Hi all! I’m Mae, and this is my blog! So far, I use it for short fiction and analytical/philosophical essays!
I’ll probably post some fun links here when I have a minute, but for now, this description section is just here because the site would look weird without it!

Backpack Inventory - November 2023

So, I was actually planning on writing a different post this month, and while that post is actually nearly done, I suddenly felt the urge to copy my friend Brin and write out an inventory of my backpack, since I’ve just upgraded to a backpack from a very large purse (which contained mostly the same things, but much more poorly-organised, and was much more work to carry). Also, I felt that it would be unsafe to post the other post without another few revisions.

My backpack

So, without further ado, Mae’s backpack inventory:

Current Contents

  • Main Pocket
    • Back Pouch
      • Laptop
    • Front Zipper Pouch
      • Phone charging cable (magnetic)
      • USB wall charger
    • Front Left Pouch
      • Steamdeck
      • Steamdeck charger
      • Steamdeck case (on Steamdeck; DBrand Killswitch)
    • Front Right Pouch
      • USB charging bank (Anker PowerCore II Slim 10000)
    • Main Body
      • Inner Right Pouch (empty)
      • Inner Left Pouch (empty)
      • Makeup wipes (honestly just whatever’s cheapest)
      • Umbrella (Fulton Tiny 2)
      • Resealable Plastic Bag (full of tea)
        • Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat
        • Traditional Medicinals Breathe Easy
        • Peppermint tea
        • A rotating cast of decaf/herbal teas
      • Shelf Organiser (you heard me)
        • Compartment 1
          • Flipper Zero
          • Spray bottle (empty)
          • Electric razor (Philips OneBlade)
          • Extra electric razor heads
          • Comb
          • Toothbrush
          • Hair pick
          • Tampons
          • Menstrual pads
          • Alcohol spray
        • Compartment 2
          • Pill bottle (estradiol)
          • Pill bottle (progesterone)
            • Safety pin
          • Pill Bottle (misc)
            • Acidophilus
            • L-Theanine
            • Vitamin C
            • Melatonin
            • Ibuprofen
          • Nasal spray (for persistent throat infection)
          • Eye drops
          • Eye drops (antihistamine)
          • Allergy relief pills
          • Inhaler (for seasonal asthma; expired)
          • Antibacterial cream (Polysporin)
          • Hemp skin cream
        • Compartment 3
          • Charger for electric razor
          • USB-A to USB-C male-to-male cable (long)
          • USB-A to USB-C male-to-male cable (short)
          • USB-C to USB-C male-to-male cable (short)
          • USB-C to USB-C male-to-male cable (short)
          • USB-A to Mini-USB male-to-male cable (for charging power bank)
          • USB-C hub (USB-A, USB-A, DisplayPort, Ethernet)
          • Portable SSD (512GB, USB-C; Pluggable enclosure; Micron Crucial P5 M.2 2280 drive)
          • Resealable plastic bag
            • USB-A to USB-C female-to-male converter
            • USB-C to USB-C female-to-male converter
            • USB-C to USB-C male-to-male converter
            • USB-C to USB-C female-to-female converter
            • USB-A to USB-C male-to-female converter
            • USB-A to USB-C male-to-female converter
            • Magnetic cable ends (USB-C, Mini-USB, Lightning)
        • Compartment 4
          • Naloxone kit
        • Compartment 5
          • Deodorant (Native)
          • Cough drops (Ricola)
          • Makeup wipes (~1 left, probably somewhat dried-out)
          • Spare organiser dividers
  • Front Pocket
    • Front Pouch
      • Mint (Tic Tacs)
      • Nail kit
      • Cloth Pouch
        • Adhesive bandages
        • Alcohol swabs
      • Tiny notepad
      • Metal dice (complete roleplaying set, except with 6 extra d6s, from a very nice Etsy seller - studiogaja - who let me buy a bunch of extra d6s they didn’t previously offer)
    • Back Pouch
      • Lip Balm (made by a friend)
      • Laptop charger
      • Business card holder (got it off Aliexpress)
    • Main Body
      • Naloxone Kit Container
        • Stud earrings container
        • Dangle earrings container
        • Stick foundation (Maybelline Fit Me 110)
        • Lipstick (Revlon 777)
        • Lipstick (Nyx Shout Loud 20)
        • Concealer (I don’t remember and the branding has worn off)
        • Black liquid lipstick (Milani 13)
        • Makeup primer (Nyx Pore Filler 01)
        • Eyeshadow (Clinique 605)
        • Resealable bag of q-tips
        • Lip Gloss (Smashbox Gloss Angeles Extra Shine)
        • Makeup setting spray (Nyx Radiant Finish)
        • Sim tool
      • Keyring
        • Keys
        • Bottle opener
      • Pinephone with keyboard attachment
  • Back Pocket
    • E-reader (Kobo Touch)
  • Right Side Pocket
    • Varies:
      • Usually my mask, if I’m not wearing it
      • Sometimes a water bottle
      • Maybe a deck of tarot or TCG cards
      • Sometimes my stenography keyboard
      • Frequently my non-noise-isolating earbuds (I prefer the older-style Happy Plugs)
  • Left Side Pocket
    • Purse
      • Main front pocket
        • Small everyday carry knife (Gerber LST)
        • Larger knife, my favourite (Gerber FlatIron)
        • Spare KN95 mask
        • Earbuds (noise isolating)
        • Earplugs (Vibes)
        • Lockpicks (H&H Folding Lockpick Set Multitool)
        • Pressurized Inkpen (Fischer Space Pen)
      • Small front pocket
        • Card holder (Duxtio RFID-blocking wallet)
        • Ubikey 5 NFC (hardware authentication key)
        • Change (sometimes)
      • Back Pocket
        • Small makeup mirror
        • Tinted lip balm (Burt’s Bees)
        • Tinted lip balm (unknown brand, strawberry flavoured)
        • Mascara (Lise Watier Eye Opening Vegan Mascara)
        • Lipstick (Revlon 775)
        • Thin eyeliner (Nyx That’s The Point 07)
        • Thick eyeliner (Nyx That’s The Point 01)
        • Oil perfume (home-made)
        • Oil perfume (random sampler, Michel Germain Sugar & Spice)


There are a few things I’ve been planning on adding to my bag for some time, but have yet obtained and included.

  • Additional resealable bags, for miscellaneous purposes
  • A hard case for my stenography keyboard (requires that I find one well-suited to it)
  • Paper
  • Tape
  • Black felt-tip marker
  • Two-use bus cards (in case someone else needs one) (requires me to obtain some - I don’t think they sell them for my local bus service, although they do exist for it)
  • Masks (in case someone else needs one)
  • Probably a lot of the health stuff that’s in Brin’s utility belt: my medical supplies are rather lackluster

The Author Is Always Dead

This article was originally drafted and shared on October 4, 2020. It has been uploaded here due to the inaccessibility of its original publication.
This article is an incomplete first draft, and may be updated and reposted at a later date.

Death of the Author is a concept and term originally coined in the eponymous essay by Roland Barthes. In his essay’s conclusion, Barthes writes the following:

In this way is revealed the whole being of writing: a text consists of multiple writings, […] but there is one place where this multiplicity is collected, […] and this place is not the author, as we have hitherto said it was, but the reader:
the reader is the very space in which are inscribed, without any being lost, all the citations a writing consists of.
The unity of a text is not in its origin, it is in its destination. But this destination can no longer be personal:
the reader is a man without history, without biography, without psychology; he is only that someone who holds gathered into a single field all the paths of which the text is constituted.
This is why it is absurd to hear the new writing condemned in the name of a humanism which hypocritically appoints itself the champion of the reader’s rights.
The reader has never been the concern of classical criticism: for it, there is no other man in literature but the one who writes.
We are now beginning to be the dupes no longer of such antiphrases, by which our society proudly champions precisely what it dismisses, ignores, smothers or destroys: we know that to restore to writing its future, we must reverse its myth.
The birth of the reader must be ransomed by the death of the Author.

(Barthes, 1967)
(Punctuation and spacing have been modified. The meaning has not been significantly altered.)

By this, Barthes is saying that the concept of the “Author” of a work – that is, its singular individual creator – having any bearing on the work’s actual meaning deprives the “Reader” – any and all people consuming the work – of their right to agency in creating meaning from the work.

Thus, the Author being metaphorically dead has much the same effect on the interpretation of their work as their being literally dead might: they no longer have any say over the work’s meaning, beyond what they directly imbued within the work in its creation.

In their 2005 paper Failure to Detect Mismatches Between Intention and Outcome in a Simple Decision Task, Petter Johansson et al describe a simple experiment:

[…] we created a choice experiment that permitted us to surreptitiously manipulate the relationship between choice and outcome that our participants experienced. We showed picture pairs of female faces to 120 participants (70 female) and asked them to choose which face in each pair they found most attractive.
On some trials, immediately after their choice, they were asked to verbally describe the reasons for choosing the way they did.
Unknown to the participants, on certain trials, a double-card ploy was used to covertly exchange one face for the other. Thus, on these trials, the outcome of the choice became the opposite of what they intended.
Each subject completed a sequence of 15 face pairs, three of which were manipulated.

(Johansson, Hall, Sikström, & Olsson, 2005)
(References to abbreviations and figures have been removed.)

In that experiment, very few of the participants noticed the manipulation. In addition, of the participants who were asked to describe their reasoning, the study has this to say:

There were no differences between the verbal reports elicited from [non-manipulated] and [manipulated] trials […]

(Johansson, Hall, Sikström, & Olsson, 2005)

That is to say, of the participants who did not notice their deception, and who were also asked to explain the reasoning behind decisions they had not actually made, none gave meaningfully different answers from their responses in regards to the unchanged decisions (in terms of emotionality, specificity, and certainty).

Given this, we can say that, given a decision made by an individual, the explanation the individual gives for the decision is equally as likely to be a post-hoc fabrication as it is to be the actual explanation of the decision’s origin.

If we once again consider Barthes’ thesis, we can draw an interesting comparison: while the idea of the Author’s death means that a work can be considered separately from any stated or speculated authorial intent, the findings of Failure and similar studies suggests that we can validly consider any decision in the same light – that is, devoid of any significous ties to its creator.

This means that not only can we effectively assess the meaning of a work of art without considering the intent the Author had when creating it, but we can likewise effectively assess the meaning, origin, and intent behind any action or decision without considering the intent or explanation given by or inferred of the actor or decider.

That is to say, not only can the Author of any work be considered dead, but so can the Actor of any action. The Author is always dead, in all circumstances.

Johansson, P., Hall, L., Sikström, S., & Olsson, A. (2005). Failure to Detect Mismatches Between Intention and Outcome in a Simple Decision Task. Science, 310(5745), 116-119.

Barthes, R. (1967). The Death of the Author (962684243 748694812 R. Howard, Trans.).
Aspen, (5-6).


They drag my body towards the pit.

I don’t want to go. I knew, when I made the decision, what they would do to me if I failed, and it was the strongest reason to turn back: the pain, the terror, my body forming into something bestial and wrong - despite my convictions, if I knew it would come to this, I would have fled.

I’m standing over the pit now, if it can truly be called “standing” when my body is so held by others, as it is now. The liquid rolls over upon itself like layers of oily sludge; a sour, putrid scent, shifting up from it.

The clerics are beginning their chant, now: gathering the energies I know will soon violently warp my body and mind.
First, will be the pain. Then, far worse, will be the changes: my body will sprout many hairy legs; my face, grotesque mandibles; my body, rough, hoydenish skin, and yet more Haagenti-damned hair. Then, last of all, almost a mercy: my mind will fade. Perhaps, into something still sentient; perhaps, into a mere bestial husk of whatever may have existed before. Then, at last, I will cease to be: in my stead, a depraved monster to remind my family of my mistake, and to serve at the feet of those whom I opposed.

Now, though, my time to imagine my horrid fate has come to an end. The guards holding me aloft release me, and without their strength holding me up, I tip near-immediately into the pit below. The last sounds I hear: the rising voices of the clerics, spelling my ruin.

The pain is immediate, and immense. I would black out and cease to be, but the ritual prevents it, forcing my consciousness wide alive to experience the torture.

For a few short seconds, I can nearly convince myself that the ritual isn’t working, that something is wrong, and my body is refusing to change. Then, as sudden as the initial pain, my body begins to shift.

The pain is worse, now, but worse than the pain itself is the pure sensation of my flesh: warping, changing against my will. My skin squirms across my body, like worms beneath thin cloth; my bones, shifting horribly, as I can feel my face, arms, legs changing.

My legs, first, elongate and split, each one turning to two, then four long, monstrous appendages. I can feel my arms elongate as well, the skin growing thinner.

Then, the hair, like daggers, begins to sprout from my slowly-hardening legs. I would scream, but my mouth no longer moves as I expect it to, and my lungs are unusable, still reforming.

I can barely move my limbs, but I thrash as hard as I can. Maybe, if I squirm hard enough, scream loud enough, they might, just, take pity on me, and kill me instead. My panicking mind pleads to any god I know of to please just end it already!

As my limbs tire, my throat tightening from the strain, I feel unsure:

The hair feels different than I expected: longer, sparser, thinner, and only on my lower body. My upper half, as it begins to take shape, is narrower, softer than I had thought it would be. My face is still changing, but no mandibles form. No harshness; no savageness enters its shape.

As my body solidifies, I gasp, inhaling more of the harsh fluid. My legs are long and feminine; my chest: soft and plush; my face: longer than before, but yet also softer, now free of the hair I had once become so used to trimming away. As I finally take form, my upper body is far more that of a woman than that of a man; my arachnid lower half resembling the much larger form of the female.

My mind begins drifting now, my consciousness slowly fading for the last time. As I sink further, I feel as though a weight that had once been on me my whole life has finally lifted, and my heart is finally free. Despite the painful, wretched, wrong transformation, my body feels far more mine, more right than it ever has before.

My mind sinks into the liquid, as my body drifts upward.

Whoever wakes in my stead, I hope she appreciates this gift as much as I do.

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