You’ve been home for a month now. You have a name, a decorated room, and more clothes than you’ll ever wear.
Your routine is pretty much to sleep in the mornings, giggle/gurgle in the afternoons, fuss in the evenings, and fall asleep by 11. A routine you’ll likely return to in post-secondary.
We still occasionally forget you exist or have waves of panic that someone was foolish enough to leave us with a child. The feeling is getting less and less common.
If I had to sum up the past month, I’d say it would be fatigue and love, punctuated by small bouts of panic and helplessness. I suppose that applies to you as much as to us.
At a month, you’ve already mastered smiling, puppy dog eyes, and a heart-wrenching whimper.
I both can’t wait and dread you growing up. I’m trying to enjoy the little moments.
By the way, you’re a fantastic cuddler and I really hope that doesn’t change.
You’ve had a constant parade of people who want to meet you. Everyone loves you and wants to be near you. You’re going to grow up loved by so many people. You have your family (Me, Mum, Grannie, Grand-dad, Great-Grand-dad, Oncle Dan, Aunt Amy, Aunt Lindsay, and Modryb Sonia), your massive list of extended family and family friends, the ever-growing geeky community in Ottawa, and Ottawa’s wonderful speculative fiction family.
As loved as I hope you feel, your mother and I feel it just as much. Our families and friends are great. We’re lucky to have found so many awesome people to surround ourselves with.
This is a little disjointed, but it reflects the past month. It’s been interesting, terrifying, and absolutely wonderful. You fill me with love and wonder every time I see you or hear your little noises.
Most of the real life conspiracies are based on not wanting to change the way we do things or products of advertising.
Take Multivitamins for example. They’re not bad for you but they’re not important. This is multivitamins and vitamin boosts. This doesn’t mean Folic Acid for pregnancy, vitamin D for SAD, or Iron for Anemia is bad. When recommended by a doctor they’re great.
Or take bottled water. Many people think it’s better than tap water and the companies selling them certainly want you to think that, but on average they’re not.
These are just a few examples of “real” conspiracies. They are not controlled by a giant body, but by people who want to be rich. There’s no giant Water Bottle Industry conspiracy to make our tap water less safe. That’s caused by human greed, poor management, poor regulation, and stupidity.
How to Avoid Being Duped
There are little conspiracies all over. From wanting the last cookie, to wanting you to BUY OUR COFFEE everyone has an angle or something they want from someone else.
If you want to test if a conspiracy is real or not remember to ask the most important question: Why?
Why would they perpetrate this hoax? Why would they control the world? Why would they try to control humanity with the contrails from planes?
Buzzwords are by far the most dangerous form of conspiracy. They sound good but are vague and never tell the whole truth. They are dangerous if you believe them unconditionally.
Some of the best examples of dangerous buzzwords are found in health. Superfoods, Toxins, Cleanse and Natural are some extremely common buzzwords that literally mean nothing.
A superfood isn’t from Krypton, but something that has higher than normal vitamin content. That’s it. It’s not a cure for cancer, not a cure for the common cold, not a cure for damage. Just a food that’s good for you.
Cleanses are a way to detox your body. As slang for “Stop eating unhealthily” it makes sense. Of course fake doctors and idiots have commercialised it into something that is dangerous. Let’s make something clear: You can’t eat unhealthily and then “cleanse” to make yourself healthy again. That’s not how our bodies work. These detox cleanse diets aren’t healthy. They are fads that stress your body more than they help. They are the emotionally crippled children of the weight loss fad diets. You don’t need to know the garcinia side effects. Eat healthy regularly and you’ll feel better. Don’t pretend you’re Bacchus and think eating only soup for a month will repair damage.
Natural is a word that has such a vague meaning that it could mean anything. Nightshade is completely natural, as is the box jellyfish, but eating them can hurt you. Using Natural as a word to mean safe is ignorant of how we live our lives and of science. I’ve seen Natural on everything from bacon to tomatoes. It literally means whatever the advertiser wants it to mean.
When you’re trying to figure out what’s real:
Think critically about what you do and why you do it.
If someone tells you you’re wrong, ask why.
Do some research before you believe what your crazy (insert relative) tells you about a miracle product.
Remember that we as a species are flawed.
For me I like to follow a few general rules:
Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
Take the Moon Landing Hoax; in most variations they faked the moon landing by using Hollywood tricks. We’re talking about an industry that has trouble keeping its movie trailers from leaking. The idea that the proof has so perfectly been destroyed is ludicrous.
I’m not going into the pathology of mental health and conspiracy theories. That’s a whole other discussion.
I think the answer is simply patterns. We, as humans, are obsessed with patterns. We find them in everything, even when they don’t exist. Seeing shapes in clouds or bathroom tiles seems far off from thinking we live on a planet that’s 5000 years old, flat, and ruled by a secret society of atheistic Lizard-Men but it’s not as far as you think.
Think of the restaurant you dislike the most (no not the one with poor social values) but the one you’ve been to 2-3 times and had bad food or bad service every time. We all have one and we all avoid that restaurant because we assume that they’re always that bad. (I mean terrible not just bad.) We assume that everyone else is wrong when they say the restaurant is ok. So who’s wrong? If the restaurant is still in business there’s a good chance we are.
At this point we have to either accept that our 2-3 experiences are only a miniscule number in a larger series. If the restaurant is open 7 days a week and sees an average of 50 customers a day that’s 18,200 customers per year. So our 3 experiences represent 0.0016% of visits that year.
Or we can assume that it was purposefully done to us. The owners of the restaurant don’t like us.
In the science-ish conclusion we aren’t special, we’re a miniscule example. In the Conspiracy, we’re not only special but persecuted. Naturally, we would prefer to believe we’re important.
My brother, who is a great guy, has always loved performing and after our mother died he started taking classes and seriously throwing himself into acting. It was roughly the same time I started writing seriously.
When he talks about the craft of acting he often brings up “truth” or “honesty” in reference to a performance. It got on my nerves until I understood that he was talking about authenticity or making a character feel like a real person. (My English teacher would say three dimensional.) It’s a concept that brought his acting from talented but hammy to truly good. He’s been getting better with every project by always keep that idea in his mind.
Writing and Authenticity
In writing it’s just as important to make your characters authentic and relatable. As a writer (I’ve written 5 books, fifty plus short stories, and over 200 blog posts. I’ll call myself that and if this guy has a problem with that I’ll gladly challenge him to a write off.) Sorry… As a writer, I concentrate as much as I can on characters. My favourite scenes are usually domestic ones, how someone eats, cleans etc. tells me more about a character than all the clever quips in the world. (I like those too though)
The problem with being authentic is trying to understand and represent characters that are completely different than me. Let’s face it, I’m a 30 year old white, middle class, male, who rates a 2 on the Kinsey scale. I am what 90% of books, movies, and television portray as the norm.
This makes me worry that I’m not being authentic in my writing. If I’m not the best case is that that characters come off as unbelievable, at worst they come off as sad stereotypes. I don’t want to misrepresent my characters or my (eventual) readers.
Why Does Diversity Matter
I’ve heard the old saying of, “Write What You Know” it is a platitude handed down from the gods of writing years ago. It’s also wrong. It’s an attitude that says only aged, world weary, grizzled writers should write.
So why do I want to write about characters who don’t resemble me? Why is it important? It just is. As a kid I had hundreds and thousands of characters that looked and thought like me, that I could relate too. I want that level of relatability for everyone. I want a world where you can pick up a book and see a character that you fully understand and a whole bunch that teach you that as humans we are all fundamentally the same.
Learning about other sexes, cultures, religions, nationalities, sexualities, sexual preferences, and disabilities helps make them more understandable and breaks the “Us vs Them” mentality.
It’s also more interesting.
I haven’t lived as a Polynesian girl with anorexia, or a transgendered boy raised by a conservative family but I have written about them.
In Parasomnia, (AKA the book that is taking me way too long to edit) I tried my best to be authentic and to make each character feel real. I hope I succeeded but I’ll only know by finding beta readers who can call me out on anything that is wrong or stereotypical.