The moment of greatness was upon me.
The long season of hiberantion for crypto was over, and signs of blooming flowers and bull testerone filled the autumn air. The price of BEETCOIN soared to almost 16 thousand munnies starting yesterday (coincindentally my birthday no less), and the rest of the cryptocurrency world was following in tandem. $10, $11, $12, the price of my beatufil LANKS was soaring before my very eyes. Freedom was almost at hand. I just had to to buy a little more with my paycheck just depostited into my accoutn today, sell some of asscciate stock purchase stock I passively waiated to grow, send them to my hardware wallet….
My train of thought had been derailed from the expected strict limits of my self-imposted schedule. I was already massive behind my Virtual Reality World Builds homework, so I was planning to crush today’s meetings as soon as possible and focus on that. I was already feeling a bit lightheaded from staying up late this past week to finish my other self-imposted writing homework, and last night was especially brutal as I wanted to savor the moment of appreciating being alive while trying to casually slip away from birthday festivities to finish the tasks at hand. I work hard now in the hopes that I can still work hard tomorrow, but on my own terms. After enacting ally my theorectical crypto transations to digital proofs, I closed all my apps, and noticed the time of greatness was upon me once again. The wildkittes meeting, a connucupia of progressive and future-thinkking leaders of tomorrow, utilzing the ever-evolving digital scope of existence to roadmap all the possibilties for humanity’s next step. It was a refreshing outlook of thinking, to start to build towards tomorrow instead of being trapped in today and yesterday, and I made it a goal to attend every meeting I comfonrtably could. Moments like this appear and flicker out just as bruiefly.
Around an hour an and half passes, and I gleefully depart from the wildkittez BOOM meeting. My body wants to rest, my mind pleads for a mental moment of respite, but I have to chug onwards. I’m already late for another engagment, and a work one at that, so I close my personal latop, adroned with a plethaora of adorable and goofy anime stickers I’ve collected over the years, tuck it away into my personal blug backpack, and pull out the gleaming PEARbook pro, a shiny example of how my company spares no expense for employee productiveity. I flip open my work latop, insput one of 7 rottating passwords in the name of security (this sucks), hop onto the corporate proxy to block out nefarious iinternet entities from peeking on my confidential property code which counts how many words an HR document containts, and BOOM into another meeting. My two teammates sit in the meeting room with their mics off and video turned off. I couldn’t see or hear them, but I mentally internalized they were sitting and pouting with their arms crossed as I yet again showed up late to another work meeting.
“It’s okay guys, I’m finally here.”
Yesterday was the day of my company’s first ever hackathon. Time and time again I forgot that a corporate-sponsosted hackathon is not a showcase to demonstrate what new and brimming technolgies witll turn the world flat on its own head: nononono, it’s just a quick injection of cash to stimulate new engineering solutions that the company could take and profit from further, and rewards the creators of such amazing ideas a meager stipend to to give the illusion of success. Knowing all this, I couldn’t contain myself either. It was an excuse to work on something exciting instead of the drab word-counting code I drudged on daily. And I had the perfect candidate for my own nerfaroious pplots: virtual reality worlds.
As so we schemed, and found a candidate that was basicalyl a complated projected, a online world-building editor with pre-created world! Excellent, my two teammate and will each take a world, add some minor modifications, link the rooms together, and….
Dolphins, its already 4PM. So much for quick and easy scheme to get out of working. And wow, world building takes quite a bit of time. I can see now why games regulalry take months of not years to develop and release. Despite our cheesy plan to get out of work early blowing up in our face, my teammates and I had a fun time just chatting and working on something different for a change. It was nice. I hope we get the chance to do this again.
The moment of greatness was upon us. In a randomly (I was skeptical at the “random”) sorted decision, our team was slotted to present first! Good, my nerves gring on me the later I present, and I just wanted to get this out of the way and log off for the day.
“Alright team NaHRuto, you are up.”
I turn on my BOOM webcam and microphone, and dramatically cough into my clenched fist to draw every’s attention. Pandemic or not.
“What if I could show you a world, where these tiresome BOOM meetings became a remnant of yesterday?”
A rousing amount of virtual applause later, our team walked off the BOOM centerstage (just a sqare on everyone’s meeting square) and virtually high-five each other over [funny-name-alternative-for-slack-maybe-slick?-maybed-distract-yeah-i-like-distract] disctract.
“That was amazing, Keir! We’re a shoo-in to win!”
Dozens of messages trickle in through the DISTRACT messengar which I had muted during the presneation, now bleeping and blooping with all manner of congratulations from various viewers in the BOOM meeting room. My ego welling up, I let my pride corript what I consider to be my humble soul. Riding the adrenaline of certain vicyory, I stuck around to view and support the rest ofthe porjects presented i nthe hackathaon. They was no chance they would win, not after that key-up presenation I just wowed everyone with. Sitting in my high chair, I leaned back to take in much much more my body and mind despierately clinged onto for consion intake.
We lost. What the :dolphin:, we LOST. And it wasn’t even to a GOOD project. Second place just had an idea, no demo or anything. And first place… also had a demo with slightly nicer presenation slides. Unbelievable. The idea wasn’t even good. A “safe space bot” I internally mocked and dubbed it. First place’s idea was a DISTRACT bot added to public DISTRACT channels, sending messages to any users who use a word that can be misconstrued as “derragortaory and insenstive”. The example the team gave was a user saying “whitespace” to designate the space between words on a page. “Why not use empty space? The bot polititely messaged in a private messager to the user.”
The judges roared at the novetly of this idea. With an increasingly destablizing and chaotic life leaking into even the world place, with a pandemic, social injustice, and now a milestone election in tow, tensions rise high. The usual DISTRACT moderators can no longer keep up with te amount of incidents happing in the messger cyber space. This bot would be their salvation, and since it was a bot the user in question could not keep raging tot a human for their correction. Any ill-founded emotions would fall on deaf ears.
The idea of the bot disgusted me to my core. Subtle and automationic censorship was something I internally stood against, but I didn’t have a clear reason why. My gut disgusted was more and more words were being “lost” to political correctiness. I understand the terminaloogy “master-slave” desribing computer relations between outdated and insesntive as our nation was founded on such human-versionso f the relatitonship. I underatand “male-female” describing the ends of the crods and the ports they are inserted into being pervasiveness: it was an innieduo was phsyical human relations. But “white space” and “hey guys”? Really? This was insane. And the bot correctly you had no room to explain WHY this word was insenstive. To understand what the crux of the issue was instead of banadging a society wound that grew deepera nd more infected each day. “Just use empty space, buddy. It’ll be better for everyone if you did.”
Disgusting. I made a passing comment to my teammates that we were cheated and the compeition was rigged, and dryly wanted to take back my words as a national election of milestone importance was undergoing ballot-counting at the same time. It had been the third day since the elcection was officially supposed to call the results, but I had tuned out after the first delay. Someone would be elected, but I had more pressing matters ahead of me in the moment. And just at the asme time too, the LOUGLE form for selecting people’s choice out of the remaining hackathon particpants was released. And someone just found out you vote multiplate times from the same computer for the same team. Great. Even more democratic tensions in an already echasting environemnt. I closed my corporate laptop and went home. As soon as I went home, I crashed into bed intending to take a quick power nap and work on my VR homework before my next engagment. That plan was a bust, as my body and mind took over I was irresingnly driving beyond my limimits for over a week now.
The bright blue sky streaked with white narrow clouds were gone, and the afterglow of the orange sunset made its way for the purple overtones of the night. My dumbphone blared its stinging digital gongs to singal ITS TIME TO GET UP, and so I did. I groggily made my way to throw off my work clothes and throw on some sweaptants and an old shirt, and I made my way to confont an old demon I was long delayed even before the pandemic, and the tamer before the gate challenging me to face this demon head on. Someohow changing together putting on the clothes and making my way to my car, I stop to apprecaite the nice summer weather of evening. Wait, summer? It was already late fall, and I was feeling a bit warm under my wind-breaker and long sweatpants. Something about this weather is eerie and unsettling, but I dwelled on it no longer, I was already running late tas it was.
The moment of impending doom was upon me.
I was already three minutes late to my scheduled slot with my personal trainer, Veenie. I coordinate with him beforehand and time and again he gives me a friendly reminder that he can’t refund me anytime I waste by showign up late to someplaace I need to be. As just as I subsonciscously gfeared and re-remembered after pulling up to his driveway, I see him there sitting on the bench press apparatus with his two feeting planted in the ground, leaning forward with his hands clasped together, and eyeing me getting out of my car. Veenie is an self-made entreprener after the local gym-chain he used to work at burned him behind his back, so in a compeltely professional manner, stole all their clients and made his earnigns through personal and group training sessions in his car garage. Car garage was a disenougous statement, however, he was also a practical and minimalist at heart, and through careful organization and crafsman’s ingenioty, he was able to fit everyonth needed for a personal training sessions without it making it seem liek the tiny spacy was enclosed in the slightlest, a far cry from the typical garage owned by everyone else in the nightborhood. I reflevely gulped as I got out of my car and toward his personal dojo, and upon crossing the reality barrier between his world and the world outside, Veenie got up, approached me and… gave me a firm but welcoming grasp.
“Welcome back, Keir. It’s been quite a whilte, huh?”
I found the sprighltly Veenie through a friend of mine. From a time whence I can ir-remember, said friend was getting noticeably swoller and buffer (and continauly complaining about being sore) through the guild words of a personal trainer he could not stop raving about. If Veenie were to have 10 true fans, my friend would defintely be number one if not number four at best. Eventually I buckled and decided to reach out to Veenie directly. My weight and by exenstion my health were in disgting form. I had kept the same massive weight since I had left college, and before that I had gradually grown rounder and plumpter. My attempt at rebellion was going outside to run for a bit before the morning nhad truly begun. I lived in the suburbs and the drivel of the clunker cars waking from their night’s slumber to embark on the same commuter journey once more drove me up the wall. Unfortunately I am excellsively lazy and make any excusive to NOT take care of my health, so that run-in-th-morning master lpan usually fell apart come authumn. I needed someone more, something consistent and substanial. All the great munies I getting from my job needed to do something besides further curl me into a sloth. In a more secret sense, I had an emerging sense of doom from my body screaming about how much in pain it was becoming to do simple things. Getting into shape wasn’t just an optional activity for fun anymore.
Pre-pandemic, the first session I had met Veenie, he had sized me up to determine what was possible considering what I wanted out of training with him. Becoming healtheir obviously, I snorked. He frowned and told me that wasn’t enough. If I didn’t know where I was going, I had no way of getting there. The first session we met then turned into measurements and forcing myself to commit to tanglible goals, even if I didn’t really believe I could achieve. Hitting a certain weight, being consistent, and healther eating wereo n the agenda. Only the first goal had tnagible number,s but it was better for ntihng.
Week after week, I meet with Veenie onnce or twice on good weeks. He painstakingly created a personalized workout routine for me based on my current paraments with the expectation I would go out and make time to do so and be ready for the next personal training session. Time and time again I failed to fulfil that tpromise to myself and my personal trainer: there was just not enough hours in the day, I commuted nearly 3-4 hours everyday to get to work, and what little time I did have free I was too exhausted to even do anything.
Today’s first session with Veenie felt eerily similar. After exchanging pleasnaties, commenting on each other’s long locks of lucios hairs, Veenie sat me down to walk through what I had done maybe 1 or two years ago since I met him. “What are you goals, Keir?”
This time, I did not hesitate. I wasn’t the same uncertain and unappraishing person I was pre-pandmeic. I wasn’t going to wait for life to tell me it was okay to spend time on my body to preserve and improve it. I was going to carve out time, even if it meant taking away time for the times I once though mattered so much.
“Weight, 235 pds. Excercise consisteny, every morning, no matter the weather. Eating regiment: controlled, pre-pepared, less or no junk food per week except for special occasions. “
Vinny gave a slight smile. Maybe he could sense something different was inside of me as well.
I pondered for only a moment before giving my next answer. I remembered challger spirit looking for rivals to keep me accountable, and though back to some friends talking up a big comeption in the pre-pandemic times.
“I want to compete in a Spartan race.”
Suddently Veenie smiled in his most trademark devious demeanous when he was going to cook up an awful workout routine that would break my body and challenge my spirit.
“You do, huh? This is going to be fun.”
Veenie is also a bit of an ununsual personal trainder from his personality standpoint. He is a HUGE gamer and as a fellow gamer, we riff about adventures of old and new. It helps build a bond deeper than trainer-and-student: I can borderlien say we are friends now. As we catch up on what the other has been up to since the onset of the pandemic, he mentions that he just adopted a dog. Veenie becomes shcoked, realized that I have yet to meet him and his girlfriend’s newest fur baby, and after calling out to him in the house, I find myself tackled into the ground by a giant and goofy bulldog. I’ve only met one other bulldog in my life, and he was also massive and overbearingly friendly. At least this new contender didn’t slobber as much.
I continue to acquire about the nature of his dog: the dog is named Strechth, after one of Veenie’s most usued words during perseonal training. he tells that they adopted Stretch from across state-lines. Across state-lines? Why didn’t you just adopt from the local shelter, I asked. They’re all out, Veenie replied. All out, whatever could you mean? I mean the the shelthers have long been cleaned out, friend. The social isolation of the pandemic took a mental toll on lots, and to fill the void in human interactions, they sought love and reaffirmation from furry friends.
I grit my teeth in brewing anger. I follow the social media pages of my local animal shelters, almost like window shopping as I already have a rascal of my own. Such beautiful cat and dogs up for adoption with no takers. And shelters don’t publicly advetise this, but as a mandate to make space for new innamtes and for funding, animals with no adopters soon find themselves put to sleep permanently. Taking care of thel ight of another, especially something that can fend for itself, is no easy decision, that I completely understand. But it just hurts my soul to have the lights of one be turned off for another because they are “no longer valuable”. They aren’t chosen, so they go to the other side of darkness, the side of the moon with no refleciton from the sun. Hilariously and maybe psycholitcally enough, I don’t feel the same sort of lamenation over other human beings. Human are bad, humans are lame. Humans can fend for themselves and cause so much trouble for other humans and the resto f the planet’s residents. Human are selfish and destroy more and more so they can consume more and more. We could do with less humans, it’s audacioous to belives we can play God and decide twho can live and die based on a whim. Only one county in recorded history played God either further, and curtailed their own expansion of human population growth in the face of contraining resources to run the country. The Great Sprint Forwards, which the One-Child policy being only hthe surface of the radical reforms a famous chairman from a distant land enachteed. They all though he was crazy and inhumane for setting tthe stage to what the coutnry has now become. Thinking now, maybe he was just making the hard decisions that everyone would need to make as soon the planet we suffocate could give no more.
My soul was also raging that it was only when it was convinient that these animal inmmates could finally find a home. I think back to the time I visted my paren’t home country as a kid, and blocked out most othe memories I found bizzare and jarring. But the one memory I still recall clear as day was al lthe wild cats and dogs that roamed the steets searching for food. These critters were flea-ridden, disease-infested, shedding in all shorts of hidenous manners, and lost not only appendages but eyeballs, ears, and everyday in between. They were horrible and ugly, and I was heartbroken. In a country where it’s people could barely survive themselves, taking care of stray animals was on no one’s agenda. But where were these animals coming from? Why did they roam the streets, eating literal grabage and scraps just to survive another pain-wretchind day? I promised my young naive mind I would come back one day, not just to this country, but countires all around the world, and saave these animals, clean them up, and set them free in my many wildlands I would one-day be the proud owner enough. I wanat to be rich enough to give my cats and dogs the backyard they deserve, a once famous modern-day poet stated. Almost a decade later, and I was still no closer to realized this dream. I had fell prety to the follies of “adulthood”, and ran on the same corporate hamster wheel as what I would gravely consider “the lucky ones”.
These thoughts mull over in my mind as I finish today’s session with Veenie. I bid him goodbye, and return home to prepare for yer another battle: finshing up moving out of my apartment for good. I had wayyyy to much stuff. Most stuff I never even used, but kept dragging along with me from home to home without a second thought. I wonder how it got to that point.
I get home and check my dumbphone for notifcations, as I had aginrly shut them off in consquence to losing the first and second place of my compan’y hackation. I get two messages in tow:
“Hey Keir, we won people’s choice!”
A lame prize compared to the first and second prize recipients, but those were projects chosen by the corporate judges themselves. The projects chosen by the sun to get the first spark of light and keep burning for the sake of the company. Our project was different: it was bootstrapped by my team and led by me, and what we proposed what not forgetting out humanity through the censhopship of contenipous words, but rememberign what it mean to be human in an increasinglhy digital age. A call back to the truths of yesterday we forget in the overcomplicatigons of modern day living. I peer out triumphantly to the sky now draped in black, and a bright moon meets me back to grant me its blessing. I was a champion of the dark, chosen by moon to re-light the truths once prevalent, but now forgotten. A look back at our ancestors, all theirs wisdoms to get to this point, and a call back to humanity, now forgotten in the flurry that is now. “People’s choice” was just small proof that there were ppeople out there waiting for contenstios creatvies like myself to finally dive into the fray. The journey would be long, painful, daunting, dangeourous, and all manner of negative descritpions that would ward away any sensible person form even taking the first step. But common sense is not so common anymore, so now I had a reason to go back int othe dark and bright back old truths into the moonlight.
To remember who we once were, and decide who we want to be in the coming days of self-efficacy calamity.
Today’s word count: 3,888 words
Total word count until today: 14,024 words
@mariasokolowska @michellebasey @sabweld @ParisaR @sydneydobersteinlarock @wildcat @dragon @homeroom11