"I'm not really a good person."

"I coulda told you that. And you're also talking to yourself," she said, then sniffed the air, "It smells like incense in here. Are you trying to hide something? Have you started smoking the reefer?"

I sighed. "That was weeks ago. Great. And it's too cold to air the room out now, so the smell will probably linger all winter."

She looked at me in surprise. "Wait, so you actually did? Woah. No way!'

I looked at her in confusion. "What?" then I mentally replayed the past few seconds of conversation, "Oh. No, of course not. Why would I want to smoke pot? No, the incense was somebody else's fault. He redecorated my room for some reason."

She leaned back and sat on the bed. "I almost hoped for a second there. You should, you know."
"Should what? Smoke weed, or redecorate."

"Either! Both! Something. I really don't care what at this point."

"Um, yeah, I'll keep that in mind."

"Seriously, dragon posters? Come on. Do SOMETHING, I'm dying over here! Sloth is the most boring of sins!"

I spun around to face her again. "I'd be tempted to do the opposite just to spite you, except then you'd do the whole reverse psychology thing. I'm not falling for that."

She leaned forward. "Well, why not? I'm evil, so whatever I suggest can't be good, right?"

"Meh," I said, and spun back to the computer, "I'm not really a good person."

I heard her get up and step over to lean on the back of my chair. "I know tha...woah. Is that chair even safe?"

I almost knocked the keyboard on the floor catching my balance. "As long as people don't try and knock it over! Watch it!"

"You're grumpy," she said.

"And you're not helping," I said. "But I guess that goes with the whole evil thing, huh?"

She leaned on the back of the chair again, more carefully. "Wrong place to look for sympathy, honey. You'd rather I lied to you? It's my job to know everything bad you do. And it's a depressing list. Mostly sins of omission, but those still count for Spidey, don't they?"

I tilted my head back and looked at her upside down head. "Do you seriously use superhero ethics for sorting out bad deeds?"

"Do you?" she asked.

"I was being serious though, about not being a good person. I try not to be too bad a person, but that's not the same thing at all. And I'm suspecting I'm worse at it than I thought."

"Okay," she said.

Silence reigned for several seconds. I looked side to side, she just stood there. "Um. Okay then?" I said.

"Okay," she said.


"Well what? Sorry honey, I'm not gonna give you advice you won't take. Especially when it could cost me my job. And like you keep pointing out, I'm evil."

"Okay," I said, and sat back straight, then she leaned forward and almost tipped the chair over. "Hey, what?"

She grabbed the keyboard and mouse, and I probably would have put up more of a fight, but for the physics of the situation. Besides the tipsy chair, I had no leverage, and I wasn't gonna try and shove her off me by her boobs. Stupid gentlemanly habits.

"Okay, there," she said after a couple seconds, and stood up.

"Where? What did you do?"

She bounced and squealed like a schoolgirl. At least that's what it sounded like. "I'm HELPING!"

I slowly turned and stared at her. "What?" she asked, "I am. I deleted all of your video games, so now you have one less excuse to not go out and get into trouble. That should cover my quota for this week."

I checked. She had. And thinking about it, I didn't really care one way or the other about that. Not just 'cause I have the discs. It just didn't matter.

I spun the chair around back to her. "Um. Damn you, I guess?"

"See, there's the kind of enthusiasm that can be turned to evil!" she said, "Just doing my evil deed for the day!" she threw a salute before vanishing in the by now standard pink sparkly vaguely sulfur cloud. That was...odd. She was practically anime at the end there. Huh.
The first thing that hit me was the smell. Not because it was that strong, but because the door was mostly closed and I don't have X-Ray vision. Incense, that smelled like I imagined incense would smell like, not how it really does. I probably should have just turned around right there and gone to do something productive. But I opened the door instead.

"What the hell have you done to my room?" I asked.

The buddha looked unconcerned. "Doesn't the atmosphere of the whole thing give you the feeling that your questions which had been so important are aren't, and have already been answered?"

I looked around and counted to ten. "No, the atmosphere of the whole thing gives me the feeling of a Chinese restaurants designed by four white guys whose only contact with China is watching Jackie Chan movies."

"It's not all Chinese. Like Shiva. The Buddha's not Chinese either. Just because it's 'Oriental' doesn't mean it's Chinese."

"That's why I said it's like a bad Chinese restaurants. It's all just tossed together. And I'm totally not a fan of the red silk hanging thing, it looks more like a bordello..."

I had to stop when my tour revealed the piece de resistance of the decor. Trust me, you would have too. "I thought you'd like that," the buddha said.

"I..." I shook my head, "That's either genius or insane stupidity, I'm not sure which. It has to have come from the 'net. Where'd you get it?"

"Nope," he said.

"Great." I closed my eyes and looked again, it was still there. "That means I came up with the idea of a statue of Optimus Prime as Buddha myself. Or that I've forgotten where I saw it. And I'm still not sure if it's awesome or stupid."

The buddha leaned back a few inches above the wooden bench where my bed used to be. "See," he said, the questions you thought you had have become unimportant."

"Yeah, I guess you're right. They've been replaced by ones like 'What did you do with my stuff?' and "Did you whip this all up, or do I need to cancel my credit card?' and 'Where am I supposed to sleep tonight?'"

"You're always so negative. Stuff is just stuff. You are not your stuff. Look at the possibilities opened up by this!"

"You know, you're right, I could go rent a broken-down house and start my own cult of anarchists. Or I could not wander into a bad Fight Club ripoff. You are not Tyler Durden. And I am not my stuff, but my stuff can let me be a better me. Like shoes for example. They let me walk across gravel without doing that weird walking you have to do where you put your feet carefully to try and spread out the weight. And clothes have pockets. Pockets are awesome."

"Shoes and pockets were hardly the extent of your stuff. Most of it was just an anchor. But no, you never thank me, it's always 'Where's my stuff?' 'I'm not going to listen to your advice even when I asked for it!' 'Hey! Quit flicking those toenails into my bed!' Being a strawman is a thankless job!"

"Dude, if you were a strawman, these would involve a lot more of me yelling. And me winning the arguments, too. Now, I'm going to ask you again, where's my stuff?"

"This week is a good time to begin a new project," was all he said.

I leaned back against a stone water fountain with a pagoda on it. It was really kinda nice, if it hadn't been right in the middle of what used to be my room. "Okay," I said, "We can do it that way. Or I can ask you nicely to put my stuff back and get rid of the Chinese takeout menu behind you. What's the point of turning my room into a cheap replica of a temple I don't even believe in, anyway?"

"Because you wanted advice, and it's more credible if it comes from somewhere that seems exotic and foreign and new. Rather than regular old wisdom. And you know all the other reasons."

"Yeah okay, whatever. Look, I need to get to sleep, so put my room back or I'll break out the lightsaber."

He laughed. "You don't even believe in Jedi."

"No," I said, "But I believe lightsabers are wicked cool. I'll be back in a minute."
(This is going to contain spoilers for Fight Club. If you haven't seen it and want to, go watch it. The Internet will still be here. If you haven't seen it and don't want to, I'd recommend it. But since I'm probably the last one on my friendslist who actually hadn't seen it, I'm not gonna bother to LJ cut. You've been warned.)


"You're trying to overload that poor interjection with too many shades of meaning."

I shut off the DVD player and looked toward the voice. The buddha was sprawled out on the back of the couch, almost exactly like a cat. "Does Brad Pitt know you have his jacket?" I asked.

"He's beyond such concerns now."

"Hang on, isn't that leather? Can't that get you kicked out of the Buddhist club?"

He pulled one of the sleeves up to his nose and sniffed it. "It's fictional imaginary leather. No animals were harmed in the making of this jacket. Why do you care, anyway?"

"Nerd. Internal consistency is one of the things that irritates me," I said, then realized something else, "Wait, did you try and do the haircut too? It didn't work. You look like Rod Stewart."

"Appearances are as much illusion as everything else in the world. Perhaps more," he said.

"That's... Wait, I don't care enough to go through this whole argument again. If you stopped by on your way to a con dressed as Tyler Durden, hey, good for you."

"There's more than a few parallels."

"Yeah, yeah, imaginary friend. Only to the best of my knowledge you're not flying around the country selling soap. But that's not the point, either. Fight Club's a good movie. A very good one. And I can see why so many people went all OMG AWESOME at it. There's been a couple things I've read and seen lately like that, where I know if I'd seen or read it sooner, when I was a teenager or so, it would have blown my impressionable little mind. But now I'm not quite so impressionable, and I've run into other things that blew my mind at the time, a lot of which covered the same kind of stuff. Or maybe I've just seen some of the flaws in their philosophies."

"Or you're just old."

"I feel old sometimes. But mid-twenties isn't old. It's really not the age, it's the living. Or lack thereof. Which is sorta the other thing that's bugging me. Like, a lot of the reason I never saw the movie before was because so many people were squeeing about it. And partly because I don't watch that many movies by myself, I usually waste my time on the Internet now. But there's things I avoided not so much because they were bad, but because they were popular. A lot of the people who liked things just because they were popular were assholes. Still might be, I don't know what happened to most of them. I don't know if it was more a matter of being like them, or a matter of admitting the might be right about things once in a while. You never want your enemies to be right, it's so much more annoying."

"It's so much more satisfying to write your enemies off as always wrong and deluded and evil and stuff, isn't it?" he asked, "Because then you don't have to listen to them or deal with them as human beings."

I raised a finger at him. "Or you could just lump them all in as illusions and deluded by the illusionary world."


"So, yeah. I was wrong. Not that Tyler Durden was right either. But that's not even the point, because there's other things kinda related, that I've been thinking about, that I realize now I was wrong about when I was younger, and now I feel stupid about them. So I end up sounding like an old man or something, talking about how young and stupid I was."

"The folly of youth becomes the wisdom of maturity," the buddha recited.

"Sure, why not? Being wrong sucks though. Especially when it's something you've been wrong about for a long time, because then you're used to thinking that way, it's habit. Your thoughts are used to running that way. And you, well, I, have no practice in other ways, so I'm gonna keep being wrong and screwing up."

"That was extraordinarily vague," he said, "Which probably means it's about women. I'm deliberately obscure to make people think, what's your excuse."

I shrugged. "Partly, I said, but women are hardly the only thing I've been wrong about. I wish it were. I wasn't being vague, I was being expansive. Or generic. Whatever."

"But what about the movie?"

"It was good. I've been told there's two groups of people who like it, ones who like it for the testosterone cult fight part, and ones who 'get it.' I'm not sure that's the only things people can get out of the movie though. The thing is, the Fight Club stuff started out as a decent idea. Not for everybody, obviously, but yeah, a bare-knuckle brawl would probably do a lot to make all the other little hassles of everyday life seem a lot littler. But Tyler Durden's an asshole. A charming and mostly likable asshole, but still an asshole."

"Are you sure you're right?"

"Sure enough," I said, "Yeah, I could be wrong. But just because I can be wrong doesn't mean I am. The whole corporate homogenization and making people into wage slaves part I can totally understand. I had the sad realization I'm a sales-drone for a megacorp the other day. And I can totally empathize with the trickster side of things, throwing things into confusion to make people think and knock them out of their routines. But that's not where his ideas went, he wanted to get rid of civilization. Thought it took away everything that made men men or something. They even spelled it out in the movie. When he started ranting about climbing up vines growing on the Sears Tower, and looking down and seeing women doing laundry on an abandoned superhighway."

"Would you really mind seeing vines on skyscrapers, or superhighways abandoned?"

"No, I wouldn't. But here's the key thing. They'd be there on purpose. And the superhighway would be abandoned because we'd have moved on to something else. None of this primordial primitive romantic bullshit. Civilization all the way. Sure, there's romance to the hunter-gatherer life, but that's all it is, romance. In real life, it pretty much sucked. There's a reason the main thrust of history has been to get as far away from the 'natural state of man' as possible."

"Paraphrasing Gaiman and Pratchett again?"

"Yup. They got to me first, before Mr. Durden. The movie makes it clear he's totally batshit insane, though. Even aside from the split personality part of it. I guess he's supposed to be all the repressed stereotypically male parts, with violence and sex and taking on the whole world. But having just that's no more balanced than having none of it. I think I'm thinking about this too much, because it's late at night."

"Do you think you're supposed to think about it?"

"I think the studio doesn't care as long as they get paid. Hey, are you going to do anything other than ask questions every so often so it doesn't seem like I'm monologuing?"

"What would you like? Do you want me to tell you to hit me? A final metaphorical showdown to represent the conquest of your inner something-or-others?"

"Nah," I said, "I'm not that impressionable. Besides, when it does come down to metaphorical inner conquest thingies, it's not going to be a fight. Or maybe by then I won't even have to bother. I'm definitely not going to bother tonight, though, it's late and I'm tired. You can find your own way out."

He was still sprawled there when I flipped the lights off. Like that meant anything.


Apr. 30th, 2006 12:37 am
A familiar form was sprawled out on my when I pushed the door open. I stopped in half a step as she looked up and smiled at me, then my brain caught up with itself and I walked in and didn't acknowledge her.

"What, not even a hello?" she asked.

"Hello, succubus."

"Aww, what gave me away?" she asked.

"You're not her," I said, "I knew her. She wouldn't be here, she's still in California, last I knew. And you're still wearing the Green Lantern shirt."

"But you like the shirt," she said.

I chucked the stuff from my pockets into my little stuff crate. "That's not the point. And that's not how it works, either. Besides, if you changed your mind and were trying to tempt me, you picked wrong. It's been a long time since I was in love with her."

"Pfft, love," she said, "Like I care about that? You still lust over her, though."

"Meh," I said, "It's not like I really have a lot of other women to lust over. I've never really found celebrities all that hot. What do you care, anyway?"

"It's my job to care. And you're really bad at lying," she said, and flickered through several other people's bodies, but with the same clothes.

I looked away. Not out of embarrassment or chivalry or disgust or disorientation, I just didn't want to deal with her right now. "Are you quite done?" I asked.

"Are you blushing?" she asked.

"No, I'm annoyed. You're not any of them. Besides, it's not just looks that matter. You're still you, and annoying."

"I'm annoying? Do you realize how annoying it is to put in the kind of work I do, and then have you just ignore it? You're annoying, and in denial."

"Probably," I said, "But I don't know what you're talking about."

She plopped down on the bed, back in her "regular" shape. "Sure you don't. If you don't it's because you don't want to know."

"Probably," I admitted, "But what's your point? Technically, shouldn't annoying you be a good thing, what with you being a demon and all?"

"Some enlightened sensitive guy you are, first you're saying how important looks are, now you're making stereotypes?"

I sat down in my scooty office chair. "If I wanted to deal with baseless insults, I'd go argue with the conservative trolls in an IRC politics channel. Are you just here to complain that I'm too boring and you're not going to make some quota or something? And I'm supposed to care because why? I don't even think you're real."

"You said that last time. I've got no worries on quotas, but sloth is such a bloody boring sin. Would it kill you to actually do something once in a while?"

"You know, that would be a lot more effective and a lot less creepy if it weren't for the implied 'Because then I'll have something interesting to watch.' at the end of that sentence. And I'm not really sure I should be taking advice from a demon anyway. You could easily be lying."

"Devil. And what if out interests match? You'd probably have a lot more fun if you listened to me. And since you've got enough pride to figure you know things better than generations of people before you, there's no reason to worry about getting in trouble, now is there? So, next time, give in to temptation."

"Hang on, wait a second, that argument doesn't make any sense. Just because a lot of people thought something for a long time doesn't make it true. Well, unless this was a fantasy story where belief molds reality, but that's getting off track. Generations of people had slaves, that doesn't make slavery right. And yeah, people in the future will probably look back at us and go "Man, did they really believe those crazy things?" like we do when we look back at ancient Greek myth, but that's not really my problem."

She sat back and blinked at me for a second, then shook her head. "Wow. Can you pick any more irrelevant part of that to fixate on? You completely missed the whole point, which was that you need to go out and get laid."

I shrugged. "Probably. I'm not big on just random sex, though," I said.

"That," she said, holding up a finger, "Is probably because you haven't given it a fair chance."

"Um. Okay. Generalities really don't do much good. If you really wanted to help, you could hang out with me and provide a running translation from Girl for me or something."

"Helping really isn't my line of work."

"Yeah, I kinda figured you'd say something like that. Besides, since you're just a personification of part of my imagination, if you could provide a realtime translation from Girl, I could do it myself."

"There is one thing I can tell you," she said.

"What's that?" I asked.

She was already mostly wreathed in pink smoke. "Girl usually doesn't involve computer programming metaphors."

Vanilla perfume and sulfur are two scents that really do not go well together at all.

Before )

A Moment

Apr. 16th, 2006 01:11 am
She looked grumpy. Cute, but still grumpy.

"You were drawing cartoon owls."

"Yes. Well, one. Multiple times."

"And that's why you were too busy to talk to me."

"Yeah, pretty much."

I'm starting to think you really are hopeless."

"Maybe, but look at the owl."

"Aww, that's cute," she said.

"See, even works on succubi. And mine is but a poorly rendered shadow."

"Dude, if you used language like that on women, you might get some more action."

"And you have no ulterior motive."


Then she poofed and was gone. Sulfur and perfume really don't mix at all well.
There was a girl I didn't know in my bed when I opened the door. This is the kind of thing that happens unfortunately infrequently, so I figured something was up. She looked maddeningly familiar, and was pretty cute, not just because she was wearing a Green Lantern shirt (and other clothes, yes) and flipping through one of my gaming books. She looked up. "Oh," she said, "You're back."

"Yes, I am," I said, dodging around the bed to empty my change into the change basket and the rest of my pockets into my Stuff Box. "So, what are you doing here?"

"Being bored," she said.

"Ah," I said. "So who are you, exactly, and why are you in my bed? Not that I'd necessarily complain, but I haven't been to any parties that involved drinking until I passed out and couldn't remember what was happening in, well, ever."

"Why do you think I'm so bored?" she asked.

She was still lying on the bed, posing in what was probably so long practiced to look unconscious that it actually was. "Ah," I said, and sat down in my scooty chair. "So is the regular guy sick, are you the competition, or am I just losing my mind?"

"Regular guy? Oh, the hippie?" she waved a hand lazily, "Meh. His kind don't like us. All anti-pleasures of the flesh, blah blah blah."

"I figured. Okay, so what kind of succubus are you, then? Like, if we make smooches, do I get negative levels? Suck my soul out into some kind of jar and take it back to trade for trinkets? Lillim from In Nomine, who're special and looking for favors to barter? Freaky kinky Japanese kind? Or the less evil kind that just show up and have sex with guys because... I don't really know why. Probably because Og the Cave-Dude couldn't get Ua the Cave-Chick to do what floated his boat, so he made something up?"
She sat up crosslegged. "You really are a hopeless nerd. You find a woman lying on your bed and your first suspicion is she's a supernatural temptress?"

"Am I wrong?" I asked, crossing my own legs on my chair.
"No, but that's not the point of the thing."

"Whatever you say," I said, "So are you going to offer me nights of unbridled passion in exchange for something or other?"

"No! What do I look like, a whore? Do I look like I'm in seductress clothes?"

I shrugged and titled my head. "Well, that Green Lantern shirt is pretty hot. Plus you're posing. And your smile went 'ting.' I heard it. And now you're arcing your back to show off your boobs."

She stopped arcing and deflated a little. "After a couple thousand years, mannerisms become habit. And you nerds are hopeless. How much plainer a shirt could I have?" she asked, hands raised.

"Honestly, I don't care. You can entertain yourself, if you're not here to try and tempt me with the pleasures of the flesh, I could be writing or studying or making witty on the internet."

"But I'm BORED," she said.

I spun my chair back around. "Okay, fine. How about this. You said you're not a whore, but isn't that kind of the whole shtick of a succubus, demonic ladies, or guys, whatever, who trade mortals really good sex for souls or promises? Isn't that the definition of a whore?"

She sat back and gave me a nasty glare over crossed arms. "It's not the same. Devils work differently than humans."


"I'm not going to tell you, you called me a whore."

I sat back and considered this for a moment. She just glared at me. I shrugged and spun back toward the computer and turned it on. "I have better ways to waste time than this."

"I KNOW!" she said, "And that's why I'm so bored!"

"I'm sorry I'm not having enough sex for you to sate your demonic voyeuristic tendencies, but I really don't care."

"It's not even about sex," she said, "But how am I supposed to tempt you to keep you from accomplishing anything that could threaten infernal interests, when you don't do anything?"

Hang on a second. Did a probably imaginary supernatural creature just bitch me out for not having a life? Yeah, sounded that way. That's pathetic, but also funny. I'm not sure which it's more of. I ended up snickering, to keep up an exterior appearance of bored amusement. "Maybe you're just not very good at tempting," I said, "And trying to put the blame on me. Seriously, I haven't noticed any attempts at temptation. Of course, I don't really see sex in and of itself as some kind of evil temptation thing that's gonna damn me to a Hell I'm pretty sure doesn't exist, so maybe you just got a bad assignment."

She snorted. "Please. Dude, you barely seen temptation. Don't get so cocky about how you'd react."

"And yet, you're still sitting on the bed, in shabby clothes, and not even trying."

She sighed annoyedly, and I heard her stand up and step over. "I'm not here to seduce you," she said, "I could have sworn I said that. I'm bored. Because you're not making this interesting. How am I supposed to justify my budget if you don't?"

"Demons have budgets?"

"Devils," she corrected, "And no, but it's a metaphor."

She leaned on the back of the chair. "Would you stop that?" I asked, "It's annoying."

"No," she said, "Don't you know women are like cats?"

I kept several witty retorts back, because they didn't seem to have a receptive audience. "Okay, fine," I said, "A question. I've never met you before, so why do you look so familiar?"

"Because I look like the kind of woman you find hot."

"I find lots of women hot," I said, "Who all look different. And some I've never seen."

She chuckled. A sexy chuckle, of course. "Shapeshifter, duh. Well, that and your limited mortal perceptions."

"Of course, silly me. Or you're just a figment of my imagination, or a projected part of some of my personality so I can babble about things to a metaphor."

"Really, smart guy? If I'm from your head, why am I a chick?"

I grinned and spun around. "Mental eye candy, and 'cause I'd rather talk about sex with a woman. Some things guys just don't discuss with each other much."

She stood back and looked down at me. "We haven't even talked about sex. And well, if you're not going to offer a real challenge, maybe convincing you I'm real will be a little entertaining."

She bamfed away in a cloud of pink smoke, that smelled faintly of brimstone and perfume. Of course.

For Context, see:
Stories from the Rabbit Hole
Stories from the Rabbit Hole, Part 2
There's a Buddha on My Bed
A Discussion of Procrastination and Buddhism
Haven't Seen Him in a While
The Illusion of Pain
Stuff that Binds
The Joy of Scrubdom
More About Failure
Book Reviews with a Buddha
Who's Afraid of a Little Enlightenment?
Special Guest Star Daily Drabble
He's been hanging around for a couple of days now. Not saying anything, just sort of there every so often. Occasionally, a toenail spanged off somewhere. Finally, I decided if he was going to hang around, I'd get something useful out of him.

"I have a question," I announced.

"I know," the buddha said.

"Of course you do. Cosmic one-ness and time being an illusion and all that. So if I didn't ask, would you get a headache?"

"I'd wait. Like you said, time is an illusion, whenever you ask, that would be when you ask."

I pointed at him. "That," I said, "Is complete and utter Mystic Bullshit. Of course whenever I ask will be when I ask. That's not metaphysical wisdom, that's a tautology. But that aside, the question. There's a whole bunch of various vaguely new-agey CDs out there called things like 'Buddha Lounge' or 'Buddha bar' or 'Buddha Laundromat' or so on. Are those all approved and do you guys get any royalties from them?"

"Unfortunately, there wasn't anything like the Trademark Office around back then. And by the time things like that were invented, there were already so many competing claims, there would have been no point. Besides, a buddha's not interested in money or the things of the world."
"I dunno," I said, "that kind of cash could buy a lot of saffron robes. And what if somebody does something stupid and slaps your name on it?"

He shrugged. "What of it? Their stupidity would be of their making, not ours. And it would hardly be the first, nor the last, stupid thing done with or for the name of religion."

"Speaking of things done in the name of religion. There's something I started wondering lately. Why does it seem like so many religions, especially conservative ones, have such small and petty and fragile visions of God?"

He perched across the room, on my awesomely ugly retro bedside table. "I'm not sure if asking you to explain would make anybody any less mad at you, but you'll probably go on anyway."

"Yes, I will. Okay, obviously, this doesn't apply to a lot of religions, mostly some of the stripes of Christianity that get on display here in the US, but. Okay. So God is omniscient and omnipotent, and yet, we humans can meddle in God's plans. It just seems like, y'know, if God's all of those things, wouldn't any Plans have a capital P, and be flexible enough to deal with a little meddling? I mean, hell, half the time more interesting things come out of actual interactions than what you planned, you know what I mean? So saying God's Plans can be wrecked by us meddling kids seems kinda weak. Not very Ineffable."

"You might want to investigate philosophers besides Terry Pratchett some time."

"Hush, I'm pontificating. Except I don't have a funky hat like a pontiff. Hang on." I dug around a little and found the Robin Hood hat I'd gotten at the renfaire last year. "There we go. Hat. Now, as I was saying. Yeah, a lot of the stuff I'm thinking is covered in Good Omens, but some of it, actually, I got from C.S. Lewis. Which is why I don't understand the God of the fundies. Any God worthy the name, I'd figure, would care more about what kind of person you are and what you did, rather than if you said the secret words to get out scott free. Of course, that leads to all sorts of fun theological arguments I really don't care about, like if God is infinitely just and infinitely merciful, which wins? Rock, meet object."

"Do I even need to be here? There's things I could be doing."

"Yes. Mad ranting always needs an audience. See, the thing in particular that set me off was sex, which lots of religions seem to hate. But in particular about sex, birth control. The Catholic Church doesn't like birth control, for reasons I've never quite gotten. The Internets tell me it's because Catholics should "always be open to the possibility of pregnancy" and suchlike, and that just sorta baffles me. Okay, so you're telling me, if God wants somebody to get pregnant, God's going to lose to a piece of latex? I don't think making something that thin rip would take any kind of miracleing, you know? It's part of the whole thing I was talking about before. If God made humans, God knows what humans are like, and God would know how people are going to react. And if God knows all that, there doesn't seem to be much room for free will, but that's a whole extra ball of stuff I don't feel like getting into, this was just inspired by the ridiculous idea that an omnipotent God is going to be defeated by a condom."

He perched there quietly for several seconds. "What? Oh, you finished. Part of the problem is you're you. You're not these other people, so you see things through what you've seen and done and think. And a lot of religion ends up being a giant ink-blot, since it's almost by definition about things that the human mind isn't capable of understanding, yes, objection noted, people project themselves onto it, their hopes, their fears, their values, through all sorts of different things. How many different ways do people read any holy book? And you value cleverness, so you figure well, of COURSE, God's going to be clever, if there is a God. Other people look for other things, so those are what they see the most."

"Like the cliched anecdote about blind men and elephants," I said.

"Cliche, but yes. And the other thing you forget is not everyone thinks like you. People don't think all of their values out all the way, to see where they conflict. Not even you, for all that you sit around typing to yourself. Cognitive dissonance isn't a fun feeling."

"Meh," I said, "It's not like I have anything else to be doing."

He tipped gently over onto the bed, without moving otherwise. "So you say, but is there any real excuse for being bored in this world, now?"

I shrugged. "Probably not," I admitted, "But that still doesn't answer my original question."

"Perhaps you should ask the Pope. That might be interesting to see. On the other hand, you made up a world where the plans of the gods can be knocked willy-nilly pretty easily, would you really find the world interesting if things couldn't be hacked?"

He had a point. Which is of course when he got up and left.

Stories from the Rabbit Hole
Stories from the Rabbit Hole, Part 2
There's a Buddha on My Bed
A Discussion of Procrastination and Buddhism
Haven't Seen Him in a While
The Illusion of Pain
Stuff that Binds
The Joy of Scrubdom
More About Failure
Book Reviews with a Buddha
Who's Afraid of a Little Enlightenment?
Special Guest Star Daily Drabble
"I'm thinking of getting a haircut," I said.

The buddha gave me an indecipherable look. "For months, you don't call, you don't write, nothing, and this is what you want to talk about? Just pick up the thread of a conversation out of nowhere, no greeting, no nothing?"

"Dude, you sound like a needy girlfriend."

"Any girlfriend you didn't talk to for months would be an ex-girlfriend. You couldn't just show back up and be 'Hey, show me your wisdom, baby.'"

"I hate that term. Ex-whatever. I'm not quite sure why. It just sounds mean."

The buddha sat on the my coat on the bed. "And you know, it's kind of insulting. A haircut? That's a great moral crisis worth asking a fictional construct of a great spiritual teacher?"

"Dude, my hair's longer than yours now. It'd be a hell of a change. Though honestly, long hair, at least this long, is a pain in the ass, and totally hasn't done anything to attract women anyway, so, y'know."

"Why are you asking me, then, since you seem to have made up your mind already?"

"Because I'm not quite sure. And because then I can blame other people if it looks like crap later."

He nodded. "Ah. Yes, I'm sure 'A hippie surfer buddha made me do it,' would be believed."

"You never know. And why not ask you? It's certainly more practical and more likely to affect my life than asking about the Hidden Secrets of the Universe, or the Fundamental Nature of Reality. What're those gonna do for me? Unless knowing them gave me magic powers, which could be cool. I'd be so much better at using them than Neo was."

"One would hope knowledge of the fundamental nature of the universe would inspire something more than kung fu superpower gymnastics."

"Maybe. But maybe the fundamental nature of the universe is Awesome, and those are definitely Awesome," there's an idea I could run with, so I started scribbling it down, "The Universe should be made of Awesome. And then those who can tap into the nature of the Awesome are capable of performing feats of Awesomeness. But to get a story out of it, there'd have to be an opposite. Something to drive conflict. What's the opposite of Awesome? Boring? Stupid? Lame? Cliche? Hmm. It could line up on the Discordian false dichotomy, with Greyface being for Boring Order, and Eris being for Awesome Chaos, except it's not the chaos and order parts that even matter in that, it's the creative and destructive, but Awesome and Boring don't match up to creation and destruction very well, so that's probably a dead end. But hmm. A theology of Awesome. That could have possibilities. Then there could be the false prophet of Awesome, X-Treme. Who's not really Awesome, and seeks to cheapen and deny the Awesome, and is really just a fake. Hmm. I bet it could sell in Hollywood, it'd be like a hipster version of Gnosticism."

I don't think the world's ready for Awesome. )

For Those Just Joining Us:
Stories from the Rabbit Hole
Stories from the Rabbit Hole, Part 2
There's a Buddha on My Bed
A Discussion of Procrastination and Buddhism
Haven't Seen Him in a While
The Illusion of Pain
Stuff that Binds
The Joy of Scrubdom
More About Failure
Book Reviews with a Buddha
Who's Afraid of a Little Enlightenment?
Special Guest Star Daily Drabble
My new network card arrived off Ebay today. The instruction manual was printed in some kind of Asian gibberish, but really, it's just a network card. Who needs instructions? Okay, so I never got my graphics card to work, but that was some kind of bizarre incompatibility between it and the motherboard that even tech support and the magic of Google couldn't fix. But this was just a network card.

A very shiny network card. It looked like something out of anime, all streamlined and with random LEDs. I'm not really sure why, but hey, it was cheap. And it had the right connectors, so I just shut the computer down, stuck it in, and rebooted. Beep Boop, Windows login, enter, detecting new hardware, yadda yadda. Even detected it without the CD. Len Nor Ver 23.5. All seemed well, so shut down, plug in the cable, reboot. Again. It's really annoying how often you have to reboot when trying to install something. Ah well.

Okay. So just to make sure it worked, I pointed Firefox at Google. If you can't get to Google, either your connection's crapped out, or the rest of the Internet has ceased to exist. Google wasn't there. There was the white page, and a colorful logo, but it wasn't Google. It was some kind of weird lettering. Not Asian, not Arabic, but it looked naggingly familiar. Maybe some new movie coming out, or some obscure holiday I missed, or some Google programmer joke. Since reloading and retyping didn't make it go away. Good to go.

When I went to Yahoo to check my mail though, it was all in the same weird moon letters. What? BBC, CNN, /., all the same. I had no idea what any of it said, but it still looked familiar. Squiggles, but familiar squiggles. And it wasn't April 1, either. Hang on, let me check some settings.

Okay, there. Somehow Windows got set to display in Elvish. I hate when things change settings without asking me, must be the stupid network card. Had been loading fast though. Okay. Time to check out some webcomics and get back to my regularly scheduled time-wasting. When did Gossamer Commons start a new story? Ah well.

I didn't really get worried until I came here to LJ. During the night, my friendslist somehow got taken over by a bunch of kids writing slashfic. I don't even know anybody who writes much slashfic. But that's not the worst part. The worst part was it was all written by exceedingly bubbly or angsty (or both) teenage girls, but it was all so incredibly boring. It was all about people in the suburbs doing laundry and things. It was slashfic about the mundane, with obligatory sex thrown in.

And that's when Trillian popped up with a name I didn't know. "A/S/L?" somebody named Druidicia asked.

Maybe I'm just exceedingly boring, because that kind of thing never happens to me. Not that I really want it to, so I didn't answer.

"A/S/L?" Druidicia asked again, "ill go first. 147/f/lorien."

What the hell. Maybe I could figure some of this out. "26/M/US." I typed back.

"dude ru a kid or r u playing?"

"I'm not a kid."

"sure. rofl. bye kid."

At this point, I had a pretty good idea what was going on, but honestly, it seemed ridiculous. So I checked the userinfo on a couple of those ficcers. First, I realized, their icons weren't CG anime elves, they were photos. And their userinfo led me to several communities, all about RPing in an exotic world of humans and cars and day jobs. And that clinched it.

I shut down the computer and put back my old network card, then came and posted this. But I'm thinking about reinstalling the other one. Because, dude. They were tons of them fantasizing about boring humans. C'mon, you can't say you wouldn't do it. I wonder if their version of mapquest would work here.
I set the keyboard across my knees. "What took you so long?" the buddha asked.

"I've been busy. With stuff, and other stuff. As if you didn't know."

"Ah," he said, "Of course. Must have slipped my mind."

"Y'know, if this is the extent of your cosmic wisdom, then I'm going to bed."

"I'm only as wise as you let me be. And you were a lot wiser a couple hours ago."

"I agree. A couple hours ago, I wasn't trying to wrangle a month's mess of time and things into a fortune cookie."

"You get bitchy when you're tired."

(I think I need to change the format of the links, or just not put them on any drabbley ones, 'cause it's longer than the post itself. Maybe just LJ-Cut it in the future.)

Things that Happened Before:
Stories from the Rabbit Hole
Stories from the Rabbit Hole, Part 2
There's a Buddha on My Bed
A Discussion of Procrastination and Buddhism
Haven't Seen Him in a While
The Illusion of Pain
Stuff that Binds
The Joy of Scrubdom
More About Failure
Book Reviews with a Buddha
Who's Afraid of a Little Enlightenment?
Special Guest Star Daily Drabble
I looked down at the fortune. "This is ridiculous."

"What's that?"

"Even fortune cookies are outsourcing now. Look."

I read the fortune and handed it to the buddha. "If you cannot find wisdom within, try the Internet."

"On the other side, you get the Chinese pictogram for Cheeze-whiz."

"It's not a fortune. Monkey loving proverb cookies have been taking over the market. You don't seem annoyed."

"Being one with the universe gives perspective. Wisdom can be found on the Internet."

"If you can get past the porn and the wankers whining on LJ."

"Cynicism is best directed at itself."

The shoulders of...well, not giants, mostly me, really:
Stories from the Rabbit Hole
Stories from the Rabbit Hole, Part 2
There's a Buddha on My Bed
A Discussion of Procrastination and Buddhism
Haven't Seen Him in a While
The Illusion of Pain
Stuff that Binds
More About Failure
The Joy of Scrubdom
Book Reviews with a Buddha
Who's Afraid of a Little Enlightenment?
Special Guest Star Daily Drabble
"Looks like you've got some fans," I said.

The buddha chuckled slightly. "You knew that before. Took you a while to mention it."

"Well, you weren't around, so why would it matter?"

"In other words, it let you procrastinate. Like you're doing right now."

"Sure, why not. But apparently there's something worthwhile to decipher from our conversations. And here I thought I was being blunt."

"Or mental, arguing with yourself."

I shrugged. "Nah, if that was the case, there'd be a bunch of other people here too. Instead of just a California Fortune Cookie."

That made him chuckle too. Some people are so hard to goad. "You're procrastinating again. And I thought you liked Arabic."

"I do. But other things seem so much amazingly more important when you have something you should be doing. Especially things that take practice. Hey, I know my habits."

"Then if you dislike them, change them," he said, in that mystical tone people use.

I looked over at him, nonplussed. "How much do you know about neurochemistry?"

He opened one eye. "As much as you do. Which would be just enough to get in trouble."

"At least trouble's interesting. And it'd give me something to write about. So," I said, changing the subject, "What about that challenge, about being more practical and smarter?"

He closed his eye again. "If there's one thing you've learned from Kung Fu movies and anime, it's that the old oriental guy is the guy whom with you do not want to fuck."

"A) You're not old. B) You're not even oriental. C) It's not a kung fu fight."

"That's just how your brain interprets my presence, for the ease of your own psyche," he said.

"Thanks, Cthulhu. Lemme guess, all buddhas are really one, since everything's just an illusion, anyway?"

He opened his eyes and leaned casually against the wall. "Eh, close enough. Though we're really all none, not one, but we hang around here to enlighten people because we're nice."

"That give me an idea for a slogan. 'Buddhism: Nothing's Sacred.' Ba dum dum."

He laughed, a lot louder than it really deserved. He looked a lot like a laughing Buddha statue then. Except, y'know, surfer-ey-er. I let him laugh, 'cause frankly, I'd kinda forgotten the point of what we were talking about. If there'd been one, which I kinda doubt.

"Shouldn't you be a bit harder to amuse, what with the whole ancient wisdom thing?"

"Perspective. Much of life's a lot funnier than people give it credit for."
"Tragedy's when I cut my finger, comedy is when you fall down an open sewer hole and die? Isn't that a little crude? Shouldn't you be teaching, I dunno, something"

"There is no teacher who can teach us anything new, simply reveal to us what we already knew."

He'd even LOOKED like he was quoting when he said it. "Thanks, Enigma. But that's kinda, y'know, completely untrue. And I think you misquoted it."

He shrugged. He had several shrugs, but this one didn't really say anything. "Not for me. Unless you know something on some level, I don't know it. This looks like ping pong, but it's really a self-deceiving solo game of racquetball."

It was really the hand motions that made it work. You had to be there. "So much for the fourth wall," I said, "Can we climb outside the panels now and peek ahead to make sure we get the right widget to defeat the boss? Only I can't draw that well."

"Then maybe you should practice."

He wasn't really talking about drawing. "Yeah, I guess. Especially since I have to work in the morning. And I've slacked off practicing most of the weekend."

"What, you thought I was talking about Arabic?" he asked.

These are the voyages of the... wait, wrong intro:
Stories from the Rabbit Hole
Stories from the Rabbit Hole, Part 2
There's a Buddha on My Bed
A Discussion of Procrastination and Buddhism
Haven't Seen Him in a While
The Illusion of Pain
Stuff that Binds
The Joy of Scrubdom
More About Failure
Book Reviews with a Buddha

Tags: Rabbit Hole, Mindscribbles
"Wankers, the lot of them."

"Who?" the buddha asked.

"Y'know, you seem awfully attached to my scooty chair, for all that it's an illusion. I thought you'd buggered off to somewhere else."

"We're British tonight?"

"The British have better profanity. All we've got is damn, and then your bog standard anglo-saxon terms referring to sex or poop, and yes, I KNOW what the British words mean. But they sound better, and aren't offensive to Americans, because they're not part of our culture. Sorta like how the British were weirded out when Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me opened over there."

"So we are British then."

"No, we are just fanboy. I blame Monty Python and Terry Pratchett. And probably Neil Gaiman, but I don't want to mess with him, he's got a satanic tomato."

"It's only a model. So which wankers roused your ire?"

I flopped down on my bed, on top of the pile of shorts. It's already starting to get chilly, and I just unpacked them. That's planning, that is. "Oh, 'literary' authors. Seriously, they write books that are about wannabe writers, and OMG TEH DRAMA, and then the character in the book meets some amazing chick and things go either good or bad, and Great Lessons Are Learned. Or similar dibble. It's like Real Life Self-Insertion Fanfic."

The buddha didn't say anything, but I'd gotten rolling, so I went. "I mean, seriously, you want to whine about your life and bitch about drama? Get an LJ, that's what they're for. Many of the novels would fit right in as LJ posts. And hey, they'd save a few trees that way. But I can't really blame them. Well, yet, anyway. The real culprits are the teachers who repeat crap like 'Write what you know!' over and over again, without mentioning things like 'Go and do something interesting.' And the ones who bash anything 'genre' as addlepated fluff. When they're told to write what they know, and all they know is being an underemployed wannabe writer, what else are they supposed to write about? All that creativity wasted. Oh, but hey, it's Real Life! It's Serious! It's got Great Human Emotions and Deep Meaning. Whoop-dee-doo. You can have Great Emotion and Deep Meaning and still have spaceships or dragons or guys in tights punching each other. But that's not 'Serious' literature. PAH! And of course, the kids they've trained grow up to become the next generation of gatekeepers of Literature with a capital L. And the cycle repeats itself."

The buddha spun quietly in my chair for a second. "Are you finished?"

"I could go on, but I think you get the point. Trust me, I could go on."

"So how much of that isn't sour grapes?"

"Bah," I said, "As you Californians would say, 'Whatever.'"

"Well, if people are buying it, what's your problem with it? If they're enjoying it, and the readers enjoy it, how's it hurt you?"

"Because they keep up this facade of what makes something 'Real Literature', and sneer at anything that doesn't meet their standards."

"Ah. Completely unlike what you're doing, then."

Unconcerned by my glare, he started trimming his toenails. "Do you show up just to annoy me?" I asked.

"If you just want comfort food, ask a fairy godmother. You wanted an imaginary spirit guide debate."

I sat up. "Yeah, but shouldn't you be trying to help? Infinite compassion and all that."

He leaned back in the chair. The chair's not set up to DO that, damnit. I wish it could. "Hey, I've got compassion. I totally feel your pain. Infinitely."

"That's because you live in my head."

"Bingo. But the other part of the whole Buddha thing you're forgetting. Infinite patience. I've got nowhere important to be. Nirvana's not going anywhere. Besides, time's just another illusion. So yeah, I feel your pain, but I'm not gonna kick your ass into gear. Even if I could. That's your job."

"That is almost entirely unhelpful."

"Ah, but only almost! I can only show you the door, you're the one that has to walk through it."

"That worked out so well for Neo."

"He got a cookie out of it. And phenomenal cosmic powers."

"And he got killed, then brought back for a pair of bad sequels."

"He got the chick."

I held up a hand to stop him. "And then SHE died. Twice. And what's with stories always rewarding the hero with nookie, anyway? Even stories for kids. Go out, kill something, get laid. There's a very caveman vibe about the whole thing..."

"We're wandering from the subject again."

"Not really, I think we've said all there is to say about it right now."

"So you're going to get to work?"

"No, I'm going to bed. Have you looked at the clock?"

"Time's an illusion, remember?"

"Fine, but I still have the illusion of Arabic class tomorrow afternoon, and I'd like to be up BEFORE five minutes before class."

"Sleep is for the weak and unenlightened."

That's me to a T. At least at this hour of the morning.

Things Wot Come Before:
Stories from the Rabbit Hole
Stories from the Rabbit Hole, Part 2
There's a Buddha on My Bed
A Discussion of Procrastination and Buddhism
Haven't Seen Him in a While
The Illusion of Pain
Stuff that Binds
The Joy of Scrubdom
More About Failure

Tags: Rabbit Hole, Mindscribbles, Religion, Movies
(Continuing, basically, from here, which is a loosely fictionalized series of conversations between me and a buddha. It bears about as much resemblance to reality as most webcomics with the author's friends as the cast. Which, basically means I'm not telling.)

Things had gone quiet for a little while. Because I wasn't talking, and the buddha was sitting there, with the smug patience of somebody who's seen this movie before. He probably wasn't trying to be irritating, which made it more irritating. You know the kind of mood I mean. And if I called him on it, he'd probably say something about infinite compassion interpreted through the flawed lenses of the senses or whatever. Or I was in a funk. And tired.

I moved some of the piled up clothes to the end of the bed, rather than getting hangers or any of that crap. They're the "not really dirty, but too lazy to hang up" pile, after all. Then I took the Magic cards outside and put them in my trunk, so I'd have them there the next time I went to play somewhere. The buddha declined to go along, and I didn't invite him, so that worked out well. He was still in my chair when I got back, though. "Okay," I said, after I flopped down on the open space on my bed, "I need something else to call you, besides "the buddha", 'cause every time I do that, I picture this little slightly chubby bald Indian guy. And it's too confusing with the capital non-capital letters thing."

"Your language isn't set up very well for the metaphysics of non-self and malleable incarnations," he said.

"It can get by, but you have to use words in special meanings, which confuses the hell out of people who aren't thinking in that paradigm, or don't know the meanings of the technical terms. And then there's some that's just incredibly vague, like Mind. What the hell IS mind, anyway?"

"A false distinction."

"I'm not gonna call you Steve. Or Frank. Since I know people with those names. And Bob's out, 'cause Bob the Buddha sounds like a PBS kids show. Beeblebrox would work, if I was certain enough of how to pronounce it. You don't seem like an Arthur. Maybe I should do the bash my hand on the keyboard thing to make a name."

"Any name you bestow will not change the fundamental nature of things. It's just something to assist your interpretation."

"I'm lazy, I like to make things easier for me. And I'm stalling for time, because I'm already grumpy."

He stayed silent, which was probably less cosmic wisdom than basic people skills. "I dunno," I said, "Every name I think of has meanings attached that don't fit. They'd morph to fit, eventually, but. So, fine, you want to talk about failure? Fine, let's, I've got plenty of experience with it."

That sure seemed to come out more bitter than I planned. "Yet, you don't seem very practiced with dealing with it."

"Oh, what, I should be happy I screwed up?" I stood up and hopped around in mock cheer, "Hurray! I screwed up totally! I completely failed at what I was doing! Oooh, I know, I can learn from this, and the lesson is don't be a screwup! Wow! Hey, what an insight! If I don't make mistakes, I won't fail! If I don't act like an idiot, I won't ruin things! Wow! How deep!"

He shook his head, his hair flopping around. It didn't look like a halo or anything, just hair. "Some say that everything happens to teach us something. I know you don't believe that, so save your protests. Regardless, you can learn from failure, and it's only when you don't that it becomes worthless."

I flopped back on the bed. "Yeah, great. More cliches. Those don't do a damn thing to make me feel better, you know."
He nodded. "Of course. That's one of the reasons for the koans and other things, because they're supposed to make you think, and realize things, rather than being brushed off as 'just another cliche'."

"Maybe, but they're cliches now too. Maybe words just aren't good at some things, at least all the time. Different ones work for different people, I guess. So."

"So indeed," he said, "Is there any way to do this without sounding like a psychologist?"

"I could just talk, I guess, but I hate talking about me. I'm boring, and it tends to get repetitive with the 'and then I screwed up, and it went to poop."


"Well, sometimes there's the 'And then I screwed up, screwed up, and screwed up, and THEN it went to poop.' Or the ever-popular 'And then I gave up because I was going to screw up and go all to poop.'"

"Failure is transitory and fleeting, like everything in this illusion of life. Except for nothing, which we all are."

"What's the difference between Buddhism and nihilism again? So what, is Karma just memory then, since a lot of the time, the things you remember and regret and weigh on you are things nobody else would remember or care about?"

"You could look at it that way. It wouldn't be accurate, but you could. If you let go your concern for this world of becoming, failure wouldn't bother you."

"Gee, thanks, Yoda," I said, "That's right up there in Worst Screen Advice Ever. 'Caring stop, and hurt you won't be.' Little green idiot. Besides, even if I believed that, it wouldn't make things easier, or failure less scary. Especially when it's something stupid that shouldn't matter."

"Like Magic."

"Yes, like Magic. I should have done better than that, and now I don't care so much. Because I keep finding out I'm not as good as I should be. Or at least I think I should be."

"Practice would seem to be in order, rather than just giving up."

"Easier to say than do," I said, "Because if you try there's the chance of failure."

"And if you don't, it's certain."

"Enough with the cliches already, geeze. They don't get any less annoying the more you use them. Even if they are basically true. Yeah, I know, I'm the one always saying 'Just ask, the worst they can say is no,' so this is kinda hypocritical, or something of me. So."

"The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

"No, it's mostly the spirit. And that was just to annoy me, wasn't it?"

"It seems to motivate you."

"Feh," I said, "Feh I say. It's not that easy anyway, the whole college thing and everything else. Of course, when I try and do something random that I figure I can do well, to build up the ego and all, I either screw it up like I did with Magic, or I convince myself it doesn't matter, because it's random. So that tends not to work."

"Well, you could always get a date."

"Yeah, right," I said, but he was already gone. I don't think he does the Batman thing, I bet he cheats with magic or something.

Previously, on X-Men:
Stories from the Rabbit Hole
Stories from the Rabbit Hole, Part 2
There's a Buddha on My Bed
A Discussion of Procrastination and Buddhism
Haven't Seen Him in a While
The Illusion of Pain
Stuff that Binds
The Joy of Scrubdom

Technorati Tags: Mindscribbles, Rabbit Hole, Magic
"Well, that sucked," I said, and threw my backpack on the bed.

"Not a good trip, I take it?" the buddha asked, in my spinny chair AGAIN.

"What're you doing in my chair?" I asked, "Isn't it just an illusion and distraction from Enlightenment or somesuch?"

"It's a comfortable illusion. And your bed is covered in stuff."

"Whatever," I said, and dropped down on top of a random pile of clothes on my bed. "No, it wasn't a good trip. First we got lost, and drove through DC because nobody was willing to turn around and go back to the turn we missed. And the tournaments both sucked. I can play better than that. 1-4 in Regionals, and then lose in the second round of a bloody booster draft. My deck was good, too. Sheesh. I suck. Why did I bother to go?"

"Was it all just about winning?"

"I didn't trade much, 'cause I suck at it. And so most of it was just to hang around and play Magic, and that's no fun when it sucks. Especially when my deck should have done better than that, and I should have done better than that. But no, I decided to scrub out. So got nothing to show for it, not even rares from the booster draft, 'cause I was an idiot and never drafted any rares. And lost to one of the ones I passed. Whee, a waste of a day."

"If people are going to win a game, other people have to lose. Sometimes you'll be both."

"344th out of 380? That's PATHETIC. Why did I bother? Guess I'm a worse player than I thought. And no, I'm not gonna make excuses,'cause it's my own fault for how I did. Feh."

He spun in the chair. "You're not big on failure, are you?"

"Who is? You fail, you don't get what you want, and bad things happen. Failing sucks. And it happens because you screwed up, or suck, or forgot something, or the universe just hates you. What's the good side? Oh yeah, learn from failure! Whee! I learned that I suck at Magic more than I thought! Woo! What a learning experience! I learned to get more than 4 hours sleep before doing mentally challenging things. I learned not to let people drive when they didn't sleep at all! Woo! That's SO HELPFUL!"

"I'll take that as a no. And not much good at dealing with it, either. Shit happens."

"That's not a fortune cookie."

"Cliches are nuggets of wisdom. In the same way that diamonds are nuggets of carbon."
I sat up. "That doesn't even make any sense."

"So you had two bad tournaments, and you're convinced you suck and ready to quit Magic for a while? How are you supposed to win then?"
"I probably won't."
He nodded sagely. "Ah, I see then. So it's simply everything else where you don't know how to deal with failure."

"What are you, a therapist?"

"Broadly speaking, it could be put that way."

I stood up. "So what, now you're trying to psychoanalyze me and find the subconcious root of my problems or something? Or get me to find them?"
(To be continued)

Stories from the Rabbit Hole
Stories from the Rabbit Hole, Part 2
There's a Buddha on My Bed
A Discussion of Procrastination and Buddhism
Haven't Seen Him in a While
The Illusion of Pain
Stuff that Binds
"Are you sure that's what you want to call it? You must know some of your friends will take it entirely wrong."

I stood in the center of my room and shrugged. "That's half the fun," I said, "Besides, they all know I'm boring and any title like that is going to be just innuendo. Until one day I decide to link to a sex toy store or something, just to see them react."

The buddha spun lazily in my computer chair. "Huh," he said.

"I have way too much crap."

"Coming around to the idea that possessions cause desire which causes suffering?" he asked.

"No, not really. I just mean that I can't see half the floor in my room. And there's hundreds of books on my shelves I haven't read. Not really a spiritual angle at all. If anything, it's the opposite, because all the stuff is keeping me from making more connections with people, the kind that matter. Because there's a lot of it, and it can't be easily moved. And then there's the opportunity costs of it, too. Even with my old discount, and buying things at used bookstores, how much did those couple shelves of RPG books cost me? Games I've never run, never played in, hell, a bunch of the books I haven't even read. At all. Or the shelf of graphic novels, and the boxes of comics. I haven't pulled anything out of the comic boxes in months. And the random computer games. What else could I have spent that money on? School? Moving? Pornography?"

"You have the internet, free pornography abounds there."

"Okay, bad example. Travel. Maybe I've just done too much RPGs and fantasy stuff, but I keep thinking about traveling. Just wandering."

He stood up. "It's not nearly so romantic as it's made out to be. Especially when all you've got is a robe and a bowl. Spiritual, maybe, but not romantic."

"Meh," I said, "I'd rather have a bike, and GPS, and some kind of portable computer thing. The monk thing never has appealed to me. Much more ninja, be prepared, that's their motto. And the Boy Scouts. Anyway, things just take up too much space, and I haven't watched many of these movies or read any of these books in a while. Or ever, in some cases. And a lot, I read or watched once, then that was it. Movies don't hold much interest for me lately, at least as a solo thing."
"Wait, are we still talking about pornography here? I wasn't paying attention."

"One thing I'll give the Catholics, sloth is pretty bad. Not always, but overdone, oh yeah. Keeps things from getting done. What you need is applied laziness. Well, what I need. So what I need is something else that I need to feel I need to do, so I can put that off by cleaning and getting rid of crap. People usually only clean to avoid doing something else."

"So when will that happen? And are you going to get rid of Voltron?"

"Hell no. Voltron's the defender of the universe. He stays. But I can probably cull at least a third of the books. Just gotta sit down and look through things and ask myself 'Do I want this badly enough to keep it if I only had X space?' and then the stuff that's not, I give to friends, family, or the library or something. Maybe sell to a used bookstore."

The buddha turned and looked at me. "Why am I even here? This is your monologue, there's no questions or anything. And who do you think will be interested in any of this?"

I shrugged. "Probably nobody, though they might all leap t me and try and get me to give them the stuff I'm getting rid of. Few people would turn down loot."

Previously, on X-Men:
Stories from the Rabbit Hole
Stories from the Rabbit Hole, Part 2
There's a Buddha on My Bed
A Discussion of Procrastination and Buddhism
Haven't Seen Him in a While
The Illusion of Pain
Do you have any idea how hard it is to drive when there's a Buddah sitting beside you, clipping his toenails?

"Do you have to do that in the car?" I asked him.

"The car is just an illusion," he said, "Besides, they itch. Your attachment to it is the cause of your pain."

"I'm attached to my insides being inside, too, so I'd like to keep this illusion on the illusion of the road."

A toenail clipping ptanged off the windshield in front of me. "Maybe the Universe is trying to teach you something."

"not to let nutters in sheets into my car, right. You're not even the Buddah anyway, you don't look Indian at all. You look like a bald surfer and sound like a fortune cookie."

"What else did you expect?" he asked, "Somebody who looked like Ghandi? Or maybe a little fat laughing guy?"

The stoplight changed and I turned left, headed into town. "Something along those lines, yes. Wise and serene, all that kind of thing."

"No you didn't," he said, "How much do you really know about Buddhism? Kung fu monks, distilled bits from a dozen unread books, and stuff from made up pop culture parodies? You haven't even taken a comparative religion course."

"You're still not the real Buddah," I said.

"Nope, I'm not. He's busy. I'm just a strawman you built up to argue against. Hey, that light's red."

I stupped two inches from the bumper of the car in front of me. "Who the fuck are you, then, and how did you get in my car, anyway? You just here to insult me?"

He cracked open a fortune cookie and handed me the fortune. "The foundation of true knowledge is the knowledge of ignorance," it said.

The car behind us honked, impatient. The road was clear, I turned out, then took the first turn into the bank. I pulled into a parking spot then looked over at him. "So, if you're a stereotype, what's next? Is this gonna turn into some Dante-ish voyage of the psyche? Or am I just losing my mind?"

"Why are we here?" he asked.

"Because I need to go to the bank."

"You're angry a lot. That's not good for you," he said, "I mean, I haven't even done anything to you."

"Not good in some spiritual sense, huh?"

"No," he said, "It'll probably give you heart trouble. You need to relax."

I shook my head and left him there and headed into the bank. Maybe while I was gone, he'd clean up all the toenail clippings.

Part 2

(And the Rabbit Hole link: http://www.livejournal.com/users/crisper/26562.html )
Tags: Rabbit Hole, Writing



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