“Here's the kind of writer I want to be: a better writer today than I was yesterday.
John Vorhaus

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

women be unreliable narrators yo
Tue 2014-04-15 23:42:11 (single post)
  • 3,400 words (if poetry, lines) long

So here's a thing that's been frustrating me about the story I'm revising. Well, it's not precisely a thing about the story, but more of a thing in society which got thrown into extra-special hyper-embossed relief when I sent this story through several rounds of critique among several groups of writers over several years.

Content notes: Feminism, sexism, consent issues, rape culture.

I will try to keep this brief and not get too ranty. It's a rant-worthy topic, but I just don't want to spend too much time or energy on it tonight.

Also, I want to stress that I'm not pointing the finger of accusation at any particular person who has critiqued this story. You are all wonderful--yes, you, even you, especially you--and none of you are to blame for the culture we are steeping in.

So. Here's the thing.

The main character in "The Impact of Snowflakes" is Ashley (who, as I admitted recently, only got a name during the current revision). The other two characters are her best friend since grade school, Josh, and her other best friend since high school, Katie. Through the course of the story, Katie is alone with Josh and is attempting to seduce him; she's reporting her progress conspiratorially via phone calls to Ashley. Ashley is uncomfortable both with Katie's single-minded, almost predatory pursuit and with Katie's having pigeon-holed Ashley into the role of confidante to said pursuit.

Very, very early in the story, Ashley states that she's relieved that Josh isn't responding to Katie's overtures. She also states that this is not because she wants Josh for herself, not that way.

On every version of this story, during every critique session (it's been critiqued to death, y'all), almost every critic scribbled in the margin, "Suuuuuuure she doesn't." Or words to that effect.

Because I guess there's no possible reason a woman might not want to see a male best friend partnered up with a female mutual friend other than sexual jealousy? She can't possibly just be worried that the other woman isn't going to be healthy for him, or feel protective when she sees the other woman's advances making the man seriously uncomfortable? No? And if a woman states "I'm not sexually interested," it can't possibly be because she's not sexually interested?

Now, I'm not a perfect writer. My rough drafts make all sorts of missteps. So do my final drafts. It is possible that I've misweighted the emotional impact and pacing of the story such that Ashley's irritation with Katie's constant reports on her aggressive seduction campaign comes across as jealousy.

But it's not the comments on the cumulative effect of these interactions that worries me. Those I can respond to. Those I can adjust for. What worries me is that the very first time that Ashley says "I'm not interested in him that way," the reader doesn't believe her. It doesn't matter how I reword it or how I tweak the tone. The very fact that she says it at all, even once, is taken as evidence that she very much is interested in him that way but doesn't want to admit it.

Basically, this is what society trains us to think. If a woman says she's not interested, well, why ever would she bother saying it unless she's denying what she feels? If, in the face of our scoffing, smug disbelief, the woman insists that no, she truly is not interested, then we think the lady doth protest too much. Chillingly, we are taught to see a woman's "no" as evidence of her meaning "yes." The stronger and more emotional the "no," the more confident we are in the unspoken "yes."

If "no" means "yes," and if "hell no" means "oh yes, please, baby, do me now", what words are left for women to say "no" with and be believed?

Why, hello there, rape culture! Please to be getting the fuck out of my story!

I think the assumption on the part of the reader is that Ashley is an unreliable narrator. And in many ways she is. There are things she doesn't know, and there are details threaded throughout her life and clustered over the timeline of the story which she fails to compile into an accurate big picture. The unreliable first person point-of-view narrator is a pretty standard tool in the writerly toolbox. You can do a lot with the gap between what the narrator knows and what the reader concludes.

But the problem is, I don't want that assumption extending right up through the narrator's declaration of her inner state. Not in this story, anyway. On page two, she says "I'm not sexually interested in him." Having barely got to know her, still the reader assumes she's lying. Or repressing. Or in denial. And I honestly think it's not just the words on the page that prompt the assumption.

Because that's how any number of toxic romantic comedies in mainstream media work: She says she isn't interested, but obviously they're going to end up together, because she's the leading lady and he's the leading man and this is a romantic comedy.

Because that's how any number of romance novels work: She hates him, he pisses her off, he gallops roughshod over her boundaries, he silences her with a nonconsensual kiss, she seriously hates him, but she can't stop thinking about him, and then they fall into bed together and they have fantastic sex.

Because that's what we're taught as children: If a boy and a girl can't stand each other and fight whenever they're forced to be together on the playground or in a school project, common wisdom says they're madly in love.

Because when a college student living in a boarding house is made miserable daily by her next-room-over neighbor, a third party thinks it reasonable to tell her, "You should just have sex with him and get it out of your system."

"Mommy, Donald pulls my hair and pinches me! It hurts and I hate it!" "Oh, Sally, that just means he likes you. And it sounds like you like him, too. You should invite him over."

It's not just that my character is assumed to be an unreliable narrator. It's that real women are assumed to be unreliable narrators.

I don't know how to push back against this. As a writer with a certain amount of humility, I know that if my story fails to communicate what I want it to communicate, it's generally my fault. It's my problem to fix. But I don't know how to fix this. I don't know how to have Ashley say "I'm not interested in him" and have the reader believe her.

But I'm trying. I'm using flashbacks to try to clarify Ashley's perception of Josh. I'm fine-tuning the cumulative tone so that hopefully Ashley comes across more like "Katie, stop being a jerk" and less like "Katie, get your hands off my man." Like I said, I may have contributed some to that perception. I wrote the thing, after all. And I'm steeping in this culture too.

And I'm trying to combat those cultural assumptions by letting Katie preempt the reader with them. So Ashley will say, not in narration to the reader, but out loud to Katie over the phone: "Look, you'll get no competition from me. I'm not into him that way." And then Katie can say, "Suuuuure you're not." And hopefully Katie will come across sufficiently as an asshole that the reader's sympathies and belief will align with Ashley.

Honestly, that's the best I can come up with: Put that toxic tenet of rape culture in the mouth of an unsympathetic character in order to dissuade the reader of that tenet.

And then the only problem will be convincing the reader that Ashley really does consider Katie a good friend despite how obnoxious Katie is.

*throws hands up in air, tosses manuscript pages, cries*

No, no, it's OK. I can do this. I hope.

...Did I say I wasn't going to get ranty? Well. It was a rant-worthy topic.

the problem of Mondays
Mon 2014-04-14 23:25:19 (single post)

Today was a big day! Today was my first Monday back at McCauley Family Farm for the 2014 season.

For several years now, for a value of "several" I can't precisely pinpoint anymore, Monday mornings have meant several hours of volunteer farm work in Longmont. That can mean many things. I do whatever they need extra hands on doing: planting seeds, thinning seedlings, transplanting seedlings, weeding furrows, harvesting and processing vegetables, harvesting and processing seeds, spreading compost, moving irrigation pipe, whatever. It tends to mean one other thing for sure: I come home sometime between 1:00 and 2:00 PM simultaneously ravenous and exhausted.

So today I got home, made soup, ate vast quantities of said soup, and collapsed in bed. (I also met the technician from Glass America who fixed a chip in our windshield. The car got a rock in the face on the way to the VNV Nation concert.) It's questionable whether collapsing in bed was precisely necessary when the only physically taxing things I did today were (1) dropping tiny seeds into seedling trays, and (2) trying to ignore how freakin' cold it was (come on, Colorado, I know April is your snowiest month, but that's no excuse). However, I can confidently say that staying in bed until darn near 8:00 PM was a tad excessive.

Reconciling farm-work Mondays with my new ambitious writing schedule this year is going to be tricky. On the one hand, days like today make me feel guilty for using "I went to the farm today" as an excuse to sleep all afternoon and into the evening. On the other, I know there will be days when the farm work will genuinely leave me done in for the day. I suspect I won't be able to apply a single overarching expectation, even as simple an expectation as "at least one hour's solid writing, OK?"

I know this, though: The uncertainty of Mondays points to the absolute necessity of sticking to my writing schedule Tuesdays through Fridays. Not just because I have one less day to get things done in a week, either. I do actually hope to get something done on Monday afternoons. And good writing habits when I'm tired from some amount of farm work won't happen unless I solidify good writing habits when I've got nothing else to do but write.

For now, my Monday intention will be to keep up the morning pages and the evening blogging at the very least. (If I have no writing progress to blog about, hell, I'll blog about the day at the farm.) The rest will have to be a work in progress. We'll find out how it goes together.

spent all evening singing about our feelings
Fri 2014-04-11 21:34:52 (single post)

Today started with a tiny awesome thing, and it ended with a great big awesome thing.

I had my 4-month dental check-up and cleaning this morning at 8:00 AM. That is not usually an awesome thing, tiny or otherwise, but today it acquired awesomeness by resulting in my best report in years. When the hygienist poky-sticked between my teeth and gums to measure the gaps, she never said "four." All the way out to the wisdom teeth, it was "three two three, three two three, two two three, three two three." And that sonic doohickey that moans over decalcification and shrieks at the sight of decay? It didn't let out a peep. It didn't even mutter. The hygienist double-checked it to make sure it was on. And the tooth-scraping didn't go on for very long either. No lie, I felt like a character in that old toothpaste commercial montage where patient after patient looks up and says, "You mean, that's it?"1

Best of all, the hygienist said that if I can maintain this level of home care, we might consider putting me back on a regular 6-month schedule. That's the first time I've heard anything of the sort since they put me on the 4-month schedule in the first place.

You know who we have to thank for this? HabitRPG. I have a daily for "Morning Oral Hygiene" (brush!) and "Evening Oral Hygiene" (floss! fluoride!), and their streak counters are at 36 and 32 respectively. That's how many days in a row that I've done them without fail.

So that was the tiny awesome thing.

The great big awesome thing was the VNV Nation concert tonight at the Gothic Theatre.

I had never seen them live before. I've danced enthusiastically to their music at goth clubs and sung along in the car, so I knew I'd probably enjoy myself at the concert.

I did not consciously expect to be in active bliss for the entirety of the show.

First off, a VNV song is composed of pure joy. Even the sad songs. Every sparkling, dancing synth arpeggio is made of joy and delight and, and, and rainbow glitter, OK? Every single song. They just start running the notes up and down the keyboard like that and it sends a neurological signal straight down the spine and into ALL THE FEELS. This was a recipe for goofy, blissful grins everywhere in the audience. It wasn't just me, and it wasn't just the awesome derby gals I was there with, it was just about everyone I could see.

And as a concert, as a concert experience, which is to say not just in terms of witnessing a live performance but in terms of sharing a unique experience with the performers... well, considered that way, it was the best damn concert I've seen since the last time I saw Cowboy Mouth. There's that same conversation going on, where the performer insists on 150% from every single person in the audience, and where the audience effin' gives it, and the performer gives it right back. There's that same sense that the performer notices you, yes, you, and whether you're having a good time, and if you are, they know it, and you know they know it. There's that same banter and commentary of the performer responding to silly things in the audience. The performer is constantly performing with conscious acknowledgment that the audience is part of this shared experience, and that both us on the floor and them on the stage are aware and grateful to the other for meeting them more than halfway.

Except of course the tone is very different. In a Cowboy Mouth concert, you get this sort of loving, rabble-rousing harangue from beginning to end, where Fred alternately leads you and goads you and scolds you toward the emotional climax of the show. The the tone of the VNV show was more gentle, more wide-eyed with delight, like they were constantly and genuinely amazed at the high we were all having together. I got the feeling that they say something like "This has got to be the best show ever! You are the most amazing audience ever!" at every show on the tour, but not because it's a rote thing to say, but because the performers genuinely feel it every time.

They ended the show's second and final encore with "Perpetual," which of course I was looking forward to all night. When the DJs play that song at a goth club, it's like a call to the congregation to come together in worship, especially when you reach the last lyric line. Everyone goes super serious and emotional, and their dance style gets all interpretive-like, with grand slow-sweeping gestures and meditative looks on every face. And if it sounds like I'm poking fun, well, I'm only doing so to the extent that it's aimed at myself. That's what I do if that song finds me on the dance floor. I can't help it. It's that kind of song.

Well, throughout the song, the singer kept interrupting himself to joke at the audience, encourage us to sing along to the song's signature sparkly synth arpeggio ("I don't care what language you speak, I don't care if you know the song, everyone can sing this song! ...Within reason") , and to threaten the impromptu crowd surfers to "put him down or I will personally kick you out! Jeez. This isn't a Slayer concert!" And none of that dampened the song's usual emotional effect, not a jot. Quite the opposite: all the laughter just added to the sense that hey, we're all in this together, onwards and upwards, joyfully.

The end of the song went on and on, everyone singing together over and over again, "Let there be, let there always be, neverending light," while the lights came partway up and the band members alternately conducted the audience-choir and took video of the forest of rejoicing hands and flaming cigarette lighters and gleaming cell phones. And my feet hurt like the dickens because for the first time in ages I was wearing my stylish stomping boots with their big tall square heels, and it didn't matter, that moment could last for another hour for all I cared.

So. That was the great big awesome.

I'm not sure I could take every day beginning with tiny awesome and ending with great big awesome. But it's a very nice way to construct a day once in a while.

1I tried to find that commercial on YouTube. I failed. Granted, I didn't try that hard. Anyway, you probably know the one I'm talking about. Late '80s, I want to say. Maybe early '90s. Might have been a toothbrush commercial rather than a toothpaste commercial. Gist was, using their product was supposed to lead to less plaque and therefore less unpleasant tooth-scraping at the dentist's office. (back)

''Lambing Season'' by Nicole J. LeBoeuf, featuring a lovely variegated wool
distracted by proof of publication
Thu 2014-04-10 23:00:01 (single post)
  • 6,000 words (if poetry, lines) long

You know what kills productivity optimism stone dead? Waking up with a headache. A persistent headache. It's entirely unfair. I didn't even get a chance at the day, dang it. I think maybe it was a combination of my first night back at altitude and our thermostat being left, forgotten, at a point inappropriately high for the rapidly incoming spring. Both factors probably meant I needed a lot more water in my system than I'd been putting in. Or something.

So I have very little actual productivity to talk about today. But look! I have a book! Well, a magazine that's as thick as a book, anyway. And I'm in it! Hopefully that happy news will distract everyone, including myself, from today's poor performance.

If you would like a copy of this latest book-like edition of [NaMEl3ss] Magazine, the editors would be happy to set you up with one. Individual issue available as ebook download and as print; you can also purchase a 1-year or 2-year subscription which include both print and ebook editions.

and breathe
Wed 2014-04-09 22:08:53 (single post)
  • 3,400 words (if poetry, lines) long

Dear world: I am taking a day off from you. It is rather late in the day to decide that, admittedly. But as much day as I have left in this day, it is not an on day. It is an off day.

I had lovely great ambitions when I woke up on the train arriving in Denver this morning. I even spent the last 25 minutes before it backed up into the station working on the "Impact of Snowflakes" rewrite. Then I bussed home, did my AINC reading, and accompanied John on some errands... and then I just crashed. Was simply exhausted. Spent the time between 3:45 and 5:30 PM dead asleep, so very hard asleep that when I woke up I wasn't sure where I was nor why I'd set an alarm.

Managed to shake that lethargy off in time for roller derby practice, and roller derby practice was invigorating as usual. But that was pretty much it. I am not going to pull out some heroic maneuver to get "Snowflakes" into the WOMEN DESTROY HORROR! slush pile nor reach my 5 hours of writing for the day. I am not going to put myself under that kind of pressure, not when myself gave me a clear signal that what myself needs is rest.

Tomorrow will be a full writing day (with derby at the end of it), and Friday is my new deadline for "Snowflakes" (because it's doable, and we can't just let these things linger). My alarm is set for a work-a-day rise-and-shine kind of morning. Tonight, however, I am clocking out. I'm going to curl up in bed with a book and enjoy being in a bed that belongs to adult-me, is not being towed across the country on rails, and that also contains my husband, whom I have missed this past week-and-a-bit.

Message ends. Niki signing out.

papier et plume in less than ideal combination
Tue 2014-04-08 10:48:43 (single post)

And now for a brief public service announcement:

Recycled paper notebooks and fountain pens do not go together. Yes, recycled paper is ecologically sound, pleasant to the touch, and often results in a cheaper notebook. But writing three pages of a recycled paper notebook with a fountain pen means A) using up half your ink cartridge B) while only being able to write on one side of each page C) because the results look like you did your Morning Pages with a Sharpie or a Marks-a-lot.

And now you know.

(And for my next trick, fountain pen on recycled paper on a moving train...)

initial call for boarding
Mon 2014-04-07 09:07:43 (single post)

Usually the order is "first, actually write; then blog about actually writing." Hence the name of the blog. However, in just a few hours I'll be getting on the train departing New Orleans, and I won't have any internet until tomorrow morning in Chicago. So today the order is "first, do the stuff requiring internet; then do the stuff requiring no internet." Thus, an early blog post.

It has been a good trip. I've spent it in full-on vacation mode: eating ridiculous amounts of good food, playing truly silly amounts of Puzzle Pirates, spending time with family, reconnecting with old friends. I had very little schedule to adhere to, most of it taken up with Saturday's Alumni Weekend and Class of '94 20th Reunion activities. The rest of my time I filled by saying "yes" to whatever suggestions came my way (which is how I ended up drinking beer and playing boo-ray with Dad's family the other night) and/or wandering around my old neighborhood on either two wheels or eight (the family bike now has a new seat that isn't falling apart, by the way -- you're welcome).

Saturday night's class reunion was well-attended. I want to say that somewhere between a third to a half of everyone showed up, which with a class of about 60 people means around 25 attendees maybe. Our hosts threw an excellent party in their gorgeous big uptown home, and there was food and drink and a collection of high school year books and unexpectedly excellent weather. In the "why didn't I think of that?" category, there were spike-your-own snowballs. ("These are magic snowballs," sez she. "What kind of magic?" sez me. "Booze magic," sez she. "I'll have mine with almond cream and Amaretto," sez me.)

I discovered that I really need to have snappy elevator pitch answers to "haven't seen you in forever" type questions. By the end of the evening, most of my answers had simmered down to their bare essentials. A detailed description of recent and forthcoming publications, which had the potential to cause eyes to glaze over and certainly wasn't going to be remembered in the morning, eventually became, "Yes, I'm still writing. I have a couple short stories coming out later this year."

I also discovered that some of my old classmates are still in New Orleans, having moved back or having never left, and there's no good reason I don't look them up when I'm town.

Last night I spent hanging out with a beer and my laptop at the Metairie establishment where my brother tends bar. I try to do that once every visit. It's generally quiet on Sundays, so we end up having a long rambling conversation in brief, unhurried segments between his serving other customers or my doing things on the computer. And there's a big difference between seeing him over lunch at our parents' house, surrounded by all those reminders of being kids together, and seeing him in a bar where he works, surrounded by proof that we're both grown-ups now. I got to visit with him in both environments yesterday. It's been a very good trip.

And now I've reached my last morning waking up in my childhood bed in my childhood room, drinking the coffee Dad left for me when he went to work, contemplating packing everything up for travel. And it's Monday. I'll be easing out of vacation mode and into work day mode while the train takes me north to Chicago. I still have a short story to revise. The market I originally wanted to submit it to has extended its deadline, so I might yet make it after all.

tired niki is tired
Fri 2014-04-04 22:35:44 (single post)

And I don't want to be tired. Certainly not while I'm in New Orleans. I want to save up all my tired and spend it during the train ride Monday and Tuesday, when I'll have nothing better to do than sleep. Well, and write, of course. But it is an utter waste of opportunity to be tired while I'm here.

Although I suppose I have reason. My agenda while I'm staying with my parents tends to look something like this:

  1. Wake up at 7 AM. Drink coffee1. Do Morning Pages. Visit with Mom and Dad, and also Mom's friend who comes to swim in the mornings, before everyone leaves for work.
  2. Go to all the places! Run all the errands! Often by bike!
  3. Eat all the things! (Today, all the things involved shrimp. It's a Friday in Lent.)
  4. Weather permitting, do a little skating. "A little" today meant "about a mile and a half along the Lakefront Trail from the Bonnabel Pumping Station to the Bucktown Marsh and back, and also do it NOW before the rain blows in."
  5. More visiting. More eating. More drinking.
  6. Fall over exhausted around 9:00 PM.

Tonight's visiting involved accompanying my Dad on his weekly dinner and Bourré session (with house rules for ante and bourré penalty) with his sisters and their families. They kept me up way past my bedtime.

Anyway, that's why Niki's so tired.

1Dad makes coffee every morning. When I'm in town he makes enough for two. Also, at least once or twice during my visit he ends up buying me a beer or mixing me a martini. Dad getting me drinks is one of those weird Signs You're Now a Grown-up that I haven't gotten used to yet and probably never will. (Another is encouragement to call parents' friends and some aunts and uncles by their first names without the accustomed Mr/Miss/Aunt/Uncle honorific.) (back)

Arrival upon the train they call the City of New Orleans
Wed 2014-04-02 21:54:01 (single post)

I arrived in New Orleans today. Dad picked me up at the train station and drove me back to Metairie, where Mom and a goodly handful of neighbors waited to say hello. Thus, this blog post comes to you from the very comfy location of my childhood bed in my childhood home. Other than a lingering familiar paranoia reawakened by finding a two-inch long cockroach scrabbling noisily in the kitchen sink when I went down for a late night cup of tea, which has me fighting down a case of the screaming heebie-jeebies every time I go to open a cupboard, retrieve stuff from the pantry, or, y'know, set feet to floor, I'm feeling fairly happy.

(This is not an indication of any lack of cleanliness in my parents' household, by the way. This is simply an indication that their house is in the Gulf South. Two-inch long cockroaches are simply a fact of life, which I must face if I ever want to live here full time again. Or even part time.)

The train ride was two nights long, and I managed to just about keep to my five-hour-a-day writing schedule throughout. That's because there's really nothing else on the train to do. Well, other than listen to podcasts, read ebooks and digitally published short stories (downloaded ahead of time because there is no onboard wifi on the California Zephyr), play video games, knit, darn socks, talk to strangers, and space out watching the scenery go by. So! It was easy. Kinda sorta.

I brought my skate bag along, reasoning that since I was going to miss three roller derby practices I might as well get some outside skating time. In Chicago, between trains, I skated from the station over to Sushi Pink for food, sake, and the wifi necessary to get yesterday's blog post up and do various online errands. A man on a street corner saw me coming and shouted, "Hey, what's up, roller derby?" which made me grin. A little girl on another street corner told her mom, "I want to roller skate!" which made me grin even harder.

Today, after greeting practically everyone in the neighborhood and then helping Dad eat all the cold boiled blue crabs he had remaining in the refrigerator, I went for a skate/walk with Mom (me skating, she walking) up the levee and over to the Bonnabel boat launch. Levee access is all open now, and the bike/pedestrian path is smooth as silk. I showed Mom some of the stuff I'm practicing, which I think she appreciated. She hears about roller derby all the time, but she doesn't much get to see it, so I think that, despite the one time she got to watch me scrimmage, she mostly just has this vague idea that "Niki gets to learn how to do new things in skates, which makes her happy, which in turn makes me happy."

So I'm getting skate time in, and I'll try to make it a daily thing. Weather permitting, that is. I'm also going to try to keep to my writing schedule, though I'm not letting HabitRPG hold me to the full five hours until I'm back in Boulder.

And that is all for tonight.

permission to be imperfect
Tue 2014-04-01 16:50:41 (single post)

This past week, I realized something else about Morning Pages and why they're useful to me. Put briefly: They're a safe place to indulge uncertainties. Which is to say, I can natter on to myself about how unsure I am, how worried I am, how doubtful I feel, how much I despair. And it's OK, because Morning Pages are not a performance. They're not going to be graded. They aren't the space where I have to be certain, sure, confident, perfect-perfect-perfect. They're a safe place to admit to insecurities.

I haven't readily given myself permission to do that. I'm insecure like woah, but I know I shouldn't be. I'm not allowed to be. So it was sort of an epiphany this past week to realize that it's OK to write down things like "I'm just writing the same thing over and over and over. Is it really doing me any good?" or "Renaming the protagonist of the snow-glue-apocalypse story after the kid in Dr. Seuss's 'Ooblek' story isn't clever, you know." or "It's late. I overslept by a bunch. Is it even worth trying to get the day started at this hour?" or even "I've been trying all weekend not to think about the City of Boulder 'failure to file' tax liability assessment1 that arrived Friday because I can't do anything about it until offices open later today, but it keeps popping up in my mind and making me feel sick to my stomach, and I really didn't need that on bout day2 or while preparing to leave town, as though it weren't hard enough combining bout day with travel prep weekend, right?!"

It's OK to admit to doubts like that on pages no one will read, in a space of time during which I'm not expected to produce.

It's a good thing to do. At the very least, it can't hurt. It's not like forcing myself to relive unpleasant memories on the page, which can sometimes be usefully cathartic but is just as likely to be a needlessly agonizing experience that poisons my mental state for the rest of my day as though the awful incident had only just now happened, and that also poisons the Morning Pages process itself with painful associations that will make me reluctant to do Morning Pages tomorrow, and that ultimately delays a much-needed healing process by ripping the emotional wound wide open to Day 1 status. (This is why I'm less likely to force myself to journal incidents I don't want to think about, and more likely instead to just write, "I'm thinking about something unhappy and unfair and infuriating that happened yesterday. I don't want to be thinking about it. Here is what I would rather be thinking about instead...")

Unlike that, this is harmless. And it's freeing to be able to admit that I'm imperfect. It's freeing to just let myself be imperfect. I'm in a backstage sort of space, where it's OK to allowing myself time for the pre-show worries and nervous breakdowns. And in doing so, I can work through why I'm full of doubts and come up with plans for working through or around the doubts. Having done that, it's more likely I'll actually leave those doubts backstage (on the page) and be able to perform better despite them on the stage (over the course of the rest of my day).

Realizing that it's OK to wibble on the page was also a realization that I needed to have that realization, if that's not too recursive. I just hadn't been acutely aware of how much of my day-to-day stress was coming from the combination of being uncertain and not allowing myself those uncertainties, and therefore not admitting to those uncertainties, even to myself.

So I guess that's the takeaway here: We have to put on a good act for everyone else; why make our jobs harder by trying to fool ourselves too?

1It's OK, it's all good. "Your actual tax due for those periods, even if it was zero, replaces your liability assessed here." But I did have to take an extra trip downtown, that I didn't really have time for on OMG I GET ON A TRAIN TONIGHT Monday, in order to have a smiling, friendly tax specialist in the municipal building reassure me to my face that "You are OK now." Totally worth it, though. If I'd just mailed my written note, I'd still be worrying, and I'd keep on worrying all through my travel. That face-to-face reassurance was two grand worth of a weight off my mind. (back)

2Bout day went great. No one got injured, neither during the mix-up bout nor during the "B-Team Showdown" as the announcer kept referring to our game. My Bombshells won, and I personally was responsible for two power jams in jam #2 in the first period. (Since the latest rules change, penalties are only 30 seconds long, so a single skater can go to the penalty box multiple times in a single jam.) I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of that. Whenever I feel ashamed of the stupid shit I did--"Fleur, if you come off your line one more time, I'm benching you," ARGH--I remember that, yes, while there are things I still need to work on, I've improved enough to be aware enough and quick enough on my feet to run back and cause the jammer to cut the track. Twice. During my first time out on the track that night. OK, so, maybe I get a Destruction of Pack Major penalty of my own one of those times. But still. Also, our opposing team, the Pikes Peak Derby Dames Slamazons, were a lot of fun to bout against and to party with after. There is proof of this on the internet. I'm not sure what we were doing in that photo. Pretending to be puppies? (back)