My name is Brandon. I am 36 , single, and recently moved to Florida.
In 2018, I finished my Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. During the course of my study, I was diagnosed with Bipolar I at the age of 23. In the following 2 years, my body became wrecked by the side effects of older psychiatric drugs. It took a few years to ween myself off the worst, and another few to work through the anger I felt for quitting as a junior in my major. In 2016, I finished my AA in General Studies, and then finished the remaining 3 classes left of my BS, graduating in the fall of 2018.
In the 12 months following graduation, I sent over 500 applications out for Data Scientist positions around the country. After learning that I’m a bit too old and inexperienced to work in that field, I volunteered for a few organizations, and then started work again full circle in the retail industry. From there, I moved to Florida by transferring to the company’s warehouse as an order picker. I found, however, that the work was too physically and mentally demanding, requiring me to pick up thousands of boxes every night and stacking them according to production standards.
I am currently seeking another job in Florida while building my writing chops. I want to be an author and writer. That’s my career ambition. I just need to pay the bills in the meantime. And at some point, I want to attend graduate school for my personal development as well as building my authority as an intellectual.
Mostly, this is my attempt to record thoughts, my thoughts spanning from 2019-2020.
I am a bit unusual. I spend a lot of my time alone. I have goals, ambitions, and dreams just like everyone else. My brain is sick though & it affects my mood, my ability to think, and subsequently, my ability to write. But my thinking becomes clearer on medication. Therefore, at times I am lucid and kempt, at times I am garbled and haggard. You will see in my record times when I was both.
I do love Jesus though. And I believe my miracle is a prescription for a few medications that stabilize me.
A Native American in 1850s Georgia chases a dragon into North Florida where he finds his usual armory of flintlock rifles are no match for the Dragon's power. He must find another way to destroy the predator which has ravaged his land, home, and supply of food or he will die of starvation.
Corvus Redfoot is a loner, an American Indian living in Georgia, off of the land. Most of his family have gone to Oklahoma, and he lives illegally in the woods,in a shack filled with jars full of curious animal parts, taxidermy supplies, & a small collection of muzzleloaders: one musket, two Thompson Hawken rifles.
Although the curiosities are not his, the taxidermy supplies are. His father,a shaman of the tribe, was always secretive about their uses. Father himself hunted and skinned pelts, and Corvus carried on in his own fashion by learning taxidermy from a local farmer. However, Corvus considers himself more enlightened, despite his lack of edu-cation. His father and ancestors always used the bow, where Corvus had learned the deadly art of rifle hunting from whites, and acquired the rifles in a mysterious manner.
He is somewhat shy and timid with people for some reason, especially women. How-ever, maniacal and precise when it comes to hunting. His father, also a deadly hunter, had two wives, as did his Grandfather. He doesn’t realize that the power of the shaman lies in eating these curiosities which he calls offal . The organs contain large doses of vitamins necessary to survive the winter, but the sacred organs, such as the heart, adrenal glands, pineal gland, & brain, combined with the alcoholic, drug like juice preservative give powers of vision and simultaneously super human abilities. These abilities include a clear mind, telescopic sight, swift feet, strong cords, thick muscles, quick thinking. BUT they must be used in moderation.
Unfortunately, Corvus’ father and Grandfather both died mysteriously before han-ding down the secret of shamanism to Corvus. After the winter moves in, and his usual prey begin to dwindle (because of the dragon), he begins eating what he usually feeds to the dogs, and slowly realizes the power of the organs. Once Corvus’ rifle fails to kill the dragon, he begins to eat ALL of the sacred coll-ection, turning him into a monster. It’s questionable whether the dragon is Corvus’s grandfather. Turns out his father died from unknown causes.
1. Another major character, like a guide.
2. The guide could be his father.
3. Information about the dragon. A good name.
4. A narrative outline.
5. A scene list.
He dies of unknown causes at the age of 30. Corvus was only 12 at the time, leaving him in the care of his mother alone (who passes before the story as well, not a major character). He was a hunter before the time of flintlock, a visionary shaman, gentle during the day, but an absolute beast at night. He would dance maniacally around the fire, with more energy than any of the other hunters or tribal people. Corvus never knew why. But his father would use peyote, alcohol, along with the sacred organs of the day’s hunt to pro-phecy as well as control the weather. He dies after overdosing on a combination of psychoactives while trying to bend his will onto the knowledge of past ancestors.
He is the dragon. Corvus is destined to become what he hunts.
How do you assess your target audience & tailor your content for your readers?
While writing for myself, I have no filter & I gotta change that. Any embarrassing experience is on the table as a potential scene for a story. After weeks of pouring myself out in blog post after blog post, I started to feel the heeby-jeebies at what my friends and family would say over poop jokes, foul-language, and violence in my stories. I’m a bit of a blacksheep in the family, and I assure you, the rest are people of character. I don’t want my personal taste in writing to affect their career or standing within the community.
The issue can be solved by changing my target audience from ‘myself’ to ‘other people’ I think. How do I assess that audience though? Communication Majors out there, can you give me a hand?
When I moved over to Ubuntu a few months ago, I was in the middle of an Arduino project involving the LCD display of strings via Python’s serial module. On my windows device, the board was accessed via Window’s Comport 3 (COM3), however Linux does not use that nomenclature as the serial device software is different.
According to Building Embedded Linux Systems: Concepts, Techniques, Tricks, and Traps by Yaghmour et al., serial devices are “uniformly accessed as terminal devices”. Those devices are found under /dev/ttyS0 all the way through /dev/ttyS191 (pg. 73).
The problem is that my Python script bugged out an error upon executing the following code.
ser=serial.Serial("/dev/ttyS0", 9600) #9600 baud connection to the board via the serial port on /dev/ttyS0
The error stated that I had no user rights to access /dev/ttyS0 for a couple of reasons. One, that’s the wrong serial…
When I was a student, I wrote this piece while depressed/manic during my final semester. While juggling school-work and social life, I was awaiting trial for a crime I did not commit. Facing 20 years in prison with papers to write and speeches to give, my medication for Bipolar Disorder began to fail me. These thoughts came to mind around March 2018, just a few weeks before jury selection.
This is an essay of how hard it was that day. It’s also a good baseline of growth since 2018.
Before the sun rises, between the paralysis of sleep and full waking we experience a special consciousness – part dream , part waking thought. Abstract symbols from the subconscious representing painful memories stored as neural pulse intermingle with the stressful aspects of day to day existence, synthesizing a horror beyond simple nightmare. e.g. the realization that I was needed for responsible endeavor immediately. My body was frozen in paralysis beyond my ability to command.
Slouching away from the twisted sheets no laundered item rested on the chair, or layed neatly folded in oak drawers, or layed dirty on the floor. Beyond comprehension clothing I own had vanished. I wore the pair of jeans slept in, a red hoodie and blue sports coat paired with black slippers out the door late. The heat built-up in Spring. It was humid and I could feel the skipped shower manifesting itself within the aroma of my unwashed clothes. One shoe worn down to the skin. The other talking. Jeans slightly sagged from sweat and the sun shown hard into the corneas of my eyes.
As I walk , images of shingles and metallic boxes waxed in and out of my vision. The full spectrum of color in the sweat of the mid-morning. The cabbage smell of hot garbage wafting from tipped , rubber trash cans. Burning asphalt. Molten stink. Walking from my aparment door towards campus less than a mile away, I recalled speaking with a childhood acquiantance:
"I can't get a six pack. I eat and eat and eat
and still can't get a damn six pack."
"What have you been eating?"
"Fuckin' Snickers pie dude!
What do you think I've been eating?"
"Whey protein shakes with ice-cold milk and cream perhaps?"
"That's chocolate. That'll never work."
"Chocolate will make you fat. Any dumbass knows that."
My stomach began to rumble. A sign that I ate something with milk in it.
I drifted back while standing in line for food to the image of a hobo in the cafeteria window. Students strolled by with wet hair and the smell of musk permeated the bouquet of floral body sprays and mint. I began to feel awkward, more awkward than usual as I sensed that my clothing was unusual for a Senior non-traditional student. Black slippers I purchased from Wal-Mart for approximately $10. A navy sports-coat I purchased on credit from a Belk’s department store (not on sale). My jeans needed to be washed. I wore no shirt but instead opted for a red sweatshirt with a tractor supply brand inked in white on the chest. I walked to class, deciding to eat lunch instead of breakfast that morning. It stunk too much everywhere. I pointed to much anger towards my personhood in my psyche and became nauseated while staring at my reflection.
I saw her in class. She was at least 10 years younger than me. Slender, blonde hair. We were preparing to give talks in a special communications course designed for Mathematics majors. She stood there with her mother who came to support her talk today.
“This is Brandon. He’s from our hometown too. We met at the gym.”
“Oh do you work there?”
I could feel the inflammation in the blood vessels of my eye.
“No ma’am. I just workout there.”
My stoic self gave under pressure as my eyes burned hard from tears. I looked at her and mumbled something incoherent.
"I said it's nice."
"The uhh...gym and stuff."
In politeness, I excused myself for a moment and stepped outside the doorway. I looked down and gripped the Freud reader I found on the take-home tables parked outside the office of the Dean. Immediately my mind reeled, wondering about my current relationship with God, how I had failed Him. How I had turned from Christianity to other religions and back – how I had turned from the Word to the intellectual time and time again, and failed to keep the faith. I failed to maintain that I will love others as myself.
But I didn’t love myself in this moment. I was a parody of stoic manhood I so admirably adore. The stress brought more memories back to life in my consciousness.
"I need a dip."
"You are a dip."
"That boy likes dip."
I heard voices say in the back of my cognition. I forgot to take my medicine again. It was a little blue and white pill that kept my memories from becoming real. Voices of the damned. Sounds eminating from Hades. Souls out of Erabus so the poet said. Students walked softly around the corner of the hallway, towards the Biology building, books in hand, spectres of the academic machinery of America. And as I walked out of the building, I hoped that my near-finished education was evidence to myself – that I can focus – that I can concentrate on a book long enough to read the whole goddamn thing, and possibly write an essay on it. But evidence suggested otherwise – that the stress of life and transition left me phased, unable to work, unable to concentrate, unable to maintain intellectualization of my experience as emotion overcame the dam of my spirit when I walked towards the crosswalk back home.
The looping memories of my wretchedness. People were around me. Early 20’s. Some teenagers. I approached 40 without ease. Losing hair. Losing weight from stress. Losing sight of my dream and giving in to mundane adulthood. Settling into signs of defeat as I slightly sighed “it’s over.”
I’ve lost my ability to impress women: mate, mother, or otherwise.
In my vision, the off-white diode emitted the symbol of pedestrian travel permitting the cross off the campus. For some reason the symbol struck me as unusual.
“I was wondering if anyone else has considered that one LED is burned out of the light?” I asked. No one answers.
Realizing that my fellow students are engaged in banter among themselves, I took one step with with knee slightly bent in hopes that I would not pass-out during the one mile walk back home. My stomach began to rumble again. Nauseua and cramps from the whey.
I used to like it when my mind settled on senses. There were sounds, sights, visions, voices that existed within my soul that never rested, never ceased to erode my concentration unless there was a chance that my eyes beheld the sights of the world external, or my ears caught sound of squirrels mating, squeeling frustrations, cracking nuts and scrambling towards the branches.
I took note of things in my surroundings if I could. To my left , a bar, to my right a bar as well with other things like the Fast and Easy or the fried chicken shack. I learned that my mind would fall on tactile sensation so I rubbed the fabric of my sports coat and sensed the way it’s smoothness may cause it to shimmer in the light.
I wanted to sing at this moment but I could not hear the tones without making strong use of my diaphragm – but I need it to breathe as I stepped up my pace noting muscular spasms in my lower abdomen.
I considered the Snickers Pie again and the Freud Reader. Too much stress maybe to hope for anything more than a page here, a page there but much later on around 11 or 11:15 AM. With mind set on the task of comprehension and analysis I paced hard towards my destination making sure that the clinch of my sphincter was secure. That was enough fixation for me in the present moment. This was life beyond intellectualization. It was real and hard and I wasn’t sure that I would ever feel a sense of relief because it only gets harder after 40. I was getting there. From that day, I opted for more sweets than usual as a sign of older age.
I’ve been experimenting with fiction, and recently wrote about something I call a Pueblo Sky. That’s when the sun rises in certain conditions, and the sky is turquoise with pink clouds streaking the horizon. It only lasts for a few moments, usually in the early morning of late fall, when the weather is perfect for walking off the coming winter depression. I made the name from the Pueblo Indians, who used a lot of turquoise stones in their jewelry designs.
“Pinkish light.” I never have a camera on me in these moments.
I saw a man walking the street the other day. He looked so sad, not in his face but in the way he held himself. His clothes were saggy from sweat. His shoulders were hunched over like he carried the weight of another planet. So I prayed “Lord Jesus, if it be your will, let me minister to him.”
I walked over and asked what was wrong. He said it was THE FUNK & it confused me. I asked if he lost his job or went through a divorce, the way his face now looked I imagined it must be so. He said no, it was THE FUNK. THE FUNK of the worst kind at that. Confused even more, questioning the call, I asked him to tell me.
And he said: “It’s the blues coming on with an aroma.”
“It’s not just sadness you see. It’s sadness with a smell, the smell of walking into a kitchen where onions were over-fried the day before & your wife left a note on the dining room table. But it’s not just onions you smell in the empty house. It’s the smell of fear.”
“When we are afraid, our bodies produce stress. The brain signals that danger is afoot by sending a flood of hormones. The stress hormones flow through the brain cells to the nerves in the muscles. And that hormone has a smell. It smells like old onions. I learned that from a book and life.”
“You see, I did lose my job. I’ve been alone most of my life, so I’m not just sad. I’m afraid I’ve failed too many times for love. I’m afraid I’ll be alone all my life, and that’s my biggest fear. And now my temple is ruined by the smell of fear, not only pushing people away, but alerting others that something is wrong with me.”
“That’s the funk. That’s the blues coming on with an aroma. Pray for me, that I’ll find my way. I love the Lord, but I am sick. I need healing in my body and soul, or I need the Lord to let me go.”
Let me go, Lord. The blues are coming on with an aroma…
If you’re lost this morning, come to the alter and pray.
“I hate my job.” Bill said, cracking the door open with his toes, he dropped his arch along the threshold of the room. The cracked skin along the heel inflamed hot awhile, then he hopscotched to the half-pack of cigarettes on the dresser, chalk-line geometries non-existent. Pain & bloodshot in his eyes. He turned back, popping a Marlboro to his lip, seeking the divine in tobacco , seeking witness to the beauty outdoors, with no mind left for judgment, bickering, or talk. His eyes craved dilation from natural light & his soul thirsted for the silent presence of mother nature. Smoke and total emptiness of the soul.
“It’s in this place” he said, stepping to the window of the parlor. Drawing the unlit cigarette away with his pinch, he beheld a head of cattle across the way. One bull piggy-backed a cow and swayed organs under her rear. Stiff for the thrust, the bull’s hooves slipped from her flanks , slamming his jaw into her spine with the burden of unbraced tons and buckling her rear with a loud crack. He stumbled upright & she bleated mercy for broken knees and a ruined back. The neutered semicircled with unaffected, Hindu Brahmin calm while green flies crackled amongst their unswatted eyes. Frozen in view of the loss. Legs caked from worm-ridden manure piled high with disease. The bull’s blackened snot fell over her carcass as she suckled her calf twisted on the ground dead. The bull’s nostrils flared from carnal wonder , jostling his septum ring as he turned his rear & strafed the cow sideways to nuzzle the calf’s middle back, excited from the aroma of warm mother’s milk and young saliva. Bill hobbled himself from the inevitable to the balcony like a burdened ass, Bic-lighter in hand & lungs yearning for the drag, leaving behind the image of broken beef twisted together in the hormone aura of life.
The plume billowed in aethyr. Through the haze, crows below peckered one another over peanut hulls and little tidbits. On sunny days, blues & purples reflect in the angles of sunbeam shimmering on their coats. But they busied themselves under overcast skies today, rendering their feathers muted and lackluster. No Pueblo Sky, he gathered. No pinkish cover.
Bill’s mind slowed from the drag, and then another placed him in the Native mentality. The mentality of hunting the woods for fresh venison or leather pelt, stalking upon twigs and dry leaves without cracking dead oak or bending green pine, the killing incision invoking total silence of body and mind from arrow knock to fat-licked fingers.
He flipped the butt into the lawn as crows preyed on pin grubs and beetles like swollen-bellied, red children. One of them picked up the butt in his beak & spread his feathers , flapping five times & coasting a current to the balcony rail in front of Bill’s chair. Ruffled upon landing, a single earthworm shivered in his nostril, dropped to the floor , and balled its remaining segments around in Bill’s cigarette ashes like the chopped body of a Burmese stacked on an Amazonian pyre of sacrifice.
Is there any way to know a truth if you can’t remember it?
I stand at the window. Light rains wet the fields across the street of Countryside. In the field, cattle graze on fresh grass in the pasture, stopping their lunch for an occasional piggy-back ride or horn-rattle play. None of them are neutered, I witness. The sagging gesture under their bellies indicates a population ready for an organic research study. Their home is the dairy research center at the University. It’s just across the way of my place.
I walk outside & settle myself in a seated posture for a while. Cigarette in hand, blowing smoke to ease into the present moment, a zen technique a la an old friend of mine.
Below the balcony of my apartment, crows pecker one another over peanut hulls and little tidbits. Their mating right depends on the beak’s size, sharpness, & dexterity, proven by gathering gifts for the ladies, species or not. On a brighter day, blues and purples shimmer in the angles of sunlight beaming on their feathers. But today, they flaunt muted coats of black under the overcast skies of Florida. Perhaps the lack of indigo today accounts for increased hunting activity. I blow a ring into the air. Perhaps their increased activity will amend their right to the ladies. Someone jogs by with earbuds. Someone walks a dog, and another walks two. Their chains rattle on to bird songs echoing in the trees lining the road. And then I breathe deep after flipping the butt.
The butt swirls in technicolor , the orange and reddish flames swirling a chain of smoke like a mace in the air. It twists , falling among the blades below. As it lies in last ashes, one of the crows below picks it up in his beak. He flutters up to the balcony and stares at me with cold eyes.
“Shoo. Shoo.” I say , in a flippant sense.
But his gaze causes loss in my consciousness. Pains vanish as I sway, old memories fade and swell in my mind as they wish. I am under the trance of old Crow. And he begins to speak in a language I know from somewhere. Something ancient and gutteral. Not my native tongue of English. He tells me to turn my attention deeper to higher thinking, memories of books and deep conversations between friends and enemies alike. I open my eyes for a moment, to witness two others flanking his sides. Smoke and feathers fill my vision, as one of them poses a question.
“Do you believe in time?”
It is not beyond me to ask such questions, but for someone else to pose it is odd. “This is the question of my God” he says. I begin to wonder if the practice of meditation is congruent with prayer in my Faith. I remember reading a monk once, who said that our attention, our focus was a sacrament if we devoted it to God. We devote our attention to God by recognizing the wonder of His creation; we devote it to God by putting aside our Self and witnessing His presence in the world. This is the congruence according to the monk.
I reply to him “No, not in the sense you want to get at.”
to which he responds “wrong answer. For your fault you will never see light again.”
The second crow stares at me with colder eyes. “Do you believe in you or I? Do you believe we are one and the same?” I remember reading a book again, against my wishes. It said fear does not give way to Love without Grace. And Grace is given through prayer. Moments like this exist in states of horror, not in a state of gratitude, or a state of rest after suffering. Prayer is necessary now, but my tongue cannot find the will to scream. I came here to basque in His Grace & His Presence. Not to be tormented by animal devils.
So I said “there is no I in you nor you in I. I am an independent existence, despite your selfish wishes.”
to which he replied “you’re wrong. For your fault you will never hear sound again.”
The third then asked me a question.
“Are you deceived yet?”
I know that Satan wears many clothes, like the shape of a man, a wolf, a crow, using the voice of an acquaintance. Such is the nature of a deceiver, who deceives under the guise of clever sayings, speaking witchcraft and devilry with a silver tongue. Such is the nature of a spirit bringing fear alongside itself to torment me.
Is there no way to keep Satan’s presence away as I contemplate? Perhaps this is the efficacy of prayer over trance. But again my tongue can not find the will to scream.
I answered the crow “there is no truth in your mouth. Every word you speak is a lie upon another lie.”
to which he said “wrong answer. For your fault you will live in poverty, blind and mute, to the end of your days.”
It seems thousands of years are passing by. I always wondered what the highest form of meditation felt like, totally dropping off from Earth, feeling silence and nothing else within. But this is something else. There is no up or down, no left or right. No sound or light in that place. Nothing but the smell of smoke from mountains of tobacco. Nothing but the feeling of fire getting closer and closer to my soul. I have failed my last temptation, by using knowledge instead of wisdom, lies instead of truth.
And then I open my eyes, the crows have gone. The silence is replaced by the churning of heavy machinery and leaking faucets. I gaze into the field as twenty cattle chase every manner of birds away into the air. A second chance is given. The day has grown late, the sky is heavy with rain, and it is time to feel human once more. The morning is over, and I must tend to my life. By Grace, I am ripped from the state of trance that the devil infiltrated, and from here on, I know that no level of intellect is a match for Satan. I vow to never meditate again.
I put my cigarettes away, and pray in all manner of seriousness this time.