Dylan Ashcroft

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Trained Thoughts
6/11/2017 1:22pm

It's taken me this long to start to process it. I slept for the past two days straight. Or at least I just lay in bed. Processing.

When Mr. Fiddlesticks took the stage at @Empress Jingle's Trained Thought recital I almost barfed. I definitely felt ill and wanted to leave, but felt paralyzed. I couldn't take my eyes off the stage.

"Dick Sledsfit" turned out to be, of course, just a stage name. We'd known him on campus as Mr. Fiddlesticks, and the research done by @Pernish McTavish confirmed it. He'd been a teacher at Psyhigh a long time ago (and not a very good one), but then was seriously messed up by something that happened to him in Antarctica, and kind of disappeared.

But on Friday he told us what happened. Through his performance. And though I say told "us," I think it's more accurate to say he told "me."

His staging was truly amazing. As his thoughts unfurled you really did forget you were watching a stage--instead, we were wrapped into a series of scenes like VR worlds. His time alone, wandering in India. His almost-recovery in Canada, and meeting the love of is life. Then losing the love of his life following the loss of control of his incredibly off-the-scale powers (as taught to him by his benefactors in the cave in Antarctica), culminating in the well-known "Wild Night in Winnipeg."

{I'm not sure there'd ever been an official explanation for the "Wild Night in Winnipeg" before, and while no one was injured, the warping of the skyline and architecture is still evident today.}

It was in the aftermath of that incident that I was conceived.

Through the combination of his extreme loneliness and incredible powers, he imagined me. And my parents, and grandparents, and great-grand parents--everything he needed to create me, the child he never had, never could have... the "fresh start" for him to live through. The living embodiment of his thoughts, with a built-in backstory so that I would never suspect.

And he never intended for me to suspect, but through the years he couldn't help but wonder about me, and then keep track of me from a distance, then keep track of me first hand, creeping around the school.

And now we've met. Almost. I guess he felt he could only tell me all this on stage, as performance, instead of one-to-one to my face. But I guess I understand that. I mean, if he looked me in the eye and told me this story... what would happen? Do I have enough of a life of my own after all these years that I could just "handle" it? Or, is there some level of creator/creation relations (especially when it comes to Trained Thoughts) that means I would wink out of existence if we both truly faced the facts?

But I seem to still be here, and solid. Does it make a difference if I'm just an idea that someone thought of--as long as I have my own free will? How is that different from being any body else? From being you? Or from being X139, the star of my own trained thoughts?

Like I said, I'm still processing. And will likely be processing for some time to come.

Add a journal entry to Trained Thoughts

Trained Thoughts
6/7/2017 9:10am

As much as I like to rip on them, I suppose I should turn up for the @Empress Jingles show this Friday. I don't want my criticism to just sound like sour grapes, so I should see exactly what passes for "professional" Thought Training here and now at Psyhigh. But I expect it to be filled with all the crowd pleasing tropes audiences are trained to expect, which has less and less to do with sincere art.

But for some reason this Dick Sledsfit intrigues me. Everybody's heard about the Disembodied Wonder Heads of Saturn--there's usually a chapter on them in every history of Thought Training you pick up--and if he really did play for them, well, it doesn't really get any bigger than that. Even being in their presence, in their icy palace on Enceladus, is a freak-out that would break most people's minds. Their thoughts are supposedly so powerful that local reality breaks down around them entirely. So it takes a lot to impress them.

Meanwhile, my own act just keeps getting better everyday. X139 has really stepped up in terms of leading the other thoughts and getting the best out of them. The other morning I woke up and they were already at it, slowly turning color and merging in and out of one another--a routine that X139 had apparently composed itself. It's kind of amazing just to sit back and watch them create themselves.

Trained Thoughts
4/25/2017 1:16pm

My thoughts have been getting stronger and more well defined each day. We've been doing little impromptu routines in the cafeteria and on the bus and they've been performing well. Of course it's not the same pressure as being on the "big stage," and the close-up street busking can get a little David Blaine, but it's still good practice.

The best part is that Mr. Fiddlesticks has been laying low. Probably too much to hope for that he's gone for good, but haven't seen his creepy mug around for awhile.

And speaking of creeps, I'd suggest everybody keep their distance from that @Empress Jingles in her trailer in the woods. Those kind of "professional" trainers are inevitably washed-up hyperactive show biz moms, who probably drove their own daughters literally INSANE forcing them into a life of Thought Training. It's grueling enough without some psychotic stage mother pushing you over the edge. Maybe she should hook up with Mr. Fiddlesticks. Ewwwwww.

Trained Thoughts
3/28/2017 3:50pm

I found a private practice space, and I don't want to say where it is because the whole point is to avoid Mr. Fiddlesticks and I can't let him discover it. My thoughts had terrific stage fright after he started creeping around, but they're getting back into shape now that we found a private place to train. I made a tiny weight set out of bottle caps and plaster of paris, and today they used them on the tightrope, hanging one off of each arm as they practiced pirouettes while holding the little cocktail parasols.

One thought--let's call it X139--has been doing phenomenally well. It's a natural, and it anticipates exactly what I'm after. Sometimes it seems to know what to do even before I do. It's also a natural leader, and I feel the whole team is benefiting from it. Maybe the fear that Mr. Fiddlesticks instilled is giving them focus? It's such a relief. I was worried this whole batch of thoughts might have been ruined, after the accident.

But a lot of this mental training is on me. What do I do if Mr. Fiddlesticks shows up at my next performance? I can't just call it off and walk off stage again. And my reports to the administration about a psychic restraining order have gone unanswered except that they're "looking into it." Apparently "funny looks" and "bad vibes" aren't enough to get somebody 86'd even at Psyhigh.

Trained Thoughts
3/9/2017 8:12pm

Keeping your thoughts from misbehaving in public is a very admirable goal, and it's a shame how few people take the time to do so. Even just proper grooming--keeping their nails short, ear hairs trimmed--all of these practices will help set you on your way, @Pernish McTavish.

But bringing your thoughts up to a level where they can perform in public is a whole different kettle of fish. Hours and hours of concentrated practice for months and months on end are required--which makes psychic hecklers like Mr. Fiddlesticks all the more disgusting.

I've seen him around town since he ruined my act. At the bookstore, the coffee shop, in the back of the bus... he's wearing a hat now, with a big black brim, his beady eyes and gigantic eyebrows poking out. When he's around my thoughts are completely afraid to come out. And they wet themselves. It's really messing up rehearsal schedule, because my thoughts really need to be "on" all the time.

Trained Thoughts
2/26/2017 5:48pm

The first public performance of my trained thoughts didn't go so well. Ok it was a disaster. Even though it was a little cold out that wasn't the problem, because I had warmed my thoughts up fully before we started our routine.

It started up fine, and a small crowd gathered pretty quickly and I could tell they were getting into it, ooooing and ahhhhing and giving little claps as my thoughts pirouetted around the little carpet I had spread on the sidewalk.

But then that old man Mr. Fiddlesticks showed up.

You know that creepy old guy who hangs around on campus? What is he even doing here? Anyway he got right up in the front row and started staring down my thoughts with his beady eyes and gigantic eyebrows and it freaked them out and that's when it all went to crap. And yes one did get hit by a car and likely won't perform again.

Mr. Fiddlesticks is a nuisance and I've complained about him formally to the administration. In my opinion he is a danger. Obviously.

Trained Thoughts
2/22/2017 10:05pm

I've been training my thoughts for six months, and I think they're just about ready to perform in public. Nine thoughts. Not ALL my thoughts. That would be ridiculous.

When I was in grade school I remember seeing a street performer at the 4th of July parade. She had a team of six thoughts, and they did a tumbling routine on a little blue carpet. I was mesmerized. Who knew thoughts could be so well defined, so limber, so articulate? A small crowd cheered when they ended their routine with a triple tumble flush and held their position in the air for 30 seconds. The crowd kept cheering and cheering. It was at that moment I knew it was something I wanted to do.

I saved up enough money to buy a starter pack, and worked those thoughts till they were worn out. I went through a number of different store-bought sets till I was finally able to catch my own in the wild. They're a lot tougher, but I continued to practice after school and on weekends, and sometimes during classes too till I got caught one too many times.

But my most recent thoughts are really coming along nicely. You may see me out in front of the library pretty soon!