Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Speechless

The sad thing is that I have tried to write many times in the last few months. Everything ends up getting saved as drafts or just outright deleted. Even though I have finally realized what the essential problem has been, I am uncomfortable with the text. Basically I have been having a crisis of faith.

In language.
Communication.
Humanity, of course.

Admitting all this does not carry the standard implication that I am now over it. I have had some promising moments is all, especially in the form of a few fantastic novels, an Anne Lamott memoir, and some reminders of grace around me. I cannot yet say that these beacons are enough to dilute the taste the last several months (years) has left; I can only say that I might be willing to struggle through the awkwardness of trying to form this all into something worthwhile.

Finding the sequence of events is difficult and perhaps meaningless. Our move to Indiana has been a nearly constant saliency even over a year past our return. A year of run bad in poker and random negative variance in nearly every aspect of our lives seems to be the fault of that previous event. We can be discussing Enterprise charging us six-hundred dollars for the chipped (we're talking micro-chipped) windshield, and then it's all traced back to buying our crappy sentra in Tulsa and selling the Maxima since we would only need one car in Indiana...all leading up to being in this driveway at this time and getting rammed into and having to rent a car while said crappy sentra is being repaired. Or, take the utility crisis of 2010: Centerpoint charging us for gas when we had no gas; Direct Energy charging us for the wrong house. And all I could think during the eight months (months!) it took to straighten that mess out was how much it all reminded me of the Indiana water company charging us over two-hundred dollars for our vacant next door's month-long leak and getting away with it for reasons I still can't fathom. As you can see, this pattern of discussion makes coherent writing nearly impossible. What's even worse is that these things are just the tip. After all, it doesn't get more petty than bills even though most of our life is spent in the pursuit of managing them.

The worst, by far, has been the people we have been encountering since Indiana. I mean, obviously there can not be much good to say for the Poker House situation that ended with one roommate splitting as fast as he could for the West Coast and the other hoping Tom and I might be thrown from a bridge. We have finally gotten to a point where we no longer speak daily of this latter roommate, but keep running into folks that pull up the stench of likening.

A couple weeks ago, Tom and I went for an early morning run on our most beloved trail by the creek near our house. It was fairly populated with other runners and walkers trying to take advantage of the relative not-so-hot (cannot bring myself to call it anything near cool). One moment, I was blissfully flying ahead of Tom in a rare burst of running enjoyment and the next I was moving past a neighbor of ours and was suddenly confused and scared by how terrified I had apparently made him. His eyes were huge with fear, his mouth a frozen "O" as I came up beside him and he swung around to catch my approach. I smiled my apology assuming he would recognize me as I had recognized him even from behind. How many times had we seen him and his wife with their dogs on that trail after all? I couldn't tell you whether he ever did but I can certainly say that he did not care either way. As soon as I continued to run past him, he began yelling at my back, "You can't just sneak up on someone like that!" Tom reached him at this point and stopped to see what this man was yelling at his wife. I heard Tom stop running and turned around in time to see this neighbor of ours step into Tom with chin down and chest up, screaming all veins and blood, "YOU WANNA HIT ME?!" It still makes my jaw drop in the remembering. When Tom didn't break eye contact, the guy reached for his pocket. It was only a moment of knowing that I was about to see a gun but it felt like an eternity before I realized he had actually pulled out a cell phone and was screaming about the police. Again, how do you write about something like this? I don't know how many times I've tried to put down one step following another in the scene and knowing over and over again that words cannot approach the blur of adrenaline and rage that occured in those two minutes. I have also tried to write about this guy coming up behind me in the grocery store a week later. How I was alone. How all I could see was his eyes so wide I could see the blood at the edges.

In Indiana, we had a six-month immersion in passive-aggression delivered in conversational forms that always slipped somewhere to the left of rational. I began to feel then as I used to as the younger sister I was: that my words became something else as they left me and returned in the convolutions of pseudo-reason. Helpless to find the flaw anywhere except perhaps in myself. Just as when I had been younger, I began to feel that I was losing my grasp on my own reality. I would be so sure of what I thought, but my constant inability to communicate even the mundanities to a particular person left me insecure in the most profound sense. And the recent reinforcement of random encounters with sociopaths is no help.

My solution then, as now, could only be that there is no other choice but to return to my understanding of things. We are all only given the tools of our senses and have only the choice of using the information we gain through them or else hand our senses over to some other control. There is very little actual confidence to be found here; only a sort of resignation and the only bit of hope there is. It may be the hardest thing any of us have to do, but what is the point if we don't live our own lives and all that entails? As Dar Williams would put it, "Say what it is you gotta say to Be."

Friday, April 22, 2011

Amnesia

I honestly couldn't believe it. I mean, I know they hate Obama, and, really, who is a fan anymore (other than those of us who can still appreciate a rhetoritician for his skill of language)? But we were talking about perhaps the most important event in modern history. How could something that happened less than four years ago, something that changed the global economic system, be forgotten already? I remember the bailout debacle unfolding in nightmare form those several months in 2008 and cannot imagine anyone forgetting the moments our economic hopes died. Let me postpone the arguments that it had died many decades previously. Let me focus on the almost universally accepted idea that giving money to corporations who had gone bankrupt due to bad business decisions was a lethal blow to the idea of capitalism. Let us also postpone the argument of capitalism's worth itself for a moment. The salient fact of the matter is that a competitive market cannot exist when risks for the largest entities are covered by the taxed populace. End of story. Also end of story is that this was enacted under none other than George W. Bush. How then did I find myself in a conversation over lunch where a much respected and much loved coworker of mine was adamantly claiming that this was all Obama's doing? The man was so convinced that he laid a good day's wages on the verity of his assertion. I felt myself gaping like an unwatered goldfish and my tact dissolving into the aether. We were all there weren't we? Not too long ago by any adult's standards even. Yet somehow this even has been removed from Bush's platter. Now, I find the Iraq debate to be just as obvious, but this at least we can all agree was a serious blow to what we like to call the American way. And it was on this deified president's watch. This is not a matter of opinion. This is not a statement of support for Obama. This is a fact that we all just experienced. Out of curiosity after this conversation, I asked my twenty-something brother-in-law if he knew which president had enacted the bailout. His response:"...Nixon...?" I know, I was hoping he was joking too. Unfortunately he's a big fan of being right too, and usually offers his best guess.

It may be too much to ask that our bipartisan society have real conversations about opinionated issues. Especially too much to ask that one "side" be seen agreeing with the other. I have seen already that it is certainly too much to ask that these conversations be had in as imperical fashion as possible. Idealism is a luxury we certainly cannot afford. The thing is, I really thought we could agree on the basics of shared experience. The very basics. Not the why or how. Just who and when. Unfortunately, even that is suspect and my insistence today might soon be reduced to the opinionated raving of an obvious liberal. The fact that lies are being sold as truth will not be sufficient reason for pause on my coworker's part. He will most likely be too busy stewing over the young brat who showed so much disrespect. Who am I to claim that the only disrespect is allowing such obvious deception to stand? I will not say sorry, but I also fully recognize that I scored no victory today. Remembering, apparently, can be so overrated.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bad beat...

I have learned the hard way that talking someone out of believing that poker is gambling is a losing battle. If you think the term "poker professional" is an oxymoron, then this blog is not for you. I know enough to not expect any pity for the situation that has just developed in our little world, but it is devastating nonetheless. In an era when the government as a whole is the subject of outright scorn from its populace and even the relatively uninformed can see the rampant corruption, the DOJ has been sicked on an easy scapegoat for an easy political win: online poker. The roots are in a 2005 bill that was attached to a homeland defense measure that basically outlawed the financial transactions between banks and international poker sites. Not blackjack or roulette or horse racing...just poker. The GOP was able to claim a moral victory to their constituents and a veritable drought was wrought in the online poker community. It was largely an empty win (as most political gestures are) as the bill was full of loopholes that banks and poker players and poker sites were happy to exploit, but it did have a stifling effect nonetheless. Such is the game anyway.

Unfortunately the three biggest sites overstepped and, most importantly, didn't pay off the right people in doing so. They committed bank fraud and money laundering and, even though these crimes are nothing relative to the condoned activities of banks and major corporations in this country, they are going to pay. Hundreds of thousands of players now have their accounts frozen because the U.S. Government needed a score. How our government can seize the assets of an international company, I don't know. The question of why is painfully obvious however. No one feels the need to protect the poker professional because they do not recognize the legitimacy of the field.

So our dream of freedom is officially in limbo. We have to figure out how to transition to a live game, which is a much softer proposition but requires a much larger bankroll. We have to figure out if it's even worth it. The skills that Tom especially has developed are applicable to nearly every field, but are not generally recognized on a resume. And besides, the jobs that require resumes are tantamount to admitting defeat. Not to say that it won't come to that, but hopefully we can maneuver through this nonsense of a situation and retain some of what we've fought for. Again, I'm sure many of you do not see the tragedy of the situation. It is normal in our society (and expected even) that both adults in a family will work at least forty hours a week and generally in separate occupations. The average American should expect to be doing this and still not be able to save hardly anything. Vacations are limited or non-existent and rest is a forbidden pleasure. The fact that Tom and I have attempted anything other than this lifestyle is generally seen as a negative statement of our personalities. It does not seem to matter that poker is essentially a simplified form of the basis of capitalism and modern business practices. It does not matter that our skills are a perfect match for the game. And it certainly does not matter that our sole motivation is to have the freedom to actually live together and freely.

I just hope that the implications of this move by the DOJ might have some impact at least. If nothing else, please ask yourself if your government has any right to dictate what you do with the money your able to keep out of their hands and for yourself. The thing is, we say that we are free; we fight wars in the name of this freedom; yet, how can we possibly make such a claim when we are not even free to do what we will with our resources. Does it not become apparent that such things as property and liberty do not actually exist anymore? Poker was an easy win for them, but the fundamental argument has and will lead them to whatever restricting of our resources they may find. They have only every incentive to do so, especially with the silence of their people.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

First Impressions

There are few jobs that bring daily stories right into a writer's lap. I mean, ones that you don't even have to stretch for. Skilled writers can, of course, make even something as mundane as a bottle cap interesting...but I am not of that caliber. So I consider myself lucky and, up to this point, wasteful of the bounty that I receive in a constant flow. Don't even ask me why easy conversations with strangers happen so frequently over a generator, but so it is. So, for the next little while, I will try to capture the moments that make this manual labor occupation a feast of stories.

This morning brought us to the middle of nowhere north of Reklaw (the town that wanted to be Walker, TX but, since that was already taken, just spelled it backwards). Usually, we can find where we are supposed to go by looking for the biggest house in the area since these machines generally necessitate a certain level of wealth. This particular rural pocket, however, had no houses that even hinted at such luxury. The road was pretty typical of rural East Texas though: half the houses abandoned and falling down and yards filled with the bikes and tires and cars and trash of generations of hoarders. Right past one such hollowed-out clutter we finally saw the unit sitting right off the road and in front of a tidy pier-and-beam, patched up Craftsman kit house.

The customer came out her door as we drove up and beamed a smile of welcome to us that allayed the fears that tend to lace the backwoods of East Texas. I can no longer hold on my hand the number of times we've been told we better call before we come next time because we'll be shot first and asked questions later (almost the same wording every time). This woman had told my mom her disturbing tale of tragedy when she called for our service, so I already knew enough to imagine that she had every right to join the ranks of the paranoid and preemptively aggressive so common around these Texas backroads. But her smile and the colorful banners waving “Welcome” along her drive stated emphatically that she was fighting her demons in a different way. Her great-granddaughter skipped down the steps as we drove in, completing the picture of wholesome vitality in the midst of the surrounding decay.

I immediately looked to the house at the end of the line next door, since I had been told that this was the source of our customer's nightmare history. The unkempt shack had housed her husband's murderer. I looked back at her open radiance and tried to imagine her opening her door to the inch-deep blood she had described. The neighbor had been a young meth addict that came looking for money one midnight when this woman's husband was alone. When the husband told the man that he could have money but not for drugs, the man grabbed a pry bar and beat him to death. Looking at the little girl, she told us that her great-granddaughter was in her house down the road that night and she sat up in bed at midnight, looked out her window with her special-for-Grandpapa smile, and waved goodbye.

The old woman and the little girl planted flowers together as we worked on the generator. There were only moments where the agony bled through. “This is what keeps me going,” she said as she caught me watching the two of them, and her smile was the saddest joy I think I have ever seen.

***

In the afternoon, we went even deeper in the sticks to a family-run meat-processing business. Anyone who has read my Thanksgiving post (mostly about Eating Animals...as in, not eating them) will know that I was not terribly excited about doing any sort of maintenance for a business that I consider close to whatever evil there is. Usually these places have their own feed lot and the stink of misery and filth is overwhelming even from a distance. As we drove up to this place, however, the first thing I saw was a herd of pigs...outside. If you know anything about the pig (sorry...”pork”) industry today, you know that most pigs that are killed and eaten are not capable of surviving out of a highly regimented confinement. They do not breed; they do not root; they don't lay in the mud or the shade...No. They are kept in cells about the size of their body. The females are especially hated as they are kept in “gestation crates” (tiny cells in which they are inseminated, give birth, and almost unilaterally go insane). Often, the sows will gnaw on the bars as they lose their minds, the blood pooling on the ground. All of this is especially heinous when you consider the natural sentience of a pig. They play; they form intricate social bonds; they are also one of the few mammals that have sex for pleasure itself. So, having watched and read so much about these creatures' torture, to see them lounging under the pine trees was a pleasure I had not hoped for. Next to the pigs (10 acres we were later told), was a pasture for the cows. Not a feed lot. There was hay and grass and cows of all different ages grazing together. At this point, I started feeling greedy and began looking around for chickens or turkeys, but apparently the good of this business had reached its limit before the fowl. To my knowledge, there is still not a decent place to find one of these birds that lives a natural life and dies a humane and sanitary death. Still, there was plenty of reason for excitement, and none of the grime that covers our factory farm industry.

The butcher was everything you would think of when you imagine the butchers of two generations ago. He was rotund and red-cheeked and all smiles and Southern charm. He watched and talked as we set the valves and changed the oil on his sap-speckled generator. When we were done, he took us on a tour of his little slaughterhouse. It was a little shocking when he opened the cooler doors, pridefully showing us the rows of hanging carcasses. The smell of fresh blood was slightly nauseating, but I also was quick to appreciate the clean flesh of the bodies and the pristine floor of the cooler. The big question still loomed: how did he run the killing floor? He took us there next and, again, I was surprised by the lack of gore or even dirt. When I made this comment, the butcher smiled and said that they spent just about as much time cleaning as butchering. I saw the hoist for draining the bodies, but I couldn't find the killing tool which was my biggest concern. Finally, I apologized for being so curious, but I had to know what his slaughtering process was. “We shoot them. Well, I have a guy that shoots them. Just can't bring myself to do it.” He pointed to the metal gate behind me and told me that was where the animals were brought in and shot. It should be and is horrifying, but not when compared to the industry standard. Often the animal is not even unconscious when its throat is slit and it's hoisted up to bleed out. This can take minutes, for which the animal is aware and suffering. There are numerous stories of outright torture even (again, especially for pigs) where the killing floor employees cut off pieces of the animal before dealing any sort of lethal wound. So, yeah, a bullet in the calming confinement of the metal chute sounds pretty damn humane to me.

I was glad to shake this man's hand as we left. Who could have guessed that a butcher simply doing his job well could be a hero of sorts.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Day

After four months of no-looking-back vegetarianism, I am looking down the barrel of a chicken's carcass. It has been the easiest thing I've ever done not eating meat. After all, who wants to eat something that brings up images of animal torture and bacterial cesspool processing plants? I have literally had nightmares about having to eat meat in the past four months, which is probably a typical over-reaction on the part of my imagination. Still, the fact remains. So the (perfectly reasonable) question is: why eat meat ever again?

Enter my little brother (in-law). He's recently found his passion as a chef and is in his first year of culinary school. This being his first Thanksgiving as a burgeoning expert on The Feast, he has decided to cook us this meal and this meal is to be mostly held down by chicken. Perhaps it is easy enough to see my quandary. Certainly I have gotten enough grief at restaurants when I order an array of sides (and all too often find the pieces of bacon in green beans, corn, okra, spinach...why so much bacon I ask you Southern Cooking?!) and call into question the meat-centered choices of the rest of the table. Even saying nothing (which is an innocence I can't always claim), it is still a judgement being made. And judgement is the last thing I want to offer to my brother in poor thanks of his creative offering today.

It is no mystery that Thanksgiving played a large part in the discussions of the book that led me to all this: Eating Animals (Jonathan Safran Foer). It is the holiday that, almost even more than Christmas, emphasizes the community that is one's family. The coincidence of this and the centerpiecing of large animals to be consumed is unfortunate but ingrained. What is Thanksgiving without the smells of roasting turkey or game? While it is true that I am among a growing percent of our population that would find the celebration a lot more enjoyable without the consumption of flesh, I have no illusions as to where the majority of people still are on the issue. Foer compiled his book from three years intensive research and philosophical exploration and made the case against how we raise and eat flesh in the most compelling of terms, and yet even he still came up with the problem of Thanksgiving. The problem is that there is a vast difference between the casual holocaust of McDonald's McNuggets and the loving offerings of meat that are so central to most family's celebration of this holiday. Surely there must be a consideration for the exercise of community that this meal is in its highest form.

The author came to the conclusion that the conversation of not eating meat even on Thanksgiving could provide a benefit in itself to one's family. And I agree that it has been a good conversation between me and mine. However, the conversation has been had and yet we are still to find a chicken at the center (and almost the sum total) of our little brother's debut meal. While I have plenty of ethical ground to stand on in refusing this meal, I find little in the form of showing my gratitude for his gift. So I have made the personally difficult decision to share every part of this meal with him and this family. And I do look forward to the magic that my brother will work, and the memories we are about to share as we eat together. It may not be an objective conclusion, but it is an expression of the compromise that is central to any love. So I am grateful for this holiday that has the potential for such a real incarnation of love and hope that we can all find the large and small ways to foster each precious bond we have. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tradey Track

I have witnessed the erosion of my remembered landscape with every trip back home from my journeys here and there across the country. My old bedroom is occupied by paying tenants now and the sacred trees that enveloped our home have been removed by one ambition followed by another. First it was the Southern lot that our backdoor neighbors wanted clear for RV parking and a fence obstructing what was once one of the main thoroughfares of my childhood. I cried watching the slaughter of trees and memories that these strangers had no knowledge of or regard for. Would they have ceased if they had known the magnificent tricycle races that had sped down that tree lined lane? Or maybe if they had experienced the miracle of climbing the impossibly thin branches to the heights of the lone Holly Tree. Did they even notice its beauty as it fell in graceful death to their blades?

The final vestige was lost by the time I came home to call it home again. The Eastern trail – our beloved Tradey Track – was lost to the brambles of neglect some time ago, but the forest remained until this year when a neighbor who should have known better decided to clear the place for his second house (across the street from his perfectly good first house). My first memories were formed running this trail with my two best friends as we transformed from frolicking squirrels to flying unicorns and saw mythical monsters and beasts in the fantasy world that was our woods. As we grew, the place retained its magic, even as all else suffered from the disillusionment of age. Playing pretend was lost to us, but the amber light filtering through the leaves held us all the same.

There was an ancient tower of a tree in the exact center of this world. Its heart was rotting but the outer wood clung with vicious tenacity to the strength of its youth. It wrought its mutilation into beauty as it provided shelter in its cavernous trunk to the small creatures of the woods and an escalier of winding scarred bark steps to reach its hammock of barren branches. How many afternoons did I spend dreaming in the cradle of its arms listening to the creak of its rheumatic sighing in the wind. Somehow, I never feared this friend collapsing with me on its branches and somehow it never did. I believed in forever those golden afternoons in the trees even as I slipped into the isolation that became my adolescence.

I wonder if this man will be haunted as I am by the forgotten voices of children held in the soil and roots of the land he has taken for his own. Or are those memories lost in the charred remains of the forest that sheltered and cherished the wonderment of children who still knew how to recognize mystery?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Stranger...

It says something that I have lost track of exactly how many months I have neglected this blog...you know, the one I was promising to update three times every week. So now I come skulking back, feeling entirely too contrite in what is meant to be my space. So what else is new?

I have been working for the last three or four months in the blaze of East Texas summer and the constant drenching sweat of manual labor under the sun. In the course of this work, I have met people virtually every day that I wanted to write about and then every night I have hunkered into sleep promising that tomorrow I will give all these characters their words. So many moments lost, but let us call this tomorrow shall we?

This week, we have been doing finish work on a monstrosity of a house for a retired couple. No grandkids that I know of and just the one surviving son. Which brings me to my story. Several weeks ago, we were working on the remodel of this couple's former home before they sell it, and I (being the nosy electrician that I am) was perusing the family photos still on their walls and was taken by the surprise of recognizing their daughter. In fact, I had danced with their daughter for nearly a decade, but had never known her last name and therefore had made no connection to these people who only had last names as far as I was concerned. But there she was. Pictures of her in every ballet costume I remembered and suddenly I could smell the leather of ballet slippers and hear the canned music that was, to me, so beautiful to dance to. For an hour, as I passed the pictures on each fetching trip for the master electricians, I struggled to remember her name and failed. It was a color? Something like a flower? Maybe Heather? It was all wrong. Finally a friend of her family arrived and my mother asked her in the course of conversation about this known, unknown daughter. The first thing we discovered was that her name was Brooke. The second thing we were told was that she was dead. Almost a decade ago. In a car crash. The finality of it brought an inwash of details -- the girl's easy smile, her heartbreaking grace on the dance floor -- that I had forgotten in trying to remember the obvious detail of her name. Seeking only to place her in a small part of my history, I had just learned to mourn her. Making this an even more awkward sensation was the fact that her death was so far in the past that even mentioning condolences could be offensive. But how sorry I was to find such tragedy in my half-remembered childhood memories.

Now, I could tell you many things about Brooke's parents, having made it a sort of study this last week as we have been working for them. I could tell you that they are of the particular brand of wealth that despises finality because they can afford to make options a way of life. I could tell you that they consider this 10,000 square foot "home" a rural cottage ("It's the garage that makes it look big"...and yes, that is a quote). I could spend an entire post telling you about the full day we spent digging a 500 foot ditch and pulling as many feet of beligerently heavy wire just so that they could turn a light on and off on the barn from the house. But I think more telling than any of this is the fact that I spent the majority of my childhood with their daughter and yet I must wonder if they even know who I am. It would be different if my appearance had changed significantly over the years (and I often wish that it had as going to Wal-Mart in this small town is a constant minefield of ancient acquaintances and family friends). It would also be excusable if ballet had not been such an intensive activity for those of us in Ms. Gobel's advanced class, but, as it was, it was a dominant feature of all of our lives. So, I labor on their shell of a house each day simply wondering if my face reminds them of something they should know and if they have any inkling of the freshly sad memories I have of their dead daughter.

It is a symptom of an overiding theme I have found in this town, but never seen so well put. In essence, it is the reality that there are people of consequence and then there are all the others that maintain those people of consequence.

I danced with a passion far outstripping my potential and calling the attention of the fiery Ms. Gobel in the best of ways. My frame was too large to ever break into the upper echelon of the dancing world, but in the microcosm of Nacogdoches, I became better than I was meant to be under the angry French woman's tutelage. Ms. Gobel began to point to me in class demonstrations as how things should be done, and I remember feeling such anticipation for the greater recognition she was preparing me for. But every recital, I would find myself once again in the unflattering background as I watched less dedicated and less talented girls dance the leads. It wasn't until my last year that I finally had acquired enough disillusionment to see the inexorable connection between the wealth of the parents and the role awarded to the girls. It was of little importance to any of them I'm sure, but the thinking probably went along the lines of: "Well, if I must sit through two hours of watching all this prancing around, then I want my daughter to be in front. Here's a donation Ms. Gobel." And every year, I was simply devastated to watch from the wings as the gangly daughters of doctors and lawyers destroyed roles that they could care less about. There was no suspense in their desires because to want, for them, was to have.

And I return nearly ten years later to find the same place that I left. My degrees and experience do nothing to open the locks that only wealth has the key for here. My smile is interpreted as fawning and my speech is seen as artifice ("Oh my, what big words!"). Certainly this is not an inviolable rule, but it is so pervasive as to warrant damnation. It is also so common as to encourage my current role of subversive in their midst. You see, while they are blinded by the status that is so easy for them to ignore, I am free to observe and record and amass my own wealth of characters and stories. It may be a distant and unlikely revenge, but oh how sweet to imagine any one of them picking up a novel and finding the unflattering portrayal of themselves within. Of course, I would be too idealistic if I allowed myself the daydream without admitting that I am sure they would be as blind to themselves in a story as they are to themselves in reality. It is not so easy for perception to change.