Paper Trailing


I have been out for a while. To anyone who keeps up with my stuff, sorry for the delay. The poem is below in box quotes, if you’d like to skip to it. Not counting the “and now/and then” lines as stanzas, the fourth stanza is iambic trimeter, the ninth is iambic tetrameter, the fifteenth is iambic pentameter and the last is iambic octameter. Everything else is freeverse. After years of work, I am close to completing a long-term project of mine, and I have put most of my effort on that.

Though I did not have the time to see through something new, I could have put something old up here pretty easily. I just had no confidence looking back. Everything I did before either bored or embarrassed me. Had years of working at my writing only gotten me this far? The thought was toxic and smog-thick, pervasively entering with each drag of breath and refusing to leave.

The truth is that I have been a bit foolish. I let my expectations override the good in my reality. I got caught up in rejected job applications, circling endlessly over past mistakes for something that set me critically backward. I got caught up in thinking that I had to live to my exact expectations; anything less was accepting myself as a failure.

So I wrote a poem to match all the odd feeling of my post-grad pity party, but felt too scared to publish that. I worried that employers would look down it as disrespectful, as unconfident, as disparaging the whole process. The thought of projecting any failure or negativity seemed disgusting, when friends’ Facebook posts brimmed up with success. So I thought about staying quiet until it was time to broadcast some of the success I have had.

But I loathe that. I loathe the fact that I have spoken to so many in the same “class of 2015 rut,” but still feel alone. I loathe drafting a status for every win and concealing every loss so that when someone looks at me they’ll see the false measurement I wanted to be. I would rather own my mistakes than run from them. I would rather be and project the whole me – the me that accidentally hurts friends and family, the me that misses opportunities, the me that really exists – than the one smiling and accepting degrees in pretty pictures. I would like to have the confidence to stop selecting the truths I give to strangers.

I wrote this poem to take a step in that direction by expressing how dreadful the application process felt at times. I wrote this poem to confess that my cover letters were not up to snuff. I wrote this poem to say that I did not stack my resume up to the sky. I wrote this poem to say that all this slipping up can really burn me up. I wrote this poem to say that sometimes I don’t feel happy, brilliant, or successful, and most of the time that’s okay.

Hello, Success
I have been paper trailing you

I wrote for so long last weekend
My fingers fell into puddles of ink

Slick from the sick spit of grey matters
These hands could not grip the knob
And rip open a single door

The paper trails right off
toward the end I wrote.
Applied these hands too late

And now…

Sitting pretty on my only easy semester
My friends and siblings say its fine
We breeze by like it’s summertime

Hunched hard over the keyboard
These hands callous up from clasping at pavement
Sitting pretty on my only easy semester

Straining eyes shaky over my monitor
This mouth is all out of “Not Selected” sighs
My friends and siblings say its fine

Chowing down old accolades, this stomach grumbles.
The awards mean nothing when seeking the next thing.
We breeze by like it’s summertime

The paper trails on after ends
past friends, past bends, past days – I chase
the back of lines to sort me straight.
My mess can end where work begins.

And then…

Did I write I’d sell my soul
on the back of the cover letter?
Did I sign it in like an autograph?

Did I purge Facebook of all the follies?
Did I trace the edges of my fingernails
with talons and teeth to sweep the dirt clean?

Do I still look pretty lined up next to
all the inky achievements of the other applicants?
When you drench your eyes in the black stream, can you still see me?

Could you shoot me an email letting me know the lecture I missed?
Could you send me the sign-up sheet for the next thing I need?
Could you single out the second I could have stepped up?

This inbox is empty
These eyes are hungry
I’d rather you scorn me
then leave me empty of Calibri black ink

I run this paper trail in day and dream.
My cycle spins on silent wheels and tracks.
No mouths, just eyes all peeling even keels.
So I pretend my love of self lasts past
rejection that repeats in muted blinks.

And Now…

Reality is bliss of endless steam hiss modernity,
the up and downs of pounding pistons plow on,
the howl of heat planted me on migraine cushions.

It’s the sound of necks and knuckles cutting cracks
in sidewalks along chalk lines that’s busted my mind wide open
and filled it full with fantasies of fury I hiss, pound, howl loose.

Reality is bliss with parents, friends, the sun’s brilliance,
All bits of light to photosynthesize sweet smelling flowers
But reality stopped visiting

If it did it’d need a shovel
To exhume me out of this downer shit
It’d need acid spit to burn iron bars

Where is my reflection now? I need to stare it down and demand an answer.
Where is my acceptance now? I need to cut out oddities I can’t make fit me.
Where is my reality now? I need the bliss until sweets make me sick.

The paper trails have sparked, burn me up with empty ink “oh-wells!”
I want so bad to be well liked, what people should I please? Oh please!
I feel so sick at settling, still I spy both sky and earth as short.
Mismeasured this existence, fiery forms so burnt me out
and out of ash I’ll rise again and tighter clasp on paper trails.

And then…

~Austin R Ryan

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Facebook Sticker Store Tier List


Facebook is not a social media site, it is a battlefield. Socialization is not a fun diversion, it is a competition that you must win at every stage of your life until you are number one, the Caesar Augustus etching the name of your foes onto the proscription list. Perhaps you feel frightened to stride straight into the forum and slap down the stickers that will rile up your rowdy allies into seating you in the Senate. Well no worries friend, I am here to guide you with a comprehensive Facebook sticker/emoji set tier list! All I ask is that when you are on the very tip top of the ladder you look back down to me and say, “yes you did me a mighty kindness, I will pull your name from the list silently in the night even if you have wronged my allies.”

How does this list work? I have split all the emoji sets I could find into 6 tiers, the top tiers appearing first and the worst tiers appearing last. This way the tiers go from high as heaven to low as hell. Where will you place yourself? The ranking itself is a strict science! I consult the top Meme Scientists about my lists and they all say my lists are A-Okay. Do not ask me for the contact information of the Meme Scientists or I will ban you.

The ranking works off of three primary categories: depth of responses, art style, and true meme spirit. Depth of responses indicates how many emotions and situations the sticker set can cover. It is very important that you are ready for absolutely anything anyone can throw at you, so the sticker sets must have much depth as to speak on nearly every worldly issue and maybe some otherworldly ones too. Art style simply alludes to how striking, unique, and well-crafted the art of the stickers are. True meme spirit truly escapes all human touch. One cannot simply speak of it or even think of it. True meme spirit comes when memes master propriety with divinity, when stickers walk the path but leave no footsteps, when the emojis clap but stir not a sound, when they do all with dankness.

This list cannot explain life’s mysteries, like why it is called the Facebook Sticker Store when everything in it is free? Why doesn’t the Sticker Store have a search function? Why do the sticker sets seem completely randomly sorted? This list may not answer these questions, but it will guide you straight to the top.

God of Memes Tier:
Power Rangers, Sports Talk, Sinister Oyster, Business Fish, HamCat, MiM+, Tuzki+


Mememaster General Tier:

Text Talk, MiM, Hamilton, Regular Show, Bun, Pusheen, Mr. Baldy & Friends, Cece, The Dam Keeper, Banana, Skullington, Tuzki, Blue Cat, NuaNia , Beast, Oakley, Chumbak, Biscuit, Unchi & Rollie, Mikey

Chase the Horizon to Danker Memes Tier:
Napoli, Hatch, Baach, Dia de los Muertoons, Yes We Code, Boo and Buddy, Dance Party, Masked Wrestler Q, Bee & Pupppycat, Eagle & Snake, Say Thanks, Sugar Cubs, Yuttari Dragon, Hello Kitty, Mockingjay Part 1, Kinokoko, Yarukizero, Piyomaru, The Expendables 3, Prickly Pear, Stella Supernova, U.S. Soccer, Dweores, Facebook Foxes, Gumball, Mostropi, Bigs and Yeti, Anooki, Pandadog & Friends, Despicable Me 2

MehMeh Tier:
Adventure Time, Meep, Super Tiny, Friendship, Love is in the Air and other emotion based sets, The Pixar Pack, Hacker Girl, Hacker Boy, Hacker anything else, Naughty Foods, Carnival, Meow Town, Rose, Tigerbell, Nyanchi, Paul Frank, First Mate, Happy Go Lucky, Soccer!, Ref, Opi, Sunny Eggy,Ya-Ya, Free Birds, Koko, Snoopy’s Moods, Cut the Rope, Kukuxumusu, Candy Crush, Plum

Memehell Tier:
Tanuki, Lunar New Year, Mugsy In Love, Biscuit in Love, Taz, Shaun the Sheep, Snoopy’s Harvest, Mango, Home for the Holidays, Wide Eyes, Part Fowls, Momo, Soccer Scarves, Ruby, On the Move, Pride, Cutie Pets, LEGO Minifigures, Likes, Fat Rabbit Farm,

Father, Forgive Them, For They Do Not Know Not What They Are Memeing Tier:
Year of the Horse, Finch, Bigli Migli, 1600 Pandas Tour 1 and 2, Waddles Winter, The Boxtrolls, Heromals, Peabody & Sherman

Lets get started! (Via a pretty interesting examination of the emoji from Rhizome</a )
Lets get started! (Via a pretty interesting examination of the emoji from Rhizome)

Further Explanation:

God of Memes Tier:

Sports Talk:
Imagine the number one supreme sports fan, the True Sports. For me this being is loud like the trumpets at a thousand jazz festivals yet speaking in a strange ancient language of furious airhorns and Darude Sandstorm and Alternative Rock and Gary Glitter and arcane gesticulation. This being has much flesh, seas of very shaky flesh, but absolutely no shirt for the colors and numbers of the being’s most admired sportsmen must adorn its multitudinous form. The true sports fan knows no other team as rival for all teams other than the home team cause this being great rage. Its mighty jowls quake, emitting the blast of airhorns like so many blasts of bees and the spray of nacho cheese like fiery geisers and bits of chips like molten rock at the mention of any team aside the one it favors.

The fan is the alpha and the omega, the yeller of praise and the thrower of batteries, the author of defenses and death threats, the starter of parades and riots. Some may call it male or female, but I believe it genderless with only the team’s decal brandishing the light of suns, the light and heat that gives galaxies life, where gentalia would be. Can you picture the Sports, the True Sports? The True Sports uses Sports Talk for sure. It loves this emoji set, and so do I. It covers a lot of bases and emotions and has a pleasant art style! The True Sports coddles this emoji set as it were a child, for it sees in the images the faint traces of itself, so I too adore it.

Power Rangers:
This emoji set has everything you could want. It covers the basic emotions with ease, it reaches out to the more complex topics and responses too. Power Rangers will give you an answer to any question or comment a friend can dish out so that ultimately you can triumph over them in conversation as the Power Rangers triumph over evildoers. The art in the set is pretty nice too and comes together in a style that surprisingly pleases the eye and captures the goofiness that a Power Ranger based emoji set should have. Besides all that, the Make My Monsters Grow emoji is the unstoppable hero facebook deserves and needs.

MiM+, Tuzki+:
I do not understand how the hell a designer sorts emojis and what limitations they face, but clearly the will of heaven mandates that some sets must be divided. When most sets divide it’s to create a themed “X in love” kind of thing that just looks plain awful. How many different saccharine, heart based emojis do you need? MiM and Tuzki do not phone in their extra emojis as they easily could, they go the extra mile to make every set great. Any MiM and Tuzki set can stand on its own, but if you took them all together you’d be set to meme your friends freshly straight up to your deathbed. Once there, your friends would remember how heartily you memed and come to your funeral and weep copiously. Your funeral would have much screaming and your ancestors would be very proud.

Sinister Oyster, Business Fish, Ham Cat:
These three all forge unique sets of emojis that can speak to most situations that you would need to reply to. They have wonky and fun art styles that will impress your friends into saying, “wow I bet this friend of mine reads the New Yorker sometimes and does not spend their entire weekend on children’s cartoon based playbuzz quizzes” silently to themselves as they communicate to you.

Mememaster General Tier:

Text Talk:
When I first saw Text Talk my mind flooded with violent visions of high school. Then I started to use Text Talk, and it actually covers most bases you’d need in facebook conversations. What’s even better, it embraces what it is with just a tiny touch of irony, overdoing everything with huge bubble letters and polka dots and strange nearly neon colors that occur more in Mountain Dew factories than nature. Overall it’s pretty damn fantastic because it captures the spirit behind the stereotypical valley girl who gleefully abuses texting abbreviations until indeed the neon and the polka dots stick to her words. This girl does not really exist, we have manufactured her as a lesson to strike fear into those who overmeme, and to limit humanity’s hubris so that memes may take our languages and senses but never our souls.

Cece:
What a fun set this one is! Cece has much life and spirit painted with an interesting and fun art style. Cece can apply to many interactions that you may need to respond to. If perhaps you work in a casual office environment you can respond to your boss using a Cece sticker and your boss will say, “What a spark plug it is that works here! They have much spunk and this is good for our profits, I will give them many promotions so they will hopefully stay here.” If your work environment is perhaps more formal, do not send emojis to your boss unless maybe it is businessfish.

Banana:
This fun and pleasant gorilla will impress many of your friends. However it may offend some of your friends that have been mauled by wild, rampaging gorillas that have escaped from the zoo so please be considerate! I am sick of these phantom pains…

Bun:
A fun and bouncy bunny that makes many ugly faces. The scrunchy bunny is the best. The scrunchy bunny is too good. It describes much of the strange twisting awkwardness found in every corner of modern systems doing their best to manage hordes of very frustrated people. No other bun can live up to the scrunchy bun so why bother to do anything with this emoji set than spam the scrunchy bun?

Behold the glory!
Scrunchy bun

Mr. Baldy:
I like Mr. Baldy’s strange, fleshy head and the weird discolored monsters that haunt him in the merriest of ways. Good art, good depth of responses, strong emoji set all around!

The Dam Keeper:
What this emoji set lacks in depth of responses it makes up for in unique and interesting art style. No emoji set is quite like this one. However, it is not clear why it is called the dam keeper. There are no images of dams. What kind of place makes a pig in charge of a dam? Would this not be the job of a beaver? Apparently a short film inspired these images but knowing this does not ease the burden on my mind. Why do we have emoji sets based on short, critically acclaimed, animated films? Have we gone too far? These questions plague my dreams.

MiM and Tuzki:
What excellent memeing can be done just with these two sets! Tuzki and Mim contain truly fun moving images to impress your friends and make them say such things as “wow” and “tubular” and “haha yes I do find this quite funny enough to make me laugh out loud.” The original sets alone lack the depth of responses to carry you through literally every foreseeable interaction. If you lust to meme like a heavenly being than you must incorporate their additional sets as well.

Blue Cat:
Truly one of the most baffling image sets on the internet. Does this belong in meme hell or meme heaven? The art is basic and the eyes are soulless, but at times it is so indulgent in glossy and overdone effects that it seems a poignant parody of itself. Besides that it has so much raw content that you could probably respond to damn near anything with just the one image set. Ultimately Blue Cat is strange and may give you sleepless nights, but if you harness its potentially maligned energies you may be able to wreak havoc on those around you.

Pusheen:
The classic meme cat bounces jubilantly up and down on Facebook. It shares with you its mirthful, pudgy body. Use that body to express emotion to your friends, but just remember that while this meme has aged well, it is aged and will surprise few people.

Pusheen (via @pusheen)
Pusheen (via @pusheen)

Chase the Horizon to Danker Memes Tier:

Masked Wrestler Q:
it pains me to put the masked wrestler so low, for there are few that use this set more than I. However I have to admit that it lacks the raw content, the sheer number of relevant emojis to set you up or success in every interaction. At times this emoji set will leave you woefully undermanned, but the emotions it can express it expresses very well and with the vigor of a masked wrestler.

Yes We Code:
One of the few sets to really rock the vintage signage style to full effect. It can answer most of your friends’ responses in a creative and clever way, very solid overall though perhaps not explosive enough to wow anyone. Perhaps if you travel heavily in computer science and web design circles this image set will prove very relevant to your life and become more than memes, but in fact a fast friend for you.

Say Thanks:
If you are looking for emojis to express your love for hallmark card style greetings then this is the set for you. Even though the style is super corny and sometimes a bit too goofy, I really gotta give it to this set. It thought of just about every way to say thank you and put them all into an emoji set. Godspeed you thankful bastards!

Boo and Buddy:
This lil’ pup nearly ended up in meme hell, but as I employed these small poofy animals in daily conversation I truly was wowed by its utility. The set covers most of your emotional bases, and does so with the flippant irony that can be read into this small fluffy animal with squiggly lines drawn on its face.

U.S. Soccer:
A surprisingly complete set of emojis. It will do you well and stand loyally by you but it may not impress your associates. It is a fine set, but a simple set. Ultimately Sport Talk outshines it, but if you reject any Sport but European Ball Kick then maybe this is the set for you. I, for one, will stick with Sport Talk since it includes American Diamond Ball Toss, Ice Stick Combat, Advanced Statistics Wood Bat Ball Hit and even Old Man Pebble Strike.

Napoli, Hatch, Baach, etc:
These kind of emojis have solid art styles that distinguish them and bring out the fun expressions of the animals that should represent the equally fun expressions behind the words you type. They have a pretty wide range of emotions and events. Overall, they are fine, but sets like Hamilton, Business Fish and Hamcat do the same but with more distinct art styles that bring such fun to your expressions that your friends may even feel disappointed when speaking with you in real life for you lack the strong body language of business fish.

Dance Party:
I would put this in the MehMeh tier because there’s only so much these animated dances can express, but I really like the headbang one and the twerk one.

(Party all night with these funky dancers! Courtesy of the  FB stickers blog)
Party all night with these funky dancers! (Courtesy of the FB stickers blog)

MehMeh Tier:

Adventure Time:
I too love and worship the vibrant colors of the TV as it plays this my favorite cartoon show. However, these emojis have not the zest and personality of their original medium. Sure, your friends will laugh heartily when you drop that weird Lemongrab emoji, and how they might delight in seeing the Jake-Finn fist pound, but the static pictures of the cast come with few words. This set alone will not carry you through the treacherous waters of Facebook socializing.

Hacker whatever:
If you talk with a lot of very old people on facebook they may find these emojis very impressive, but then they will definitely ask you for help closing internet explorer. Then what will you do? Talk your way out of it with hacker girl stickers? Fat chance.

The Pixar Pack:
You tried, Pixar, but did you really try hard? Yes these are your characters but they do little as to relate themselves to my emotion. How am I supposed to express the raw fury that wells up inside me when something tiny goes wrong during my interaction with a piece of technology or when I face one of the many bureaucracies that subtly rule my existence? I have no room to truly feel if I use this set of stickers and so I must cast them aside. Good job on the movies though! Those are great.

Friendship and other emotion based sets:
Facebook amalgamates the stickers that express similar things like love or friendship in form of one great sticker conglomerate. I won’t deny it; you will command an almost sickening mastery over certain narrow situations with these stickers. However if you use only the love set or the friendship set you’ll end up unprepared for expressing something as simple as feeling hungry for eating too little and then immediately after feeling bloated for eating too much. If you use many of them in tandem, as to cover all your bases, you will be like the person bringing grocery store brownies to the party. Ultimately everyone’s fine with it, but something you made yourself has more heart.

Soccer!:
These stickers have a pretty rad and unique art style. They look like logos come to life to duel the players themselves in European Ball Kick. Perhaps when they win the big European Ball Kick against a team of the best Ball Kickers from all of the world’s countries we will learn their true motivations. Until then, no doubt their goals will remain murky to us. Regardless of all that, these stickers can only help you express ways in which you kick the European Checker Ball so it’s only alright.

Memehell Tier:

Tanuki, no thank you! (Courtesy of Sticker Social.)
Tanuki, no thank you! (Courtesy of Sticker Social.)

Tanuki:
Get this weaboo nonsense out of my face.

Soccer Scarves:
The emojis don’t look that bad, and I like how raucous the jumping faces of these European Ball Kick fans look. However, these scarves can’t possibly serve that much purpose. Why would you need a visual representation of a howling, scarf wielding fan from every country with a world cup team? This seems copious.

Shaun the Sheep:
We all like Wallace and Gromit and whatever Claymation masterpieces the directors of it make, but let’s not push it. This is too much. This is decadent and we do not need it. Even if we did need it, the jarring images of this emoji set do no honor to Shaun the Sheep.

Lunar New Year:
The art is pretty cool, and it acknowledged the proper zodiac animal. Yet, I cannot imagine that this emoji set has much use outside of actually talking about the Lunar New Year. If you find yourself having many conversations over the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival or zodiac signs than maybe this is for you. Otherwise there are probably better emoji sets out there.

Mugsy in love, Biscuit in love:
Biscuit and Mugsy did not need these extra emoji sets, the originals were fine. These emojis will not shame your family, but your friends may reasonably ask you why you need to have 15 different dog emojis to express romantic inclination and will you honestly have a proper response ready for them, outside of spamming scrunchy bun?

Father, Forgive Them, For They Do Not Know Not What They Are Memeing Tier:

The Boxtrolls:
I do not know what these disgusting mammals are supposed to be. I do not understand them and I do not like them. Please do not send them to your friends.

Year of the Horse:
What the hell are you doing still using this? Do you want bad fortune to come upon your house and hearth? Do not tempt fate, it is a wily snake and the grass and you cannot will it into your basket. Switch to a goat/sheep related emoji set before it is too late for you.

1600 Pandas Tour 2:
I do not think that the first set could do much to justify the second. These stickers try to profit off of the ageless panda-monium sweeping the world, but staring into the bizarrely pupil-less eyes of these strange sticker, you can see they have no soul. They lack any sort of interesting design or expression. Their shaky borders make it seem like they could vibrate out of existence at any moment. Judging by their soulless eyes, they would take your humanity with them as they disappeared.

Finch:
This set looks like those smiley advertisements on old flashplayer websites with amusing animated shorts. When I accidentally moused over those ads they said “HELLO???” in a loud and jarring way. Those ads frustrated me to no end and so does Finch. At best this set is a poor man’s Meep and everything in the sticker store is free, so don’t settle.

Bigli Migli:
What a confounding thing Bigli Migli is. Why does every emoji relate to love? Why do none of them have mouths, making them look bland and expressionless? Why are their bodies and heads lumpy, shapeless white forms? Who named these things Bigli and Migli? You will find none of these answers starting into the empty face of Bigli Migli. You will only find suffering, very bland and quiet suffering.

Peabody & Sherman:
This emoji set appears next to the idiomatic dictionary’s definition of “phoning it in.”

[If it isn’t clear by now, this article is satire. These rankings are mostly arbitrary, written in jest, and whatever stickers you use are probably fine. Social media is not a battlefield where the most epic of memers triumph. At least not yet…

Happy April Fool’s Day!
~Austin R Ryan]