It Begins

The crowd around me pulsed and vibrated to the funky rhythm coming from the beat-box instrument I had summoned, which hovered over my left shoulder. Standing on the ledge of the fountain, I could feel the splash on the backs of my legs as the water rose from the center and fell in the pool. I had the attention of dozens of fellow students as I belted out my improvised protest song. It was a simple hook over a simple beat, and some of my fellow students rapped along with me when it came to the hook. I was feeling inspired, and I was inspiring courage in others. It felt good to exercise my skill in this way, fighting against what I believed was wrong.

We were taking positive action against the new administration crackdown on various forms of expression which were deemed “obscene” and “heretical”, protesting in the central plaza of the university. The new city governor had installed a new cleric upon his installation on the island, and the resulting crackdown on liberal behaviors was immediate and severe. Gender norms were aggressively enforced, which I find particularly offensive, with non-compliance resulting in immediately imprisonment and re-education. Today I was wearing my baggy green slacks and brown jacket, with a hint of my yellow shirt visible below the collar, my tan flat cap and heavy boots – it wasn’t a very subtle act of civil disobedience as my lilting, feminine voice gave away my gender immediately.

Typically this time of day, students could be found engaged in a wide range of scholarly activities – reading textbooks, exchanging notes, discussing lectures, flirting, socializing, imbibing, gaming – typical activities of the youthful and vigorous. Today we filled the plaza with protest signs and songs, exchanging ideas to subvert the machinations of power, but all enjoying our recently re-invigorated sense of power and freedom. The student body was not going to take this dramatic reversal of social norms lightly. We planned to make a full march around the campus, culminating at the steps of the cathedral.

It wasn’t just the students involved in the protest either. Most of our teachers had joined the party-like atmosphere in the plaza. Many of them had moved to the island school specifically because of the intense acceptance of total freedom of expression which was embodied by the previous governor, a former public relations administrator who was promoted through the management ladder after he married the arch-cleric’s niece. But they were both homosexual, having tricked the uncle with quite a public display at the opening of a new market in an out-of-the-way town. After transferring away from the hell of social conformity that was the capital, the two transformed the university into a bastion of free expression. Nothing was forbidden which did not cause material harm to another – public nudity became a triviality and trans-sexual students finally were able to dress and act as they felt. Artists and artisans from all over the archipelago flocked to the tiny island, which soon boasted a marketplace and harbor bursting with activity.

There were others in the plaza besides the students and teachers though. The entire area was ringed with university police, there to ensure that the student body didn’t riot and start destroying property. No matter how good of intentions the organizers of any gathering have, there are always a few ignorant thugs who think destruction is the way towards progress. The students were at complete ease in the presence of the authorities, though, because there was no feeling of animosity towards the campus police or even the university administration. There was no undercurrent of hatred threatening to break out into violence – there was no need as recent history lead them to assume they would be granted their freedom of assembly.

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Hello World

My departure for Newport approaches rapidly. In ten days, I’ll be settling into my attic room in the home of a nice couple in South Beach.

Google Maps says it should be a 25 minute bike ride to my new employment, which is pretty much the perfect distance for a daily bike commute. Much shorter and I can’t get any kind of workout going with the ride, while much longer begins to eat up a large portion of my waking day just to travel for work. When we lived on the farm, my ride was in the 35-40 minute range, which was always long enough to feel like a chore.

I’ve started writing this to both chronicle my vanguard journey to the coast and to catalyze a daily writing regimen for my fiction. We are seeking a fresh start with this move, after being dragged through some shit in Portland. One of my goals since moving to Portland a decade ago has been to get this story, this world I have in my head, out onto the page. It has continued to expand considerably over this time; I have many pages of notes written out in moments of inspiration, but I’ve yet to tackle much of the actual prose. I’m hoping to establish a positive and proactive routine for my life there, and I believe that my writing is a place where I’ll be able to create a lot of joy.

I’m a terrible procrastinator though. I’ve yet to pack up anything, though I’ll not be taking much more than my bike, clothes, and phone. It will definitely be more of a barrier to writing without the Chromebook, but I’ve already written tons of notes on my phone, so I’m not allowing myself to use that as an excuse. My goal is to write at least 30 minutes every day for this stream, whether that be part of my fiction or other musings.

Today I have been listening to Chance the Rapper’s album Acid Rap. I much prefer this over his newest release Coloring Book. I primarily listen to albums in their entirely instead of making playlists or skipping around, so if an album has a song that really gets on my nerves, it become severely diminished as a whole and won’t make it into my regular rotation. Coloring Book has a few songs which are not much more than “Praise the Lord”, which is a big turnoff for me and discourages any future listens. I love Chance the Rapper, and Coloring Book has a few great tracks, but it’s my least favorite of his releases.