“It's funny how just the simple act of answering a day's worth of e-mail will keep the crushing inevitability of the entropic heat death of the universe at bay for a good half hour to an hour.”
John Scalzi

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

there's a reason these things become cliches
Wed 2016-08-10 23:53:46 (single post)
  • 3,339 words (if poetry, lines) long

Two big good things accomplished today: Finished preparing the June and July Fictionette Artifacts for mailing out to my very patient $5/month Patrons and submitted "It's for You" to the next pro-paying market I would like to introduce it to. As I get slowly caught up on All The Things, I'm beginning once more to feel like I can manage to continue pursuing a career in commercial fiction and running a four-times-monthly self-publishing gig simultaneously.

Tomorrow's task in short fiction: Review, and probably revise, an old, old short story of mine (circa 1995) and see if it's appropriate to submit to an anthology I just now today heard about. This temporarily displaces a couple other short fiction tasks because the anthology has a submission deadline of Aug 15.

I might have got even more done today had I not slept in. Last night's practice was exceedingly effortful. (Also exceedingly bruising, but nothing new there. It makes me weirdly happy to look in the mirror and see bruises polka-dotting my shoulders and upper arms. Like ink-stains on my fingers after doing my Morning Pages with a fountain pen, it's proof that I Showed Up.) Last night's sleep was also exceedingly interrupted--like, four visits to the bathroom, something ridiculous like that. And I woke from it with that stuffy almost-headache that I used to get constantly before I went on blood pressure medication, probably because I forgot to take my blood pressure medication last night. Gah. Stop reminding me that I'm getting older, body!

As usually happens when I sleep in, I had vivid dreams. My remembered dreams have possibly been extra vivid and also more numerous due to rereading Jeremy Taylor's book Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill. I have a sizable library of books about dreaming, lucid dreaming, and astral projection. Rereading them tends to have an immediate effect on my dream recall. I value my dream diaries; they go back to my elementary school days and have been the inspiration for a lot of my fiction.

What was unusual was that I continued the same dream from where it had left off each time I went back to sleep. I honestly can't remember ever managing to do that before. Gods alone know why I would want to; it was a terribly frustrating and anxious dream about scrambling to get my things packed up to check out of a hotel room on time. Well, late. In the dream, it was already something like two hours past check-out time when I realized I had a hotel room to check out of, and my car was at the wrong end of the hotel, and the hotel was long and winding and rambly like a monster shopping mall, and as I packed up things I kept finding more things that needed packing up (hiding not only in drawers and stacked on tables but also under the covers of an impeccably made bed) that I couldn't believe actually all fit in my luggage in the first place. And as I frantically grabbed things and stuffed them into containers, two housekeeping staff members stood patiently watching me, waiting to clean up the room when I was done. One was a small woman with a cheerful demeanor who kept telling me "It's OK, no pressure." The other was a tall, solidly-built man who loomed over the proceedings, clearly there in the role of Unspoken Muscular Threat.

I don't think I was actually trying to get back into the dream each time I hit SNOOZE. I think I was just trying to cement it in memory, because I wasn't ready to get up and write it down. But every time I went back to sleep, there I was again, wondering how all these snack items ever fit into one snack bag, or why I thought I'd manage to work on all of these many quilting, needlework, and knitting projects over an 8-hour drive and weekend stay.

I think the dream had us in Wichita, but I don't think it was WFTDA D2 anxiety so much as other anxieties using the next trip I have planned as their setting. This is actually a recurring subset of a recurring category of anxiety nightmare--I had almost exactly the same dream last month, only in that dream, I raced back to my hotel room only to discover it empty because a member of the hotel's maintenance staff had a policy of confiscating anything left in the room after check-out time.

Since I just this week moved all my data back over to an aging laptop with a noisy sub-performing fan, my immediate interpretation is that I'm anxious about getting all my data backed up NOW before it gets "confiscated" at "check-out time," i.e. before the old Asus tanks and takes my files with it. I've already burned the most immediately necessary writing projects to R/W DVD, along with my Thunderbird and Firefox profiles, but it feels like a drop in the bucket. Another option that occurs to me is the lifelong anxiety about needing to get all the stories in my head written and published NOW NOW NOW because you never know when you're gonna DIE. This is a thought that regularly inspires me to close my eyes, cover my ears, and sing LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU.

The nice thing about both those anxieties is, there's positive action I can take to ease them. I can't get everything done in a day, but I can do a little bit to address each issue daily. I can, say, finally activate my Dropbox account tomorrow, archive the next chunk of data to disk, and, as mentioned above, get the next story ready to submit for publication.

If there is a moral to this story, that's about it: Don't panic because you can't get everything done at once. Just try to do a little every day. Not very deep, I grant you, not exactly innovative, but it's surprising how practical a cliche can be. (I guess there's a reason they're cliches.)

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.

YPP Weekend Blockades, August 6-7: Actually more like the August limited edition trophy report
Sat 2016-08-06 21:12:38 (single post)

I'm afraid I wasn't able to get the blockade schedule up while it was shiny and new. It's nearly 8 PM Pirate Time now, and all that's left are one blockade each on the Meridian and Cerulean Oceans, both well underway and neither, it would appear, jobbing. Sorry, y'all. (Info is below if you want it.)

I can, however, tell you about two limited-time-only trophy opportunities we are in the midst of.

First, there's the August 2016 Seal o' Piracy, which you will earn by...

Completing 4 different expeditions (Imperial Outpost, Viking Defense, Buried Treasure Atoll, Lost Shipwreck)

Past experience suggests that Brigand King expeditions, either as information received after a successful battle at sea or by following a compass, may also count toward this goal. Those of us with obsessive spreadsheets will keep careful notes.

Second, we are in the middle of the Pirate Summer Games 2016! Old hands at YPP may recall that every time the Olympics happen in real life, a corresponding team competition happens in the game. Every pirate will find themselves assigned to a team named for a monster out of Greek mythology. Each valued action which they accomplish--in the current contest, "compete against yer fellow pirates in one-on-one challenges or place first to third in Puzzle Competitions"--will earn points for their team. At the end of the competition, you get a copy of the trophy corresponding to how well your team did.

The current competition will last through August 22, so now would be a great time to log in and earn your team some points!

Standard reminders: Schedule is given in Pirate Time, or U.S. Pacific. Player flags link to Yoweb information pages; Brigand King Flags link to Yppedia Brigand King pages. BK amassed power given in parenthetical numbers, like so: (14). For more info about jobbing contacts, jobber pay, and Event Blockade battle board configuration, check the Blockade tab of your ocean's Notice Board. To get hired, apply under the Voyages tab.

Doubloon Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, August 6 ***

6:14 p.m. - Iocane Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Hellfire Club
Attacker: Origin
Attacker: Burn Them Down
Undeclared: Poverty Stricken
Undeclared: Candle

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, August 6 ***

4:05 p.m. - Cleopatra's Pearls, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Jinx (2)
Attacker: Tequila Sunrise

Cover art incorporates public domain (CC0) stock photo from Pixabay
this fictionette is on time (for once) and unspecifically apocalyptic
Fri 2016-08-05 23:32:02 (single post)
  • 1,113 words (if poetry, lines) long

Today is Friday, August 5th, 2016. The Friday Fictionette for August 5 is up on time, y'all. Please do not drop unconscious in shock or, from sheer surprise, behave in any untoward manner. The apocalypse is not upon us. Do not panic. Please leave the panicking and prediction of events of an apocalyptic nature to the characters in "Something Wicked." They are professionals and they know what they are doing.

With this blog post, I have indeed reached the 5-hour mark, which is great, but most of my writing hours were taken up with getting today's Fictionette ready to go. I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how to get Audacity and Equalizer APO to do what I wanted them to do (pre-amplifying and noise reduction), then trying to get GIMP to do what I wanted it to do (set text along a circular path in the correct orientation and position, dammit), then trying to get Sigil to do what I wanted it to do with Scrivener's epub output (make the fonts look marginally less amateur, pretty please?). Some of those were one-time things, and some were just-this-time things. As for the rest--well, if I get better about sticking to my plan of putting in a half hour on that week's Fictionette every day, I won't have so very much left to do Friday, will I? This "perfect day" thing really is its own reward. Or it will be. I am DETERMINED that it will be.

("DETERMINED" is the word for the week. All in caps, just like that.)

So unfortunately I didn't have time to do a couple other things I wanted to do today: finish typing up and illustrating and mailing the Fictionette Artifacts, for one, and, for my next trick, submit a recently returned short story to a new-to-it paying market. Yes! It's like I have other writing things to do besides Friday Fictionettes! I know, it's kind of hard to tell from what pops up in my blog. I tend to get preoccupied with whatever I'm TWO TO FOUR WEEKS LATE with.

Would you believe I have yet more overdue things to catch up on? Why yes. They just aren't writing things. (Well, one of them is, but it's not a writing fiction thing.) So I try not to babble about them too much here. Unless they're interesting, of course. But things like doctor appointments and meeting minutes aren't all that interesting.

On that note, I am off to spend the last hour of my night on other uninteresting yet terribly vital activities. See you Monday. (Or tomorrow, I suppose, when I post the weekly Puzzle Pirates blockade report. Whether that is interesting is up to you.)

they are ALMOST ready!!!
you ain't getting it right if you ain't getting it at all
Thu 2016-08-04 23:59:40 (single post)

This is a story about perfectionism, and how it is the enemy of all that is good and healthy in a writer's life. Well, this writer here anyway.

BUT FIRST! Attached please find a picture of the prophesied TYPEWRITER FRENZY. See? See how close the June and July Fictionette Artifacts are to being ready to mail? SO CLOSE.

*ahem* Yes. Right. Perfectionism. This is a story about perfectionism. Also about hardware failure under warranty.

See, my brand new Asus laptop--well, brand new as of April--it developed a problem. At first it was just a couple of times that the computer shut down when I knew I'd told it to hibernate. Then it was the computer failing to turn on the first time I pushed the button. Then it was the computer utterly dying when I unplugged it from AC power, and refusing to turn on at all until I plugged it in again.

The battery is, for some reason, not powering the system. Its icon indicates it's at a near-full charge, but the computer won't pull power from it at all. Alas. Remember me griping about spending a week just moving all my files from the old Asus to the new? Guess what I've got to do now before I ship the machine back for warranty service?

*Sigh.*

So I went to Goodfellas in Longmont for a working lunch after my chiro appointment, but alas, they could not seat me near a plug. So no work got done during lunch. Instead, I pulled out The Artist's Way and read the next chapter I was due to work on.

I have been doing a very slow and thorough reread of The Artist's Way. Instead of doing one chapter a week, as the book is designed, I'm sticking with each chapter for however long it takes me to do all of its exercises.

The chapter I was moving on to was Chapter 7: "Recovering a Sense of Connection." In it, Julia Cameron addresses the problem of perfectionism. She writes, "Perfectionism has nothing to do with getting it right... Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead." This is very wise and also relevant to my interests because last night, regardless of my DETERMINATION, I failed to log a perfect day in Habitica.

It hurt, y'all. It hurt and it was embarrassing. "Let's see how far into August I can keep this perfect day streak going!" Two days. That's how far. Two days. Defeated before I'd hardly begun! But no matter how determined I was not to lose, no matter how much I bragged in yesterday's blog post that I CAN DO THIS, my brain had devolved into mush and I could do nothing further with it.

This is where the topic of perfectionism comes in. Perfectionism says, "Ha, you failed your goal three days into the month. You're done! Loser." As though the rest of August didn't matter. As though I might as well not try to get my work done faithfully for the rest of the month because I had already failed to be perfect for the whole month.

This is actually a problem I had when I began using Habitica, then called HabitRPG. Every time I failed to complete any one of my dailies, the self-destructive voice in my brain said, "Well, you failed to get a perfect day again. Game over." And I'd find it hard to push myself to complete the rest of the dailies. Not going to be able to log five hours writing? Guess there's no point in posting to the blog, brushing my teeth, or checking my email. Sounds stupid, I know, but the self-destructive voice can be very convincing.

So of course now it's trying to convince me that I might as well consider August a failure and a loss.

Here is what I'm telling it: Game over, indeed. You know what that means? Start a new game! The object of the new game is, How many "perfect days" can I log in August, total?

Answer: At least three! Because by the time I'm done with this blog post, I do believe I'll have logged five hours of writing today. And that's despite having started the tedious and time-consuming procedure of invoking my warranty with Asus and prepping the new laptop for shipping.

Let's see if I can log a fourth tomorrow.

Cover art incorporates photograph from Wikimedia Commons (dragon, public domain) and stock photography from Pexels.com (bus, CC0 license)
we have progress, i repeat, we have progress
Wed 2016-08-03 23:39:10 (single post)
  • 907 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 929 words (if poetry, lines) long

At last! The Friday Fictionette for July 22 is up. It's a cheerful little vignette by the name of "Survivor's Guilt." (That "cheerful" bit was me being sarcastic.) The cover art features, among other things, my very first use of GIMP's Perspective tool so that I could make the fictionette's title look like it was printed on the side of the bus. I was very excited about that.

I have also released the Fictionette Freebie for July 2016. I decided to go with "The Revolution of the Flies" because it really was cheerful, or at least cheerfully satirical. It was as close to upbeat as I got this month, OK? I don't know why it happens. It just happens. Anyway, the whole world is now free to download it as an ebook or audiobook. Go on, give it a try, see what you think.

It's going to be another late night. It was another long day. There was chiro and there was driving John to the airport and there was the usual Wednesday volunteer reading and there was a surprise adventure involving locking my keys in the car and having to beg access to a neighbor's patio to get into my house and then try to remember where the heck I put the extra car key which I haven't seen since we moved. (I found it. It was in the nightstand drawer. Everything's fine.) And there was skating with friends at the rink. Not derby. Just skating. I don't get to do that very often. I knew it would imperil what was left of my working day, but I chose to do it anyway. Sometimes you just gotta have fun, right?

Now I am home. I'm tired. BUT I AM DETERMINED and we know how that goes. It goes... surprisingly well, actually. Last night I successfully logged my requisite five hours of writing and only had to stay up an hour later than usual to do it. So it can be done.

Tomorrow there shall be a flurry of typewriter action! Stay tuned.

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!

just when you figure things out they give you more things to figure out
Mon 2016-08-01 23:16:18 (single post)

I am late with all the things. All the Fictionette things, certainly. The astute and observant will have noticed that the July 22 edition still hasn't been posted, and as for the Fictionette Artifacts, I'm afraid the June mailings will just have to be sent in the same envelope as those for July. I'm dreadfully sorry. Hopefully this will be the week that I manage to get everything under control.

Which would be great, because over the past few weeks I have been having a hard time finding both time and energy to get stuff done.

I really thought I was going to have more time and energy to spare. My derby schedule has changed; as of the results of mid-year tryouts a couple weeks ago, I'm a full A-team member rather than being an A/B crossover, so I'm only attending one team's practices rather than two. That theoretically gives me back Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

Except, for one thing, I've been sticking around after All Stars practice on Sundays anyway. The first week it was because Papa Whiskey stuck around to help the Bombshells coach during their practice from 1 to 4; it was just simplest from a transportation perspective for me to stick around too. (I fetched us lunch and then volunteered my services as a non-skating official during B/C scrimmage. HOW DO JAM TIMERS MAKE IT LOOK SO EASY?!) The second week it was because I'd signed up to participate in our presentation at the Boulder County Fair, where we demonstrated Roller Derby As She Is Played These Days to curious fairgoers. (I wound up holding the microphone and explaining Derby 101 to the audience multiple times.)

These were both very fun things! But they were, nonetheless, things.

Meanwhile, I've also been spending a good deal of time at Cafe of Life. Turns out my back problems have a lot to do with the proper curve which my spine has not got. In an attempt to train it to have one, I'm undergoing adjustments and traction sessions thrice weekly. It's only about half an hour each visit, but it's also about a 40-minute commute each way by bus and bike, and it's a non-trivial interruption of my work-a-day schedule. And while the chiro sessions are having immediate positive effects (less pain all day! easier getting to sleep!), they are also having immediate exhausting effects, such that I come home ready for a nap.

And then there's the foam roller. I've been reintroducing the foam roller to my life. I ought never to have let it fall out of my life. The foam roller does wonders for the knee twinges, muscle cramps, and stiff ankles to which an athletic lifestyle is prone. It also runs away with another half hour from my evenings.

It's the same problem as always: Getting the writing done requires consciously devising, then sticking to, a specific schedule in which to do it. Which I had! Only now I have to change it to accommodate all these other changes. Gah.

It can be done! I hope to have good things to report tomorrow. And also a criminally belated Friday Fictionette to post. Again, sorry.

YPP Weekend Blockades, July 30-31: Turn your back for three weeks and who the heck is that?
Sat 2016-07-30 13:19:34 (single post)

Hey, check it out, blockades. Mostly on the Emerald Ocean, where there's three sets of multidrop wars going on between player flags. Probably because it's been a few weeks since I last did one of these posts, more than half of the flags involved are brand new to me. The usual suspect Bite the Pillow is getting attacked on two fronts by newcomer (to me) Major Key Alert; longtime 'kader Illuminati must choose whether to defend against new flag in town (so far as I know) Poverty Stricken; and Below My Deck is being confronted with a couple Hunter-side drops by Origin (a flag which contains the single crew SPECIES, get it? Get it?)--both of them are brand new on my radar.

The reason I'm repeatedly saying "to me" is, again, I've been out of the scene for a few months. Plus I don't necessarily manage to see everything.

The only other blockades this weekend are Babylon's attack on Admiral Finius on the Cerulean Ocean, and Coming Soon coming under attack by the forces of Brynhild Skullsplitter on the Meridian Ocean.

So the schedule's a little light--might be convenient for you, though, if your focus is on finishing up your Seal o' Piracy for July 2016. This is the last weekend you've got to earn that trophy!

Standard reminders: Schedule is given in Pirate Time, or U.S. Pacific. Player flags link to Yoweb information pages; Brigand King Flags link to Yppedia Brigand King pages. BK amassed power given in parenthetical numbers, like so: (14). For more info about jobbing contacts, jobber pay, and Event Blockade battle board configuration, check the Blockade tab of your ocean's Notice Board. To get hired, apply under the Voyages tab.

Doubloon Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, July 30 ***

2:56 p.m. - Admiral Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Bite the Pillow
Attacker: Major Key Alert

2:56 p.m. - Wissahickon Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Bite the Pillow
Attacker: Major Key Alert

3:28 p.m. - Kakraphoon Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Black Veil (3)
Attacker: Major Key Alert

9:10 p.m. - Albatross Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Illuminatti
Attacker: Poverty Stricken

9:16 p.m. - Gauntlet Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Illuminatti
Attacker: Poverty Stricken

11:54 p.m. - Tumult Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Below My Deck
Attacker: Origin

11:55 p.m. - Anegada Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Below My Deck
Attacker: Origin

*** Sunday, July 31 ***

11:55 a.m. - Terra Island, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Coming Soon
Attacker: Ice Wyrm's Brood (7)

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Sunday, July 31 ***

11:47 a.m. - Papaya Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (6)
Attacker: Babylon

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)
  • 929 words (if poetry, lines) long

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 womenís attention is their birthright, their natural due, and they are rarely contradicted. Itís 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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