Veronica's Garden

Rachel Creager Ireland on writing, living, the Flint Hills, and the Post Rock Limestone Caryatids

Category: Excerpts

Stubbornly Doing the Impossible: NaNoWriMo

Journal 2

Since she was very small, a baby, even, my eldest daughter has had a unique way of challenging herself to do impossible things, just because she’d decided that she wanted to do them. Invariably when reality sets in and she sees that what she’s trying to do is impossible, she becomes inconsolable. As a baby, at those times, she’d cry and take the breast; as a toddler, she’d tantrum; now that she’s eleven, she still cries and suffers quietly when she discovers that what she has set her mind to is firmly outside of her reach.

Everyone agrees she got this trait from me. Which brings us to NaNoWriMo. That’s National Novel Writing Month, for those who don’t know about it. When I first heard about NaNoWriMo, I was sure I’d never be able to do it until my children went away to college. But, since it’s impossible and lots of other people are doing it, and my kids really are much more independent than even a few years ago, and I’ve yet to fulfill my New Year resolution of writing a draft of a novel by the end of the year, It looks like just the thing to do.

The NaNo challenge is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. that’s commonly broken down to 1,667 words per day. I knew I’d slack some days, so I set my daily goal at 2000. It’s now the fifth day, and past 11:30, and I am dozing off between sentences, so I’ll quit. Just because I like to do the impossible doesn’t mean I want to suffer. So, at the end of the fifth day, I have 4,897 words of a draft which I am very pleased with. You can guess from that number that I haven’t actually made even the low goal in any day yet. The likelihood that I’ll get to 50,000 by the end of the month is looking very small right now. Should I give up? Ha! An attitude like that doesn’t enable a person to achieve the impossible.

Here’s an excerpt.

What we know up to this point: Stella is a witch, she operates the family farm alone, in the mysterious absence of her family, and she’s just met a scientist named Trevor, who is temporarily staying at a local motel.

Moon Trine Neptune

The only light was from the stars, but that was enough for Astra. It was easier for her to wander by night. Most of the interesting things people did happened at night, anyway, and she could sometimes float into the dreams of those who slept. She knew all kinds of gossip that waking people were clueless to, who was sleeping with whom, who was embezzling from their business partners, cooking the books in their offices late at night. Occasionally she would comfort an anxious dreamer (It’s okay, grades don’t really matter) or warn nasty people to change their ways.

It was getting a bit old, though. She was starting to feel a desire rising in herself, a desire to waken physically and do things of her own. Everyone had those computers and phones and things now, and she’d love to get her bodily hands on some of those. To talk to people in their normal state of mind, not just in the surreal landscapes of their dream states. Her old friends were grown up now, and married (some already divorced!) and had children. If only Stella would get a clue and figure out what to do. Astra knew exactly why things were the way they were, but she couldn’t tell Stella directly. She was firmly shut out of Stella’s mind.

Even as her desire to awaken grew, her ability to act out there was strengthening. She was finding she could shift things; if not always physically, she could shine light on things, make them appear differently. Her experiments with the radiator hose were encouraging. There must be a way Astra could manipulate Stella with further nudges. That scientist, for example, he might be useful. Unlike the locals, he didn’t know a thing about Stella, so he would have to get to know her to find out what a dip she was. Plus his rational scientist brain might be the one to finally put two and two together, and get Astra out of this situation. How to get their paths to cross . . .

And then her mother was there. Are you sure you’re doing the right thing?

Well, somebody’s got to do something.

Mm. I suppose. But be careful. You’re playing with people’s lives and feelings.

Nice to know you care so much about my life.

Mm hm. Likewise.

Astra drifted away. In town, a dog in a pen was barking through the fence at a rabbit. A couple teen boys were making out in the cab of a pick-up truck parked behind the abandoned movie theater. And at the Hillview Motel, Trevor Claraday was dreaming about Stella.

This was going to be easy.

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Excerpt from Post Rock Limestone Caryatids: Maeve Visits Ladybug

At the hospital, Maeve’s cube let her off at a foyer into the nursery wing, then parked itself, as usual. It had already notified Nancy that she was coming, and when she arrived. Maeve had to pause for a moment before entering the corridor, to allow the retina sensor to read her. If she were sponsored, she would have an arf implant in her hand that could be read instantly as she walked through the door.

The white-walled corridor was brightly lit and scrupulously clean. On one side were doors into what Maeve presumed were offices or storage. Midway down the corridor was a woman in a white janitor’s smock. She had close-cropped, curly hair in black and white concentric circles. Oddly, Maeve noticed she walked with a strange gait, as if one leg didn’t quite work right, and her right arm seemed to handle her mop with difficulty. As Maeve passed her on the way to the nursery door opposite the offices, the woman looked up and made eye contact. Maeve nodded briefly, but her attention was drawn to the wallscreens visible through the long bank of windows looking into the nursery. It was a big room filled with bassinets perfectly positioned in rows, all facing the screen, which showed constant moving images of happy babies’ faces, flowers, balls bouncing, and various cartoon animals smiling and talking to each other via cartoon screens. The point of view would shift as if the viewer were moving through the screen into the space where the animal user was. Black and white geometric shapes whirled and turned inside out behind the face of the hippo or the giraffe, periodically moving through the shape of the Holistilife logo. There were also occasional images of bigger kids and adults, drinking bottles of Holistilife brand water and smiling.

As she entered the room, it occurred to Maeve that, considering the number of infants in the room, it was surprising that there wasn’t constant crying. It would have driven Maeve insane to listen to that, but fortunately the babies were, generally, pretty placid. Nancy was at the other end of the room, in a white nurse’s dress and pushing a wheeled cart laden with boxes about the size of a shoe box. At the side of a bassinet, she glanced at a small screen mounted there, then said, in a high-pitched, singsong voice, “Well, hello, there, Henry, you’re just a sweet, calm, little baby today, aren’t you? Oh, yes, you always are, very sweet and quiet. Such a good little baby. I have a special present for you today.”

Maeve went quickly to Ladybug’s side and immediately picked up the drowsy, but awake, baby. There wasn’t much time, and she wanted to make the most of every second. She looked into Ladybug’s eyes and spoke in a similar high voice. “Hi sweetie, I love you, I missed you so much. How’s my little baby?” She hugged the baby, who grabbed her hair with one hand and clung tightly to her tunic with the other, making cooing noises.

At the door, an assistant nurse was bringing in another cart. Near the middle of the room, she located a particular bassinet and tapped the screen on it. “Hi there, Latifah, you’re just a sweet, calm little baby today, aren’t you? Oh, yes, you always are, very sweet and quiet. Such a good little baby. I have a special present for you today.”

Maeve rocked Ladybug in her arms. “Would you like to hear a song?” There was only one song she had ever heard anyone sing to a child. It was strange, and would probably seem frightening to a bigger child, but Ladybug wouldn’t understand it yet. “Rock-a-by baby, in the tree top . . .”

Nancy tapped the screen and glanced down at it as she pulled an object from one of the boxes. “This your own special Beebo. Beebo is your new friend and teacher.” It was about thirty centimeters tall, vaguely humanoid, and covered in fake fur, bright red except for the head, which had a black and white pattern. Nancy squeezed the belly and the Beebo said, “Hi, my name’s Beebo! What’s yours?”

Why wasn’t there a place to sit? Maeve rocked back and forth sideways on her feet. She hugged the baby tightly to her chest, closing her eyes and inhaling deeply so she could take in the scent of Ladybug’s hair. “I was thinking about you every minute this week. I love you so much, I wish I could see you more. My special little sweet little ladybug.” Of course, she had never seen a real ladybug, but she had seen pictures, knew that they were the friendliest of insects.

The assistant nurse said, “This is your own special Beebo. Beebo is your new friend and teacher.”

As a third nurse entered the room with a cart laden with Beebos, Maeve felt a desire to go somewhere else, anywhere, to be someplace private with Ladybug. She felt that these few precious moments with the baby were so intimate, she wanted them to be away from those hideous nurses. But she knew that Ladybug’s arf would signal the security system if she took the baby past the threshold of the room. She looked into her eyes again. “Oh, my sweetheart. I love you so much.” Ladybug smiled, and it seemed golden light emanated from her face. Or maybe it was just light reflecting off the wallscreen, where a baby’s face was smiling out of an image of the sun.

The Feral Child Manifesto

Note from Veronica: It has come to my attention that a person who goes by the name of Feral Jeff would like to post here. He has some rather unusual views, and I have with trepidation chosen to allow him to publish his manifesto. While I am fully in favor of his living in whatever way brings him joy, I am quite uncomfortable with his ideas on parenting. I’m only comforted in the thought that nobody with the slightest bit of sense would actually put into practice these ideas. Nevertheless, Jeff is very persuasive on the subject of freedom of expression, and I find I cannot bring myself to deny him this space altogether. But please, if you have any thoughts, talk some sense into this man!

Resisting the Tyranny of Language: Raising Feral Children in a Civilized World

Any complete hegemony must needs address not only the theory and lived experience of persons of every sex and gender, of the dominant as well as the oppressed races and classes, and of those in that stage of life rightly known as the formative years, that is, childhood. In this, one of a series of articles on the feral lifestyle, we will discuss in particular the theory and practice of raising children by the feral method. We begin with a few words from the late, great, twentieth-century thinker Kenneth Burke.

“Even if any given terminology is a reflection of reality, by its very nature as a terminology it must be a selection of reality; and to this extent it must function also as a deflection of reality.” –Language as Symbolic Action, 1966

Indeed, embedded within the nature of language itself is its inevitable propensity to deflection of reality, which limits the possibility of perception of any other reality by the receiver; and which thereby manifests the transmitter’s own version of reality upon the mind of the receiver. Thus language itself is the earliest and most enduring form of oppression, beginning in infancy when the child receives his first Beebo, which becomes his teacher, friend, and master, incessantly exhorting the captive infant to be happy, to learn, to adopt language as his primary mode of thought. The Beebo is often said to be an improvement upon the ancient parental system, in which the child was constantly surveilled, in a world devoid of even the most basic privacies, by the direct gaze of relatively immense and powerful adults, whose first linguistic priority was for him to address them with the titles of authority by which they called themselves, that is, “Mommy” and “Daddy.” Nonetheless, one who seeks a truer, freer, purer experience of beingness must go further than the eradication of the Parents; our work will not be done until we have altogether revolutionized  human existence by the eradication of language.

For what is the linguistic experience but an exercise in the tyranny of one’s thoughts over those of another? As Burke so brilliantly expressed, when one invokes a word, one limits the vast infinitude of possible meanings; it negates the availability of any other word within the mind. The Feral Vanguard goes one step further, to proclaim that the very existence of language, even unspoken, which is to say, spoken only within the mind, limits the consciousness of the bearer of such language. There is no true freedom for the mind which has been corrupted by servitude under the yoke of language. And this damage, once done, cannot be undone. It is irreversible. The reader is challenged to think, to be, aware, in the moment, for the span of time required by even one thought -without words, and without then immediately telling oneself, in words, that one has had a wordless thought. For those to whom this most bitter curse has been bestowed, it is impossible even to imagine the mind unfettered.

And with this as our most precious dogma, we of the Feral Vanguard are blazing a new path, but one which goes backwards into time, into the time before language, both historically and in the individual consciousness. We recognize the purity and unlimited potential of every newly-born infant, and in reverence we withhold our speech. There will be no Beebos, no cubes, no wallscreens, with their endless advertising, no media, nor even walls, of any kind, for these children. They will grow and develop in the most innocent and immediate way, so in tune with their truest nature that to be or do anything outside of that nature would be unthinkable. They will seek food when hungry, sleep when tired, express joyfully and freely every bodily function in the most natural way, unhindered by social convention, manipulation, oppression, and the preconceptions of their own nature which are inevitably transmitted through language.

There are certainly many facets to the Feral Method of child rearing, but freedom from language lies at the heart of all our efforts. We refuse to participate in the dominance play and training of the palate which inevitably accompany the feeding of prepared foods; we allow our children to be free in their natural bodies, unfettered by the social expectations of clothing; we give them the tremendous advantages of independence, self-reliance, and ingenuity, which are best learned in the successful triumph over adversity when one is faced with the need for shelter, sustenance, and safety. But of these practices, the protection of the child from language is the most essential, and when language is introduced, any benefits of all the other practices are irreparably compromised.

For more information about the Feral Vanguard and its most noble mission, please contact Jeff via this blog.

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