“I never had any doubts about my abilities. I knew I could write. I just had to figure out how to eat while doing this.”
Cormac McCarthy

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

That is not a tiny loaf of bread. That is a normal-sized loaf of sourdough bread.
when you get to the ends of things you might look back
Tue 2016-10-25 23:38:42 (single post)
  • 3,339 wds. long

Would you look at the size of those carrots? This is the last week of veggie shares from my CSA, and those are finale-sized carrots. I dug up the potatoes I'd planted this year in hopes of matching those carrots in a soup, but all I seem to have grown are potatoes the size of kidney beans. Large kidney beans, like you'd make red beans & rice with, but still. Even smaller than the potatoes you might see sold as "pee wees." Will nothing match those carrots for grandiosity? Perhaps I should go buy some parsnips. And a huuuuuuuge daikon radish.

Speaking of retrospectives (I kind of was, if you squint a little), I've reached the point in The Artist's Way where Julia Cameron tells you to reread your Morning Pages. I've been doing so, but slowly, because even only going back to the beginning of the year, even given that I've only been doing them on weekdays, that's a lot of pages and there are other things I'd like to do with my waking time after all. I'm taking along for the ride a brand new blank notebook that I bought in New Orleans at the Tremé Fall Festival in which I'm jotting down any insights which arise.

it's interesting, and sometimes disheartening, to see what problems remain an unchanged part of my life, and most of them my own doing, too, like "Mustn't get distracted and try to multitask other activities during Morning Pages" or "Mustn't let the day leak away through the cracks in the hours." It's refreshing to see, from what I wrote in anticipation of my very first All Stars practice as a just-made-it A/B crossover skater, that I no longer have the insecurities and self-esteem issues I had back then. (I still have insecurities in that area, but they're different insecurities.) It's surprising to see turns of phrase striking the page like sudden lightning with no indication I thought twice about them at the time I wrote them. ("Pin the blame on the donkey"--ouch. "Morning Pages as a devotional practice"--really? Wow, yes, really.) There's a dream back in early January that I don't think I paid much attention to the morning I jotted it down, even though I'd just come back from a family visit, undoubtedly because I was dealing with more dramatic emotional upheaval fresh from Christmas afternoon, still too blindsided by that to notice the chronic low-level background unease that the dream was pointing out. ("I have brand new arrows. Dad borrows them. He says he has to prep the arrows for use. He does this by breaking them about 6 inches behind the arrowhead. He doesn't understand why I'm angry, nor will he promise to stop doing it, so I have to hide the remaining unbroken arrows in the attic behind a loose board in the wall." SHIT THAT'S UNCOMFORTABLY REAL.)

I'm taking notes and hoping to learn from them. And flinching sometimes. *flinch* It's cool. It's just the contents of my head from ten months ago. No big deal. The contents of my head are often thorny.

In other news, "It's For You" came back last week with a rejection letter and went back out again today with fresh reserves of hope. This is its twelfth time out in the slush mines. I know very well that, in this business, twelve isn't that high of a number, nowhere near high enough to mean I should give up on a story, but it's sometimes hard to remember that. I just keep telling myself, "Remember how that other editor loved it and passed it on to the second round? This is a good story! Someone will buy it!" But what would really make me feel better is having a brand new story to send out to meet the nice people. Only one way to make that happen, though. *cracks knuckles, surveys revision queue*

tasty veg for a healthy week!
blogging for people who ought to be editing
Tue 2016-10-18 23:41:45 (single post)
  • 3,339 wds. long

I was wrong--today was not a day with no appointments. Thankfully I remembered before it was too late. Tuesday! Tuesdays mean farm share! So I went and picked that up around 1:00 PM. There were sweet bell peppers and hot poblano peppers and another little half pound baggie of tomatillos and a lovely bunch of carrots and some tasty green chard. Dinner was peppers stuffed with a mixture of sausage, rice, and kale. The leftover stuffing mixture will get rolled up in those chard leaves. The fridge is full of tasty veg and life is good.

I was moving unaccountably slow today and also trying to do all the chores along with my writing, so I didn't quite get to everything I wanted to accomplish. But the daily gotta-dos got done, and "It's For You" went back out on submission. It joins the one I sent out last week (a drabble newly retitled "A Few Words Before We Begin") in the field. I'm sending stories out, y'all! That's what a writer does! (Also the laundry and the dishes are clean, and tomorrow I might just vacuum. RUN AWAY.)

I bought an ebook copy of Rachel Aaron's 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love and have been reading it this afternoon. I wasn't sure at first whether it would hit the spot with me; my problem isn't lack of word count when I'm generating draft, but rather lack of progress when I'm revising. Still, I'm finding many things she says apply. Or might apply, anyway.

I'm thinking very hard about her theory of not-writing, which is to say, writing avoidance--put simply, she says it's because you don't like what you're writing. That can be either because the story is boring, or you're off on the wrong track, or the scene you're working on doesn't actually belong in the book, or you've got the wrong main character; something, in any case, is wrong. Once you put it right, she says, the writing will be enjoyable again and you won't avoid it anymore because you'll want to do it.

Like I said, I'm thinking very hard about it. It makes sense in terms of the short story I'm having such a hard time revising, but its applicability is less obvious as regards my difficulty starting the work day in the first place. Maybe the answer is "You're bored with the routine of doing morning pages and then freewriting and then a half hour on the week's fictionette." Maybe I need to shake up the daily task list, reorder it, put in the number one slot whatever seems the most fun. Maybe the daily freewriting would be more fun if... something. If I changed it up somehow. I mean, it's supposed to be fun. It's supposed to be playtime. Maybe I'm just bored with the current crop of writing prompts and I need something more silly and playful.

Anyway, Part II has a chapter called "Editing for People Who Hate Editing," which sounds like it just might be something I need to read. I'm looking forward to it, anyway.

Hey look there's CORN!
life is what obliges you, when you're planning to be virtuous, to be virtuous in some other way
Tue 2016-09-13 22:56:54 (single post)

Ever had one of those mornings where you wake up ready to do all the things, and then life gets in the way? Right. Like that. I even got up early for an 8:00 a.m. dental cleaning, came home around 9:00, and didn't go back to bed. I was awake all of the hours, but life kept wedging its way into every one of them. Appointments! Errands! Cleaning! Importunate hummingbirds!

Thankfully, I was able to convince myself with a clean conscience that some bits of life counted as writing. "Business copy-writing, pro-bono." Sound good? Right. Well, that bit of business copy-writing pretty much filled up my afternoon shift and brought me to four-hour mark; this blog post will bring me to the coveted five-hour mark.

And if it doesn't... well, I have ever so many other writing tasks need doing. And for once I'm not suffering a total enervated poop-out after derby. (I had derby tonight. Yes, my team's still on break, but heck if I'm going to miss a RollerCon debriefing practice. That's where they teach us all the things!) So. Hi.

Here's a bit of life that is tasty: the weekly CSA pick-up. The bread's a walnut sourdough this time because the regular wasn't available sliced at the moment and I was feeling adventurous. John seems to like it too; he's been munching on it while taking notes on the bout footage our team's going to be studying tomorrow evening. Collards, kale, and chard are all making an appearance. So are tomatoes, cucumber, and squash. Peppers are back--turns out they really are just bell peppers, despite that last week's did have more of a hot edge than I expect in a bell. Must have been all that hot and dry weather (where did it go, by the way? Woke up this morning and it was overcast and drizzly. Are you telling me fall is finally here?). And, making its exciting debut (at least in this venue), corn! These ears were grown at a farm in Longmont which appears to have set up a trade with the Diaz Farm for mutual fresh yumminess.

Today was a good day for eating farm fresh goodness. Breakfast was one of those hashbrown/omelet/fritter concoctions featuring kohlrabi leaves still kicking around in the crisper drawer. Also garlic, because by now I've got oodles. Lunch was Annie's Mac & Cheese, var. "Peace Parmesan," featuring kale and yellow squash from the Diaz Farm and ground Italian-style sausage from Spring Tree Farms. That would be the show pigs farm in Longmont CO, not the wedding location in Tennessee--although Baconator has hosted a few weddings on her farm, to be sure, and they were lovely affairs. But mainly she's about the pigs--hence the skate name--and she always gives her roller derby league advance notice when she's about to process a critter into sausage. We buy it up like woah, because it is delicious.

Cooking experiments inspired by Patricia McKillip's The Book of Atrix Wolfe also continue, sometimes almost by accident. Last week Wednesday I left my chiropractic appointment and wandered up the road to Skeye Brewing. Skeye has beer, and not much else. But Skeye wants you to drink more of the yummy beer, and if that involves helping you pick a tasty nearby food joint to order delivery from, then by all means. I ordered the crispy duck from one of the Chinese options (I honestly don't remember which; it's the one with a minimum delivery order of $12 instead of $15. I'll pay better attention next time). I brought home the bones and what shreds of meat I wasn't able to devour all in one sitting, and I wound up over the weekend simmering it with bay and cloves for soup, remembering the bit where the fictional head cook decrees a similar fate for the bones of a ham that went uneaten because of Plot Crisis. When it had simmered for a few hours, I drained the broth, put it back into a pot, added what meat was left along with the leftover fried rice, and had a fine light-yet-hearty soup for dinner. It was a lot like dirty rice, only soupier.

So with a certain amount of life out of the way, I go now to enjoy the bits of life that involve doing absolutely nothing productive until bedtime. Huzzah!

Pepper!
literary kitchen experiments in the near future
Tue 2016-09-06 23:59:59 (single post)

It's always exciting when the weekly CSA share has a new vegetable in it. This week featured the first green peppers of the season. I think I will put mine in my Pseudo-Medieval Chicken Experiment tomorrow, about which more in a moment. The rest of the share was: Salad greens, zucchini and/or yellow squash, cucumber, kale, collards, tomatoes, and the weekly loaf of bread. And little bitty peaches as a sort of lagniappe; a friend of the farm had given them a ton of 'em, so they were passing the yummy along to their members. I'd consider putting the peaches into the Pseudo-Medieval Chicken Experiment too, only I've already eaten them all.

OK. So. Chicken experiment. Here's the thing: I just reread Patricia McKillip's The Book of Atrix Wolfe. One of the main characters scrubs pots all day in the castle kitchens, so the reader gets to hear a lot of kitchen talk. And a lot of the kitchen talk is the head cook telling everyone what to cook. And they're cooking for the king, so you better believe they're cooking some amazing things. In quantity.

Supper was a prolonged drama of great pies of hare and venison with hunting scenes baked in dough on their crusts, vegetables sculpted into gardens, huge platters layered with roast geese, woodcocks and pigeons, and crowned with tiny hummingbirds made of egg white and sugar.

...as they drizzled a latticework of chocolate sauce on a stewed pear, and placed walnut halves on small tarts of egg and cheese and finely chopped mushrooms.

"I grated the barest fleck of nutmeg into the raspberry sauce," the sauce cook said....

I want to try it all. But there are no recipes, only these descriptions. I am astounded to be unable to find such a thing as a Cookbook of Atrix Wolfe out there in the wide Googlable world (though in my searches I did come across this article by McKillip herself retelling her most memorable kitchen disasters). I'm just going to have to improvise and research and experiment.

Some things described herein are a little beyond me...

"So I boiled the boar's head in a stock of onions and pepper and rosemary; salt I added later, and garlic," a stew-cook said to another.... "I debated raisins and cranberries, but decided on garlic instead, and tiny onions and tiny red potatoes. The brains and tongue are simmering with leeks and cloves."

...mostly because I'm not sure where I'd find a boar's head, nor a pot big enough to boil it in, nor enough people willing to try the results of the experiment with me. Most people I know draw the line at brains. If I'm cooking something uncertain, I cook in small quantities and for myself alone; the experiment may not succeed, but its audience is guaranteed to eat it regardless.

Other descriptions sound a lot more like something I could do without a lot of prep or complication:

"Sauce. Orange and honey for the duck, pear and onion for the pheasant."

So I did a little searching and found a recipe involving a sauce of pear and caramelized onion, and when I went to the grocery today I made sure to pick up a pear and a couple chicken breasts (they did not have duck or pheasant that I could see). Tomorrow or maybe Thursday I'm going to see what I can do with it.

Cover art incorporates author’s original photography of a hastily printed desk sign and an outdated Klamath Falls sectional aeronautical chart.
Weekly healthy deliciousness.
on the last late fictionette and the near future of skating
Wed 2016-08-31 23:47:10 (single post)
  • 1,143 wds. long

All right! Here is last Friday's fictionette, the one for August 26: "How the Drought Was Ended" (...and at what price). There's a touch of political satire in there, if you're looking for it. It's not a big thing. It was just, given the premise, how could I resist a little poke? Anyway, you can read the teaser excerpt via the link above (here it is again!). For subscribers, there is the ebook (pdf and epub) and the audio (mp3). The latter is useful if you want to know how I pronounce the name of the Royal Hero. (You, of course, may pronounce it any way you like.)

I suspect I'll wait until Friday to release the Fictionette Freebie for August 2016. Yes, that means waiting until September 2, but it also means I can roll that announcement out with that of the first Friday Fictionette of September. Presuming I upload the thing on time. I darn well intend to. I am tired of this always-being-late nonsense!

In the meantime, I get to breathe a little. I am officially off from All Stars practice until September 20th. It's nice to have a few weeks during which I'm not working my butt off three nights a week. And, weird though it is to see my arms utterly bare of bruises, it's very nice to have a few weeks during which I'm not getting voluntarily beat up for the love of roller derby--this, in fact, is the stated purpose of having a month off; we're supposed to take this time to heal. But I miss being on skates!

Today I did a little something about that, going for a bit of an evening trail skate with my good friend and ex-next-door-neighbor Seven of Grind. (Not ex-neighbor. A five-minute walk means we remain neighbors. But before we moved, it was a 5-second walk barefoot and, if necessary, in a bathrobe.) I think we were on skates for the better part of an hour, and there were uphills and downhills and bumpy bits to toe-stop-walk over. A bit more agility and cardio than going to the Wagon Wheel would have required (we were planning on going, but not enough people RSVP'd to justify holding the adult skate session this time around), but also a bit less endurance over time, so it evens out.

Then there was yummy food and tasty beverages at the Rayback Collective, Boulder's newest... well, I don't know what to call it. Food truck park and microbrew oasis? Community space? Permanent street party? It's very Boulder, is what it is. I've had a good time hanging out there in the past for some quality playtime on my laptop. Its location right on Elmer's Two Mile Creek Greenway makes it a great place to meet friends, gear up, and start skating, which is essentially what we did.

I could see myself doing this, or something like this, once a week during my "roller derby vacation." Possibly more. Taking the time to heal is good, but there's no call to let the skating muscles get entirely out of condition.

Oh! Almost forgot: Attached please find the weekly Still Life With CSA Vegetables photo. It features:

  • The weekly loaf of sourdough bread,
  • garlic,
  • tomatoes (including a Green Zebra - yes, it's ripe),
  • collard greens,
  • kale,
  • radishes,
  • and a bag of young salad greens.

Here is what I've been doing with the collard greens: I have been shredding some four or so leaves into a mixture of grated potato, grated turnip, and minced garlic, all bound up with a couple beaten eggs and seasoned with garlic salt and both black and red pepper, the resulting hash/fritter/omelet/pancake fried in canola oil until thoroughly cooked and crispy on both sides. Spread apple sauce on top, and breakfast is a time of great joy.

Ta-da!

The weekly bounty. Mmm, all those brassica-type leaves...
a short story for when i can't manage a longer one
Tue 2016-08-23 23:53:51 (single post)

OK. So. D2 Wichita. That... was a thing that happened.

It is much easier to talk about vegetables.

Yesterday I managed to drag myself up to Longmont for chiro and then back down to Boulder to drop off the rental car. Then I managed to walk home from the Hertz establishment (via the Parkway Cafe for brunch and the bank for check deposits). Today I managed to get out of the house like a regular human being and bike up to the farm for CSA pick-up. I keep saying "managed" because it feels like an accomplishment.

Quite a few of my teammates--and my coach, too--had to go back to work on Monday. I am not sure how they managed it.

While I was at the Parkway Cafe, one of the waitstaff looked at me and said, "So who's been beating on you? Roller derby, right?" I said, "Yeah, about four teams worth. It was playoffs." When she brought me my check she told me to "go home and heal up." I have come home from derby looking bruised before, but this time around, I looked like a plague victim. It was ridiculous. And I had a swollen, tender lymph node on the right because apparently sufficient blunt force trauma can trigger an immune system reaction. Turns out that four games against D2-level teams can do that to a body.

Nevertheless, like I said, I did manage to bring home the veggies today. What we have here is the weekly loaf of bread plus kale, collards, kohlrabi, tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, and radishes. I immediately broke into that bounty to use up most of the rest of my stuffed chard leaf stuffing from Thursday: breakfast sausage, wild rice, garlic, chives, parsley, salt, pepper, red pepper, and an egg. This time I blanched all the kohlrabi leaves from this and previous weeks, and some of last week's kale, to wrap it up in, overlapping leaves where a single leaf was too small. That, plus some cucumber-and-tomato salad, was dinner.

The stuffed chard leaves worked out quite well, by the way. I munched half of them on the ride over to Wichita and the other half on Friday between games.

Do I sound a little scattered? I'm still a little scattered. Getting better. Managed to get some writing done and also some league admin stuff--mostly the bout production and forum admin stuff that was waiting for me. Spent most of the evening pruning spam registrations out of the database, as that takes mercifully little brain.

The weekend used up all of my brain. Well, most of it. What little mind it didn't use up it simply blew. Lots of minds were blown. Because out of our four games, we won three. We came in as the #8 seed but walked away with 5th Place. We came within 15 points of beating the #1 seed, and we did beat the #2 seed, making WFTDA history thereby. Then we drove home, essentially going "That game. OMG that game" to each other pretty much all 550 miles of the way.

OMG that game. Those games. OMG this weekend.

That's the short story.

I may manage the longer version tomorrow.

We got... Carrots, kohlrabi, chard, kale, cucumber, zucchini, tomatoes, and (not pictured here because it got lost in the folds of my canvas tote bag until later) garlic
tomatoes, wftda watch passes, and the dangers of 12-hour pseudoephedrine
Tue 2016-08-16 23:59:59 (single post)

So, pro-tip about those 12-hour Sudafed tablets. Turns out, it's not such a good idea to take one at 5:00 PM, not if they're the Non-Drowsy Maximum Strength variety. I did not actually get to sleep until... well, almost 5:00 AM, about 12 hours after I took the dratted thing. I really should have also bought a box of the 4-hour tablets, just for scheduling flexibility. Well. I'll know for next time.

Anyway, there's no way I can make it through a work day on only three hours sleep, especially if there's roller derby practice at the end of it. The last roller derby practice before playoffs, in fact. Kind of important. So once I was able to sleep I tried to stay that way for as long as I could. Which meant I wasn't out of bed until after one in the afternoon. Which meant not a lot of things got done other than the absolutely necessary.

One of those absolutely necessary things, of course, was biking up to The Diaz Farm for my CSA share. Yay, pretty pictures of delicious veg! Those two Early Girl tomatoes were the high point of this week's pick-up--the first fresh, ripe tomatoes of the season. I immediately ate one with about half a cucumber, sliced up and dressed with a creamy balsamic vinaigrette. I've been fortunate to have been getting a few small tomatoes here and there from my back porch plants--Sungold cherries, elongated San Marzanos, and little round Brillantes, all of them more orange than red (expected behavior for the Sungolds, not quite so much for the others) and probably a little stunted from their growing conditions. But these plump two tomatoes coming home from the farm today were quite a treat.

I've been thinking about ways to convert some of this bounty into road trip snacks. The carrots are obvious--just bring them like they are. Maybe chop the largest ones into sticks. Zucchini is also tasty raw. I still haven't made those carrot-and-kohlrabi fritters; those would probably transport well. My latest genius idea is sausage-stuffed chard leaves--blanche the chard until tender, put a dollop of ground sausage cooked with onions and garlic into each, then just roll the leaves up into little bundles. Kind of like dolmades, but with chard instead of grape leaves. (Baking may be involved. I forget. I need to check my recipes.) Then stick them in a plastic bag, shove 'em in the ice chest, and eat 'em cold in the car whenever hungry.

Speaking of D2 Playoffs, I've had a request to post ALL THE LINKS here. The link above features our tournament bracket (there's that link again!), showing who plays whom at what time. You can see that we start out in Game 2 against the Chicago Outfit at 10 AM Central (9 AM Mountain) Noon Central (11 AM Mountain) on Friday, August 19. After that, our schedule depends on wins and losses.

Edit: I keep saying our first game is scheduled for 10 AM because for a hot minute it was. But then they changed the schedule, giving us the noon game, and we all breathed a sigh of relief because a lot of us aren't getting into town until midnight that morning. Still, I seem unable to wrap my brain around it for the purposes of telling people when to watch us.

If you want to watch it live--and why wouldn't you? Three days of non-stop derby derby derby featuring some of the best teams internationally!--you can get set up to do just that over at WFTDA.tv. You can buy a watch pass just for this weekend, or you can buy the big ol' humongous package that covers your live derby viewing pleasure for both D2 weekends, all four D1 weekends, and Championships too:

Links will take you to the page on which you'd watch the stream, where you'll be prompted to log in. If you haven't yet bought your "virtual ticket," you'll click the green button with the price tag on it. That will pop up a window in which you'll log onto Cleeng.com, which is the outfit that WFTDA uses to manage the sale of watch passes.

I'm guessing that the bundle is divided into a U.S. and a Non-U.S. version because it includes Championships, which is being carried by sports channel ESPN3 for the second year running. When major cable TV gets involved, national borders become a Thing. The pass just for this weekend does not specific U.S. or Non, and the broadcast is just your regular WFTDA.tv livestream, which is essentially an HD Youtube video--it ought to be viewable from anywhere in the world. But I have had one friend in Canada (a flagmate on Puzzle Pirates, of course!) tell me that it wouldn't even let him log on because "it hates Canadians!" I have not yet confirmed that the link above is the link he tried, though, so I'm really not 100% certain about this. I double-checked Cleeng's FAQ, and it had a lot to say about watching from within the EU and so forth; besides, Cleeng is what they're using to sell the Non-U.S. watch pass bundle. (Maybe you should log onto Cleeng via the Non-U.S. bundle, but then back out before actually buying it, and then see if you can buy the watch pass via the D2 Wichita link now that you're successfully logged in?)

Anyway, if you're outside the U.S. and want to watch us skate this weekend, let me know whether the single weekend D2 pass works for you. Inquiring minds etc.

If you don't want to, or aren't able to, watch us live, then keep your eyes on the archives, as all D2 Wichita games will probably show up there early next week. Archived footage at WFTDA.tv is always free to watch.

That's it for me tonight--I'm going to be very good and do my at-home traction, but after that I'm down for the count. I took a 12-hour Sudafed just about 12 hours ago, so with any luck I'll actually get to sleep tonight. Good luck me.

Once again, fresh deliciousness courtesy of a small CSA share with The Diaz Farm
close only counts in horseshoes and i am declaring this a game of horseshoes
Tue 2016-08-09 23:01:46 (single post)

Another Tuesday, another pile of gorgeous edibles coming home with me from the farm. We have cucumber, zucchini, garlic, kohlrabi, rainbow chard, rainbow carrots, mixed salad greens, and bread. I'm thinking tomorrow I'm finally going to try the kohlrabi carrot fritters recipe I came across the other day.

Heavy duty cooking was out of the question today. Today I had to use my lunch break to package the Asus X540 and bring it to FedEx for shipping. That was fun. And by "fun," I mean unnecessarily worrying. I was filling out the checklist, writing up a description of the problem, and I thought, "Hey, let's just double-check that it's still happening." AND IT WASN'T. I had the laptop unplugged and sitting next to the box I was going to put it in, and just for fun I pressed the power button, AND THE DAMN THING STARTED RIGHT UP. Stayed on, too, until I shut it down some forty-five minutes later. Didn't matter what I did--opened and closed the lid, picked it up and swung it around, tilted it this end up or that end up, carried it around the house--the dratted thing acted like it had never had a battery problem in its life. Like it had never refused to turn on while I was at lunch with no AC power. Like it had never crashed and died upon my unplugging it for travel, then cheerfully reported a 98% charge when I next plugged it in and turned it on.

I wrote up an addendum. "Problem is sporadic. Please investigate battery stability regardless of whether problem replicates." Also, "Problem may be with battery incorrectly reporting a full charge. After notebook had been plugged in for several days, I was unable to recreate the problem."

Then I biked the package to FedEx and sent it on its way. Then I spent an hour or so illustrating Fictionette Artifacts over pho and spring rolls. Almost done, y'all!

I still haven't submitted the story I've been meaning to submit, which feels kind of stupid. I should do it tonight, except I'm a little worried about my ability to assemble a respectable submission in Standard Manuscript Format with post-derby brain. Maybe I should just keep typing up and illustrating that last Artifact. Only, again, there's the post-derby brain problem. Typos! And there's only so much you can do with correction ribbon, especially when you've been back and forth over that ribbon about four times. (I really should order a new typewriter ribbon.)

Things are mostly on track. It hasn't exactly been the Tuesday I was planning on, but, y'know, close enough for horseshoes and rock 'n roll.

fresh, delicious, destined in part to be my lunch
i should not be complaining about these problems, lots of people might wish to have such problems
Tue 2016-08-02 23:59:59 (single post)

It's Tuesday. Tuesday is CSA day. CSA day used to be Monday, but then Monday became a chiro day and that was just too many errands in one day without guaranteed use of the car. So now it is Tuesday.

Accompanying this post is a picture of the fresh, delicious things that came home with me from The Diaz Farm. The vegetables (rainbow chard, Italian kale, carrots, kohlrabi, a cucumber and a couple of green tomatoes for frying; there was also garlic but I have enough right now) correspond to a small-size share. The bread is an add-on I signed up for, and is delicious. The free-range mixed-flock eggs I buy on an as-needed basis for $5.50. You can also buy duck eggs for a little bit more (the rear six eggs in the picture are duck eggs). They are huge and delicious but a little harder to crack into and I am not always in the mood.

Here is how Tuesday is supposed to go:

  • 9:00-9:30 AM: Writing (morning pages)
  • 9:30-10:00 AM: Breakfast, brush teeth, water plants
  • 10:00 AM-12:00 PM: Writing (freewriting, fictionette, submission proceedures)
  • 12:00-2:00 PM: Bike up to farm for CSA pick-up, make myself some lunch, eat, goof off
  • 2:00-4:00 PM: Writing (current story or novel project)
  • 4:00-5:30 PM: Email and other communications. Dinner. Also pack gear and get dressed for derby
  • 5:30-10:00 PM: All Stars practice (6:30-9:30) and associated travel time
  • 10:00-11:30 PM: Foam roller and at-home traction session
  • 11:30 PM-12:00 AM: Writing (blog post)
  • 12:00-1:00 AM: Goof off a bit, read, whatever. Also get ready for bed.
  • 1:00 AM: Go to sleep.

Hm. Written out like that, it sounds like a mercilessly busy schedule... except for the, y'know, 5-hour work day with the 2-hour lunch break. OK, it actually sounds like a really cushy job. AND I STILL CAN'T SEEM TO STICK TO THE SCHEDULE.

Problem the first: It really requires that I get up on time. That did not happen this morning. Possibly because I was unable to get to sleep until about 3:00 AM; my upper back was giving me grief again.

Problem the second: Once things start getting late, it's almost impossible to steal time from the rest of the schedule. If the morning writing shift gets cut short by an hour, then I just end my lunch break at 1:00 instead of 2:00, right? Except I cannot whittle "bike up to farm for CSA pick-up, make myself lunch, eat" down to one hour, even if I excise the "goofing off" part. Which for some reason I find myself practically unable to do. At least I wound up making my lunch so filling (big salad featuring today's veg and last week's mixed greens; far too much French toast made with heel of last week's bread) that I would up not needing dinner, so I could write right up to 5:00 PM. Cooking and eating takes up time, y'all.

Problem the third: There is a reason I only expect half an hour of writing after derby. If I lose some of my writing time to, er, "activity creep," well, it's going to be damn hard to extract that work out of myself after three hours of skating hard and turning left. Not to mention plyometric conditioning. The body has sucked all the carbs out of the system and the brain has no fuel to go on. Also I'm now a little sore from the foam roller and traction stuff.

(At-home traction involves lying on the ground with my neck supported by a triangular plastic device that looks a lot like a hands-free book holder. The head is allowed to loll back, creating the curve which we are trying to train the spine to achieve. The first sessions are short, but one increases the time as one grows accustomed to the experience. Ice on the neck and upper back after the session is recommended.)

But I am determined to see how far into August I can get with a perfect record of "perfect days," which is to say, days on which I've successfully checked off every item on my Dailies list in Habitica. And so, having only done three hours of writing rather than four and a half before derby, I return to my desk, determined to reach my goal no matter how tired I am. DETERMINED.

So. When this blog post is done, I'm going back to the embarrassingly belated July 22 Friday Fictionette. It's almost ready. The text is all done and the Audiofictionette is recorded. I just need to create the cover art, compile the .pdf and .epub, put the teaser excerpt together for release on Patreon and on this-here blog, and put everything up where you can see it. I expect I'll get some way into some of that tonight and, if I am very fortunate, publish the whole shebang tomorrow.

However, tomorrow is full of things--obligations as well as options--and I'm a little worried about getting everything done.

I can at least solve one problem by GETTING UP ON TIME, DRAT YOU. Do it!

Cover art incorporates public domain clip art with original photography by the author, whose kitchen, alas, consists mainly of fly attractants.
Sunflowers: Compare and Contrast
another dude at a bus stop, another lesson in HOW NOT TO APPROACH WOMEN
Thu 2016-07-21 23:32:11 (single post)

OK, so, last week's Fictionette is live! Yayyyyy. It is called "The Revolution of the Flies." It bears a certain similarity to Rush's "The Trees," which was not at first intentional but which I came to embrace by the end.

Below the Friday Fictionette cover, you may also notice pictures of pretty sunflowers! The very spindly one and its buddies (not pictured here) sprouted from seeds I pulled out of a bag of wild bird food. The big burly one that isn't blooming yet is out near a bus stop I use to get to Longmont for my Cafe of Life appointments. I wanted to put them side-by-side for comparison. Hopefully I'll get to see the big burly one bloom. It's going to be amazing.

There's a story that goes along with that sunflower photo. That story is called "Men Act Entitled To My Attention And/Or Gratitude On Public Transportation, Chapter 3,852." (You may recall the previous chapter in this series? OK good.)

So I took that photo today while I was waiting for the pedestrian light to change in my favor. It's a long light, so I had plenty of time for sightseeing. What I want you to know is, I was standing there with my bike for quite some time before I crossed the street and settled down at the bus stop.

At the bus stop there was a man, also with bike. He was listening to music over some speakers he had tucked away somewhere about his person. I was happy to leave him to it. I wasn't feeling social. My plans did not include social interaction. I was going to knit until the bus came, and then I was going get on the bus, open up my laptop, and write until we got to my stop in Longmont.

However, Dude is feeling social. And what he says to me is, "You took a picture of that weed, huh?"

Men? People presenting as male who happen to read this blog? I want you to know, if you don't already know, how that is likely to come across to a woman traveling by herself on public transportation. He may well have meant to communicate that he had taken an friendly interest in me and would welcome a conversation. Well and good, but I didn't want him taking an interest in me, I didn't want any conversation, and what I heard was, "I've been watching you for the last five minutes or more. Just so's you know."

Now, even if his first overture had not been so creepy, I still would not have welcomed conversation. I wanted to be left alone. But I really didn't want anything to do with this guy now. "That's my business, not yours," is what I said.

Rude? Maybe. But here's the thing: No one is obliged to give you their time or attention just because you talked to them. Anyone may refuse the invitation to interact. And if you're a guy approaching a gal before getting on the same bus as her, you gotta realize--she cannot physically get away from you without upsetting her travel plans. She has no escape other than the one you grant her by accepting rejection gracefully.

Turn it around; imagine if you were obliged to engage in conversation with every single person who, at no cost to themselves, decided to aim words at you. Sounds exhausting, doesn't it? At this point I invite you to Google the term "emotional labor." Or better yet, "men act entitled to women's emotional labor."

Men like to act as if commanding women’s attention is their birthright, their natural due, and they are rarely contradicted. It’s a radical act to refuse them that attention.

In any case, I've learned that "rude" is a lot more effective at getting guys to leave me alone on public transit than is contriving to make my "no" sound acceptably polite. Or, Gods forfend, than a lack of "no" at all. You know. The polite but non-inviting response? "Yes. I was." (silence) In my experience, guys who are invested in gaining women's attention will read an invitation into any attention, no matter how negative. I mean, they're after attention. If you give them any, they win. And those kinds of guys tend to define "rude" as "a woman saying no to me in a way I can't pretend to ignore."

Since my very desire to be left alone reads as "rude" to Some Dudes, I have learned to stop worrying about politeness in these situations.

Anyway, he didn't get violent, thank goodness. I have been lucky; I have not yet encountered men who get violent when women tell them no. I damn well know women who have. And I know of some women who have, and who aren't around to tell you the story anymore except by being a statistic. "Men are afraid women will laugh at them; women are afraid men will kill them." This is not exaggeration. This is our world. I have been exceptionally lucky.

No, he just got petulant. "I'm just trying to be nice and have a conversation," he said. "Some people are nice in this world."

That sound you just heard? That was me running all out of fucks to give.

"I was just trying to be nice," said with that resentful tone of voice, is always a lie. No one who says that is trying to be nice. They're trying to oblige the unwilling recipient of their so-called attempt at niceness to render them tribute in the form of affirmation, gratitude, and attention. They're trying to get rewarded for Making a Grand Gesture of Niceness. What they're not doing is concerning themselves with whether their "niceness" is needed or wanted, or even experienced as pleasant.

This is much like the pissy retort, "I was just trying to help!" in response to the helpee informing the "helper" that their attempts to help aren't helping. Doesn't matter if the helpee is polite enough for tea with the Queen; the very fact that they aren't rendering the "helper" sufficient gratitude is enough to condemn them in the "helper's" eyes. "Helper" in scare-quotes, again, because such people aren't concerned with whether their target is actually helped.

Anyway, he got one more dig in when we boarded the bus, about how he didn't want to deal with "aggressive people." Funny how we can define "aggressive" in such different ways. I consider it "aggressive" to refuse to respect someone else's wish not to engage. But whatever. He didn't say boo to me the rest of the trip, and I for one appreciate it. (There's the gratitude you were looking for, Dude.)

So those of you reading this who want to do better, here's your takeaway for the evening.

  • Don't be creepy. Telling me you've been monitoring my behavior is creepy.
  • Having a conversation, like having sex, requires consent from both parties. Respect my "no."
  • When there's no physical "out" available, respecting my "no" becomes even more important.
  • "Nice," like "help," is in the eye of the recipient.
  • You aren't entitled to anyone else's time, attention, or gratitude, unless you're paying them for it. And sometimes not even then.

So that's my story. Guaranteed there will be others as I continue being a woman in public.

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