(Adult Content Warning)-A Particular Game










A Particular Game
       By: Christopher Godsoe





(Again, this is considered a piece of Erotic Fiction, so do not read further unless you are not offended by such stories.)


Johnathan Harrison dropped the latch closed on the wrought-iron gate.

“Please, don't........Please....” 

 She was sobbing now. There was a part of him that wanted to listen, but the more primal, animalistic side of him needed this. All things being equal, that side usually had its way.

 “Shhhhh.”

He slid his hand through the gate and stroked her cheek. His smile reassured her that everything would be alright as the increasing wind sent her long dark hair into motion. He could see the fear giving way to something even more powerful as she stared up at him from her backside, completely naked on the backyard grass.

Desire.

It always started this way, with Lizzy afraid to let go, afraid to shrug off society’s expectations, even after she had shrugged off her brassiere and unclipped her garters. John saw it as his duty to remind her just how fragile their lives really were, how it could all be taken away from them at any minute. It was 1938, for god’s sake, and after having been fortunate enough to have weathered what they were now calling “The Great Depression”, they needed to savor every moment.

As the hunger in her eyes found its way to the surface, John's hand found its way to the buttons on his slacks. With a well-rehearsed motion, he flipped his rapidly stiffening penis out into the open space between them.

Lizzy reached for it, but John pulled back. She settled for clutching the gate, gazing up at him like a caged animal.

“Not yet.” He told her.

Over time, he had managed to work out many of her insecurities regarding her gift. He no longer saw it as the curse that she did most of the time. The first step had been to show her that both sides of her could coexist.

She had gone to finishing school, where they had bred into her the finer points of respectability. John needed a respectable woman, of course, but also desired something more. Men of power always desired something more, and John was certainly a powerful man.

He needed a woman that could be demure in public, respectful when she needed to be, yet spirited enough to satisfy his “baser” desires. She had certainly proven herself spirited, but there was always that initial fear of losing control, of giving herself completely to the overwhelming pleasure to come.

“You aren't going to let me have all of the fun, are you?”  She said, before sticking out her lower lip in a maddeningly seductive pout. John knew his wife well, knew that this statement was equal parts solicitation and request for reassurance. He wanted to give her that reassurance, but this was a demon that she needed to overcome on her own.

John began to stroke his cock as the storm clouds rolled in. The leaves of the nearby silver birch flickered in rhythmic pulses, inspiring the pace of his hand. “Oh, I have things well in hand at the moment.”

The first raindrop struck the aluminum roofing over their two story home. John's eyes shifted from the line of birch trees providing privacy for tonight’s play date and brought them to rest on Lizzy. The fear had begun to dance around the corners of her eyes again, but his gaze seemed to reassure her.

“Are you cold?” He only then began to consider that perhaps it was a bit early in the year for this particular game. His cock, sensitive to the touch and pulsing with life, felt like a branding iron in his hand. The rest of his body was likewise so hot that the impending rain was likely to evaporate on contact.

Lizzy's skin, however, was different. For one, she was completely naked, but that wasn't the most remarkable thing. The nerve endings in her skin were so sensitive that she had to continually adjust to clothing as a child. John had often marveled at that, the inner strength that must have taken. How lost she must have felt when the very clothing on her body sent her into paroxysms of pleasure that she was ill equipped to understand at that such a tender age.

It was that little girl that he saw now in her eyes. That scared little girl that he had never met. He knew in his heart that the only way to rid yourself of a fear was to stare it down, to overcome it.    

A combination of medications, special fabric and a rigorous skincare regimen hadn't done much to desensitize her, and some experiences still overwhelmed her no matter what she did.

Hyperactive nerve disorders, while uncommon, are not rare. Lizzy’s doctor had told her that as a child. The doctor had also been unattractive and female, and Lizzy could detect a hint of jealousy in her eyes as she relayed her prognosis. She had been too young to understand the jealousy, instead assuming it as the normal condescension that unattractive women direct at pretty girls.

Most cases of hyperactive nerve disorder resulted in the patient feeling excruciating pain at the mere touch of a cotton t-shirt. But Lizzy's problem wasn't pain. Lizzy's problem was pleasure.

The first drop of rain struck her shoulder and began to trickle down the gently sloping contour of her left breast. This was her favorite part, before the deluge proper began, when she could feel every individual caress, before the rain increased exponentially and she lost herself in waves of bliss.

There would come a point where the rain fell so fast that the pleasure lost resolution, the stimulation of  her overwhelmed skin dissolving into a uniform euphoria where she couldn't think, couldn't speak. Reflexively, she released the wrought iron gate and reclined to the well-manicured back lawn of their rural estate.

A volley of drops struck her exposed stomach, and her back arched instinctively as a whisper of a moan escaped her lips.

“It's coming.” John could no longer hide his need, and gently bit down on his lower lip as he closed his eyes.

“Already?” Lizzy's tone was playful, even through her raspy breathing.

He couldn't answer her with words. His lust surged from within him, diverting thought from the portions of his brain responsible for witty responses to the one responsible for sating his lust.

John had given up all pretense of control, holding onto the locked gate with one hand, while the other never stopped moving. His hips rocked back and forth, giving the illusion that he was gently making love to an invisible woman and his hand had somehow intervened, creating a bizarre ménage trios.

Lizzy loved the feel of his cock in her hands, loved the taste of him in her mouth. Watching him play with himself was the ultimate tease for her. As her mouth opened to draw in each ragged breath, John followed her delicate pink lips with his gaze. She knew what he was thinking, and he the same of her. He was imagining the subtle sucking sensation along his shaft, the warm, wet embrace he knew so well. She knew, and so badly wanted to hold up her end of the arrangement.

The pace of the rain quickened from a sprinkle to a downpour, casting rivulets of runoff from her stomach and chest ever downward, passing between her thighs and wrapping around her. The rain streamed down her face and shoulders like the chilled fingertips of a spectral lover, intimately acquainted with the contours of her body. It hadn't rained this hard for years, and good fortune had seen them home in time to take full advantage of it.

In expectation, John stripped off his clothing; tossing it towards the gazebo without a thought as to if they actually made it inside.

The intense pounding of the water grew to be too much for her nipples, which felt raw from the onslaught. The rare strand of pain made it through the tapestry of pleasure, forcing her to her side in the grass before rising onto her hands and knees. The chill of the rain had enveloped her, dulling her muscles to the point where her movements felt more involuntary than conscious.

She shivered, unable to tell if it was the chill of the rain, or the touch of the gentle violation. Either way, it didn't wait for her answer, continuing its relentless ravaging of her. The water streamed down her upturned face, forming transparent veins of ecstasy as it writhed down her neck and between her breasts. It instinctively sought the lowest convenient point to ground, which just so happened to be her nipples, themselves reaching downward by the same underlying force. The tendrils then leaped from her taught breasts, hydrogen bonded strings holding their shape to the ground.

From John’s perspective, it looked very much like two ethereal tethers, reaching from the earth to hold her in place by the tips of her breasts. It was a visual that he liked at once. Bondage had been a staple of their sex life for years.  

They had played this game several times, and John once asked her to describe the sensation of rain on her bare skin. She had found it difficult to put into words, but finally concluded by taking his cock into her hands and running her tongue from its base to the head, slowly, in a tortuously meandering path that seemed to cover every square inch of him before finally ending with a breathy kiss on the tip.

“It's like that, but over my entire body.”

John grasped her, burying his face between her thighs. It was the most intoxicating thing he had ever heard, and the image of her writhing in ecstasy on the rain slicked lawn had driven him mad with desire.

Lizzy jerked and slid on the wet grass as the first orgasm pushed through her, the clear strands of rain undulated, waving beneath her breasts like heavy ropes in a strong current. Her body convulsed with sensation, her body angling so that John could watch the water roll down her spine, curling around the cleavage of her bottom before interweaving with the short, curly pelt of her most sensitive skin, sending a moan through the stiffening curtains of rain that John was certain his neighbors could hear through the wind.

He was also certain he didn't give a shit. They were from a good family, but they were a few years older and more self-righteous than he had ever hoped to become. They respected their reputation more than they respected anyone else. He had seen it in many of the people in their social circle, which had clung so rigidly to the class structure that they had occupied before the crash. If the rumors were true, echoes of status were essentially all that many of them had left.

John doubted that they had never strayed from the missionary position in all of their 20 plus years of wedlock. He felt sorry for them, and sorry for all of the other people in this world too afraid to indulge in the more novel delicacies life had to offer.  As he watched his wife enjoy wave after unending wave of release, the deluge continuing to caress her body in ways that he would never be able to, he couldn't imagine anyplace else he’d rather be, no other person he would rather be with, and no other game that he would rather play.

His wife fell to the ground, sliding to her side after losing the strength to hold herself away from the grass.

His body was over 70 percent water, but that remaining 30 percent had robbed him of the ability to envelop his wife so completely, to touch all of her at once in a near perfect embrace. It humbled him.

Lizzy's voice was rough from her incessant moaning, and John saw the foot long gouges of muddy earth where her bare heels had struggled for purchase, ruining the carpet of perfect green.

John reached for the gate latch. The gate had served its purpose as a barrier to prolong the game, to keep them from giving in to their weaknesses before the time was right. He may not be able to touch her everywhere at once like the rain, but he was willing to bet that there was a spot ten inches inside of her where he could do more than any storm.

He was going to give the rain a run for its money, if nothing else.

As his fingers touched the surface of the cold metal, a splintering crack dominated the yard from their right, only thirty feet away. A large branch had broken free from halfway up one of the huge silver birch trees, unable to bear the brunt of the gale force winds any longer. This storm would be all anyone would be talking about at the country club the next day.

It fell to the ground with a crash, a crash that Lizzy barely noticed as she climaxed again. John had to smile when he thought about what those same people would say if they could witnessed the spectacle John and Elisabeth Harrison were making of themselves at this very moment.

John's attention immediately darted to the opening in the foliage, and a rectangle of dark glass centered in it. In the middle of the dark glass window, rendered wraith like in the blue-gray light of the storm, was a man.

A sudden gust of wind cast water into his eyes, and as he drew raised his hand to wipe it away the latch fell free and the gate opened a few inches.  The man stood there, watching them. John recognized him after a moment as Joshua Bennett, their next door neighbor.

Apparently his curiosity about how their sexual escapades would go over at the country club would play out after all. John saw no revulsion in his eyes, however, and wondered how long the rascal had been there, or even if it had been his first time witnessing their game.

At first it appeared to be the only Joshua watching them, as his wife Margaret was bent over in front of him, her typically well-coiffed hair disheveled as he drew her back against him. They both saw him watching, and smiled sheepishly, never breaking stride as they continued to fuck relentlessly.

Margaret glanced down at John’s cock, still rock hard and only partially wrapped in his large hand. She jabbed her chin at it for emphasis, then drew her tongue across her lips.  He wasn't sure if he had seen that correctly, but the whole situation was so severely odd that he decided to seek confirmation. A quick glance at himself, a stroke for emphasis, and a questioning glance back at Margaret answered his question, as her smile widened and her eyes rolled back into her head before she herself climaxed, writhing against her husband.

The novelty of the sight pushed him past his breaking point, and he contributed a few spatters of his own to his wife's body through the fence. As the last surge of pleasure rippled through him, he noticed that his wife had begun to shake. He thought her cold, but she had reached her breaking point as well, and the game was at an end for today.

He swung open the gate and took hold of her. Turning to bring her inside, he chanced a look at the neighbor’s window.

They were gone.

Or, were they ever there to begin with? He wondered.

He drew Lizzy a warm bath and gently placed her in the water to recover, the stationary cocoon of fluid enveloped her, soothing her nerves by insulating them with uniform pressure.

“Did you have a good time?” She said breathlessly, caressing his cheek.

“I think we all did.”

Her eyebrows furrowed, but as the relief of the warm water began to sink in she left the question unanswered.

His peculiar choice of words remained forgotten the following morning as they prepared the car for a ride to the country club. John had just finished pulling it around to the front of the building to collect Lizzy when a voice called out to him.

“I hope we didn't startle you too badly the evening prior.”

John started slightly before turning to see his next door neighbors at the fence that separated their two properties.

“Sorry?”

The husband gave him an amused smirk, one that after a moment or two spread to John's lips. As John smiled, Margaret’s expression went from that of nervousness to mischief.

It was she who broke the silence. “You probably thought us prudish, before?”

John shrugged. He saw no reason to lie, but did not want to be rude either. “Perhaps a little.”

She shook her head in amusement.

“Well, at any rate we just stopped over to bring you this, don't let us keep you.”

She handed him a pie. Blueberry, judging by the aroma radiating from it.

“Thank you. I happen to enjoy Blueberry pie a great deal, and so does my Lizzy.”

Margaret’s smile became even more prominent.

“Is she home?”

He was certain that his wife had not been privy to last night’s unspoken exchange, and wanted to have a chance to speak to her before putting her on the spot.

“She is still making herself ready, but I am sure that she would want me to thank you properly for such a sincere gift.”

It was the husband's turn to contribute to the conversation. “And indeed you have. Like we said, we won't keep you. But perhaps we should all get together sometime. You know, make a proper evening of it?”

John took a closer look at them. He could now see through their carefully pressed exteriors, how they both dressed in a manner that hid their lithe bodies. He now knew that once you had seen someone truly bared before you, your mind could always see them that way. It makes an undeniable impression, have no doubt. 

Once he had made his way past his own preconceptions, he saw them for what they really were-fellow deviants taking pleasure where they could find it. It was true that they knew each other well, as they had lived nearby for years and spent even longer acquainted at the country club, and had indeed thought them a touch prudish.

Recent events taken into account, he at once found them infinitely more interesting company.

“Perhaps we should.” John replied. “Shall we bring the entertainment?”


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Net Neutrality: a primer.

I really hoped that this post wouldn't be necessary. Something that is so clear to me, so obvious, seems to be so hard to comprehend by a large enough portion of the population that I feel compelled to do my part to share what I understand with those that lack the knowledge or motivation to see.

Net Neutrality. If you haven't heard those words over the past year or so, you've been living under a rock. Or, you're Amish. There's been so much said about it, yet so much of what has been said is not motivated by the pursuit of truth, or the upholding of our laws or Constitution.

I consider myself a Libertarian. I am also a pragmatist. So perhaps I'm not the sort of Libertarian people can point a finger to and use as part of the definition of Libertarianism, but I can sleep at night secure in the belief that where I err as a Libertarian, I do so with the understanding that the current system favors the rich and powerful, and if I have to choose a side for which to defend personal liberty, I choose the people. The world I wish we lived in is not yet a reality, and that means that the waters can still be muddied by compromise driven by corruption and ignorance. If everyone had the resources to have their voice heard, the opportunity to play by the same rules, then success would be determined by hard work and character, the way our founding fathers envisioned. I wish for a level playing field, where if a tax and oppression free society is yet beyond us, perhaps a flat tax might not be. I want fairness, if I can never see utopia.

I'm not going to give a lecture here on liberty. Suffice it to say that there are those that defend liberty, the ability for each person to chart their own course and live by whatever consequences arise from that path, but even some of those people have become confused on this individual subject. They defend the rights of corporations, yet don't understand how doing so in this regard is infringing upon the personal liberty of everyone else. Some of them have made allies that are lying to them, and some of them have made allies that have motivations that run counter to libertarianism. They have enjoyed being part of a club, rubbing elbows with movers and shakers too much. In short, they have ventured off the path.

They made a choice. Where they see Net Neutrality as an infringement on the rights of Internet Service Providers, or ISP's, a means to force their hands via government control over their companies. While I understand the mechanics of a free market ecosystem, trying to apply them to the ISP industry is to overlook the obvious-ISP's, at least in this country, are monopolies. Monopolies do not have to fight it out in a free market, by nature of colluding with each other to make sure that they do not have to compete.

Many of my readers are fellow authors, and the memory of the Apple/Big 5 vs. Amazon antitrust trials still fresh in their minds. In this, for those not privy to the events, Apple and the big five publishers were found guilty of agreeing in secret to force Amazon to charge more for their books than they wanted to. Amazon wanted to price books lower, and was willing to accept lower margins in order to sell more books. The Big 5 publishers didn't want Amazon to become a monopoly, and the way they sought to fight this was to work together, in effect to become one themselves.

Amazon is not a monopoly, but they are fast becoming one, something that needs to be addressed in publishing circles by someone doing a better job of competing with them. There is no artificial limits being placed on Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, iBooks (Apple), or any other bookseller at the moment. Amazon has earned their standing in the market by out-competing these sellers, by providing a better buying experience. They do not have exclusive agreements with publishers or authors, content creators have every right to sell their works wherever else they feel they can sell them. This is the way competition is supposed to work, and Amazon's lead in the market will continue until someone better comes along to dethrone them.

This is entirely different than what is going on with Net Neutrality.

Senator Ted Cruz, a man who has pocketed more than most from Comcast and other ISP's, recently posted on twitter and facebook that Net Neutrality is like Obamacare for the internet. He knew what he was doing when he posted this. It was a well designed lie.

Obamacare required people to buy health insurance, a product sold by private corporations in order to protect the bottom line of other corporations. I did not agree with Obamacare when it was being drafted, and I do not agree with it today. Members of my family have been hurt by it, seen their insurance premiums skyrocket. I did not agree with it, but once it became an inevitability I consoled myself in hoping that some of it's provisions might lessen the blow of the requirement to buy insurance. I'm referring to the portions of the bill that require insurers to cover pre-existing conditions, or at least to remove their ability to use that as an excuse to deny coverage. My science fiction novel, pre://d.o.mai.n, was centered around a family whose coverage of a life saving cancer cure was denied by such a loophole. I also hoped that the portions of the bill would remove the shroud of secrecy around hospital chargemasters, the computer programs used to determine billing, seemingly in an arbitrary manner.

Patient bills are determined after the treatment has already been provided, in most cases, and the patient has no choice but to pay the bill, even if they have insurance. In a lot of ways, it's like eating at a fancy restaurant with no prices on the menu, and when you think you might want to go somewhere else you realize every other restaurant has the same menus.

I've drifted pretty far off track here, but I wanted to refresh everyone's memory on how unpopular Obamacare is, and how even the people that initially were hopeful that it might do some good were disappointed in it's half-ass execution, where the benefits of increased hospital billing transparency still haven't been put into practice yet.

So when Ted Cruz tied Net Neutrality to Obamacare, he did so not because the comparison is accurate, he did it to tap into the hatred of a populace too busy to bother looking too close. People don't see how Net Neutrality benefits them, and they're often too busy or disinterested to bother looking into it, to educate themselves and to draw their own conclusions.

So let me break it down for you. A brief history lesson on Net Neutrality.

First, a definition of just what Net Neutrality is.

Net Neutrality is the policy that all internet traffic, be it porn videos, cat videos, facebook posts, this blog post, Netflix videos, emails, tweets, WHATEVER, is all treated the same, or, to make it clearer-Neutrally. Oh, Netflix has to pay more, because they use more bandwidth, but the amount they pay is directly proportional to the amount of bandwidth they use, and the speed, just like everyone else.

If you want a faster internet connection, you can pay for it. If you have a cell phone, and you want to be able to use the internet more on it than your 2 Gb plan will allow, you can buy a bigger package. If you want it to be faster at home, you can buy a faster package. If you want your cell phones internet to be faster, you can buy one that has 4G capability. The point is-you pay for your service already. You don't pay more or less based on where you go on the internet, you pay for how far and how fast you can get there. So does Netflix. They pay for their connection just like you do. Net Neutrality critics behave like Netflix has free access to the internet, or that they somehow are using more bandwidth than they pay for. This is not the case.

Up until 2011, the internet was largely unregulated in terms of Net Neutrality. All content was treated equally, just like if you pay for gas in your car, the gas station can't tell you where you can or can't go with that gas, or if you can get on the highway with it or if you have to stick to back roads. It was great, and the only reason you don't notice that anything has changed is that ISP's are waiting for the other shoe to drop before enacting changes. If they make their changes now, when the subject is still up for debate, they will lose the support of whoever they've bought off because the changes will be less popular than Obamacare. No, they're biding their time, not wanting to shoot their load (muzzle loader gun reference, get out of the gutter) before the contracts have been signed, so to speak.

Net Neutrality has been currently overturned, since 2011 when Verizon sued the FCC], stating that the Net Neutrality rules the FCC had put in place were unconstitutional. The FCC had decided that internet service was a basic utility, like the electricity provided by your electric company or the water provided to your local water utility. It very much is like that. It always has been, since the very birth of the nationwide internet. You pay for electricity, and the electric company doesn't dictate what you do with it. They don't tell you how many TV's you can use, if you have to use an over or a rangetop to cook your food, or how long you are allowed to leave your lights on. Same with water. Your water company doesn't tell you how long your baths are allowed to be, how many glasses you are allowed to drink, etc. You simply pay for what you use, and enjoy the freedom to do with it what you please, so long as it isn't breaking any other laws.

Do you think that the internet, as it currently exists, sounds a lot like that? Yes. So long as you aren't Netflix. As consumers, we pay for our internet, we use it how we see fit, so long as it doesn't break any laws. Netflix, since the Appellate court overturned the Net Neutrality laws in 2011, has been fighting a losing battle against Comcast and other ISP's. Netflix still pays it's internet service fees, same as it always has, but recently it has been forced to pay additional fees in order to maintain the same level of service it was enjoying prior to the changes. Let me reiterate that-Netflix was paying it's bills to the ISP's, but the ISP's decided that they needed more money because Netflix was....well......Netflix. Netflix was already paying for their electricity, their water, but Comcast didn't like what they were using it for, so they started turning down the water pressure, and causing brownouts, until Netflix agreed to pay more money than everyone else for the same internet access.

Since I know some of you are visual learners, let me show you a graph. Netflix is the black line on Comcast. I'll let you guess when Comcast started shaking Netflix down, and at what point Netflix's first check cleared for the new billing cycle.



The graph shows that other ISP's had the same problem, but remember, Comcast is the largest infrastructure provider in the US. Meaning they own most of the interconnecting roads, so their speeds will drop as well because part of their networks run through Comcast's.

This would be like Comcast deciding that it disagrees with your political or religious beliefs, and decides to slow your connection when you visit sites that support those beliefs because it doesn't agree with them. It's an gross infraction of personal liberty, of free speech, and it is also an antitrust violation as well as a discriminatory practice. The only reason the people in charge of this are not in jail is because:

A: our government is largely bought and paid for. The only corporation that donated more money than Comcast in the last election cycle is Northrop Grumman, a military contractor, who has no customers other than the government.

B: It is currently LEGAL, under the ruling by the appellate court. Even the potential human rights violations have little in the way of legal precedent, which means that it's a veritable playground for the ISP's until the FCC finalizes it's new rules. They can point fingers all over the place, and nothing will change until the FCC dictates what the legal ramifications for this practice will be, if any.

The fact that Senator Cruz was even allowed to post something in direct contrast to facebook's stated opposition to overruling of Net Neutrality is only because they choose to not engage in the very behavior that Comcast, Time Warner, and the rest of the ISP's out there are trying to get signed into law. As the law stands, again, only since the appellate court ruling changed the landscape in 2011, they could block Ted Cruz's account, or slow down his posts so much that he would be commenting on Net Neutrality after the decision had already been made. There is no law against it now, because the appellate court has decided that corporations are people, and not only are they people, their rights are more valid than yours and mine. The Republican party has been a supporter of the new changes, of which Ted Cruz is a member. This is also the same Republican party that won landslide elections a few weeks ago, meaning that if Congress has their way, you will be paying a great deal more if you want to participate in parts of the internet that they and the ISP's of the world find wrong, or at least there will be nothing stopping them from doing so, legally speaking.

But we trust the government to dictate morality well enough, right? Oh...well how about large corporations, ones like Hobby Lobby that have decided that they can make changes to their employees health coverage at will based on religious beliefs? You know, separation of church and state, right?

If you want the government out of your browser history, you don't need to be against Net Neutrality, no matter how much Ted Cruz wants to confuse you. You need to be for it, because Net Neutrality is about personal freedom to do what you want on the internet, and to be able to pay the same prices to do it as someone that enjoys a different political, personal, or service preference than you do.

And if you're just supporting the ISP's because you think that they will cut your bill because you don't watch Netflix online, or tweet 100 times a day, then you are the worst sort of lemming. When was the last time your internet bill went DOWN? It doesn't. Just like there isn't some untapped potential in the network for a "Fast Lane." According to their own information, the information that they are supplying to twist the debate around Net Neutrality, there isn't enough network capacity to continue without future expansion, or at least for much longer. If they don't have enough capacity to provide the promised "Fast Lane", then the only thing they can do is make the current internet the "Fast Lane", and reduce the speeds of those that don't pay.

Or even worse, they're lying about not having more network headroom, and they're just holding out on everyone in order to extort more money. Whichever way, they're being dishonest.

The internet needs to go back to the way it was, or to stay the way everyone seems to think it is right now. People need to get what they've been paying for, and Comcast and the other ISP's need to stop being greedy, manipulative monopolies.

I vote FOR Net Neutrality, and I hope you do too. Or, I would vote for it, if they were allowing us to. At any rate, call your senator, and explain it to them now. Clearly there are quite a few of them that don't understand it either.


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Halloween Short for 2014-A Forest of Choice

Every year I've had this blog, I have tried to include a Short piece for Halloween. Previously, it was a running joke that I submitted for a local newspaper's Halloween writing contest, one that I tried my best to write something elaborate and nuanced enough to avoid winning. This year, they cancelled the contest, so I took it upon myself to write the piece for my own (and hopefully, your) pleasure. It's called a Forest of Choice, and I barely managed to keep it to exactly 500 words. I wanted to try to write something that was a little larger than the 500 words on the page, and for my own purposes, I think I succeeded. I wanted to explore the paranoia of being lost in the woods, but I also wanted to explore the minutia of life, how the closer we look at it, the more questions we are left with. Call it polymorphism if you want, but I think it's a conversation worth having.

Anyways, before I go off on any more of a tangent, here's the piece. Let me know what you think?

A Forest of Choice
By: Christopher Godsoe
Word Count: 500

The storm rolled in, demarcating a shift in tone as well as climate. It brought with it the cold, and it's the cold wind that I feared most. It pushed around the branches of the birch grove I spent the night in like a spectral composer, and I shook.

I was lost, but if you asked me for how long I had been lost, I couldn't tell you. One wrong turn, a poor choice on the path, and everything I knew might as well be a thousand miles away.

Neither could I tell you when the voices started, but now they're my constant companion, telling me how I'll never escape, how I will spend the rest of my days wandering that same trackless expanse of wilderness. One choice, one solitary decision to leave the trail had been my undoing. It's been said that we are a product of our choices in life, and it's a point I can find no fault in.

As I've walked, I've been thinking a lot about choices. I wonder if our minds are simply a product of the choices inside of our brains, the billions of individual connections between neurons carrying the magic formula that makes us....us. Does consciousness arise from the noise of a billion neural connections, and we just lack the perspective to see it? I suppose it's possible.

But if a billion choices are the genesis of consciousness, might any system of sufficient complexity generate the same “spark”? Is perhaps the forest, with it's billions of tree branch vocal cords, such a being? Aren't we both nothing more than symbiotic clusters of lesser living things? You might call that crazy talk, but if a crazy man shouts the secret of life in an otherwise deserted forest, does he make a sound? Does a forest, with it's bespoke consciousness, posses an intelligence capable of whispering the horrible words that have followed me for the past few days, simply by shaping the wind through the unique pattern of branches, each fork in each branch a choice of the tree?

Or is it my mind, with nothing to do but generate false phantoms? These are the things I think about, when every survivalist tells you that I should be thinking of home, cultivating hope that I will see everyone I love again. They're not here, though. They don't hear the wind as it passes through those branches, whispering in concert, speaking to me in a tongue that only I can hear. Maybe the voices were always there, the lost language of a forest grown furious by the indifference of man. Maybe you just have to be quiet long enough to hear it's enmity.

Having listened to that incessant lecture, of how soon I will become weak from famine, how my once sure steps will begin to falter, it's a gift I wish to return.


I'm cold, rapidly depleting my pudgy excess of stored calories, and soon there will be one less voice in the forest.
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Matrix as Maelstrom: Introduction

(DISCLAIMER- this is the first of many chapters of a philosophical treatise I have been working on. It is titled, "Matrix as Maelstrom: How becoming ghosts in the machine will save us all." It is meant to explore the ideas behind Mind Uploading, both philosophical and logistical, from every angle I can think of. I really have no idea how it is going to turn out, but it should be an enlightening and entertaining ride. Many of you have not heard of this technology, but if you are willing to listen with an open mind, I will explain it, and attempt to explore the considerations and benefits of it as exhaustively as I can. It is posted here as a first draft, needing heavy revision, proper references, and revision. It is also a reference of sorts for my d.o.mai.n fiction series, though I assure you that the technology is very real and this treatise will in no way reference the stories in my novels.)


Matrix as Maelstrom: How becoming ghosts in the machine will save us all.

Introduction



I'd like to start off by asking a question. I like to think that the intelligence of an individual can be directly traced from the quality of the questions they pose, so I will start with one. There will be others, of course, because the scope of my topic is broad and far reaching, but I hope that this one question will breed questions of your own.

What would you do if the only limits placed on you were those of your own imagination?

By only, I do mean only. Even the limitations of your own body, long accepted as fact, are no longer a consideration. Are you no longer as young as you once were? Do you have bad knees? Thinning hair? A chronic condition that limits your mobility and weighs on you every moment of every day?

What if you could choose to have those obstacles removed from your path, as well as any other potential limitation? What would you do?

It's not a question that most of us even entertain, at least not once we reach adulthood and the physics we accept as reality are cemented in our minds. We are grilled from late childhood to "grow up" and "Stop thinking with your head in the clouds", when in reality what we need is more of that line of thought.

Nobody ever solved a problem without considering new ideas. The fact that problems exist imply that there are limits to conventional thought. So let your mind free, allow yourself to dream for a minute, and try to imagine what your surroundings might look like without any impediments.

The concept I will explore in this treatise, if such a thing can be said to fall within the definition, is that in the next 30-50 years most of us will have to begin entertaining this question in a serious nature. I am referring, of course, to Mind Uploading, the downloading of a human consciousness (or mind) into a computerized processing unit.

The technology behind Mind Uploading is still in it's infancy, but there are promising breakthroughs made all the time. To date, the progress has been relegated to decoding electrical impulses from the brain, and through brain computer interfaces, using those signals to drive physical hardware either directly connected to the person connected to the interface, or over great distances via the internet.

This book is not meant to be an exhaustive compilation of the technology to date, since such a snapshot would be quickly outdated, limiting the shelf life of the endeavor. Instead, I intend to explore the philosophical reasons for and against such technology, because I want anyone reading this to expand on my work by asking questions of their own. Better questions, hopefully, than the ones I manage to formulate here.

Woudl the world of your imagination have purple trees, rivers of gold, cool to the touch but still liquid? Would it involve you having the ability to jump from body to body, some of which were purpose built for the task you were undertaking? Or would it involve the magic of unassisted human flight, the ability to run and leap into the air like a superhero? It will all one day become possible, and very likely in our lifetimes.

No great thing comes without consequences, or potential pitfalls. I will explore these as well, since any pragmatic take on the concept will require that we examine contradictory aspects as well as those that reinforce our position, as well as potential ways to overcome them.

Make no mistake, it is my position that Mind Uploading will become a real thing, and in many ways it will be bother the greatest invention in the history of man, and also the way many of us will wave goodbye to the essential qualities that make us human.

It is not, as I have stated before, without consequence, and I am sure that there will be consequences and difficulties along the way that I have been unable to forsee. I expect that some of the more pressing questions, such as if a consciousness uploaded into a computer is in fact the person at all, or just a crude, digital copy? If it is a copy of that person, what happens to the body left behind, or what becomes of the original consciousness still in the body? What rights would such an entity have? What might a human mind behave like if it's limitations are removed?

These are just a fraction of the questions that I have thought to explore, and as I've also said before, it is my sincere wish that you have questions of your own, questions that I have not even thought to ask. I do not want this exploration to be a reference,I want it to be the beginning of a discussion that will start people thinking along the lines they will need to in order to be ready when the technology is. When a technology is ready before the people who are to use it, tragedy often results, but if we've prepared ourselves philosophically, as far as something can be done with such a paradigm shift, then I think our chances of handling it in a mature way increase greatly.

Having gone over the salient points of my theory, I will explore the different aspects of Mind Uploading in the following chapters. It is of course all science fiction at this point, but like all great science fiction, it is only fiction by it's preceding chronologically of the truth. So if you must approach it as science fiction, you have my permission to do so. Listening to the point of view of others has never required accepting it, and I would assume that a large portion of any potential audience of this work would be here, grain of salt firmly grasped in their hand.

If you are hearing me out, I can ask for nothing more.
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Gender bias, domestic violence, and writing women of equality.

Reporter: So, why do you write these strong female characters?

Joss Whedon: Because you’re still asking me that question.

I normally don't chase current events in this blog, there are plenty of other writers that do it better than I ever could, and that is not the purpose of this site. I had been toying around with the idea of writing a post about writing genders other than your own, in a way to open a discussion about the many difficulties that can spring up in doing so, and how popular opinion can sometimes make it so no matter what you do, you're wrong. I would find myself with an open window, a blank white page and a blinking cursor in the upper left hand corner of the screen, and realize I didn't know how to begin. 
It's a common enough problem for writers, the most common one of all, in fact, but current events involving Christy Mack, Rhianna, and most recently Ray Rice and his wife (undoubtedly there are others as well that I am missing) gave me the starting point I was lacking. 
This is not going to be another "The men of the world are 100% of the problem" posts, nor is it going to be a "she was asking for it" post. Anyone looking for either of those points of view here are going to be disappointed. This is going to be a post about responsibility in regards to abuse of any gender. This is actually going to be a post about modern day feminism, and before any men reading this post groan and close the window, you should remember that I said this is about responsibility. Not just the responsibility of men, or women, or parents, or the courts/police. I see this as everyone's problem, and everyone needs to be pulling their own weight. The first part of that is cutting through the bullshit of what people are really looking for when they say the word "equality" nowadays. 
I suppose I should get this out of the way up front. If someone physically beats the shit out of someone, it is assault and they should be prosecuted for it. Notice how I didn't start that sentence out with, "When a man". That's because the law, outside of public perception, does not specify genders. Yet that is what I am seeing a lot of in the comments of people online, and the overwhelming message in the media is one that makes pains to specify that this is strictly a men beating on women problem. I see a lot of "A man should not hit a woman!" Of course a man should not hit a woman. There are laws against anyone hitting anyone, like I said, it's called assault. 
Again, Ray Rice is clearly guilty, and he should be prosecuted even though his now wife is refusing to press charges. There is never an excuse to hit someone like that, and he should pay for his crime. His wife should have charges brought up on her as well, because she clearly instigated the fight and struck him as well. If this was a scene between two women, a jury would likely consider it a case of self defense. Since he's a 200lb+ running back, and able to drop her with a single punch, it is seen differently. Even putting aside all questions of equality, men are taught their entire life that it is wrong to hit women. Personally, I was brought up to never hit a woman. Never. If they are coming after you with a knife, you are expected to wrestle the knife free from them and throw it away, then call the cops while you restrain her (without causing physical damage) until the cops arrive. This is the correct way to handle the situation, but not because she's a woman. Because she's a human being. So there's no defense for Ray Rice. He will get what the courts decide he is due. It won't be enough for some, and the rest will think it's too harsh, there is no pleasing everyone. 
I'm sure the data says that men are the worst offenders, but I think it's dangerous for anyone seeking equality to look at it that way. Check out this video, which is at least six years old. A major news organization actually conducted research to see how society views a man abusing a woman versus how they view a woman abusing a man. I'll leave it here for everyone to watch, and I want you to really think about it as you're saying to yourself, "yeah, well......" because they actually ask the people walking by what they thought when they were walking by and seeing the abuse. 


It's not equality if one gender can attack another with impunity and the other is instantly demonized. If we really want equality, then people need to stand up and make sure that the rules are enforced for everyone, not just those you consider to be in a position of being weker physically. If men aren't able to defend themselves against someone who knows that they can do whatever they want short of pulling out a knife or a gun and it will be socially acceptable, then who is the weaker gender?

Again, I'm not suggesting that men should be allowed to hit women, I'm suggesting that neither gender should be allowed to hit the other one. Assault is assault, and if a specific demographic wants their demands of equality to be taken seriously, then they need to be ready to accept the responsibility that comes with that equality. Equality isn't just making more money, or gaining power over other people, it's pulling your weight when it comes to the less glamorous portions of life as well, if needed. 

Am I suggesting that all women be able to open pickle jars on their own, or kill spiders as well as the men, or defend their man if a robber pulls a gun? Not necessarily. But the assumption that a man unwilling to do these things is less a man is just as sexist as implying that Ray Rices wife never would have been hit if she was in the kitchen where she belonged. 

I think most people in this country have no fucking clue what true equality is. Excuse my vulgarity, but they wouldn't know it if it bit them in the ass. I think it's a convenient point to whip out when they aren't getting something they want, and easily stowed when the status quo benefits them. Gender roles are being redefined every day, which is fine, such is the pace of progress. The assumption that anyone is "owed" anything usually causes hate and discontent.

Men get tired of expecting to be a chivalrous gentleman one minute, then being told they are worthless because women "don't need a man" with the next breath. I get it, women are stretching their wings after being oppressed for far too long, but that has never been an excuse for being an asshole. How many women cheered that Blu Cantrell song "Hit 'Em up Style"? What would the public outcry have been had a man that had been cheated on lit the girls collection of Louboutin's on fire, or wrote some derogatory epithet with a paint marker on their designer handbag, or blew up their convertible Mustang? 

Yeah, you might not want to think about it that way, but these are the current stakes of equality, things that women concerned about equality should no longer tolerate out of other women (let alone celebrate), just as men are expected to intervene in a fight that involves a larger man beating up someone smaller than them, be they man or woman.

Men are taking on more of the household duties as women are making strides in the workforce. I read an article just the other day that now that men are doing so, women are finding them less attractive and divorcing or leaving them for more "masculine" men. Is it a case of women not understanding yet what they want? They wanted men to help, and when they do, suddenly they aren't as desirable any more? My point is that there are going to be mistakes made, and this process will be as problematic and arduous as it is necessary. 

I think most people will agree that there is a ton of work to be done to end domestic violence. I think fewer people out there understand that confining our discussion to only stopping men from hitting women isn't equality. If you only look at one side of the issue, all that will happen is to provide legal protection for women to enact physical violence on men, and men will be expected to take it in much the same way that in the 50's a man could strike his wife and the general assumption would be that she deserved it. Oh wait, we've already seen in the video above that this is sometimes the case now. Neglecting to hold everyone to the same standard won't bring about equality, it will simply reverse the ancient gender roles women have fought so hard to overcome.

Is it going to be an easy transition all the time? No. For a long time, there will be men who are unwilling to see women as anything but vapid eyecandy, and while I am sure many of you are going to disagree with me when you read this, you may later understand this next paragraph as devoutly feminist. 

Women are earning their place in the workforce, because they have to. They can complain about equal pay and equal rights, expecting to be handed promotions and raises because they feel that they have earned it, and perhaps they have, but it's going to be a long climb to true equality, and they will have to prove that they belong every day to the very same misogynistic assholes that they feel are holding them back. There is no shortcut, and it's not fair, but it is the way it is. It will also mean that when you do get it, you will be able to be proud of it, because no one gave it to you. You earned it because of your work ethic and your talent, and you probably earned it five times over. Nobody will ever be able to take it from you, the pride of accomplishment. I'm sure that there must be a world out there where the most deserving person for each job gets it, but it isn't this one, at least not yet. 

When it happens, it's a good thing for everyone involved, because good people in positions of power make everyone around them better. My immediate supervisor at my day job is female, and I can't think of another person that would handle that job as well as she has. That has nothing to do with the fact that she's a woman, it has to do with who she is as a person, how hard she works and how much effort she has put in learning how to handle the different personalities of her workforce. It wasn't something she was great at on her first day in the new job, but any person on their first day in a management position is going to have to feel their way into the role. 

We need to start treating everyone equally, and while that means that we give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and adjust our opinions as we get to know them, it also means that we need to hold everyone to the same standard. Men don't get an out for physical abuse, and women don't get to play damsel in distress to get out of unsavory parts of being an adult. Neither of the above is as common as the news media would make it seem, but their both more common than they should be. 

All of that excessive amount of elaboration above really boils down to treating people equally. Right now, women have cultivated certain socially acceptable loopholes that they will need to stop exploiting in order to be truly equal with men. Men will need to stop being misogynistic pigs and recognize when a woman is capable of doing the job better. And both sides need to understand that hitting is not acceptable. It is assault and should be prosecuted as such. And both genders just need to leave someone if the relationship is not healthy, for whatever reason. There's a difference between unhealthy and the typical relationship issues that people go through, however. Knowing the difference is part of being in an adult relationship. We all still have a lot of growing up to do. 

This all dovetails nicely into what I wanted to say about writing. The reason I included the above quote from Joss Whedon is because it can be taken more than one way. The concept of the "Strong Woman" is to me a laughable one. The concept of a "Strong Man" is equally laughable, yet our social gender bias made only one of those sentences acceptable.

I came up with a simple system for writing believable characters. want to hear it? 

Motivations + Resources = Character

That's it. As far as I'm concerned, each character is comprised of their motivations, what they want out of life, and their resources, what they have to use in order to reach their goals. It really doesn't need to be much more complicated at first than that. Oh, they will need description, gender, hair/eye color, nationality, personal history, etc. But really, it all boils down to Motivations and Resources. Beauty can be a resource to a small town girl trying to make it big in the city. It can also be a resource to a male dancer trying to put food on the table for his kids. People use what means they have available to them.

Their motivations need to be justifiable, and that helps you as a writer escape the "well, they're evil because they're evil" pitfall. There has to be a reason for their motivation, but it's pretty easy to come up with a justification for almost anything if you operate under the expectation that there must be one. 

In my novel pre://d.o.mai.n, the main character Miles Torvalds attempts to steal $1.5 million dollars from the federal treasury. Greed was too obvious a motivation, and a worn out trope as far as I was concerned. Additionally, I wanted you to be on his side, and I didn't have a George Clooney playing the part like he did in the movie Out of Sight to help me build that rapport. I needed a more believable motivation, and that is how his mother developed cancer and how the cure came with an astronomical price tag. 

Once I had that, I knew WHY Miles would attempt to steal the money. I had given him a believable reason for risking his freedom, something worthwhile to fight for. I also went to the effort of removing the legal options by having him exhaust them prior to the beginning of the novel. 

That left me with resources, which, as a poor kid, recently dropped out of college, would have to come in the form of the charity of others. He receives his sideARM from his cousin as a birthday present, and is introduced to ATLAS by an x-girlfriend. 

And then he was off an running.

My point is that if you start your character creation with motivation and resources, you aren't as likely to have to worry about sexism in your novels, because motivations and resources don't have to be gender specific. You see where your characters are exploitable (basically, what they need), and that's where you twist the knife. Sometimes that answer is companionship, and Miles has his issues with love/lust and loss in the book, but the female characters he comes across are more a slave to their motivations than they ever are to his needs. There are three main female characters in the novel. One is his mother (whose only real motivations are survival and the health of her family), the other wants him (but the prospect of them being together is problematic), and another that he thinks he wants but that doesn't want him (because she wants someone else, but there's a slight ambiguity as to why she wants him).

If you treat everyone the same, meaning that the equation above has to balance, then there are not one dimensional women that just want to be loved to the point where they will put up with anything, or the bad ass warrior chick who is bad ass because you want to write a "Powerful Female Role Model". That's YOUR motivation, not your characters. If you keep their motivations in mind, you will get women that have resources to achieve their goals, and whether they achieve their goals will be determined on how they use whatever resources are available to them. Be it looks, money, power, etc, they will have to make their way through your world just like the men. That's true equality. Not just that they are protected from men, that they are able to take care of themselves one way or another. That they don't need kid gloves or training wheels because their reach cannot exceed their grasp. Just like in real life. Should you choose to put obstacles in their way such as misogyny, an abusive partner, etc, how they escape that will come down to their resources at hand. 

Are they smart and independent enough to traverse those obstacles, or not? Again, resources. Resources need to be justified as well. They can't just be smart once they have a need to be. Deus Ex Machina in the form of an IQ jump from a concussion at the hands of another character? That's a quick way to devolve in to a loop like that of Walker, Texas Ranger, where Chuck Norris continued to uncover talents that nobody knew anything about (and even latent native american heritage) in order to overcome his obstacles. Resources need to be understood up front, and then any deviation from that set needs to be explained believably. 

Reduce your characters to their bases elements, and you stand a good chance of being able to write them from a perspective that is less tainted by whatever latent prejudices you may have (even if you try hard to overcome them).

And the rest of us, men AND women, need to remember one other quote:

"Be the change you would see."
-Mahatma Ghandi

"If you want equality, treat everyone equally. Don't be equal by dragging those around you down, be equal by rising up to meet them, and in those rare instances when you are able to rise above those around you, lift them up with you."
-That one's mine ;-)






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The last post I wanted to write today.

Before I start, let me start off by saying there is going to be quite a bit of vulgarity in this post, but I promise that all of it will be 100% justified. I'm writing this for me, to help me vent my feelings in the only way that seems to really work anymore, as well as for anyone that loved my sister in law Kim, so if you're offended by the awkward, angry emotions of others, feel free to skip this one.

My sister in law was taken from us today, and I really don't know how I'm supposed to feel about it right now. I'm writing this piece for two reasons. One, because I want to make some completely inadequate attempt to tell the few people that might know me but not her how incredibly awesome she was-the kind of awesome that nobody ever seems to fully recognize until it's gone, and two, I need to work through some pretty strong emotions, and I'm not someone prone to speaking about my emotions out loud. I feel like a rock star that can't be what everyone expects of them unless they're three sheets to the wind, except my keyboard is my alcohol.

Have you ever met one of those people that always seemed to have a smile on their face, even when they were in the middle of complaining about someone or something? Those people that seem to be having the time of their lives, no matter what might be going on at that very moment? My sister in law was a lot like that.

I'm not even sure as I write this if I am going to publish it. This is the third post that I've written about losing someone in my family over the past year or so, and I fucking HATE that I feel the need to write it. I feel like I'm using their passing as fuel to write, and that makes me feel like the worst kind of sub-human piece of shit, even though I've used their happiness as fuel from time to time as well. So maybe I'm more of a parasite than a piece of shit. Who knows.

I'm sure there will be people that will think that, there are always a few. I don't give a fuck what they think. I hate that every time I turn around lately, my family is shrinking. Maybe it's a natural part of being an adult, if it is, where is Peter Pan when you need his fruity ass? I know it's probably just that it feels that way, but you can't always help what you feel. I hate that the better I get at putting my feelings on paper, the worse I get at sharing them in any other way. I hate that a woman that would have been an amazing grandmother now will never get the chance.

I am sure there are people in this world that deserve to die, but Kim was not one of those people. She made the world better, in a thousand small ways that we won't even fully realize until the next time we come across them. That's the first part of this that bothers me-how it's not just today that we're going to miss her. It's going to be a little here, a little there, drawn out and hurtful in the way only this kind of loss knows how to hurt us.

Today, my brother repeatedly said, "You just don't know," and he's right, you don't. Any given heartbeat could be our last. We aren't promised another, but more often than not, we get one. That we continue to beat the odds, one heartbeat after another, can lull us into a false sense of security. We believe we will all live full, happy lives because most people do, to one extent or another. To believe anything other than that is madness. Believing that tomorrow will always look a lot like today allows us to function.

Shortly after, my father said, "We've had pretty good luck, no one in our family has really had problems with drugs, alcohol, or spent time in jail." And it's true. We're not a bunch of goody two-shoes. We don't go to church, we're not vegans or anything like that, but we try to be decent human beings. I think the underlying message in what he said was that bad things happen, and we've had less bad stuff happen to us than a lot of other families. Maybe it just feels like that looking back on it, but as I looked around, it sure felt like nobody really knew what to say. It was so unexpected, and it didn't really feel that it had sunk in yet for everyone. Sometimes you come to expect things to be good because they always have been, until something comes along to show you how little it takes to flip everything upside down.

We were all still able to find the some of the same things funny that we had the Sunday before, there was just one less cackling laugh in the mix. We all enjoyed sitting in the kitchen and eating as a family, even though there was one seat empty. We did these things, in part because we really didn't know what else to do, so we stuck with what we knew. It wasn't real just yet, though it's starting to feel so for me now that I'm home with my son, alone with my thoughts. I suspect it's a little more real for the rest of Kim's family and friends now as well.

She read my book, even though she doesn't normally read science fiction. She did it for me though, to give me her impressions before I went back to edit it. Just another day in a life full of her doing things for others. Everyone that gave her a fair chance got to know a truly great person. I don't throw around praise like that lightly. She always had a smile on her face, always. That's what I'll remember most about her.

As condolences roll in, I realize that so few of us know how loved we are until it's too late for us to hear. Her life was so much bigger than I ever knew, and I would see her at least every Sunday for our weekly family dinner, at every holiday and birthday, and even other times as well. She was working on a book, and we had spoken several times on that as well. In short, we hung out a lot. Every Super Bowl, the party was at her and my brother's house.

Before every Thanksgiving, she was there for "pie night", where the women would cook pies and make the things that needed to be made before the big day. She went through the Black Friday flyers with the rest of the family on Thanksgiving, circling things they liked and looking out for what everyone else circled for potential gift ideas. She was there on Christmas Eve, and again on Christmas morning. Now, she's not. Everything will feel different now, I'm sure, and there are at least four people in this world that are going to have a larger hole in their lives than I am.

Today, surrounded by family, I caught myself several times wondering where she was, because it hadn't really sunk in that she was gone. In that fraction of a second, I think she must have stepped outside to have a cigarette, before remembering that she had quit a while back because she knew they were bad for her, and she wanted to be around to see her kids grow up. It sounds like a cruel fucking joke to think about that now. I don't believe in a traditional heaven, but it's times like these that I wish I could convince myself otherwise. No thought would make me happier now than imagining her in kicking back on a cloud, wearing a white toga and chain smoking the menthols she enjoyed because they can't hurt her anymore.

I also feel guilty. Survivors guilt, I think they call it. I don't feel that my life brings enough to the table to justify her being gone and my still being here. I doubt I'm as good a person as she was. I also know I don't have a choice in the matter. I feel guilty that I'm even hurting at all, because I know her kids and husband have so much more right to be upset about than I ever will.

Then there's the guilt that I'm not crippled with sadness right now, because it feels like this isn't really happening. I feel that I should be inconsolable, but instead I feel like I will show up next Sunday to my parent's place for Sunday dinner, and she will be there wondering why everyone is so surprised to see her. But then my mind catches up to my heart, and I know that won't happen. I think that's the way these things work, they don't hurt all at once, they hurt a little bit every time you look for them and they're not there. Like I already said above, that's how this works-one little sadistic sliver at a time. It's dragged out for years, and for her kids, my nieces and nephews, it's going to last be like that for their entire life, and that's the part that is so indescribably unfair.

I know my brother loved her more than I have words to describe. During my divorce, I thought that kind of loss might have been worse than if my ex wife had died, because I had to watch her move on with someone else. I know now that I was a fucking idiot. My son gets to speak to his mom whenever he wants, even though they live on opposite ends of the country. I got to temper my loss of her against the anger of knowing that she didn't want me anymore. My brother and his children don't get that. They don't get an easy out. We have a close family, and we tend to circle the wagons well, even if there is not much we can do other than help make arrangements and provide distractions. We can't fill the hole they have now, not really. No matter how much we all wish we could scoop that poison out of their hearts and spread it over the entire family, it's still more metaphor than anything else. It's something they will have to face alone a thousand times over the next 30-40 years.

For a long time, they are going to look for her, to want to share something or ask for her advice, only to remember again that she's gone. Nobody ever leaves this world cleanly, but I almost wish I believed in a creator, so that I would have someone to direct my anger and hatred at for them. I can deal with my portion of her loss. I'm a grown up, but kids should never have to go through what they are going to have to now. I asked her youngest son today if he wanted to go outside and throw the football back and forth, just to do something different for a minute or two outside. I just wanted to try to take his mind off things for a few minutes. He didn't, but later on he asked his father to, which made me feel good. I know he didn't really fully understand what things will be like moving forward, because he's young. Conceptually, he understands, but in practice I think it's even more surreal for him than it is for the rest of us. When he came out and told his father, "She had a good run," I knew. He was just trying to put a smile on his fathers face, because that's what the rest of us were trying to do.

He was right, of course. She might not have had a run anywhere near as long enough as we would have wanted for her, but it was very, very good.

We all love you and miss you so much, Kim. I think you knew that all along, but it doesn't make it hurt any less to not be able to tell you to your face now. Try not to worry about the kids and Earl, if you can read this or read or hear the words of everyone that misses you, know that there are a lot of people here that love them and will do whatever they can to help.

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