Provided, Fait Accompli
You have to understand that once upon a time, I didn’t believe this stuff. Observations are giving credence to the contrary.
Alright. I’m incredibly exhausted. It’s late. I haven’t met anyone new, in large part because I hadn’t yet gone anywhere knew. I need to meet someone new, not just for this blog, but for the Awesome. I tried (and failed) to convince friends to come with me to Asia Town*, as I want to push my comfort zone as much as I can and still do things like (get) drive(n) home safely.
First having failed, second having not eaten dinner, third having no vittles with which to cook, and fourth - having a shiny new chemistry cooking kit - I head to the grocery store, filled with dread over meeting someone new in a way that meets my Brave and New.
Grocery stores, and the people in them, and particularly the produce section, aren’t a problem for me.
You don’t see where this is going, because it’s going someplace ridiculous and amazing.
I decide to buy a kiwi. I pretty rarely eat kiwis, and have never bought one, so I’ve no idea how to tell which are ripe or not. This being the produce section, I ask a nearby stranger, who more or less gets his verbal shrug interrupted by the other guy next to me, who says, I am not making this up, “None of these are ripe, you can trust me, my name’s Calvin and I’m a kiwi.” (A ‘Kiwi’, by the way, is slang for someone from New Zealand.)
At first this seems merely an odd, interesting and unexpected occurence. But what you don’t know, dear reader, is that in two week’s time I’m flying to New Zealand. I tell this random fellow about these travel plans, at which point, he - with no prompting on my part, none at all -Â enthusiasticallyÂ gives me his number saying we should meet up and talk, then runs off to go buy some cookies and return from whence he came.
So yes. That did just happen.
* Yes, yes, I know it’s China Town and Little Tokyo, but they’re right gorram next to each other so frell it, it’s Asia Town.
Launching Brave New the Second
I am Nick, a friend Phil made in his pursuit of the Brave and the New. I’m one part Burner and one part Engineer; I’ve lived through twenty-five-and-a-half winters, and aim to keep it that way. My world is a strange one, and it’s my goal to make it stranger.
Alternate universes alwaysÂ have more zeppelins.
Per this self-imposed ultimately arbitrary format, here’s myÂ personal take on this month’s theme of “Meet a New Person Every Day”:
- Â I don’t generally have a problem meeting new people - unless, that is, I have no apparent reason for entering their reality. Networking event? Dating site? Walking up and talking to Speaker #3 at Event Where You Learn Something? Not an issue. Random stranger at the grocery store? Meeting people at a party before the person who’s invited me has introduced us? That’s frightening. Random people in the world, by and large, might disagree with me. Might not like me. While my worldly evidence indicates the contrary as the likely, I’m still afraid of that outcome. It’s a silly fear, and one I’d like to do without.
- I’ve been living in a little bubble of weird. I love it here, it is an amazing place, and it is filled with the fantastically awesome. But I’m not really leaving that bubble, which means there’s a lot of even this city I just haven’t seen, and a lot of awesome out there I have no idea exists. So I’m not just going to got out and meet someone new - I’m going to go out and meet someone I otherwise would never have met.
- I leap to conclusions about people more than a bit too quickly. One of my most favorite people in the world, when I first saw her, I thought, “Crazy hippie chick…!” Thing of it is, her, and all the people I’ve met through her, are the sanest (and amazingest) people I know. So when I see someone, and think this or that of them - well, that right there is the perfect time to go get some experimental data.
- Meeting people out of contexts where you’re supposed to meet new people is strange and frightening. Do it.
- Meeting the people you wouldn’t normally meet is how you find those people you wish you’d met earlier. Do it.
- Meeting the people you judge from afar is how you find out how bad you really are at judging people from afar. Do it.
A PERSON I MET TODAY
Today I was shaved by a stranger. My beard, a fixture on my face since senior year ofÂ high school, has gone the way of toilet paper, courtesy of one Trevor Redacted, a friend of Phil’s. I met this fellow when our collective celebrations of the new year (unanimously agreed to contain “something momentous and unknown”) had left us exhausted, able to do little more than throw chocolate and watch movies - all of which is my bad excuse for barely getting to know the fellow - but we summoned up the where-with-all to traverse to the commode; camera, electric razor, and beard, and one of those, we left behind.
Everybody knows that your facial hair is the opposite in the alternate reality
written by Nick
Another Chapter of the Novel for Download, and Novel-ing Continues!
This novel is becoming a struggle.
I know words. I often employ them to explain how hungry I am. Occasionally I’ll also express confusion, sexual arousal, and other emotions I’m sure I have when I’m not experiencing those other three things.
However, now that I’m put to the test, I’m not wholly certain I don’t simply recite words I’ve heard other people say. There’s a good chance my entire lifetime of communication has been nothing more than a parlor trick.
I’d like to blame it on the economy. I really would.
Today is day 9, and, while I haven’t started my writing run for the evening, I’m hovering around 9,000 words. At roughly 1,000 words a day, that is WELL under where I need to be to finish a 50,000 word novel by the 30th.
So what to do?
I’m going to call Brett Ratner and ask him for tips on expressing myself with words. I’m fairly sure he’ll simply offer, “Novels are for [redacted]”
Also, picture relevant- here’s a snippet of my second-favorite chapter so far. http://thebravenew.com/Chapter21WhereinShitGetsReal.pdf
It’s a Lovecraftian nightmare that will drive you to the brink of madness and back again. Maybe then you’ll go on a leisurely stroll, returning to madness. But by then, it’s old news, and you’ll return. But then you’ll take someone on a date, and hell, they’ve never been there before, so even though you’re pretty bored with it, you’ll return to madness for a third time. And your date will force a strained smile, but she can tell you’re bored with the whole thing, and that doesn’t make for a good date now, does it?
A Snippet of My Novel and One of the World’s Shortest Stories
So this novel writing excursion is off to an alright start. My first night, I wrote around 3000 words. My second night, a meager 1000. As I just returned home from an insanely busy day at work, and another meeting for a side project, I’ve yet to write today. But I’m feeling good about this. I’m not a novelist, but I feel like I’m becoming one suddenly. It could just be gas though.
Here’s a little snippet (pic related) of this evolving trainwreck of a novel. thebravenew.com/Chapter14.pdf
The novel is clearly going to be based around things I’ve experienced that I’ve found to be quirky and intriguing, but remember it is fiction. If you see something of yourself or a friend in there, it may be a coincidence, it may be an homage, but it’s certainly never an interpretation of your character or judgement of your activities.
Oh, a little background: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenges a budding author (or an experienced one) to come up with a story of 50,000 words in thirty days. The number seems daunting, but broken down into small slices, it’s a perfectly relaxing writing pace.
But does length account for everything? Literary great Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write the world’s shortest story. He is said to have declared his resulting creation his best work.
The entirety of the story is six words.
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
Hemingway was not a happy man. But he did understand one of the most important goals for anyone who wants to effectively communicate:
Be clearly understood in six words.
Welcome to the Month of November: What Will YOU Create?
Alright Brave Newbies. I’ve learned a lot progressing into the Brave New, and one of those things is: I suck at maintaining a site. I have piles of writing that’s gone “unpublished” onto thebravenew.com, and clearly I have some hurdles to jump here. That being said, I’ve always felt like there’s no kill like overkill- so if I’m having trouble writing, it’s time to really pour myself into writing and get over it. Oh, also I’ve always wanted to be a novelist. That being said, you know what I’d like to do for November’s pursuit of one great “opus”?
I’m going to write a novel.
It’s no coincidence that this month lines up with National Novel Writing Month. The goal of writing a novel is too specific for the deliberately open monthly challenges for The Brave New, but it falls well within the guidelines I’ve set up for this month. So, for those of you joining me in the month’s challenge, if you’re looking to do something really difficult, why not attempt it with me?
Looking out on the unrealized adventure that is November, I’d like to remind everyone:
All good stories start somewhere!
An Apology and a Plan to Change the World!
First off, to the blagosphere, you’ve been there when I’ve needed you most, and recently I’ve failed you. My adventures have not ceased, my experiences not slowed, but I have not done my due diligence in documenting the mind-expanding experiences of The Brave New. Is this a personal failure? I’m… not sure. I’ve lived life to a fuller extent than I ever thought possible, so I have no real regrets. I do wish I could share more. When I have a chance, I’m going to post my “lost articles”, documenting adventures that you’ve not heard of.
But I digress, let’s take a look at the newest series of adventures- performing a random act of kindness every day. This is either the easiest or the hardest challenge to date, as it’s open to so much interpretation. Also, frankly, this is the most important challenge, and one could argue the raison d’être for The Brave New. If you can truly achieve this one, then congratulations, you get it. So how do we go about attempting a new act of kindness every day? What IS a random act of kindness? With something that nebulous, I’ve come up with a few ground rules.
- This has to be something new to your mindset. Deliberately pull yourself out of your patterns of behavior to do something nice. If you didn’t notice you were doing it, it doesn’t count. It’s still an act of kindness, don’t get me wrong, but it’s neither brave nor new, is it?
- This has to be kind for kindness sake. Helping a gorgeous girl with her luggage, or holding the door for a dark-haired hunk at the library doesn’t count unless you can honestly you did it to make the world a better place. However, if the gorgeous girl is struggling, or the dark haired guy looks sad, maybe you’re actions are justified? The only person who can say for sure is you!
- You have to honestly believe you’re doing a good deed. You don’t have to like it, but don’t let someone convince you that an activity is virtuous just because they say so. A good example of this is giving money to the homeless- a good number of people believe this just perpetuates a cycle of dependency, or that they are funding a drug habit.
- You can’t do it just to brag about it later. This makes maintaining this site a challenge for this month, but I’ll get to that.
Here are some examples of random acts of kindness you might wish to pursue:
- Holding the door for a stranger
- Carrying groceries for an elderly person
- Bringing flowers to a friend
- Pick up some litter
- Actually listen to the depressed guy at the bar who’s looking for human contact
- Surprising a friend by visiting when they’ve had a rough day
- Donating money to a cause
- Donating clothes to goodwill
- Teaching someone a new skill they’d enjoy
- Engage in some volunteerism in your community
- Start a volunteer organisation
- Start a club that brings people closer together
- Support a friend (or a stranger) in a new endeavor
- Participating in a rideshare
These things are small, trite, and inconsequential, right? Not en masse they aren’t! Try 31 days of this and see what happens!
(As I’m writing this in the airport, and a six year old behind me just loudly announced “DON’T BE A NEGATIVE NANCY, BE A POSITIVE…. … POLLY!”)
Note that I’m uncomfortable writing about my acts of kindness, as it feels like that defeats the purpose. I may write about some, but more likely I’m going to write about what a person could do, or share articles about what other people have done. You’ll have to guess whether or not I’m doing these things as well.
The Great LEGO Build
How Long HAS it Been: 10 years, 5 months and ~16 days.
Why: I challenge you to find someone who’s youth did not include LEGOs.
What it was then: LEGOs were a pivotal part of my childhood. Some of my first memories involve a red LEGO briefcase I got when I was 3 or 4 for Christmas, filled with basic LEGO blocks. As the years progressed, this became supplemented with spaceship blocks, medieval castle pieces, and carefully machined mechanical “Technics” parts. Surprisingly, this allowed for growth not only creatively, but gave me a solid concept of engineering- I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t understand rack and pinion steering if it weren’t for the Technics cars I built.
Most importantly, it gave me a common language within many of my friendships as a child. One of my oldest, dearest friends, who’s newborn child will soon inherit my LEGOs, spent long hours with me building spaceships around the age of 8. The fantasy-scapes Cody and myself created grew larger with age, until we hit that tragic point in life where we put them away in favor of our rock band and pursuing ladies.
Flash forward to 2002, Cody was preparing to leave to go on a religious mission to Brazil- while we’d both already gone to separate states for college, we still saw each other every few months. This departure now marked the first point in our lives where we’d actually have to part company. On many levels, we lacked the emotional tools to cope with this. I knew he’d be back, but two years was a long time to be away from a friend you’ve spent most of your life with.
So, knowing no better way to sum up our previous 10 years of friendship, we unpacked the LEGOs of our youth and began to play. Friends stopped by to wish him off, some stared in confusion at the 18 year olds playing LEGOs, but many sat down and joined. Then, when it was time to say goodbye, we put the LEGOs away quietly, and he left for Brazil.
What it is now: I’ve noticed all great Brave New challenges have at least one large group event. This one was it. Myself and several friends sat down for “The Great Lego Build”, held to celebrate a friend’s birthday. We all went to Toys R’ Us beforehand, and were challenged to find sets that reminded us of childhood wonder. Many complained that modern LEGOs are fundamentally different, containing mostly specialty pieces. I feel this might be a false persistence of memory, as I THINK most themed sets in our youth were also specialty pieces, not interchangeable with other sets. Either way, I noticed many took different paths.
The genders quickly diverged- the girls almost all sat down with the basic blocks, and focused on building houses and villages. Angela, fracturing the gender binary slightly, did build a house of horrors, filled with dismembered arms and built out of blocks with eyes painted on them. Zack created a series of abominations, piecing together planes and trucks with cat heads and lasers. Also he made a lego human centipede. If you don’t get that reference, please don’t look it up.
I built an alien tripod to to lay siege to the village, and Ivan built a fully articulated Star Wars X-Wing.
Perhaps most interesting was Sohail, who purchased the most intricate Technics set I’ve ever seen. He noted that it was of a scope and price that his mother would never let him have as a child. And it was a truly glorious endeavor. It looked like it would take dozens of hours to complete the fully functional crane he had purchased. He let me help out a bit, and I probably hogged the project longer than I should have- but I will say, I think Sohail really got something out of tackling this build. Much like Super Ghouls N Ghosts, there’s something very refreshing about endeavoring to achieve a goal you never could in the past.
Enough talk though, let’s check out the build!
[tiltviewer id=”1” width=”595” height=”500”]
Epilogue: In case you were wondering, Cody did come back from Brazil. He did not have a baby posthumously. Also, the lego village constructed at The Great Lego Build was demolished, though I am assured the alien threat has since been neutralized.