HELLO INTERNET BOY #5: People like this

There was some medium-quality banter occurring as the jousting set up at Ironfest, the MC smoothly entertaining the crowd with historical facts and medieval jokes, while two crowd rousers in motley bounced around and shouted the kind of zingers usually reserved for pantomimes or for when your less funny friends are playing Halo. After a particular clunker, Bob turned to me and said ‘where do they find these people?’ He paused, and then gestured to the entire crowd surrounding the jousting pit and said ‘I always want to know who the fuck are these people? Where do they come from? Why are there so many people at this thing?’ I nodded my head, but didn’t point out the obvious – he was one of these people. He and his family had been coming for the last three years. He was the them.

Bob and Danielle don’t really seem to be the type to go to Ironfest, and I suppose the ‘type’ would be the kind of person who owns a WW2 era tank and drives it around at festivals and tells new people that they meet ‘I own a WW2 era tank’. But their son Jack loves Ironfest with the giddy passion of a hyperactive four-year-old boy who likes swords and things, so he’s the easy one to explain.

Bob has been my friend for my entire life, and Danielle since high school. They are excellent people, but provide a project like this a delightfully stark juxtaposition between when Bob and I were teenagers playing Alleria together. Bob and Danielle own a house, have a son and have another child on the way and are able to talk about grown-up things with casual ease. I know that I am probably unrecognisable to my teenage self, but sometimes it feels like I am the same person but with added dogs.

Bob didn’t seem like the kind of person to play Alleria either – he didn’t do any other form of creative writing, he hadn’t read any books apart from Ice Station by Matthew Reilly – but for a fairly short period he played in this fantasy world as a normal human man named Alpha Numeric who liked stabbing things.  I’m pretty sure I forced him to play at first, because when I’m obsessed with something everyone around me has to join in, but Bob became obsessed with it too. I remember one summer holidays we’d schedule our days – meet up for a swim in the bay, go to someone’s house for lunch, post on Alleria, get dragged behind a boat, go to the other person’s house, check Alleria. I remember Bob enthusing wildly during one giant siege plotline, where both our characters were surrounded by swarms of skeletons and we threw molotov cocktails into the throng, and Bob maniacally clicked the refresh button and said ‘why can’t everyone just fucking hurry up and post immediately!’

Probably because it was 4am in America where the majority of players lived.

Bob’s Allerian days ended when the site crashed and migrated to a new sturdier server, an event that lasted for around six months. I asked him about it at Ironfest, and he said ‘yeah, it’s the kind of thing where you’re utterly obsessed but then when it gets taken away, you don’t care at all, it just switches off’. I don’t think my mentality is like that, I nurture my obsessions, probably to my own detriment, but it made me realise that the passion, the overwhelming nerdery for something is what I value in life. I like to be enthused about shit, I like to be in a hot-sweat of massively interested in whatever stupid thing I am doing. For me it’s mostly been various writing things, and the things I read, and stupid games. I like that Bob was obsessed with this stupid game that I love, I like that he is obsessed with photographing glow worms, and before that he was super into looking at the moon. I love the people at Ironfest, who are obsessed with dressing up as things and going to the Blue Mountains and remembering really small details about big things. Yeah, I like it all.

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.

*Ironfest photos taken by Robert Beazley*

Advertisements

HELLO INTERNET BOY #3: Somewhat like God

Matt remembers the first time encountering me in any fashion, which was a wildly enthused post on the Sara Douglass Bulletin Boards. Sara Douglass was an Australian fantasy author who I loved and I posted on the site telling everyone how excited I was that I’d met her at a book signing. I must have been around fifteen. Apparently after the post, he added me on MSN Messenger or maybe ICQ and we chatted.  After chatting about Sara Douglass and fantasy books for a while, I told him about a roleplaying game called Alleria which I’d recently started playing. There was some weird roleplaying fanfiction element on the Sara Douglass BB boards, so it made sense to get him involved. He went over to Alleria, started playing an Elf named Aderyn and now he basically runs the place. Matt told me all this at the cafe in a very definite manner, because as per usual, I can’t remember anything about the past at all. He seems to remember things clearly and with great clarity. He seems to know a lot of secrets. Sometimes he would tell a story, and then look at the recorder and end it with ‘oh, I know some things.’ In vampire terminology, I am Matt’s Allerian sire. I created him, in much the same way I was turned by a super motivated girl on AOL Instant Messenger a year or so earlier. I feel both pride and responsibility about this position. I feel somewhat like God. I am being entirely facetious. I asked Matt a lot of questions about the state of Alleria now – or Aelyria as it’s now known for undefined reasons. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was pushing towards something with my questions – I asked him about how it compared to the game I knew, how it had changed, for the worse or for better. It’s been so long since I’d played that I was clearly trying to find out if the game I played even still existed outside of our shared memory. I also asked him about how it all fit into his life. He had done it all, played a long-running character with a rich and varied history, been all the different forms of Games Master and was now a Director, basically the top job. I’d briefly taken a stint as a Game Master and wrote a very sporadic drunk gay elf named Mesildur who basically crashed parties as a hobby. I asked him how he fit it all in as Director, how he dealt with the stress of all the drama, all the intrigue, how he managed to write so much every day. Had he ever taken time off? Had he ever gotten burnt out? He told me that he found it easy, that it was relaxing, that it was fun. Which, I suppose is exactly the kind of buzzwords you want to hear in relation to a game. Matt ordered a second Chai Latte and I gave a polite yet entirely incoherent homeless man some money, and I realised why I was asking all these questions – I had quitters guilt. Sometime around 2005 I’d left the game, citing other writing priorities, working a bunch of stupid jobs and uni, having RL friends. All things which other players in the game managed to juggle while still playing. It seemed that I subconsciously wanted validation for leaving – I wanted to hear him say that it was a major responsibility, that it took up his entire life, that he’d sacrificed his friends and family and career in his mad quest for internet roleplaying power! But it hadn’t. I am someone who suffers massive FOMO, and I don’t like quitting. I like sticking things out. I’m sad that my connection to this game exists almost entirely in the past, but I suppose that this project is about exploring that? And if all else fails, I can just take credit for everything Matt does because I am his sire and am somewhat like a god I suppose.

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.

HELLO INTERNET BOY #2: Super chill

Our table was rickety and despite no longer being able to drink coffee myself, I felt a huge amount of responsibility for the quality of the coffee he was drinking. I’m still at the stage where I need to justify my lack of coffee drinking, as if people would judge me for drinking tea. I delight in telling people about my ulcer. The first thing I said to him after saying hello was to tell him about my ulcer. I assume people judge me for drinking tea, because I used to be that person who judges people for drinking tea. Anyway, I have no idea if his coffee was any good, but he drank it down within the first five minutes of us sitting down. My tea was tea. His name is Matt, and he had the dubious honour of being the official start to my project, being the first to leave the sweaty anonymity of the internet’s cocoon and explode into becoming a real person. Or more specifically, catching the train up from Shellharbour and meeting me out the front of Kinokuniya bookstore in Sydney.

Matt was polite and friendly and said about two words for every ten of mine. I think this is because as we sat down, I pulled out notepads and pens, and the notepad had lists of questions and a checklist for me to tick off and he looked at them and laughed a bit, and I told him that I tend to over-prepare. He said ‘at least you’re not recording me!’ and I answered with ‘actually, could I?’ and attached a special microphone to my iPhone when he agreed. I don’t know why, but I’d set this out like it was an interview, like I was wearing my best shoulderpads and I was trying to find out the scoop. “Hey Jimmy, what’s the skinny with being a dude from the internet, c’mon, give me a ‘sclusie, I love ‘sclusie, what’s the 411, the lowdown.” I realise now that I was not putting him at ease.

When someone is ill-at-ease, the best thing to do is to talk really fast and animatedly, in the manner of a person trying to convince themselves that they are not covered in bees by repeating the line ‘I am not covered in bees’ a thousand times. I asked questions that had fifteen minute setups, and I would then answer them myself. I asked him a lot of facts. I don’t know why I asked him a lot of facts. I didn’t realise that I was being a weird list-freak until the end, but you know, there’s a fucking reason I have this goddamn ulcer, you know?

(I am going to write more about meeting Matt, btw, I just had to get this off my chest)

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.

I won the Thiel Grant for Online Writing!

Well, in stupidly exciting news I’m overwhelmed to announce that I’ve won the Thiel Grant for Online Writing! I’m very thankful and grateful to Mr Thiel and the judges who chose my proposal. And congratulations to all the amazing people also shortlisted.

star-trek-for-car-partyAs some of you may know, this will allow me to go forward with a project I’ve been working on for a LONG time. I’ll be tracking down and visiting people I played an online roleplaying game with when I was a teenager/early twenties jerkhole, and finding out what happens when internet friends become IRL friends. Magic, I assume. I’ll be writing a series of linked micro-nonfics for my blog during the experience and sharing them all over the goddamn place.

The grant will allow me to actually travel overseas and visit these people, something I would not be able to afford on my own. The next step for me will be getting a schedule in order, but I’ve already got a bunch of plans in place, including a roadtrip in June in the US with two of my roleplayer chums who I will be meeting for the first time, which is gonna be amazing.

I’m excited to explore the idea of truth and trust and online versus IRL personas, but also how funny it is when people meet? I love the idea that I know these people more commonly by the name of the orc politician that they roleplay than their actual name. I love the fact that they know me as a drunk elven lord named Mesildur, as well as Patrick the drunk jerk. I love that pretending as hard as we can to be elves is what will bring us together.

If you want to follow along with this project while I do it, I’ll be posting them on this blog and they’ll all be nice and tagged, and you can follow The Spontaneity Review on Facebook too.

I am very, very, very excited about all this! Big happy dance.
Http://teacherintherye.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/thiel-grant-winner/

giphy

Minor Act of Bio-Terrorism

Friendship

So, this morning I was standing at the station listening to ‘Wrecking Ball’ by Gillian Welch and I was thinking about a romance book I’d just read which said something about passion being important in life, and I was trying to think what passion feels like, but I just kept thinking about the flu.

When the train pulled up, I looked at my reflection in the train doors because I accidentally shaved my whole sideburn off the other day and I can’t stop looking at it, and saw a wasp fly directly into my neck. I was already stepping into the carriage by this point, and I really wasn’t worried because in my heart I was a sad southern woman, and I kind of loosely grabbed the wasp in my hand and flicked it away. I then went down the stairs and sat. In reality, what I’d just done was grab a wasp and throw it directly at a bald guy in the standing section, and for the rest of my trip I just kept hitting ‘repeat’ on Wrecking Ball and watching everyone freak out and run around as this wasp kept landing on people, and every station more people would get on, tired-eyed commuters in suits with running shoes who don’t expect to be in any danger and there was always this moment, where they look at everyone else ducking and screaming and they just stand still, listening to music or playing on their phone and then suddenly they’re like ‘holy fuck, there’s a wasp on me’.

It was pretty great, I felt pretty powerful, I wanted to poke the lady next to me and be like ‘I did that, I threw that wasp’. I think that passion is pretty nice maybe, which is probably the point of all these romance books that I sell, but I think life is all about throwing wasps at things, and seeing if they stick. You’re either a wasp thrower or someone surprised by a wasp. Or maybe you are a wasp. I dunno. What’s a hornet?

CURRICULUM WORSTAE #10: QUITTING

Congratuwatchout!

There are some thoughts that you can only reach when walking through freezing, mist-filled streets at 4am, when a crazy man is screaming monotonously in the distance, when drunk nightclub people are still waiting for taxis to get home. My thought was this: I have made some mistakes. My thought was: Some people are experiencing worst things than this, like leg amputation and pregnancy and medically not being able to eat cheese. My subsequent thought: Those people are not me right now, this is still awful.

As I waited for the first train of the morning to lumber into the station like a long hippo with a stinky moist inside that we all sat in, my final thought was: I am quitting my job this month.

Probably the only thing I truly admire about myself is that once I have made a decision I will pursue it with the tenacity of a brain-damaged terrier chasing a seagull. That day at work, buzzed on the thousand coffees I drank secretly in a toilet stall, I made lists. Lists of potential things I could do, ranked and cross-referenced with pros and cons lists. Lists of all the lists I would make. Colour-coded lists. Secret lists.

A week later, I was enrolled in an Honours degree at university. The problem with my dum-dum dog tenacity is that sometimes it means the ideas I pursue aren’t GOOD ideas, but the fact that I then dropped out of that degree about two weeks in is another story for another time.

If you’ve never had the experience of quitting a job you truly detest, I thoroughly recommend you do so. It’s like walking down a shadowy alley and seeing all the muggers surround you, but unknown to them – you are a ninja robot killing machine. Inside you are only more indestructible steel.

On the day I discovered I’d been accepted into the degree and its subsequent Centrelink payment (which I never received, FYI) I stomped my metallic legs into my boss’s office and told her I was quitting. It’s not so much that I disliked my boss, it’s that I thought she was a terrible person and really bad at her job. Also, I disliked her. Fun things that we’d been through together: the time she threatened to fire me after a customer spat at me, the time she tried to deny me a day off for a funeral, the time she changed all my shifts to the 5am starts.

In my head, I dreamt our showdown would be full of snark and wit. I wanted to be like ‘say goodbye to all of this, you monster, good luck replacing my particular brand of apathy and incompetence’. Instead, I found myself being overly polite and telling her how much I’d enjoyed working in the place that had probably given me a minor drinking problem.
I told her I’d be happy to stay for another two weeks and help train my replacement, and also subtly sabotage things around me and really wallow in my leaving. I wondered if I could somehow take her down with me. But, being my diabolical arch-nemesis, she was like ‘Actually, this can be your last day. Please write a formal letter of resignation and… we can leave it at that.’ She tapped her sharp nails on the table as a dismissal, and I left the office, feeling cheated. This was supposed to be my amazing, drawn out and dramatic leaving, showing that i’d won. Somehow, she’d reversed everything and made me feel dismissed.

I spent the next few hours trying to work out a way to one-up her. I plotted stealing things, or leaving fruit somewhere. I schemed leaving a series of cryptic notes hidden around the store to mess with her mind and maybe even drive her insane. And then, when it was my lunch break, I realised… I could just leave. I could just walk out of there, and let all the anger and spite leak from the back of my head like baby drool.

So I gathered my stuff, said goodbye surreptitiously to the people I liked, left my resignation note on my bench and strode into the future, an uncontrollable smile pasted across my smarmy face.

But also because I am in no way above absurd spiteful gestures, my letter of resignation was a penguin holding a sign that says ‘I quit.’

 

998960_840565695960494_271109854_n

 

This was the LAST in my #curriculumworstae series. Thanks so much for coming along on the ride. I’ll be starting a new series on Facebook soon, which will also be published on this blog. The support for these stupid stories was amazing! YOU GUYS ROCK SO MUCH.

CURRICULUM WORSTAE #9: BEAN DOWN SO GODDAMN LONG

Robots

‘Err, umm, God bless?’ I muttered as I handed over my resume to the angry looking woman behind the counter. She immediately and visibly brightened.
‘And God bless you too!’
It had been rumoured for a long time that Gloria Jeans was owned by the Hillsong Church and was staffed entirely by brainwashed evangelists. I’d been wandering the streets forweeks by that point, desperate for any sort of casual wage so I could pay the rent. I felt that passing myself off as a believer was a small price to pay
She took a cursory look at my one page CV and winked at me. ‘We’ll give you a call.’

A week later I stood behind the counter at Gloria Jeans for a trial shift. The place smelt like coffee in pain. They taught me various ways to torture the beans – the crushing device, the milk burner, the thing where you put the ingredients and steam goes in it? In seemingly no time at all, I knew all the basics of how to utterly mutilate a cup of coffee.
‘Here you go, have a cup of the coffee you made!’ said my excited sixteen-year-old manager.
‘Please no’ I whispered. She looked at me like a puppy meeting a sassy tropical bird.
‘I’m lactose intolerant’ I told her.

My Bible-fearing, milk-hating web of lies collapsed by the third day, when my carefully contrived persona was shattered when one of the ‘baristas’ handed me a boiling hot metal thing that you packed full of beans and then shot boiling water through. The boiling hot coffee thing. He handed it to me, potentially to clean the beans out, but not being able to read his mind or identify the contraption, simply grabbed it in my hand.
‘JESUS CRAPPING ON A DOG’ I screamed, as the super heated metal burnt my hand skin.
‘God fucking mother shit’ I continued, running it under water. All the teen management looked at me scandalised. The customers, people who willingly put our boiling bean-swill in their mouths, couldn’t care less, obviously being either incredibly tough or devoid of feelings and taste. Later that day someone asked which church I attended. My breezy answer of ‘the one around the corner, you know, Saint MUrmbls’ didn’t seem to cut it. I was caught by a manager sitting at a REAL coffee shop on my break, desperately inhaling un-poisoned caffeine into my face.

When I was let go at the end of the week, in an exit-interview held by two High School dropouts, who were concerned that in the end, I might find somewhere else which would make me happier to work (re: literally anywhere else), I took my trial shift money and realised that sometimes, no matter how desperate you are, you have to draw the line. Look what I’d become – a creature of lies and malice, literally burned in the course of trying to make a buck. It was time to take a stand, and never again would I blasphemy like that – from now on, I would never impugn the holy name of coffee. Because if there’s one thing I believe in, in this crazy, mixed up world, it’s coffee.