a little naïve, and I might say that this all stems from my father’s physically demanding position on my eating habits as a child. You see, my parents thought I had an eating problem: I was not as enthusiastic about food as they were when they were children. Then again, I didn’t grow up in a household where food was scarce. That’s beside the point I guess. Back to the main issue: I have an eating problem, and a decision to make. Also, I probably should stop looking for somebody to blame and just make the changes that I need to make. I should be asleep right now (it’s past three in the morning). Instead, though, I’m writing this as it seems refreshingly important. Umm, right. Once again, back to decision-making and to an additional, unneeded statement: I have an eating problem. Problems need to be solved, right? I mean, even though my neighbors and their children seem to become increasingly rounder as the days go by, that isn’t really an excuse to join them… or to feel like I’m normal.

I don’t know where I heard this, it was probably a movie or a telenovela or a book… or the internet. Who knows, who cares… right? Anyway, it went something like this: “what would the child you used to be think of the adult you are today?” I’m pretty sure he would find me creepy. And fat, of course. He would probably also wonder why my chest is so big, and why I look like I’m in a bad mood all of the time. And why I’m so socially awkward. If he knew me personally, or heard people talk about me, he would not understand why I fail so much at life. He would think I was a loser. Which I kinda am. Sad, huh? No? Ok.

What are my choices? There are two, with a third one that isn’t so much a decision as it is blissful ignorance. The first one is: I make the changes I need to make. The second one is: I don’t make any changes at all. The third one is just ignoring the problem, without ever acknowledging the consequences of my own behavior. What is the difference between choices #2 and #3? Well, #2 makes me feel really guilty about my own behavior. I don’t know yet what the consequences of this guilt would be, but I think they would lead me to either #1 or #3. If I was to put these choices into words, or even better, if I was to give them a clichetastic makeover, they would say ‘do or die’. So… do or die? I think anyone in their right mind would say ‘do’. That’s what I wanna say. I promise I do… but it’s so much less comforting than #2 and #3 (yes, I’m avoiding reality by not saying ‘die’, so you can see how far I am in this pit of denial I call my existence).

Wait. What the hell just happened? How did I get from having an eating problem to DO OR DIE? Ok. Analysis time. Let me address some of the tangents I gleefully rode to my do or die destination. “Eating problem” isn’t just an eating problem. There are many, many things I believe this eating problem is complicating for me, mainly self image and public image. Which in turn affects my confidence and my mental health. Which affects my life as a student, a professional, and a potential lover (ugh, this one sounds silly but I truly believe it to be an issue). So, pretty much every aspect of a young person’s life and the foundation of their well-being. And seeing as I am a young person still… well, you get my drift. Or at least I hope you do. If you don’t, you need to go back and reread this until you do, then you can go past this point.

Do or die? We’ll see.

CHAPTER 1 -- 120F

“ I think you’re autistic.”

My parent’s house felt like a psych ward at times. Or a free clinic with a diagnostically-happy nurse. Ever since she started working with the differently-abled (a term I used only after being told that special ed and mentally challenged were out of fashion), my sister kept on calling me different things. Last week she informed me I had Asperger’s. I guess autistic isn’t that far off from Asperger’s. At least I don’t think it is.

I didn’t answer, of course. I finished making my sandwich and, after putting it inside a ziplock bag, it went into the front pocket of my brown backpack. I put on my shoes and headed towards the door, not even bothering to say goodbye, which made me feel a slight pang of regret as I stepped out of the house.

It was still a little early, but it was the first day of school, so naturally I wanted to avoid being late. My very first day back after dropping out of college after only three semesters. It wouldn’t have been so bad if any of the classes I’d taken were useful to my new major-- but I guess biochemistry and calculus aren’t useful to painting majors. The drive wasn’t very long. It was forty minutes at the most at this time of day, seeing as I lived right off the freeway. It was the summer though, so every minute dragged on for ages. The absence of air conditioning, a year-round necessity in most of Arizona, was quite frankly killing me. But this truck had been good to me: it had survived two accidents nearly unscathed, as had I. No trips to the hospital for me or performance issues for her. She didn’t have a name, aside from the ‘4 Runner’ on her back. It was an older model, and that’s all I’m going to say. You neither ask nor reveal a lady’s age, after all.

Twenty five long and sweaty minutes later, I stepped out of my best friend and into the scorching 120F weather. I could feel the heat clawing its way out of the ground and into the rubbery soles of my sandals. I instinctively looked down, only to be met by the horrid sight of my white feet. I have nothing against white feet, of course. The problem for me would be the color discrepancy between my white feet and my brown legs. I made a note to either wear sandals more often or not at all.

The parking lot wasn’t much different than what I remembered: perhaps a little bigger, and some of the curbs had been painted either yellow or maroon. I waited five minutes before the bus arrived, and I boarded it as soon as it was empty. I took a seat as close to the driver as possible, remembering the few times I’d boarded the one bus with a dysfunctional chord during my freshman year. I wasn’t late to class, but I wanted to avoid walking extra distances under the sun during the summer, at least.

I stepped off the bus close to the first map I saw and looked at my schedule. Art building… mmm. Oh, there it is. I took out my cell phone to look at the time and realized I’d missed a text message. “You didn’t say GoodBye”, it read. I wrote something corny and brotherly and hit reply. I looked at the time, seeing I had still twenty minutes to get to class, and changed the cell phone’s mode to ‘silent’. I couldn’t risk my phone ringing its ridiculous tune during class.

I walked towards the art building, paying close attention to which buildings were on its path so I could make my way there faster in a week.

I still wasn’t great at social situations, even when these required nothing more than my acting human and putting one foot in front of the other. I took my cell phone out of my pocket and pretended to look at the time, even though the sun was too bright for me to see anything on the screen. I clicked the combination of keys that would lead me to the ‘new text message’ option, (whether I got there is another deal altogether) and pretended to write a long, winded text message. I will most definitely not forget an mp3 player next time.

Before I knew it, there was a wall in front of me, which meant I had to look around and see where I found myself. No visible sign to the left… sign reading “Art Building” to the right. I made my way up an oddly-situated ramp and caught my first glimpse of the art building. It was tall. That’s about all there was to it. It looked more like a warehouse than an actual School of Anything. Oh well, I didn’t like light anyway. I was trying to escape the sun, so I didn’t mind not seeing any windows on its façade. I tried to find the stairs for a minute but finally gave up, pushing the ’up’ arrow next to the elevators.

I don’t know what I was expecting to come out of the elevators once they opened, but it was not what I saw.

“Can you stop pushing the button?”

“Um… alright.”

So I stopped pushing the button. The elevator was completely full, so I didn’t argue nor did I try to squeeze in. I had a bit of a problem breathing in crowded places, so I decided to take my chances and tried once again to find the stairs. I looked behind me, towards the building entrance, and saw a small girl open a door outside the building. I followed and… voila! A few flights of stairs waited for me. I made my way to the fourth floor and looked for room 401, which was slightly to my right.

There were about ten people waiting inside already. All girls. I counted the chairs and came up with sixteen. There was no desk. I took a look around the room and realized it was no different than the outside. There were no embellishments: no carpeting, the walls had dozens of tacks all over them, and the tables were both old and dirty. I also considered the people less attractive, or at least not as well-groomed, as those in the school of life sciences. That made me feel bad for a second, and I decided that they were just different, not worse. Or at least I tried to tell myself that.

By the time class was supposed to start, all seats were occupied. There were a couple of extra people. From the enthusiastic conversation of my young, young classmates (most of them were freshmen, which made me feel not only older but also less talented), I understood that these extra people were hoping for overrides. I didn’t know how that would work if all seats were already taken, but whatever. I sat across the whiteboard, facing it. My view blocked only by a guy with long hair. Something about that guy…

“I hope you all enjoyed your summer.”

It seemed an odd time to start a conversation. The teacher was supposed to arrive soon, after all.

“My name is Clark Benson, and I will be your instructor for Color this semester.”

Oh. Well that made a lot more sense. He wrote his name on the white board and then proceeded to pass out note cards. When he was finished, he sat on the edge of the front table, right next to guy with long hair.

“I want you to write a few things on that note card. First, your name and class. Freshman, sophomore, et cetera. Then your desired major, as I’m assuming you’re all underclassmen and haven’t submitted your portfolios as of today. Tell me a few things about you that you think I should know about, then turn the card over and draw a self portrait.”

Oh god. Why do we always have to start with the name. Will I forever be doomed to shame and ridicule? I mean, if I had a cool name like Aiden or Trevor nobody would think I was weird. They’d just think my odd interests provided a good balance to my perfectly normal name.

I wrote my name in. Was I a freshman or a sophomore? If I was a sophomore, should I write second semester sophomore? Sophomore and a half? I gave up and just wrote freshman. I looked a little old to pass for fresh, but I’d seen older in my chemistry classes and I figured the more naïve I made myself look the less expectations there would be. What should he know about? Should I tell him about my eating disorder? That I’ve lost over a hundred pounds and I still feel obese? No, definitely not. I decided to go the so honest it must be a lie route and wrote in “People think I’m autistic, I’ve never painted in my life, and I secretly love Britney Spears.” I had no idea how to draw a self portrait. I tried to remember my own reflection, but all I could see was my old self. They wouldn’t really recognize that. So instead I went completely abstract and drew a tiki-inspired portrait. I gave Clark my note card and sat down again.

I felt a little sick all of a sudden, so I put my head down for a bit. The cold table felt great against my warm cheek. I was thinking of closing my eyes before I felt three tiny fingers tapping my right shoulder.

“Hi.”

I turned my head without lifting it and met her gaze. She must’ve been fresh out of high school. She had that lost puppy look about her. She wasn’t wearing any makeup, but it didn’t feel like she needed it. Her complexion was flawless aside from a small scar between her left eye and brow.

“How’d you do that?” I lightly tapped on her miniscule scar with my index finger. Nope, I didn’t usually think about what came out of my mouth, nor was I reserved about physical contact with strangers. Nevertheless, I immediately regretted my question.

Her sweet features turned slightly paler and she looked around for a bit before answering. “ It’s fairly new, actually. Have you taken Small Metals?”

I had to think about that one for a second. At first I thought she was asking if I’d somehow inhaled or consumed small pieces of metal, but then I remembered seeing a ‘Metals’ class during my online registration as an undergraduate elective. So she must have meant a class.

“No, I haven’t. Are scars something you can expect from taking that class?”

Again the pained expression. Jesus, I was really bad with girls. Sometimes I thanked my stars for being gay. Only sometimes, though.

“ Umm, no, not really. I forgot to wear eye protection.” She must’ve seen the expectant look on my face. “Goggles and stuff. Sometimes we use a shield but not very often. That’s usually if you’re working bigger.” Again, she must’ve sensed my confusion. “Metals class.”

“Ah. So you took that class over the summer.” She nodded. I was amazed at how impervious she seemed to my social ineptness; most girls would have stopped talking to me by now. I made a note not to call her ‘insensitive’. I was going to ask her about her major, but at that moment Clark cleared his throat. We all stopped talking and turned towards him.

“You’ll notice half of you have two cards in front of you. If you do, I need you to look at them now and make sure one of them is yours.” I looked in front of me but found no cards. The girl next to me didn’t have cards either. I guess that meant we weren’t memorable. “Cool. Looks like I’ve still got it! Ahem. Now, I want you to look at the card that does not contain your information and turn it over. Look at the portrait and try to match it to that person. Once you find them, I want you to hand them your card and you’ll both try to learn as much as you can about each other. You’ll be introducing each other to the rest of the class in ten minutes.”

I waited patiently for about two minutes. Most were already paired up, although I noticed my resilient neighbor wasn’t yet. Long-haired guy was walking towards us. I guess he was kinda cute. He had brown hair, and blue eyes. Slim build. Ugh, neck beards are gross. I tried to ignore that for a few seconds and found him cute before reality came crashing down and I once again took note of his beard.

“You’re Ariel, right?” My neighbor shook her head. He turned and walked towards the previously and only other unmatched girl, only to find her shaking hands and apparently introducing herself as Regina to a short brunette named Rina. It was kind of cute, the way their names rhymed.

“I’m Ariel.”

I guess I couldn’t delay it any further. The expression on his face was priceless. It almost made up for twenty years of taunting.

“Oh. Wow.” His eyes were wide with… shock? He was smiling now. He had a great smile. When I was in High School, I had a big time crush over one of my friends. I realized at that moment they shared the same smile, right down to the shape of their teeth. I felt a little pressure in my chest, but I swallowed twice and it was gone. “Oh shit. I’m sorry, man. It’s just that your self portrait is really abstract.”

“It’s ok. I know I have a girl name. We’ll all get over it eventually.” I made sure to address the rest of the class, seeing as even Clark was listening in on our conversation. He smiled again. And I felt pressure not only in my chest, but in my stomach as well. I had to breathe a few times to make that feeling go away.

I noticed everybody was sitting down at this point, so I did as well. “So, do you wanna go first or should I?” He wanted me to go first, so I quickly ran through everything I wrote on the note card. He would flash me a smile after every sentence. I’d almost fainted by the time I was finished. He asked if I could read it again so he could introduce me correctly, but I didn’t think I could handle another smile. I was already feeling sick before I looked at his face, and now I felt like running to the bathroom and just passing out in front of the toilet.

“Here. Just take the note card. You can read off of it when you introduce me, so there’s no need to memorize anything, alright?” I was losing my patience. Every word made the contents of my stomach crawl further up. I didn’t care if I sounded angry or annoyed. I just wanted to stop talking.

“Ah. Alright, that sounds good. Let me read mine for you at least.”

I couldn’t even look at him. Here was a guy whom I had an unreasonable attraction to and I couldn’t even bear to look at him. In fact, it made me nauseous. I wasn’t unaware of how it looked either: from anybody’s perspective, it would seem as if I was trying my hardest to belittle him. But in reality, I was listening to every word he said. I couldn’t help it, even if I could see the slowly diminishing smiles after every phrase. His name was Austin. He was from out of state. He was a sophomore. Thankfully we ran out of time after that.

So he went back to his seat. The introductions were in voluntary order; I knew we would be dead last. I’d done everything right to end whatever chemistry, friendly or otherwise, there was between me and Austin. I felt him stare at me the entire time. Great. I’ve managed to make an enemy out of the only guy in my color class. Fantastic.

There were only four people left, and neither pair seemed to want to volunteer. I raised my hand and waited for Clark to call on me.

And all of a sudden, as if luck were finally working in my favor, Clark announced that class was over.

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Hey, it's been a while since you'd last posted.

I liked this. I'd suggest some editing, maybe paring down, the Preface. Maybe tweak the first chapter here and there. I liked the hints we get.

I'm presuming he's having trouble with nervousness and self-image, and possibly hunger, or at least wanting food, and reassurance, if not actual hunger. -- Good take on character and traits.

I found myself wondering if his name's pronounced as in English, "Air-ee-ell," or as in Spanish, "Ah-ree-ell." (For that matter, it could be Portuguese, Catalan, or French, or a few others.) That would depend on how his family says it as well as how much his friends insist on English versus Spanish/other. -- I've known people who did one or the other, or who switched depending on who they were talking with.

Nice start!

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Hey, it's been a while since you'd last posted.

I liked this. I'd suggest some editing, maybe paring down, the Preface. Maybe tweak the first chapter here and there. I liked the hints we get.

I'm presuming he's having trouble with nervousness and self-image, and possibly hunger, or at least wanting food, and reassurance, if not actual hunger. -- Good take on character and traits.

I found myself wondering if his name's pronounced as in English, "Air-ee-ell," or as in Spanish, "Ah-ree-ell." (For that matter, it could be Portuguese, Catalan, or French, or a few others.) That would depend on how his family says it as well as how much his friends insist on English versus Spanish/other. -- I've known people who did one or the other, or who switched depending on who they were talking with.

Nice start!

Oh wow. I read it again. Sleep deprivation is not good for creativity! Ha! It's good for the illusion of creativity. Oh well it was fun to write. I think I might continue, just to see if I can.

I didn't really think about how to pronounce it, now that you mention it. In my head, nobody ever has an accent. So I guess it would be Air-ee-ell. Probably my own insecurities play a part in that. Not really my cup of tea, this piece. I've always felt an aversion to writing this sort of stuff for whatever reason, but that's what came out (and I think I mean the simplicity and straight-forwardness of it... not the genre). Slightly cathartic and somewhat therapeutic. Thanks for the feedback!

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Maddy!!!!!! :smile: It's been ages. I'm so glad you're back. :icon_thumleft:

For me the preface was a little weak, but the chapter strong. I liked Ariel as a character - I've always liked the name, which is definitely (see Shakespeare's The Tempest) masculine. I think it's a good start and I'd have happily read more. Actually, I was a bit peeved when it came to an end. So more, please!

Camy

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Thanks Camy! I agree about the preface. It reads very convoluted... unnecessarily long. It really is just one thought! I'm glad you enjoyed the chapter. I think I'll reopen my blog and post there, seeing as I have noone to edit for me... plus I think if I make it formal it'll lose its charm. It was late and I was sleepy (still am), so I was too tired to think too much about what I was writing. I think I'll try it again tonight, but not at 2am this time >.<

Also, thanks Richard. I hope you guys remember how sporadic my writing is... I might not be interested in writing this story too much longer. I just hope I stick to it long enough to learn a few things. Also, I encourage hard criticism. I read it again when I woke up and cringed about every three sentences. I'll be able to learn a lot more from it if you guys help me :).

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Wow, I'm so glad to see you back. I'll bet school can be blamed for taking you away, right? And your story is a great first draft. Keep at it!

Colin :icon_geek:

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