The Vigilant Robot

a watchful eye of creative complexity

It’s Been Awhile…

I haven’t written in this blog since March. I am not sure if that’s an indication that I’ve been really busy or that I’ve been lacking some inspiration in my life. I think a bit of both. I went on vacation at the end of March and feel like I have come back a different person, a person who wants to trade this life for something else. My next post will probably be the story of that trip. I don’t have much to share at this very moment, but since my last post I have created an instagram, have finished reading three books, postponed a lot of writing that needs to happen soon, have developed a love for new bands, and have taken many BuzzFeed and PlayBuzz quizzes. In case you were interested, of the X-Men I am Magneto, and of Lord of the Rings I am Gandalf; I am not white and not bougie; of TV moms I am Claire Huxtable; when it comes to Shakespeare I am Hamlet. To be or not to be… sometimes, that really is the question.

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The Mysterious Man on the Wall (Story Prompt 4)

Looking for a second prompt during our second writing group meeting, my coworkers and I scoured the books at Open Books, which is where we usually meet. After about fifteen minutes of unsuccessful prompt-finding, we suddenly noticed the mysterious man hanging on the wall. We found the painted man really intriguing, so we decided to spend ten minutes writing about him.

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I am blind. Well, a bit blind. I can see shapes and outlines. I can see a few colors, sometimes. Here and there I get bright colors—much too saturated—but I mostly see muted tones and very little contrast. My friend Jeremy gave me these glasses he constructed. You see, he’s a scientist. Well, he practices science with all sorts of experiments here and there, mostly unsuccessful, with the occasional achievement. He’s had no schooling or anything, just his mind and a thirst for making new things, even if unsuccessfully. I’ve worn these glasses for two hours and so far, not much has changed. I have to go to a ball tonight and Jeremy insists that I wear them. As if they don’t already clash with my neck brace. He can be such an idiot sometimes, but I can’t hate him; he’s always there for me, wanting to help me; of course, his attempts at “help” are largely unsuccessful, but he’s passionate and I won’t stop him. I feel suffocated. Woah! I just got a burst of light. Hey, wait, is your hair blue? Because it looks blue. In fact, everything looks weird. Why are my hands red? My skin… it looks red! Why does this house look so white and bright Everything looks odd, although I can see your eyes now. Your eyes! They are so beautiful, so clear and radiant. What color! I have never seen such an intense green before. Okay, stop looking at me. Your eyes, they are so piercing, so intense. I can’t go to the ball like this. I’m taking these glasses off. Why are my hands still red? Your eyes, they are just so green. Greener than I remember anything ever being. But why are they still green? I took the glasses off! And your hair is blue, and my hands are red. How will I look at the ball now?

We Got Another One! (Story Prompt 3)

For our second creative writing group meeting, we used the following picture and story as a prompt.

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Again, we had ten minutes to write. Here is my story.

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Food was scarce. Nuclear war destroyed all vegetation, all animals. Almost one billion people died and another two billion died of hunger. Starvation was still rampant. Every day, people were dropping like rainfall. The population was continually plummeting and could not be replaced by births. The nuclear fallout caused infertility. Children could no longer be born. Scientists and scholar worked everyday to clone successful humans and produce food. It was hard to make something worthwhile because all of Earth was plagued with dangerous chemicals. The human clones kept getting diseased and dying within a short period of time. The food reproduced was always rotten and unsuitable for consumption. One day, they tried combining the science—food plus human beings—and discovered that the humans were fresh long enough to be devoured and that they tasted just like meat. They monitored the experiment and found no immediate issues. They began distributing this packaged “human” food to each doorstep in the country. The Marzes family opened their door to find another package on their doorstep. They already had two left to eat before this one arrived. They decided to figure out a way to raise this “human” as their child.

 

Security, Security Recording Your Every Move! (Story Prompt 2)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my coworkers and I started a creative writing group that takes place after the workday, every other week. We haven’t been keeping up with it so well, but we’re doing okay. Our homework assignment after the first day of writing was to write something based on the following prompt:

“There may be a security camera aboard that is capable of recording any activity.” —notice on a CTA bus. What is the “activity”?

The following is the story I wrote in response to the prompt. I ended up liking the story I wrote and I plan to expand it into a larger story.

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He sprayed that stuff that looks like silly string over the train car’s camera. Ever since he heard about what happened to his friend, Jesse, he’s been extremely paranoid every time he enters a CTA vehicle. At first, he thought the stories on the internet were exaggerated and for the most part, untrue, until it happened to his friend. Jesse is lying in a hospital bed because of severe burns and moderate nerve damage due to the electrocution. Nobody knows what he did, but everyone knows he got punished for it. That’s the thing; nobody knows what activities you can’t do besides the obvious—smoking, drinking, eating, and playing loud music. A man named Joe was electrocuted for putting his arm around another man. Lucy got electrocuted for rolling a joint. Caro got electrocuted because she gave a homeless man some change. Now Jesse. Who knows what he did to warrant such horrific damage?

The train cars were mostly empty today. People are probably too afraid to ride, not knowing what was permissible. He didn’t know if the cameras were the only action sensors, but he knew that they definitely played a large role. Who was ultimately watching the passengers? It was rumored that the country’s public transportation systems now had NSA-like capabilities, just on a smaller scale. He sat down and shoved the can that sprays stuff that looks like silly string inside his hoodie. He sat motionless, looking out the window to the desolate and rundown nature that consumed his city. He smelled strong perfume, coming from the only other person on the train, a woman sitting at the other end. “Why don’t they electrocute her and her rank perfume? They need a sense of smell,” he thought.

After forty minutes of sitting like a stiff board and a short walk, he entered the hospital. “Jesse, room 202.” They told him he couldn’t see Jesse, that Jesse was under arrest and in police custody. Nobody could see him. “Can you tell me where the bathroom is?” Down the hall and to the left, he went. He ran into an elevator that was just closing and took it to the second floor. The doors opened and there was an armed guard standing at the entrance. The guard stopped him and asked where he was going.
“I’m not sure. I think I’m lost. Ya see sir, I’ve been wandering for quite some time around this place and I can’t figure out how to hide from the ghosts. They are everywhere and I hear they are trying to summon the aliens to take over.”
“You from the Psych Ward?”
“No, sir, I am from Earth.”
“What do you know about aliens?”
“Nothing, I’m just trying to avoid them.”
“Well, get back in the elevator and leave.”
“Are there aliens on this floor?”
“Potentially. We got a creep in room 202. We think he’s working with them.”
“Woah! What did he do? How do you know?”
“I can’t tell you that. He’s an enemy of the state. Stay off this floor!”

He went back into the elevator and left the hospital. He couldn’t believe this nonsense. What did Jesse do? He was confused, but he knew he had to get Jesse out of there. He resolved to make a plan while walking the twenty miles home.

Find the Light, Follow the Truth, & Never Give Up.

I wanted to make something special for a friend, so I thought of a nice, inspiring phrase and sketched it out. I made some mistakes while darkening the letters and tried to amend it, but I only made it worse. I pretty much blame my carelessness on the fact that I was watching “Sherlock” while drawing and my normally extreme attention to detail was diminished by my inability to tear myself away from the hilarious and insulting nature of Sherlock’s wit. I think I will redo this one, but here is a look anyway.

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VOTE NOW: $10K to Send Inner-City Chicago Youth to Summer Camp!

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Please take one minute of your time to vote for Camp Greenheart. Your vote will help us win $10,000 to send marginalized inner-city youth to camp this summer. Chicago is a wonderful city, but it can sometimes be a violent place, especially when the temperature rises. Help kids escape the city for a bit and have a fun, adventurous summer that will benefit them in various ways! Please vote. TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO VOTE. You can vote up to 4 times using various social media and email. Help give these youth a summer to remember!

VOTE HERE

About Camp Greenheart:

• Engages youth to explore their natural surroundings, to work creatively, collaboratively and independently
• Fosters a holistic sense of well-being for self, others, and the world
• Challenges campers through increased responsibility, independence, and outdoor activities
• Is a celebration of youth and togetherness with music and nature

Camp Greenheart will hold activities that address the areas of volunteerism, environmentalism, responsibility and team building, personal development, cultural diversity, creativity, health and music. Through these activities campers will leave with a greater understanding and appreciation for each of these themes and will adopt changes to their own life to reflect what they have learned.

The Life of Someone in a Magazine (Story Prompt 1)

A few coworkers and I began a creative writing group where we plan to meet twice a month after the workday. Today was our first day. We used a prompt to get us going because many of us haven’t written creatively in awhile. We tore pictures of people out of magazines, put them in a pile, and each of us chose one. We then had to write about our person using the following questions as a guide:

  • Where were you born?
  • What are you good at?
  • What is your expertise?
  • When was your first kiss and what was it like?
  • What is a secret you will never tell?
  • What is your favorite smell?

We had ten minutes to write. The following is the magazine photo I chose and the story of that man.

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There was nothing but flat, brown plains. A few houses interspersed between the seldom cars on the road with families packed inside—sitting on each other’s laps because that is how people left—all together to travel to a nearby city or state, for fun if they were lucky, but usually because they were broke and had nothing left to keep them there. This is where I was born.

I left as soon as I could—not to a nearby city, but I hitched my way to one halfway across the country. I did all sorts of jobs from cleaning the floors of one of the local grammar schools to packing products in a factory. I eventually found myself moving up the ladder in a business where I started as a mailroom worker and “Coffee Fetching Assistant.” One day I saw the head CPA’s work lying in the mailroom, which she apparently forgot to take back after she told me to make a new pot of coffee. I took it upon myself to fill in her calculations. Numbers. This is what I was good at. Math always made more sense to me than anything in the world. Numbers. Numbers rocked.

When the CPA came back—no I never got her name—she took her papers without looking at me. I remember thinking, “Shit, I need to make that coffee,” which I proceeded to do.

Long story short, the CPA recognized that I had completed her calculations to perfection and they gave me a job as a tax assistant. Numbers—that was my expertise. I never knew anything but numbers. I am now a partner of the firm. I went from smelling coffee all day to smelling money. Lots and lots of money. I think money is my favorite smell. The numbers never end with money.

I love numbers; they never lie. Sometimes, I do.

Dear Obama, It’s Been 12 Years; Close Gitmo!

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Since January 2002, it has been twelve years since George Bush opened the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama vowed to close it as part of his presidential campaign.

“As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorists.”

When Obama assumed office in January of 2009, he again, vowed to close it within a year:

“This is me following through on not just a commitment I made during the campaign, but I think an understanding that dates back to our founding fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it’s easy, but also when it’s hard.”

In a speech about national security in May 2009, Obama stated:

“instead of serving as a tool to counter terrorism, Guantánamo became a symbol that helped al-Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantánamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.”

President Obama actually signed an “executive order” to close the prison.

It is now 2014, but the prison is still open. There are still over 150 men held without charges and with no trial, victims of gross human rights violations. I wrote this little poem for President Obama, which is on the way to the White House at the moment. Will he read it? Probably not. Will he read the other letter that I mailed to him? I doubt it. Will somebody read it? Possibly.

Winning the election of 2008,
Obama is President of the United States,
Campaigning on HOPE, speaking of CHANGE,
The freedom of Gitmo prisoners waits.

No trial, no charges, the injustice quite large,
There are a lot of grievances with which to charge,
Torture and violence are only a small part,
Will 2016 serve a dishonorable discharge?

Campaigning on promises meant to be broken,
The “first black President” is only a token,
To coat the citizens’ eyes with white paint,
And subdue their anger, keeping them soft-spoken.

It’s been twelve years so you think it may have worked,
But never fear a people continually jerked,
Their government, their system, filled to the brim with lies,
We are angry and outspoken and perpetually irked.

Enough is enough, tell the truth for once,
We are sick and tired of your imperialist stunts,
Close the prison at Guantanamo Bay,
Do it right now, not in six to twelve months.

We are disgusted with this empire that’s been built,
This country will crumble with all of its guilt,
You think you can outrun what history has taught,
But every empire eventually becomes unbuilt.

There is still time to make this one right decision,
You may scoff and laugh at our protests with derision,
But your term will be over in two short years,
Closing Guantanamo Bay should be in your vision.

Write your own letter this week or this month and tell the White House how you feel about this injustice, this gigantic waste of money, this horrible system we call the government of the United States and tell President Obama to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.