Laika (Underground) Pt. III

Laika (Underground) Pt. III

The third part in Laika's strange adventure.
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(Read Part Two)


It didn’t take her long to reach the edge, though clawing up its unsurprisingly unstable surface certainly slowed her escape as the sand repeatedly gave way and smoothly rolled downwards across itself. Finally over the top she groaned, spitting sand as she got her bearings again. Directly in front of her, only about a kilometre or two off, was a grouping of the same kinds of craggy rocks she had seen earlier.

Hoping against logical hope that the shopkeeper's final statement wasn’t some farcical trick Laika pushed onwards. The arid atmosphere was beginning to really get to her and if there was some way to wake herself up or get out of… whatever the hell this was… then she would gladly take it. Clamouring over and around each unwelcoming geological formation wasn’t difficult, but it wasn’t the most enjoyable experience either. She repeatedly thumped and scraped against the harsh shapes, cursing and mumbling the whole way through.

After a particularly nasty flop headfirst into the sand (swiftly followed by a creative string of salty language) she finally came across the door. Just like the last one it stood by its lonesome, in a small circular clearing free of the pesky rocks she had quickly grown to hate. If this is locked I swear I’m going to go back there and kill him. Though, to be completely honest with herself, she knew she was far too unnerved to ever go near that hole in the ground again.

She sucked in a breath, puffing her chest outwards in a show of dominance to no one in particular, and opened the door. Once again she found herself stepping into darkness. Once again she felt organs shifting as if falling into a deep, unknowable cavern below.

---

Laika coughed, feeling the course grime sticking to her face as she looked up. She was on a beach, no, an island. A perfect circular little island of light, pleasant sand. A far cry from the harsher browns of the desert world beforehand, but it was still sand. What is it with all this fucking sand?! She swung herself about to face the door only to find that nothing manmade stood in the miniature desert. Around her she could see nothing but ocean and cloudless sky stretching out for miles. The floaters and dancing atoms of her vision coated the oppressively blue scenery, a layer of TV snow she often forgot was normal in human eyes.

"Wh-what the hell?" Laika shouted into the serene emptiness that expanded endlessly in every direction. She stood up and brushed the excess sand off her clothing, still feeling the harsh particles nestling into obnoxious positions against her skin. This is even worse than the desert!

She was yelling in her head, trashing an imaginary hotel room built specifically for catharsis. On the outside she just looked sour, annoyed and vaguely disappointed by the door’s false promises of reality. Though, to be fair to the door she had been projecting her hopes onto an inanimate object, which wasn't exactly healthy behaviour.

Laika walked around the island in circles, searching desperately for something, ANYTHING to break the monotony of the latest world she had fallen into. She kicked at the ground, little grains dispersing into the air before showering down into the calm waters below. Each impact a tiny ripple almost indiscernible to a human observer.

Her foot tapped, her nostril twitched. She needed a cigarette. A loose cigarette was yanked greedily from her pocket, followed by the Zippo lighter that at one time had made her feel so cool and adult. She lit up and puffed nervously, almost cartoonish in her anxious jittering. “There’s nowhere to go! At least in the desert I could walk around or SOMETHING!” She shouted, pulling the cigarette from her lips to tap the sullen ashes out over the water before returning to suckling it once again.

She stood there, internally stumbling through one angry lack of possibilities after another. Her first cigarette fizzled to its filter, tossed aside for another as she stood there on the pointless little island.

Laika glanced at the water, a weird, stupid, impossible thought growing in her head. She wiggled her toes in her crusty shoes and shook her head. Well, I guess I’ll find out if I’m dreaming or not.

She walked forwards into the water, following the downward slope of the sand as the waterline crept up her body. It was cool, but not cold. Soothing almost actually. Cigarette still hanging from her mouth her head disappeared beneath the glasslike surface with nothing but a gentle plop to mark her passing.

Okay, definitely dreaming. She thought to herself, and with good reason. She could breathe perfectly fine. Her walking was slowed as she made her way to where the ocean floor leveled out into a mixture of muck and sand, plumes of dirty water kicked up with every step, but she could breathe with ease. The sounds around her were still muffled as they should have been, and when she tried to speak it gurgled and formed bubbles as was normal. Yet there she was, walking and breathing as if strolling through a park in slow motion.

Glittering streaks of light pierced the depths creating shimmering pillars around her as she walked steadily forward to nowhere in particular. Though there was nothing in the way of fish or crabs or any other marine animals for that matter there was a great deal of flora to admire. Seaweed and other strange plants of varying colours rippled as if caught in the gentlest breeze. Her cigarette, which had gone out by this point, floated away as Laika’s mouth hung slightly open, her anger and fear from before almost drifting away with whatever light tides this strange place experienced.

She could have been wandering for hours, days even, mesmerised as she was by the oceanic wonderland she found herself exploring. All time disappeared, all anxiety dissipated, as if caught within some sort of lilting trance, a siren’s song of scenery.

Laika was almost angry when she found her leisurely stroll abruptly interrupted by a large, solid object. She stepped back, rubbing her forehead where it had thunked against whatever she had walked into. To her great surprise, and sudden joy, it was another door. Alone and in the strangest of places, as usual. It was a little worrying that the phrase “as usual” could now be applied to this situation, but there wasn't much she could do aside from continuing on.

Taking one final glance around the serene wanderlust that had occupied her mind for a now unknowable stretch of time, Laika grasped the handle and made her way inside.


End Part III

Cover Image Credit: wallpapercave.com

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37 Drake Lyrics From 'Scorpion' That Will Make Your Next Instagram Caption Go Double Platinum

Side A makes you want to be single, Side B make you want to be boo'd up.

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We all knew Scorpion was going to be the summer banger we wanted. However, Drake surprised us with two sides of an album and two sides of himself. Mixing rap and R&B; was genius on his part, so why not dedicate 37 of his lyrics to our Instagram captions?

1. "Don't tell me how knew it would be like this all along" — Emotionless

Definitely a "I'm too good" for you vibe.

2. "My mentions are jokes, but they never give me the facts" — Talk Up

This one's for my haters.

3. "I wanna thank God for workin' way harder than Satan" — Elevate

For when you're feeling blessed.

4. "I promise if I'm not dead then I'm dedicated" — March 14

In Drake's story about his son the world knows about now, we get a lyric of true love and dedication

5. "My Mount Rushmore is me with four different expressions" — Survival

6. "Pinky ring 'til I get a wedding ring" — Nonstop

7. "I gotta breathe in real deep when I catch an attitude" — 8 Out of 10

This first line of the song is about to be spread on the gram like a wildfire

8. "Heard all of the talkin', now it's quiet, now it's shush" — Mob Ties

9. "California girls sweeter than pieces of candy" — Sandra's Rose

This is gonna have every girl who has ever stayed in Cali all hot and heavy, watch it.

10. "I think you're changing your mind, starting to see it in your eyes" — Summer Games

Y'all know how these summer games go

11. "Look the new me is really still the real me" — In My Feelings

When you've got to profess that you've changed 200%

12. "Only beggin' that I do is me beggin' your pardon" — Is There More

13. "Shifted your focus, lens lookin' jaded" — Jaded

14. "Back and forth to Italy, my comment section killin' me" — Can't Take a Joke

Necessary for when you've got people hyping you up already

15. "People are only as tough as they phone allows them to be" — Peak

Y'all can't have this one, I'm stealing it

16. "Work all winter, shine all summer" — That's How You Feel

Put in the work so you can flex on 'em, summer 18

17. "Blue faces, I got blue diamonds, blue tint, yeah" — Blue Tint


18. "I stay busy workin' on me" — Elevate

19. "Ten of us, we movin' as one" — Talk Up

The perfect reason to get the largest group picture you've had on your gram

20. "October baby for irony sake, of course" — March 14

This statistically applies to 1/12 of y'all reading this, so take that as you will (we October babies are the best)

21. "She had an attitude in the summer but now she nice again" — Blue Tint

22. "I know you special girl 'cause I know too many" — In My Feelings


23. "Gotta hit the club like you hit them, hit them, hit them angles" — Nice for What

24. "She said 'Do you love me?' I tell her, 'Only partly,' I only love my ____ and my ____ I'm sorry" — God's Plan

If you haven't used this one yet, get to it

25. "But I'm blessed I just checked, hate me never met me in the flesh" — I'm Upset

26. "It's only good in my city because I said so" — 8 Out of 10

Follow this up with a location and shoutout your hometown

27. "My haters either on they way to work or they arrived" — Can't Take a Joke

28. "I always need a glass of wine by sundown" — Final Fantasy

Has Drake ever been more relatable?

29. "It's your f***in' birthday. Happy birthday" — Ratchet Happy Birthday

Let's go get kicked out of an Applebee's

30. "I move through London with the Eurostep" — Nonstop


31. "I stopped askin' myself and I started feelin' myself" — Survival

Mood all summer 18

32. "They keep tryna' get me for my soul" — I'm Upset

33. "I'm tryna see who's there on the other end of the shade" — Emotionless

34. "Only obligation is to tell it straight" — Elevate

35. "It don't matter to me what you say" — Don't Matter to Me


This line from the King of Pop (MJ) will give you chills. R.I.P.

36. "I'm the chosen one, flowers never pick themselves" — Sandra's Rose

37. "Say you'll never ever leave from beside me" — In My Feelings

Couple goals, amirite?

Cover Image Credit:

@champagnepapi / Instagram

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It Is Pointless To Pity The Homeless

Guilt is the silent killer of political action.

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Two summers ago, when I was an intern at The Father McKenna Center in Washington DC, I met Jason, who was homeless. I had just finished closing the shelter's computer lab for the evening, and the attendees of the AA meeting in the shelter's cafeteria had started to say their goodbyes and disperse until next week. As I was leaving to take the subway home, and as he was leaving to walk back to his encampment, wherever it may have been, Jason and I converged with each other at the front door of the shelter, and we introduced ourselves to each other.

Jason had two children, aged four and six, both of whom were protected from him under custody by his former wife. She had made the decision to divorce him because of his drug use, which posed a danger to the couple's children. (Jason did not hesitate to admit to this.) Shortly after the separation from his family, he became homeless. He had a high school degree and some former experience doing construction work. Aged into his mid 30's with minimal employment, Jason had been struggling to find a job for years.

As we walked, he told me about his kids, and how sometimes he hears about them during occasional phone calls with his wife. For a moment, he turned his head to look at me in my eyes, and he quietly told me about how proud he was of his daughters for completing the first and third grades of elementary school.

If you are homeless, it takes an immense amount of courage to make the commitment to go to a homeless shelter. I believe that the one thing that most people struggle with, homeless or not, is the challenge of confronting one's own demons. Jason had demons, luggage, regrets, and so on - I had those too. Jason had first stepped at The Father McKenna Center shortly before I began my internship. As I performed the duties of my internship, Jason and I, together, experienced a great turbulence in our individual missions to confront our demons; and with that turbulence came sobriety. Not relief or improvement, but sobriety. True self-improvement is a year-long commitment, but self-awareness is a skill which can be utilized at any time.

Jason and I spoke several times throughout my internship. One of the last interactions I had with his before I completed my term happened again at the front entrance of the shelter. He told me that after years of searching, he had found the initiative to apply for a job. "Even though she and I needed to go our own ways," he said, "I still want to show my wife that I care about her. We're not married, but I still want to provide for her and the kids. I don't know how they feel about me, but I want to show my daughters that I am still their father, and that I love them."

When I started my internship at the shelter, I genuinely believed that I would come out of it depressed and disillusioned. But I learned to look beyond the misfortune and suffering, and with that perspective, I started to find more and more inspiration in the facets of life by which I had previously felt discouraged and depressed. I have not seen Jason in two summers, but I think about him every day, for strength.

Say, for instance, that you start to feel as though the daily grind of your summer job is starting to become too monotonous. Us undergrads are tirelessly told by our advisors that the best possible use of our time during the summer, outside of college and other than working for pay, is time spent volunteering and building up our resumes. After some online research and phone calls, you break down your volunteering options to three different nonprofit organizations in your area: Your first option is to spend 3-5 hours once a week helping a local community center care for its flower garden, fresh herb greenhouse, and wildlife sanctuary. Your second option is to spend Tuesday and Thursday evenings bathing, petting, and reading storybooks to all the dogs and cats at a nonprofit rescue shelter. Your third option is to spend 5 hours on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at an inner-city homeless shelter and rehabilitation center for men who have been recently released from prison.

This where the conflict begins. Deep inside, you know that volunteering at the men's shelter is, in your opinion, the most valuable kind of work you can do. Human beings require more attention than plants and pets. Humans beings need to be kind to each other, and so, you may want to volunteer at the shelter.

The problem is certainly not that nobody wants to volunteer at homeless shelters. I consider myself an optimist, and I still think that the majority of people living in the United States wish to care for and support each other. The true problem is that even when a good-minded, empathetic, caring person wants to offer their kindness to the homeless, there are layers upon layers of illusions, false impressions, misconceptions, misunderstandings, and (most importantly), miscommunications which prevent them from doing so. What must truly be addressed is not how much attention is being paid to homelessness, but how attention is paid. There are many kinds of layers of illusion; the majority of them are certainly racial illusion. A vast number are economic. Others, however, are emotional. A lot are just flat-out moral as well.

The growing epidemic of homelessness, as an affliction, is the product of political injustice, racist systems, and greed. But the homeless lifestyle itself, however, is not political in nature. Homeless people are not statistics in a study, neither are they variables in a social equation. Homelessness is a daily struggle for a human life, and those who are homeless suffer. They are as emotional and as sentient as the well-off office workers who pelt them with quarters as though they're fountains.

Understanding homelessness is especially hard for people on the polar opposite side of the social/economic spectrum from the homeless. It is somehow harder for a wealthy and educated person to understand homelessness than it is for someone from lower-class origins to do so. As I said before, I genuinely believe that the vast majority of people on this Earth have the moral initiative to help those less fortunate - but this initiative is excessively overridden by the reflexive tendency most people have to compare and juxtapose themselves. This act of reflexive juxtaposition is what scares most people away from homeless shelters.

Call it what you want - "juxtaposition" is not the only word one can use to describe this feeling. Some people might call themselves "overqualified." From a political perspective, some have referred to it as "white guilt." Regardless of what you call it, it is reflexive. Homeless people, just upon sight, are registered with labels and false truths. The visceral, instinctive reaction to a homeless person is "Look forward, walk firm, and don't make eye contact." This is what needs to change.

In western society, people who grow up privileged - with parents, shelter, an education, and relationships - are subconsciously taught, unintentionally encouraged, and silently conditioned by the people around them to treat the homeless with, above all else, pity. The etiquette of reacting to a homeless person suggests something of a "passive melancholy." Like I mentioned before, under this mannerism of avoidant sorrow, homelessness is not a condition of life. It is a political symbol. The stumbling beggar in the subway and the raggedy busker on the street corner are effectively dehumanized by default; as long as they are evidently homeless, their role in the social dynamic of these public places is automatically different from yours and mine. The status of homelessness completely nullifies - no, prevents - a person's worthiness and rightful entitlement to human attribution, and without mercy, they are turned into something which is not human: a figure which is nothing but a representation of itself.

After years of riding the bus and subway, I have become aware of several different categories in which the people around me fit; I see the day laborers, who are categorized by being older men, clad in paint-stained construction pants, functioning in close-knit groups of six or seven. I see the government employees, who are categorized by the loudness of their gazes of exhaustion, directionless and unfixed, garbed in outdated albeit notably well-fitted suits, bland floral blouses, sky-blue button downs, the incredible pant suits, and khakis, and khakis, and khakis. I see the college-aged summertime interns running coffee for politicians who never remember their names, and they, too, are categorized; specifically by their calculated movements, blatantly artificial exteriors, and the endearing aura of simultaneous youthful naivety and capitalistic millennial-themed ambition (they also act like they know where they're going, when really, they don't, but they never stop to ask for directions). I see the mothers, the trust-fund white kids from Gonzaga, the beatniks from Howard, the Reagan-bound luggage-bearing vagabonds, the punks, the academics, the racists, the anarchists, the activists, the drunks, the wandering, the sleeping, and of course, the emblematic tourists in their MAGA hats, graphic tees, and jorts.

What kind of a response is demanded of those who choose to protect the weak? How are the wounded addressed by the healers? How should I talk to someone who suffers? The photographers, the journalists, and the volunteers cannot hope to rile a revolution alone. Neither can the teachers hope to raise a generation freed from toxicity alone, nor can the young politicians on the Hill hope to deliver their country to safety and stability alone. The problem of homelessness can be addressed, as can it be confronted, observed, studied, and journalized. Don't get me wrong, though - this type of action is deeply important: The awareness of a problem creates an opportunity for its solution. But the raising of awareness is not enough. The confrontation of our reality is not enough. To take the first step beyond awareness is to give attention to those who are in need of it; to attend to the weak and the wounded, and to act for their protection and their healing. In the words of the French revolutionary Simone Weil: "Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity."


Song suggestion: LCD Soundsystem - American Dream

Cover Image Credit:

Paul J. RIchards/Getty Images

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