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When I was in early high school, I started writing a book. It was the first one I ever started writing (and also the first one I never finished). It was called the Chronicles of a Future Past. The title was based loosely off of an X-Men series back when time-travel was all the rage in comics. The book was written in different forms– sometimes it was prose, sometimes it was written as a screenplay. In college, I revised it into an abridged version that was going to be put into production by the Dawson Animation Club, but the project never got it’s feet after months of planning.
I always wanted to be a writer when I was young. I, in all honesty, never thought that I would work in a hospital, or in a library, or in a foreign country. There were four things I wanted to be when I was young– a musician, a writer, a martial artist and a Jedi.
I’m not quite a Jedi yet.
I’m not a professional musician, but I can say that I definately am better at music than I was those many years ago. It’s not that I’m actualyl good at any instruments, but I think that it’s more accurate to say that I love music and sound. Sound has always been the best sense for me. People complain I mumble, it’s because I don’t like to raise my voice because it blocks out everything else. I like to hear things. And I’ve gotten better at it.
The dream of being a martial artist started when I was young, growing up in a racist neighborhood and being a typical weakling, and I found, in an old shoebox, a picture of my dad wearing some sort of gi, performing a traditional chinese salute like the way they did in movies. I had no idea he’d done any martial arts before. I found out later that one of my uncles also did, and was even adept enough to teach wing chun in Toronto before he got married and settled with the more stable job of electronics repair.
And then there was Ranma 1/2. It was one of the first animes I’d ever seen and I fell in love with the lifestyle. Martial Artists could handle anything– they had adventures on a daily basis, they had a circle of friends who might as well be enemies yet who still were always there for you, they had family, they had a code of honor. They had everything. Except money. But who needed money? Ranma could take on all comers in the dojo, at school, or in the streets.
This many years down the line I haven’t won more than a few medals and ribbons yet I consider myself better at making a fist than I used to be, maybe I can throw a kick or two. And it’s not so much despite failures but because of failures that I am as strong as I am today. Genma used to say: “The Life of a Martial Artist is Long and Treacherous.” And it has been. And long as it has been, it’s given me the time to experience and understand myself in so many ways, enough that I can’t how I could have made it this far without its lessons.
As to writing, well. Writing.
I’m still not a writer, I’m just someone who writes.
Back to Chronicles of a Futre Past. Back then, when I started writing it, the internet was “new.” We were still in the age of dial-up modems and Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes), offline mail readers like Blue Wave, and MORPGS (before the “massive” part came out) that operated by daily packet excahnges between BBSes. Back then, my aliases were Bitman or Kayne. Yes, they sound pretty lame, but sue me, I was like 15 at the time.
At some point, the name Jinryu came up for the first time in writing.
It was the name of the male lead in Chronicles. He wasn’t based on me: but in a lot of ways, I actually kind of grew up to be very much like the character that I tried to write him as.
And it all started with another character, the female lead, whose name was Flynt.
I began writing this story back then at a time when I loved science fiction and fantasy, and when I was reading comic books religiously. I was really into Weis and Hickman books, I’d started out on Tolkien, and then I’d found my way backwards into older authors like Mark Twain, T.H. White, and some of the really dated stuff by Asimov, H.G. Wells and Philip K. Dick.
Chronicles opened with a company of covert operatives, called Legionnaires, sent to infiltrate a research facility. Among his squadmates were other soldiers who bore code names, such as his best friend Jace and the squad captain, Masen. There was a female character whose name I can’t remember anymore, but she was Jace’s love interest.
There was a bit of a situation and things got really fubared, ending in a firefight, in which Jace’s love interest got killed. Jace similarly goes down while trying to recover the body of his lover, cursing Jinryu for running witht he rest of the squad. In the scamble to escape what turns out to be an ambush meant to be the burial of the team by their benefactors, everybody gets picked off one by one except for Jinryu. He barely escapes into the surrounding forest, mortally wounded, where he falls unconscious.
Years later, he’s living a peaceful life, secluded in a forest cabin, far from civilization, where he lives by foraging, spending his spare time reading and writing. He lives away from society and lives the simple life as atonement for his previous life as a mercenary. He would have lived out his entire life as a hermit had it not been for an event: a visitor.
While sleeping, he’s awoken by a crash from downstairs. When Jinryu makes it down the stairs to investigate, his old pistol, still curiously well oiled and leading the way without a either a hint of a tremble or rust, he finds a weathered and beaten old soldier lying on his demolished kitchen table. She’s in her forties, shes in an armor that he doesn’t recognize, she’s carrying nothing but a sword on her back, and she’s dying of internal injuries as if somehow she’d fallen from a roof and landed right on his kitchen table.
After a brief conversation that reveals essentially nothing to Jinryu, but by which the woman finds out a little bit about Jinryu and seems satisfied, the woman announces that when she next awakens, he’s going to have to give her the red card which she produces from her pocket. She closes her eyes and falls unconscious. Abruptly, there’s loud whir, a flash of light, a blast that knocks him off his feet, and suddenly, the woman is gone as all the power in the cabin burns out.
Trained as he is though, he suddenly notices that he’s not alone in the house and despite his disorientation, recognizes that he’s suddenly under attack. It takes him just a moment to notice that his assailant is using a sword, and that, oddly enough, the assailant is wearing the same armor as his previous visitor. It isn’t the same person as before though. His sttacker is definately not crippled, for one thing, she’s younger than the woman he found earlier, and is in fact quite energetic in her attempts to cut his head off. He attempts to turn it into a gun battle but with limited ammo and the assailant’s unbelivable intuition and speed, they find themselves in a stalemated situation until locked in close quarters combat. In the scuffle, he drops the red card on the ground, which he’d totally fogotten about. The assailant sees the card, breaks off the attack… and apologizes.
She introduces herself as Flynt, a second generation black ops merc whose squad was based off of Jinryu’s former Legionnaires sqaud. She was the older woman who had visited earlier, but because of the grevious injuries incurred during a jump back in time, she’d likely had to resort to a ‘regression’ in order to heal her wounds. With the regression, Flynt had wound herself back in time, restoring her health but at the same time scattering her memories of the future she’d come from, which, presumably, she’d been sent back in time to somehow correct.
All she had was in the red card, which contained a clue about where they should go to get some answers. It involves how, in the future, Jace has become– shall we say– a very influential and very dangerous person.
Reluctantly, Jinryu decides to abandon his isolation and accompany Flynt and try to make something with the rest of his life.
Along the way, the two meet characters and undergo experiences that, at the time of the story’s writing, were actually real people I knew and real experiences that I had or heard. In a strange sort of way, Chronicles of a Future Past really meant “The Story of Now,” and it had woven into it a secret diary of many parts of my life as well as the lives of my friends.
Chronicles never was completed, it fell under dust sometime in college, but I did start working on other projects. The most lasting of all of them was blogging.
As to blogging, it’s been really hard to find the time to write lately , but I guess that the truth of the matter is that if I really wanted to, I would find the time for it. I think that’s one of those truths that’s revealed about anything that we don’t do– it doesn’t matter to us as much as we’d like to think. It kinda goes into that ‘perfect record theory’ that I have. We like to keep up certain habits. Like the friends who drift into acquaintance and then into obscurity altogether, a habit like writing is something that I like to keep in practice but which doesn’t always do it for me.
Yet at the same time, the occasional reunion is nice.
Don’t get me wrong– I don’t mean that when we do blog we’re not living our lives. But frankly, it really depends on how you chose to use your time– blogging is just one way of living my life, and sometimes…
well, you know what they say about how a thousand travel books are never as good as one trip in person?
sometimse, a thousand words I could write aren’t as good as one time that I tell someone “I’m glad you’re here.”
The difference isn’t in a capacity for imagination or creativity– the difference lies in that exciting spice that is our vulnerability.
The thing is, writing is one of those ways of burning energy for me. I wake up in a morning and I don’t always know what’s in store for me, but depending on what goes on in my environment I take in a lot of energy from the world around me and I need some way of processing it. Sometimes it goes out through actions, sometimes it goes out through writing.
Lately, a lot of things have been going on. I’ve had many more days off lately than usual– I worked only 4 days last week, and this week I’m at work writing this from my one day of work this week– and so I’m filling up my time constantly with things that are just burning my energy. I’ll be honest– I haven’t been a very good family man lately to my grandparents. It’s been a bit over a week since I last saw them in person. I consider this my own little vacation though from all that drama. Nobody likes to think of family as a burden, especially not when these are the same people who raised you up from your hands and knees, but it really is like the Sphinx riddle, isn’t it? The situation goes back to where it was, and that kind of transition isn’t always kind on people.
But here’s the selfish flipside: I think I deserve this time away. It would all be for nothing though if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve been having a great time during the past week. It has a lot to do with living on my own, because of the fact that I’m being held more accountable for every little thing in my life. I like this feeling of being dependable to myself, because when I get something done, I get to feel the results, and I can be grateful for what I can do. That may sound strange, but I’m just getting so much shit done. One of the comments I had when I first came back to North America was that life here seemed so slow compared to life in Asia (although, staying in Vancouver and then moving to a suburb of Calgary had something to do with the pace)– now, I’m getting it back though.
It’s been days since I last wrote, and I’m in the mood now, so, over the next few days to make up for lost time, let me fill you in, and get back on track with my story.