Take your time George R. R. Martin

This started out as a facebook post in reaction to this but quickly grew into a rambling mess which I spent the next half hour editing into something coherent.

***Spoilers below for the all five books and all five seasons ***

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I started watching Game of Thrones before I even knew there was a book series it was based on. I caught up to the second season and when that ended I knew that I needed more. So I went out and bought the first two books having read online that each season of the books corresponds with the show. I loved reading the books as much as I loved watching the show, the narrative in GRRM’s novels filled in the gaps for me as I went along. Some of the major events that rocked my world on the screen hit me just as hard when I absorbed George’s prose and I eagerly awaited what was to come. Due to time constraints, a student’s budget and the enjoyment I got from watching the show with friends I decided to adopt a “watch a season – read a book routine” so that I would keep pace with (and not annoy) my friends who weren’t reading the books.

Then season 3 happened and we were left hanging after the Red Wedding.

Waiting for season four was agony. I found myself spending what little money I had on the next three books in the series and I took them home completely ready to devour them over a week. I’m not sure what stopped me (probably school obligations) but I found myself waiting for the next season of the show with more anticipation than I thought I could ever contain. I watched all of the promotional material over and over again but at the same time I avoided dreaded spoilers like a plague. I formed my own theories in my head. I was obsessed.

The fourth season began and I was not disappointed. The action and the intrigue were just as good as they had ever been but for some reason it wasn’t enough. I needed more. I turned back to the books and read them at a pace that I hadn’t been able to reach since the Harry Potter series. Reading A Feast For Crows in tandem with watching the fourth season of ‘Game of Thrones’ was an interesting experience. The level of detail in the novels far surpasses what we receive on the television screen (which is really saying something because HBO spares almost no expense in Game of Thrones‘ production values) but the basic plot is the same. So when a character was introduced in the novels but never appeared in the show, or when two characters were combined together or one character or event was never seen or mentioned you didn’t so much get the sense that something is being left out or that this is an alternate universe (as I have seen some fans use to explain the differences between the media) but rather you are truly getting an adaptation from a loving fan. Similarly, Tolkien’s novels and Jackson’s films are vastly different but tell the same story and all are excellent (I’m not counting The Hobbit ‘trilogy’).

I finished reading A Dance With Dragons well ahead of season five of Game of Thrones. Now that I was all caught up I poured myself into fan theories and speculation. I read through the lore on the Game of Thrones Wiki and I would have tracked down Martin’s other works such as The Hedge Knight and A World of Ice and Fire if I had the extra time or money. With the knowledge of the plot from all five novels and some extra background info on the world of the story I finally watched the show from the perspective of someone who knew what was coming.

And to be honest, the books are better. The foreknowledge in some ways ruined what was coming for me. Not to say that Game of Thrones is not worth watching. ‘Hardhome’ (Season Five, Episode Eight) had me holding my breath for its entirety and that was completely different from anything the novels presented. I couldn’t watch the death of Shireen Baratheon and I couldn’t even listen to it. I had to turn the volume down lest I be sick. Cersei’s walk played out on the screen exactly as I saw it in my head. The actors and showrunners continue to deserve every Emmy that they win.

game-thrones-season-5But some things were not handled particularly well. Dorne was a mess. The Greyjoys have not been heard from in almost a whole season. Why is Jaime Lannister not in the Riverlands where his redemptive arc is more satisfying and makes more sense? (although he and Bronn work almost as well together as Bronn and Tyrion. Actually everybody works well with Bronn. We need more Bronn).

This is definitely the result of the show’s budget and the minor changes which were introduced earlier in the series. And that’s okay. GRRM has said before that the show and the novel are different animals and I could not agree more. The novels were not perfect either (what was the point of sending Doran Martell to Dorne other than to fuck up, release Dany’s dragons and die?) but they are consistently good, daresay, incredible. Watching Game of Thrones and reading ‘A Song of Ice and
Fire’ are two very different yet very enjoyable experiences that complement one another.

Now George is saying that the next book, The Winds of Winter, is not going to be finished in time for Season Six. To me that’s a little disappointing but also a little exciting. Now I’m practically back to where I was when I startedmy adventure through Westeros and Essos; I know nothing about what’s next but I cannot wait to find out. And when this season has ended and I have gotten a good taste I will go back for my second portion of this feast and truly appreciate the nuances of each flavor and texture which GRRM is using to tell his story.

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Furthermore, as an aspiring author I truly understand and appreciate when GRRM says “sometimes the writing goes well and sometimes it doesn’t.” Writing is hard. Writing a good story is really hard. Writing a cohesive story incorporating hundreds of characters, spanning two continents and hundreds (or even thousands) of years of backstory and making it a best-selling page-turner is hard as shit.

Godspeed George R. R. Martin, your fans eagerly await what’s coming next. For now we will be happy with HBO’s excellent adaptation of your work.

But please, can you write just a little bit faster?

Tired Words Pt. 5 – The Return

I should go to sleep. Really. I have no reason to be up right now at 4:37. I actually have a lot I want to accomplish tomorrow. And my bed is so comfortable. I should go to sleep. But the screen is calling to me. My earphones are in. There is an entire internet to explore – worlds upon worlds within worlds of content and information. At times like this, be it the still dead of the night or the first stirrings of dawn I find myself the most alert and the most determined to tackle the behemoth which we as a species have created.

But then again. I can sleep and thus dream and thus create worlds and universes that the internet in all of its shared madness and creative mania could never even conceive of. The worlds which I could dream up tonight would be forever more fantastic than the any I would find browsing reddit or exploring the weird part of youtube. Nothing I could stumble upon on the net would even compare to the treasures I could find hidden away in the recesses of my mind.

But likewise, the horrors which lurk there are infinitely more terrifying than any which society has created. They are personal, molded by my own failings, twisted by my own history, fed by my own fears.

But I want to sleep. I should not worry about those monsters. i suppose they cannot hurt me. They would have already if they could.

Or maybe I just haven’t found them yet. Maybe I haven’t dreamt of them yet.

I should definitely go to sleep. It’s 4:37. I’m pretty tired.

Three weird things about me

1) I have always felt awkward saying ‘comfortable’ in conversation. The word just seems unnecessarily long for a simple idea. And saying ‘comfy’ just sounds excessively juvenile or otherwise inappropriate. When I’m sitting in a nice chair I am comfortable and when I’m snuggled under blankets I’m comfy. Using one for the other seems to me like trying to use water instead of milk when making hot chocolate – theoretically you could, but don’t. You’ll be happier for it.

Seeing either word written though is just fine. I don’t even say them in my head when I read them. I simply imagine what the words ‘comfy’ and ‘comfortable’ mean.

Additionally, I have no problems with the word comfort but working it into natural speech in place of ‘comfortable’ and ‘comfy’ is really awkward.

Maybe there should be a new way of describing the feeling one gets when snuggled under a fleece blanket – I propose we all begin saying ‘Comfous’. It kind of just rolls off the tongue well too.

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2) I pile shit on my bed all the time. Not literally because that would be gross, but usually there will be a pile of clothes or papers or something on there.

Most days I clean it up before going to sleep. Sometimes I’ll sleep on the couch instead. I might push it to one side and set up a barricade between me and my pile of crap and if I’m really desperate I just don’t go to sleep.

But every once in a while I will take my blankets and a pillow and set up a little bed for myself on the floor as if I was saying:

“No no no pile of crap. You’re my guest! You take the bed.”

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Not mine but accurate

This might just be laziness on my part or it might come from practice sleeping on the floor at friends’ places after parties or a long night studying and simply having grown accustomed to a carpet mattress. At this point I really could not say.

3) My sense of direction is terrible. It took me years to learn my way around my own neighborhood  (the one I grew up in) and to this day it is still unwise asking me to guide you around it. On top of this I am from one of the largest cities in North America and when I talk about it and tell people which neighborhood I live in things get… awkward.

Usually I can get by with simply saying that it’s this borough or it’s this street and that street – most people drop the subject after that. Sometimes I have to explain which end of the city it’s in. But when I get really unlucky I need to explain to somebody how to get around in Toronto.

This is the stuff of my nightmares.

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Before I know it I’m making guesses and contradicting myself and being corrected by the person I’m trying to direct around my hometown. It’s really embarrassing.

Toronto is great because the streets are more or less arranged in a square grid so giving north, south east and west directions is pretty simple. A big part of my inadequacy however comes from remembering names and where one street is in relation to another. The ttc helps in this regard because but the stations are named after the streets they are located on but only if you can remember where one station is in relation to the others – and now we are back to the same problem.

To get around my terrible sense of direction I always make sure I have a plan to get where I need to go before I leave. Usually when I’m guiding people I direct them to Google Maps. After a while I commit things to memory but it takes me forever to do so. As I said, I still haven’t memorized the layout of the neighborhood where I grew up.

Waiting for the Bus

And I was in such a good mood too…

Everybody who has ever had to take public transit keeps a list of the aspects of it which annoy them the most. For some people it is the rude operators and staff. For others the grime and graffiti grind their gears. Some people are annoyed by how slow it runs compared to cars and taxis while others may find issue with their fellow passengers.

Me? My problem is the schedule.

My issue with the scheduling of public transit breaks down into two major gripes:

First of all, why is there a different  Sunday schedule? Why do trains and buses start so much later on Sundays? Why does the scheduler of the public transit system still insist I stay in my home on the CHRISTIAN sabbath in the year two thousand and fucking fourteen? I am NOT Christian and I can count my friends who keep the Sabbath on one hand, so why do I have to follow your rules which state that I should do no work today? I am a University student living off-campus. Sometimes I need to get to the University early on the weekend to study. Sometimes I like to keep up appearances and pursue a social life (shocker! An engineering student  with a study group!)

Not to mention that many events on Sundays begin early. And think of all the jobs that could be created by servicing the Sunday off hours. And the fares which could be collected. And the extra money that would be spent and made once commuters got where they needed to go. Newsflash: people work early on Sundays now and usually cannot afford to drive to work. They are called students working in dead end service jobs and they put money back into the economy just like everyone else. But Your archaic schedule harms the economy and harms metropolitan interaction.

And don’t tell me this is supposed to get me to interact with my family and community more. This isn’t Leave it to Beaver. I spend most of my time on my phone or on the Internet or out of my house. If I wanted to spend my Sunday having my parents and siblings raise my blood pressure then I would not barricade myself in my room or go other places.

Secondly, why did I just miss my bus? Take a guess. It wasn’t because I was late getting to the stop. I was early. But do you know who was earlier? That’s right, the bus driver.

I am usually only mildly upset when the bus is late. I can rationalize the situation. Maybe there was traffic or a lot of people got on or off a few stops earlier causing a delay.

but when the bus arrives at the stop minutes early then continues on its way without so much of a pause then i get so mad i forget to capitalize properly.

Mr or Ms Bus Driver: THE POSTED SCHEDULE IS A COVENANT BETWEEN DRIVER AND PASSENGER THAT PROMISES YOU WILL ARRIVE AND LEAVE AT A CERTAIN TIME. BY ARRIVING AT THE STOP MINUTES EARLY AND LEAVING IMMEDIATELY WITHOUT THE SLIGHTEST PAUSE YOU HAVE BROKEN THIS COVENANT AND FOR THAT YOU SHALL BURN IN HELLFIRE AND YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL FOREVER BE MARKED WITH A SIGN OF SHAME.

Sorry, I don’t usually get all Old Testament on people but I suppose if the local transit system is going to then I may as well follow suit.

Seriously though, these are simple fixes that would make life better in the cities we call home. Or maybe it’s just a problem in my hometown (Toronto) and in my home away from home (Guelph). Maybe it’s just an Ontario thing,  or a Canadian thing.

Either way these problems are stupid and annoying and need to be stopped.

The Devil and His Playthings

My hands are the devils playthings. That’s what my grandmother used to say when she caught me drawing on the walls or when she discovered a vase I had knocked over or when I managed to place my dinner on the floor instead of in my mouth.

It was my idle hands that she took the most offense to. While I was the kind of kid to sit where you left him I do not remember that meaning that hours later the things around me would be sitting where you left them. Mess seemed to follow me like the punctuation at the end of a sentence (in some ways it still does). Throw pillows routinely found themselves on the floor, out of their cases, and inside. Sheets and spreads and table cloths became inexplicably bunched up. Stains mysteriously appeared on carpets, remotes were lost, or their batteries were lost or both were lost and don’t even get me started on the bathroom and what I could do with a roll of toilet paper, a tube of toothpaste and thirty seconds without supervision. Stucko walls and ceilings fascinated me to no end and I eagerly added to their textures.

As I grew older and entered elementary school my devil turned his attention to my backpack, notes and desk. Beginning with my backpack… let’s not begin with my backpack actually. Let’s begin with my notes.

I took pretty good notes throughout school except for the fact that my penmanship was barely legible. It did not improve. Today as a university student there are times where I cannot read my own handwriting. And of course whenever this happens it is invariably some crucial piece of information which is obscured by some alien language of my invention. This happened and happens more frequently than I would care to admit. There are also instances where I would find myself idly doodling in class – these doodles took the form of odd patterns, swirly lines or when I was particularly inspired even full blown characters and locations. The drawings were never good though, they were merely the product of my idle hands during a particularly boring lecture. And when I realized I should have written down something important I usually rushed the note and had trouble deciphering it later. (Hey look at that, this paragraph came full circle).

Moving onto my desk I can safely say that I cannot remember a period of more than two weeks where the contents of my desk remained arranged in an orderly manner. I think my longest record was a week and a half before whatever system I put in place simply ceased to function. I also do not remember times when I would carelessly put things into my desk once again my devil was the culprit I believe.

Let’s save the backpack story for another day shall we? That one is … special.

I like the idea that this was caused by some devil inside of me because I promise these actions were never done with malicious intent. It was not my goal to throw my environment into chaos; I did and still do prefer a clean and organized living space. I think that my natural ability to create disorder stems from my outward desire to keep my entire life orderly as if subconsciously I am compensating.

I also like to think that in some ways I have tamed him, that I can stop him from ripping apart the orderly world which I and others have put so much time into constructing. Clearly this is not always the case as anybody who has ever seen my room can attest to but as I write this I am proud to say that I have not spilled my coffee once (not even a drop!), I do not have any writing utensils scattered in front of me (so I’m writing on a laptop, it still counts), and my desk is free of idle doodles (I may have only been sitting at this desk for an hour but as I said before all I need are thirty seconds).

Another potential explanation besides me possessing a mischievous devil is that I am an agent of entropy forcing isolated systems towards disorder. That’s the more sciencey approach and it jives well with the engineering part of my personality. The writer in me prefers the approach that invokes Satan for curious reasons which I may explore later. Take your pick just don’t expect me to maintain a good clean room for more than five days.

A Realization – The Lottery

They were giving away lottery tickets in the lobby of my office building as a promotion for a new game. Some of my coworkers went down and got one, some of them did not, some of them did not know about the promotion. I planned on picking a ticket up at lunch but forgot. But I had a conversation with one of them and then I had a similar conversation with my father and something clicked in my head.

Nobody plays the lottery to win. Everybody who plays hopes they will win, but anybody with a basic understanding of probability and statistics knows that they are not going to win. Yet they will still buy a ticket, they will still check the numbers everyday, they will still fill in the little bubbles week after week.

Why?

Anybody who plays the lottery or has ever played the lottery did not pay for a ticket, they were paying for the fantasy of winning. Everybody, myself included, wants to see instant improvement in their life, it is a most basic human trait and weakness. Instant gratification is what makes games so prevalent in our society and why so many gym memberships are forgotten about in march. We love to imagine ourselves as better versions of ourselves but we hate the idea of putting in the work to get there.

And we do not like each other fantasizing about such scenarios.

“How dare you imagine yourself as better off than me for no reason,” we think.

But it’s different if you win the lottery, in that case you just got lucky,  the victory was not earned and it may not have even been deserved, but it was fair. There is nothing more fair than simple chance.

We are paying to dream of a better life, or more accurately, we are paying to dream about taking a shortcut to the better life.

The Thing Which Holds Me

It is fear. Fear has me bound tighter than any rope or cage or cuffs. Fear keeps me from moving forward with my life and with people. It keeps me from being honest and it keeps me from seeing clearly and from thinking clearly. This fear is one of the driving forces behind these words, behind all of them. These words allow me to express how I feel without saying it. These words let me hide behind metaphors and allusions and rhymes.

It is a fear of honesty and a fear of change and a fear of adventure. It is a fear of my own potential and the potential of my actions. When I think of how what I say or do could change my life or the lives of others I choose to say and do nothing because even though these changes could be amazing they are uncertain and that is terrifying. The lack of will to overcome my own mental and emotional inertia has me standing still.

Even in composing these words I feel trepidation. The people who read them will get a glimpse into my mind and soul beyond what they may see from my everyday interactions. And if they do, how will they react? I do not want this to be taken as a cry for help as it is more of a confession.

But I do not want this blog to be a confessional. I enjoy creating. I enjoy writing. I enjoy telling new stories about new characters in new places doing new things. But I need to confess that often I have trouble finding the right way to put those ideas out there, up here, because I sometimes am hiding from the ideas in my head and being hounded by the fear in my heart.