inasmuch as it concerns Yahoo! Yeehah! Woopie!:
I gots somethin' ta cheer about, I does.
hey look a new drabble
- 100 wds. long
- 100 wds. long
I'm not quite sure how it fell off my radar, but November 2 arrived a couple weeks ago and brought with it my latest drabble publication at SpeckLit. It's called "East of Omaha, West of San Francisco," and it's about one person's very small rebellion against the inevitable shrinking of her world. Or about a general tendency to cope with loss via selective amnesia, maybe. It has more than a little to do with Michael Swanwick's "The Edge of the World" (a damn fine story) getting stuck in my brain and taking up permanent residence there.
My second SpeckLit drabble for this quarter, and my last for 2014, will show up right at the end of the year, on December 30. When it goes live, I'll be on a train heading from New Orleans to Chicago as John and I return from a long, leisurely holiday trip to visit my family. I'll try to remember to blog and post a link during our layover.
Meanwhile, SpeckLit is currently in its voting period for Reader's Choice Best of 3rd Quarter 2014. I encourage you to read the eligible stories and vote for your favorites! I have two drabbles that were published during that period, and they are in some outstanding company. The full list of eligible stories is at the linked page, as is the voting form. You should read every single one of 'em (they're only 100 words each, so it won't take long), and then vote for your favorite three. Voting deadline is November 30.
November 30 is also the submission deadline for 1st Quarter 2015, so I've started to tune my freewriting toward drabble production again. Lately I've been using the Daily Dash prompts from the Second Life group Virtual Writers, Inc. It might be more precisely termed a Semidaily Dash, as there are two each day, one at 6 AM and one at 6 PM Pacific Time. As each Dash begins, the group sends a notification to members which includes a single word's dictionary definition as a suggested writing prompt. The prompt for today's afternoon dash was "raindrop," which somehow got me noodling toward a drabble about fallen angels. Because both raindrops and certain angels fall, apparently.
You know, I really see no reason why I couldn't do at least the morning Daily Dash every work day. 7 AM is a perfectly reasonable time for me to be awake and typing. Reasonable, that is, if I stop staying up past one in the morning...
winter arrives on a monday morning
Remember last week? Remember "Get the peppers out of the field before the cold snap?" Turns out, that was just practice for the real thing. Today was "Harvest ALL of the greens before the snow falls and temperatures drop to single digits Fahrenheit."
So one crew was in the field, harvesting tot soi and bok choi, lettuce and kale, chard and escarole and frisee, and the other crew washed each incoming basket of greens and packed them away in boxes for storage in the cooler. I was in the latter crew. It meant standing outside with my hands constantly in cold water. I was in short sleeves at first, because the morning was quite warm. By lunchtime I was wearing a borrowed hoodie, I couldn't feel my toes, and I could barely work my fingers. And the water was actually warmer than the air outside. So was the walk-in cooler, when I went in to raid the "seconds" basket for some take-home greens to turn into gumbo z'herbes.
But it was a morning well spent. And I felt pretty good, freezing weather aside. I didn't expect to. I honestly thought I'd have to stay home sick today. Saturday night, I began developing cold symptoms; Sunday, I was blowing my nose constantly. But either it was a 24-hour cold or the pseudoephedrine I started taking successfully masked all symptoms, because I felt fine today. Better than fine: I got up at 6:30 AM without a grumble and ready to do EVERYTHING.
The "Let's Get Everything Done!" mood settled in late last night. It's a great feeling! It makes everything seem possible! Nevermind that it's just the drugs talking--take advantage of it while you've got it, that's what I say. So instead of spending the evening curled up in bed around the achy, tired parts of me that a three-hour roller derby practice had worked out, I applied three coats of polycrylic to the front side of the closet door I was working on, and I wrote. Then this morning I swept all the sawdust off the balcony before the snow could turn it to muck.
Just look at that picture. Check it out. In the backdrop, three bi-folds painted in the "curdled cream" color we're trying to get away from. On the left, the paint-stripped and mostly-sanded half of the bi-fold, still displaying the dark stain from sometime before the door got painted. On the right, the finished product, stained in Minwax "Gunstock" red-brown, coated with water-based polycrylic, and ready to install.
Conclusion: There is life after paint-stripping!
So maybe my good mood wasn't entirely attributable to pseudoephedrine and caffeine. Maybe it was the warm sense of accomplishment. Yeah, let's go with that.
this is the good thing, which is also the terrifying thing
So I promised "more of that stuff" today, where the stuff under discussion was "happy and hopeful" news. And I got some of that for y'all. But I did less with it today than I wanted to, and that tends to be a drag on the "hopeful" part of the equation.
Let me backtrack and explain.
Remember how I said "Caroline's Wake" sent me a very encouraging postcard from its current slush pile? And then I said it was going to be revised per editorial request? Well, the editor in question didn't just request a revision--the editor in question sent me a detailed critique with copious notes and restructuring suggestions. I am all a-squee! When the editor of a market you'd adore to get published in chooses to spend that much time helping you get a story right, you darn well say thank you and get to work.
Except I am also a creature of terror and avoidance, and I am having my usual reaction to story critiques. Which is to say: "Oh, dear Gods, someone wants to tell me what they think about my story--run away and hide!" And also the one that goes, "O crap, I thought I got the story right, but it's not right, and it will never be right, because if I so much as touch it I'm sure that I'll break it--"
Well, I never denied that I was irrationally insecure.
I have been spending today, and will spend the remainder of this week, trying to quell those neurotic voices in my head so that I can hear myself think. And also trying to drown out those voices by repeating to myself, "The editor thought this story worth spending time on. The editor believes in this story. This story is worth it." And also working up the courage to take those edits in my two clenched fists and use them to revise the heck out of this story, because that's what's got to happen before y'all can read it.
Sometimes I'm a total mess, y'all. I'll own it. But I'm a mess in constant progress. Onward and upward, then.
in which washington cherries go kerplunk
The fall harvest season brings with it a series of exceedingly homogenous Farm Mondays. At other times during the year, my Monday morning shift might consist of several tasks, a miscellany of Things What Need To Get Done. Culling seedlings, filling seedling trays with potting soil, weeding the berm, watering the potted trees, whatever. I'm an extra pair of hands. I'm handy when the high priority items prevent the core staff from getting to the items of slightly less high priority. But during the fall, my whole shift tends to be taken up with that day's great big harvest task.
Tomatoes for seed: identify the plants whose fruit consistently demonstrates the desired traits; collect only from those plants, and only those fruit that best demonstrate those traits. Tomatoes for food: gather everything that's neither rotten nor green, pretty much. Tomatoes for snacking on while en route to the next tomato: I fully except my mouth to break out in sores tomorrow from the overdose of ascorbic acid.
The tomato plants grow in round tomato cages. Their branches bust out all over. To get to all the tomatoes, you have to dig and tunnel your way through the foliage. Your arms turn green and yellow from the juices in leaf and stem. And sometimes the tomatoes--especially the cherry varieties--especially the Washington Cherry reds--are so ripe and ready to go that the moment you touch them, let alone jostle the foliage in order to reveal and reach them, they fall right off the stem. It's like playing some weird arboreal version of KerPlunk.
So that was my Farm Monday.
After that came a roller derby shopping pilgrimage. I'd heard good things about Skate Ratz, so when John decided that learning how to skate would be part of learning how to coach, I suggested we check them out. That's how we came to spend most of the afternoon and evening in Loveland getting John equipped for derby. Not only that, but it turns out that Skate Ratz keeps on hand a sample Bont boot in every size from 3 to Something Huge, expressly for fitting. They also had an Antik boot in my size so I could make an informed choice between those brands.
So I have finally ordered the Bont Hybrid in leather, color black, size 3.5. This will replace my current pair of Riedell R3s, which are two and a half years old, and one of which, for a couple of months now, has only been holding heel and sole together by an army of denim strips (cut from old jeans) and veritable gobs of Loctite Flexible Adhesive.
We celebrated our life-changing purchases over dinner at the Pourhouse, which is the best house.
And that was my Monday.
in which we cast silhouettes on the sand
This week's Friday Fictionette went up on Patreon, with public excerpts there and here and on Wattpad, round about five this afternoon. I'm not only very pleased with the story, but I'm tickled about the cover art. I wanted to set up a silhouette of Humpty Dumpty on his wall, looking out over the desert. So I went down to the volleyball pit at the top of Center Green Drive, built a little wall out of railroad track ballast, and made a miniature Humpty Dumpty with my darning egg and a couple of pipe cleaners. I got to go play at sandcastles, more or less.
Despite that, I'm not sure in the end that it's obvious to someone who hasn't read the story yet that this is Humpty Dumpty sitting on his wall. I'm proud of it nonetheless.
I have discovered this week that it is all but impossible to give all three of the most time-consuming things in my current daily life sufficient time. One of them tends to have to give. Writing, roller derby, and our home improvement checklist: they are fighting for the crown, and they cannot all have it. This week, a surprisingly full derby schedule and a bedroom that needed painting has resulted in The One With The Feathers still sitting around at more than twice its target word count. I expect some weekend work is going to happen.
It will have to, because it's got to get submitted by Tuesday. Then "Caroline's Wake" is getting revised just as soon as possible, as per editorial request. Editorial request! Such a happy dance is being done by me. It is not an offer to publish, understand; it's, at best, an acknowledgment of the possibility that a revised version might convince them to publish it. If nothing else, my story received a critique from the senior editor at a highly respected publication, so now I get to take that critique and make it an even better story. That's certainly worth the time and email pixels.
soon to reappear upon the hundred-word stage
Good news in the email today: Two more of my drabbles will be appearing at SpeckLit in the very near future! One'll be showing up in early November, and the other in late December. I'm very pleased. Out of the batch of five that I submitted this time around, I'm proudest of these two. So I'm just really pleased and delighted that you'll get to read them at SpeckLit.
(SpeckLit is organized blog-style, with a tag for each author. If you want to pull up all drabbles by a particular author, you click on their tag. For instance, here's mine.)
And that's all the news I've got for you today, since I kind of totally flubbed it as a work day, and that's not something the day can recover from at eleven-thirty at night even when it isn't scrimmage night. There was an off-season low turnout, too, so everyone rotated through all the positions and stayed on the track for at least two jams out of every three. It was a fantastic scrimmage, though. We made it work. We really worked our endurance. I think I jammed pretty darn well for a blocker.
John got to learn the scorekeeper job today. John coming with me to scrimmage is becoming a regular thing. I love it. I love how he's getting to know everyone in the league better, and how they're getting to know him, and they love having him there and he loves being there. Then we had a great post-scrimmage "post-mortem" conversation that started over beer and burgers and continued the whole way home. I love that too.
Tomorrow, as always, is another day, and one that stretches free and clear of external obligations from eight in the morning until one at night. Plenty of time to make up for today. Tomorrow is also a Friday, and I do enjoy my Fridays these days. So, really, I can't complain.
a week with a newly published micro mini story can't be all bad
I am pleased to announce that another of my drabbles has now been published at SpeckLit. It went live right on schedule, on Sunday the 7th. Click the happy link and go read it! I promise it won't take up much of your time.
Today's writing productivity has been under attack mostly by home improvement productivity. We really can't put off the remaining painting projects much longer. So today we have upgraded the living room closet wall from crappy cream to brilliant white. We had a narrow escape; we were very nearly fooled into repainting it crappy cream, because that's the color of paint in the half-full can that the restoration technicians left us. I failed to inform them of our Ultimate Plan, so when they had occasion to repaint the north wall of the master bedroom, they very carefully matched the crappy cream color they found therein. Alas. Anyway, that paint can is now in the general pile to be taken to the Hazardous Waste Management Facility where it will probably end up on the Free Stuff Shelf, just in case some other Boulder resident wants to paint a room or two crappy cream.
We have also furthered our scheme to have Doors That Work. Ever since we got fed up years ago with sliding doors that kept jumping off the slider rails and crushing our toes, the bedroom closet has had No Doors At All. With the help of a local and highly recommended handyworker, plus an abundance of trips to Home Depot and McGuckin Hardware, we're replacing them. It is to be hoped that the new doors will not jump off the slider rails and crush my toes, because they are heavy.
We're also after replacing the infuriating pocket door with a 24" bifold, which will involve removal of the door frame molding and creative use of wooden shims. It all sounds very complicated to me, but I am sure I will be perfectly content as long as we end up with a functional folding door where there used to be a door that slid into the wall only to jump its rail and get stuck where no one could reach it to get it unstuck, or that slid closed only to get its latch jammed tight so that no one could open it again.
So the bed is full of hardware, the floor is full of paint tarp, and my day up to now has not at all been full of writing. With any luck we'll manage to balance things out better tomorrow.
In the meantime, it's a week with a newly published micro mini story. The author cannot bring herself to complain.
Live on Patreon, it's Friday Fictionettes! Also: A new monster of derby.
- 1,242 wds. long
It's September 1, and I've launched my Patreon page. Go ahead, click it, see what you think. Basically, it's a short-short story subscription service, except they're not so much fully formed short stories but rather highly polished excerpts from my daily freewriting sessions. I'm calling these story-like objects "fictionettes." Pledging a dollar or more per month gets you access to the fictionettes I post every first through fourth Friday in PDF format, and at the end of the month I make one of those fictionettes free for all to read. At higher pledge levels, I will read my fictionettes to you, podcast-style, or even mail them to you in handmade collectible editions (limited supplies available).
The first fictionette, "Breaking and Entering," is up on my creations stream. You can also read it right here on the actually writing blog, or on my brand new WattPad account. I'll have an audio version of it up soon so potential patrons can get an idea of whether they like my reading style before they subscribe. I also intend to create a simple cover image sometime this week.
Both Patreon and Wattpad are new interfaces for me, and they're both boggling me in different ways. I can't seem to convince Wattpad that "Breaking and Entering" is its own piece, complete in and of itself, and not a chapter in a larger piece called "Breaking and Entering." And Patreon's creation-posting, creation-editing, and creation-navigating interfaces have so many issues I could write a whole post about them.
But I will not. Instead, I will hang in there and see if things get easier to deal with as I go forward, or if I'll at least figure out smart ways to cope with and around the seeming inadequacies.
Why am I doing this? Several reasons.
- The possibility of making more money by writing stories than I'm making by blogging at Examiner has a certain appeal. (Hint: It wouldn't take much.)
- A new weekly deadline means I'm going to be finishing more story-like objects more often, which can't be a bad thing.
- I'm teaching myself to relax and let go of this whole "Every piece of writing must be saved and its first rights preserved against the day it will become a real publishable story!" Seriously, at the rate of a new freewriting vignette produced almost every day, there will be more of them taking up space in my Daily Ideas .scrivx than I'll ever develop into commercially viable stories. They aren't exactly precious.
- I like the sound of the word "prolific." I like the thought of applying it to myself.
Call it the crossroads of self-publishing and self-improvement. We'll see how it goes.
In roller derby news, my Bombshells lost to 10th Mountain, and the score was 201 to 207. It was a mirror image of last season's bout against the Mountaineers, with a heroic come-back in the second half and an epic final jam that included two penalties to the 10th Mountain jammer and an amazing effort by our jammer, Sauce, to put huge amounts of points on the board. (Sauce is my hero, y'all. Not even kidding a little bit.) Every pass was a screamingly exciting fight for both teams' very lives, as the Mountaineers blockers clung to their lead and the Bombshells blockers pulled out every trick they knew to get their jammer through the pack.
In the end, I think, if you can't make it through the season undefeated, I think a single loss by a squeaky 6-point margin isn't so terrible. And doesn't every team need a nemesis?
I'm going to call the afterparty a tie. Both teams represented on the dance floor well into the wee hours, and not as separate monochrome bunches, either. We mixed it up real good.
Er. Also. The Bombshells MVPs that 10th Mountain chose for the night were Skinny DipHer as jammer... and myself as blocker. *flabbergasted* Everyone was all, "That's two games in a row, Fleur!" and I'm all, "I know! I don't get it!" I'm not being coy or cute here, I seriously don't get it. But I'm thankful. I hope I managed to show it. I know I hugged a lot of people in 10th Mountain uniforms.
John declared the distinction well deserved and proceeded to explain to me, in great detail and with much enthusiasm, why he thought so. (Have I mentioned how much I love this man?) He also had a lot to say about bout our bout and the "back to school" themed mix-up that preceded it. He and our friend Stras had carpooled to the bout, and when I got home from the afterparty by about 1:00 AM they were in the middle of watching an archived bout on WFTDA.tv (last year's Division 1 game between Windy City and RMRG). They were analyzing the footage, play by play. They paused their viewing to talk derby with me until something like 2:30, and then after Stras went home John and I kept talking until 3:00. By the time I finally fell asleep, my brain was like a computer running a screensaver, and the screensaver featured an endless procession of jammers and blockers whizzing counterclockwise around a derby track.
I've created a derby monster here. John's always been excited to watch derby with me, but this weekend seems to have launched his enthusiasm through the roof. I repeat: He went home from our bout and immediately queued up more derby to watch on his computer. Then we watched more archived bout footage together today (two of this year's D2 bouts featuring Sin City), during which he pressed pause oodles of times to discuss nuances of plays and penalties. There was rewinding and rewatching in slo-mo. There was pausing to look up official rules. There was massive geeking out over derby, y'all.
John said, "I now know why I could never be an official, as much as I want to get involved. I can't be unbiased. I'm too invested in rooting for the Boulder County Bombers."
I thought about this. "Well, with your strategic observations and your tendency to pick plays apart, maybe you could be an assistant coach."
Gods bless him, he didn't say no. In fact, he's seriously considering it. We broached the idea to other league members at the annual league birthday get-together yesterday, to skaters and coaches alike, and everyone thought he'd be a fantastic addition to the team. Gods know we have a need for more coaches, assistant or otherwise, having recently lost a handful of them to the various changing demands of their lives.
He's said he'll come with me to scrimmage on Thursday, and maybe practice on Wednesday too depending on what's on the agenda. We'll see how it goes.
joining the ranks of toasted fictioneers: pretty good for a sick day
- 443 wds. long
Today is my podcast debut! A few months ago, Tina Connolly bought my flash piece "Other Theories of Relativity" for her podcast Toasted Cake. This week, the podcast episode featuring that story is live. Because it was very short, she paired it with something else that is very short: "Mon pays c'est l'hiver," by Amal El-Mohtar. The two stories go together very well, I think; the main character of one is reevaluating what it means to be family, and the main character of the other is reevaluating what it means to return home. Tina reads both stories very beautifully. No surprises there; Tina always reads beautifully. I've been listening to episodes of her podcast on my drive to roller derby practice, and I've thoroughly enjoyed both her selection and her narration. (Her reading of Paul Hamilton's "Corkscrew" got under my skin and will stay there for a very long time.)
That was the bright spot in my day. The not-so-bright spot was waking up to confirmation that I had indeed caught the crud my husband brought back from Gen Con. I suppose I wasn't so bad off that I couldn't have been a functional member of the Monday farm crew, but, firstly, it's hard to deal with a runny nose when your hands are full of dirt, and secondly, if I've got a cold, should I really be handling other people's produce? "I'm staying home and keeping my germs to myself," I texted to Steph, the volunteer coordinator. "Much appreciated," she responded. "Feel better soon!"
And so I did. John came home in the afternoon with a new box of 12-hour pseudoephedrine. Shortly after that I felt functional enough to go out into the wild and return with take-out from Spice China. Better living through chemistry! Not everything my husband brings home is bad. (He also brought home all the booze remaining from his traditional Gen Con scotch and whiskey tasting. I just sipped my way through a shot of the Balvenie Single-Malt 14-Year Caribbean Cask.)
"Are you still going to roller derby practice tomorrow? Do you think that's wise?" he asked me.
"I have to. It's bout week."
"Then you should wear a face mask. I'll paint a fleur-de-lis on it for you!"
All right. I'll wear a mask. And I'll bring my hand-sanitizer, and reapply frequently. I need my practice, but I don't need to get my Bombshells sick. As things stand, I'm fortunate to have come down with this cold early enough in the week that it should be done and gone by bout day. I don't need to pass it on to someone else such that they'll be still feeling the effects into the weekend.
Tomorrow, in addition to roller derby practice and the usual Tuesday writing schedule, there will be--if all goes well and no unexpected delays are encountered--the project completion walk-through at our home. And if that happens, we'll get to check out of the hotel Wednesday morning and move back home. Keep your fingers crossed.
a dramatic rebuttal to the demons of doubt who live rent-free in my head
Today was all the tired. The pre-lunch session at the farm was weeding crop beds thick with bindweed; the post-lunch session was pruning tomato plants. I came home with a blister from the hula hoe, my arms neon yellow to the elbow from tomato foliage, and the small of my back sunburned quite dramatically from the sagging waistline of my Carhartts utility jeans.
And this the day after we got home from the weekend. Oh, Wyoming. You are so vast, so sunny and hot, so very without shade. Driving across you very nearly made my brain melt and our car overheat. That latter isn't hyperbole; we stopped to change drivers in Wheatland and discovered our radiator fluid was boiling over. That was special.
Saturday morning was relaxing, though. The joy of away bouts is, I'm not responsible for helping set up the track. I'm not expected to help tear down the track and reassemble it on Sunday at our practice location. So I got to sleep late, have a leisurely breakfast, and even take a little reconnaissance walk from the hotel to the afterparty location just to make sure I was familiar with it before I tried it at night, post-bout and post-alcohol. Walking from the Days Inn to Mingles, I went one block too far and found myself at the corner of Wyoming and E-Z Street. I had no idea that Easy Street was in Wyoming. That, also, is special.
You are probably antsy to know how the bout went. I will tell you. We won! The score was 323 to 70, which doesn't begin to tell the play-by-play story. The thing about roller derby bouts is, no matter what the score, every single jam feels like the game depends on it. Every single time you're out there, the intensity is high and the heat is on. Besides, the bout was at an ice hockey venue, using a hockey scoreboard, and there is no hundreds digit on a hockey scoreboard. I had no idea what the score was until it was all over.
("The score is always zero to zero," as my coach will tell you. "Don't even look at the scoreboard until the game is over.")
Also, the track was super slick. We were skating on the polished concrete surface that holds up the ice when the ice rink exists. It made it harder to stop, harder to slow, harder to turn around, and harder for our jammers to push on walls of blockers. Slick floors make for sloppy skating, which makes for more penalties too. Which means each jam was even more of a struggle for dominance, no matter what the scoreboard said.
Now, understand, we're the B travel team that went to Gillette this weekend. Our league's travel teams are filled by twice-yearly try-outs. At try-outs, we're each scored on our skills according to specific metrics. The skaters with the highest scores fill the slots on the "All Stars" A team (our WFTDA charter roster, who, by the way, are going to Division 2 Playoffs in August, and you have the power to help them get there). The next bunch get slotted onto the "Bombshells" B team. Once that fills up, everyone else is placed on the Shrap Nellies C team. At least, that's my understanding of how it works--I don't get to see the scores or the numbers, I just go to try-outs and then practice where they tell me.
I'm explaining this so you'll understand that I was, by actual objective standards, nowhere near the best skater on the track. Our roster included A/B crossover skaters--skaters who skate for both the All Stars and the Bombshells. Our roster included skaters who used to be A/B crossovers but are now full-on All Stars, but who came with us because a week simply isn't enough time to get the new post-try-outs roster ready to bout. I was often on the track with a line-up full of All Stars, and I'm more grateful for it than I can adequately express, because they have taught me so much about how to work with my line and how to communicate and how to hold the jammer and how to be immovable, stable and strong. I've learned so much from them, and I still have so much to learn.
The point is, when the bout is over and the teams come out of their post-bout huddle and announce who they've decided to give the Most Valued Player awards to, when the opposing team says, "And we'd like to give the MVP Blocker award to..." I do not expect to hear my name.
Which is why I stood there like a fool, eyes wide, asking, "You mean me?" And then there were hugs, and congratulations, and pictures, and me crying a little on John's shoulder because I was so stunned and delighted. ("Don't worry," he said. "No one can tell those are tears. You're too full of sweat.") And, oddly, relieved.
I've often said, there are few joys greater than getting to do what you love, than getting better at doing what you love. But I don't always feel like I've got a handle on how much I've improved, or whether I've improved at all. Despite knowing that I can now execute maneuvers I couldn't do last year, and that I'm more stable and have better pack awareness than I used to, there's still doubt. Mistakes often stand out more than triumphs in my head, not least because few of the mistakes go without comment from coaches or teammates. So there's always this half-conscious fear that I'll never be better than mediocre at the game, despite how much I love playing.
But I didn't really understand the extent of all that until Saturday night, when my interior reaction to the award was a huge, overwhelming, and unexpected sense of relief. "Oh, wow, I really am getting better, I really do have the potential to excel at this sport I love playing. Oh, thank goodness." Only then did I realize how much constant background noise of doubt and insecurity I'd been living with.
I'll be attending make-up try-outs this week, having been out of town on the original try-outs date of the 13th. As usual I'll be going into it nervous, aware that I'm capable of screwing it up, and holding no higher expectation than that I simply demonstrate improvement over my results from six months ago.
But maybe this time I'll go into it with somewhat less self-doubt.