missroserose: (Joy of Reading)
Hello, book-folk! I seem to have started a Business Ladies Club. Yesterday, the delightful Erika Moen had a post up on her Patreon discussing how she and a few of her female colleagues regularly met to discuss their experiences in running a business, and it occurred to me that I knew a few self-employed women and that it might be super useful to have a monthly get-together to compare experiences and offer support. So I put up a Facebook post about the idea, got a couple of responses, thought "Sweet! Three people is a good start!", started a Facebook group, and went grocery shopping...and came back to find that one of them had added ten more people, several of whom were in the process of introducing themselves. Well! The first rule of improv (and God knows I'm improvising here) is "Yes, and...". And clearly there's a need here, heh. We'll see how the actual meetups go! (At the very least, thanks to one of my favorite local feminist artists, we have a name and badge already, haha.)

So, onto the books!

What I've just finished reading

She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders, by Jennifer Finney Boylan. Memoirs are tricky beasts. Humans are storytelling creatures, who recall episodes and fragments and improve the breadth and depth of those recollections by stringing them together into a narrative...and yet, those recollections are shaped by that narrative just as much as the narrative is shaped by our experiences, which makes it tricky to discern which came first.

Whether in service to the truth or to storytelling or both, Boylan takes the popular memoirist's tack of relating her memories in a series of vignettes, some comic, some tragic, many both (as her friend Richard Russo puts it, "You love that place between what's funny and what's terribly sad"). It's a tricky line to walk, keeping to the fundamental truth of events while also ensuring thematic coherence, but it's done admirably here, beautifully illustrating the evolution of Boylan's coming to terms with her gender dysphoria, as well as the rippling-outward effects her eventual transition had on her family. If I have any complaint, it's that the perspective occasionally feels more than a little emotionally removed; Boylan clearly (and for obvious reasons) has a strong ability to examine even extremely emotional events from a perspective of distance, and there are times when that works against the narrative's accessibility - she comes across as more calm and withdrawn than I suspect was actually the case in many of these situations. Still, as someone who deals with strong emotion through distance and analysis as well, it certainly felt familiar.

(This has little to do with the book, but deserves a link anyway: her solemnization of my friend's wedding was among the most heart-rendingly beautiful such pieces I've ever heard. I almost wish I could get married again just to have her do the service.)

Murder in Mesopotamia, by Agatha Christie. The Heisenbergian nature of my reading choices strikes again - I have a weakness for well-read paperbacks that are maybe a little worse for the wear, and my friend's Boston Airbnb had a copy of Poirot in the Orient, an omnibus edition of three Poirot mysteries. This first one I had incredibly mixed feelings about; I can see why Christie remains so popular - her plot-construction remains second to none in the mystery genre, and she has a keen if cynical eye for human nature. But man oh man, some of her attitudes have not aged well. (I particularly cringed at the narrator's description of the Arab workers as funny-looking, with "their heads all tied up as if they had toothache." Cripes.) Of course, it's not precisely a secret that Christie held Particular Views, and they weren't really out of line with the culture of the time, but still...reading her makes me wonder what will stand out as equally cringe-worthy in our current popular writing, eighty years from now.

What I'm currently reading

Death on the Nile, by Agatha Christie. I...may have slipped the paperback into my backpack to read on the plane. *shifty eyes* (Dear Boston Airbnb friend - if you read this, I promise to mail it back to you when I'm done.) I'm only a little way through this, and so far all the action's been in England so there's been a minimum of racism, but whoo boy is the cultural sexism in full force. It's sort of a shame, because the rich charming fashionable heiress who's ambivalent about getting married for fear of giving up her independence is a far more interesting and sympathetic character to me than any of the others, but it seems pretty clear she's only being set up to be murdered. Now that I think about it, Murder in Mesopotamia also was about the murder of a powerful and independent-minded woman, although her power mostly came about in a covert and manipulative way...sigh. Still, these wouldn't be bad studies in the toxicity of gender dynamics in 1930s England.

What I plan to read next

I need to finish Blood of Ambrose and Come As You Are, plus I've recently acquired a couple of yoga books in preparation for learning to teach C2 classes. Unfortunately, buying them and letting them sit on your coffee table doesn't really do a lot to help you absorb the information...maybe if I strap them to my skin and let them absorb through osmosis while I work today...?
missroserose: (Warrior III)

^^The feels I'm having when I've literally just finished my internship and my studio manager emails me saying "hey, we've got a C2 opening up in September Mondays at 7:30 PM, do you want it? It's plenty of time to get you ready to teach C2s, and I'd love to have you in another prime time slot."

I mean, yeah, without a deadline I'll probably never push myself to get there, so I'm not going to say no. Breanne's not going to leave me hanging on training, and she wouldn't have offered it if she didn't think I'd be up for the challenge. And this is a huge compliment - Monday nights are super-prime-time for attendance. But whoa, that's...a little high-stakes, relatively speaking.

Good thing it's just yoga. :)


missroserose: (Life = Creation)
I was reflecting just now that lately I've been both hyper-aware of what day of the week it is, and completely unaware of how the days are passing. The former because it's the basis for my entire schedule, and the latter because my commitments vary so much week to week that it's hard to get any sense of cycle or rhythm. I'm not overextended, precisely; I've been doing better about keeping my pace sustainable, and taking days off when I need them. But I feel like lately all I've written about here is either the books I'm reading or how tired I am; this seems to be an indicator of the thoughts that occupy my downtime.

Which is not to say I haven't been doing fun things - this summer has been full of them! I went to a storytelling event with my friend Andrea just before leaving for Washington; Brian and I went to the Welcome to Night Vale live show; we took Jamila to see Aladdin and Jamila and her mother to see Hamilton on Broadway, we went to see a local production of Three Days of Rain solely on the strength of the company's previous performances (a gamble that paid off; it was an excellent show), we've been rock climbing with our friend Erin a couple of times, as well as the various just-hanging-out events like movie nights and festivals that summer here is full of. To paraphrase Alice Isn't Dead, Chicago in the summer is happy in a way few other cities seem to be. So it's not that I've been doing nothing other than work. It's just...I don't have a lot of downtime, and a lot of days I fall into bed exhausted. Maybe that's why we all curl up into our hermit-shells come fall and winter - we're so tired from running around so manically for months.

Still. Perhaps I'll block tomorrow off for a rest - no plans to go out, just take a yoga class and some much-needed downtime. (Now that I've said this, I'm almost guaranteed to get a text from someone hoping for a last-minute massage booking, haha.) Saturday is my birthday; Brian and I are getting massages and then going to check out some open houses for a couple of condos in the neighborhood that look promising. Onward and forward.

...I wonder if that isn't actually the fundamental source of my difficulty achieving balance - that need, a la Miles Vorkosigan, to keep the forward momentum going, lest I fall into another rut, leading to a depressive episode. That might explain a little about that sense of almost-fear that feels like it's driving me sometimes.
missroserose: (After the Storm)
Happy Day After Loud Patriotic Noises day! On Monday I taught two classes at Sauganash, my usual 1:30 and the 6:15. What with the long holiday weekend, I had a huge crowd for the 1:30 class - 20 people (my usual count is between two and five) crammed into a relatively small studio. It turned out to be an awesome class, though; despite the fact that there was a whole range of skill levels, everyone meshed well and flowed together, and I felt like I had a good rapport with people. I got lots of positive feedback from folks afterward, too, which is always gratifying, and a teacher who took my class gave me a good tip on dealing with crowds. I was curious if the evening class was going to be similarly crowded, or if everyone was going to be drinking by then...as it happened, it was closer to the latter, with all of four people, one of them Breanne (the studio manager), taking my class so she could give me my internship evaluation. (As hinted at in the headline, it was almost completely positive; she said I was clearly already an excellent instructor, and she couldn't wait to see what I started doing with the more advanced classes. She also particularly mentioned my music and gave me possibly the best compliment I've ever had - "The choice of songs at the beginning and the way they fit with the timing made me feel like I was in a musical!" So many warm fuzzies.)

It's been a busy week, but luckily I managed to get some reading done, albeit mostly yesterday at the park. So on to the meme:

What I've just finished reading:

The Kissing Booth Girl and Other Stories, by A.C. Wise. A collection of short stories, many of them with some kind of queer romance theme. A lot of them feel like they could have been fleshed out a little more; the title story especially seemed incomplete, like it was really a novella rather than a short story. Still, there's a distinct sense of atmosphere throughout most of the stories; I found "The Final Girl Theory", about an archetypal 70s-esque slasher/mondo/gore horror film and the cult following that had sprung up around it, particularly chilling.

The Wicked + The Divine vol. 5: Imperial Phase pt. 1, by Kieron Gillen. The gods are in the second year of their supposed two-year lifespan. And, as an academic dryly notes in this volume, "There are very few stories of gods bathing in blood in the first year of their return." There's a lot to unpack here, about the effects of power on ungrounded human minds, about the ways in which various personalities deal with the stress caused by a sense of disempowerment, and about exactly how dangerous a powerful person who feels disempowered and victimized can be. (That last feels especially cogent for our times, on an individual and a group level.) Given all of that, the subplot about The Darkness - an as-yet-unexplained threat that the gods are so far the only ones equipped to deal with - feels almost like a red herring; far more interesting has been seeing how the embattled deities try to aggregate their own fecal matter, or (in the case of Sakhmet) don't even try.

What I'm currently reading:

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee. A complete impulse buy, and I'm all of one chapter in (in truth, I burned through the last of The Kissing Booth Girl almost solely so I could get to this one - I was that charmed by the description), but this is shaping up to be a new favorite. Henry Montague, a brash and self-centered young 18th-century British lord, is off on a Grand Tour of Europe with his (sigh) younger sister and his best friend/confidante/longtime secret crush. Swashbuckling action, perhaps-requited pining, and encounters with historical figures have all been promised, and given the strength of the main character's voice in the first chapter, I'm already sold. I fully intend to savor every chapter.

Future Sex, by Emily Witt. Despite being almost three-quarters done (and not a long book), this one's feeling more and more like a slog. I've been reading the chapter on polyamory, which I have something of a personal stake in, and find so many problematic aspects with her analysis, stemming in large part from the fact that her case studies come almost entirely from a single demographic (rich white Silicon Valley workers in San Francisco). While I realize most practitioners of poly come from a background with a certain level of privilege (it's hard to juggle multiple relationships when you're working three jobs just to survive), there's all sorts of unexamined assumptions here, especially in the couple privilege and unicorn-hunting fields. The entire tone is faux-supportive-while-actually-being-condescending - "Look at these adorably earnest young people and how dedicated they are to their alternate lifestyle that their parents already tried and failed at in the 70s! But they really think they can make it work!" It reminds me a lot of the New York Times article on polyamory that generated a lot of justifiable resentment from the community - it's at least a more nuanced perspective than the usual "blog post illustrated by stock photo of three pairs of feet sticking out from under the covers", but nonetheless feels written to reinforce the couple-centric monogamous norm rather than challenge it.

Now that I think about it, that's probably my biggest issue with the entire book; supposedly the author's writing about possible roadmaps to future ways humans might engage with each other sexually, thanks to technology and changing social mores, and yet the whole book is written with a sense of exoticism - "Look at this! Isn't it strange/disgusting/fascinating/novel?" - that's very much at odds with its purported mission, and only serves to reinforce the "othering" of those particular lifestyle choices. Bleh.
I'll probably finish it, if only because I'm pretty close to the end already, but for a book I had such high hopes for initially, it's been awfully disappointing.

What I plan to read next

I'm beginning to feel like my reading style is downright Heisenbergian, or perhaps Schrödingeresque - there are possibilities, and maybe even probabilities, but the fact is I just can't know until I'm there. So as usual...stay tuned!
missroserose: (Kick Back & Read)
Hello, book friends! As I posted on Facebook, coming back from vacation is almost as much work as getting ready to go. Since returning on Sunday I've dyed my hair blue, bought groceries, made a playlist, taught two classes (with two more upcoming), run numerous errands, sent a nastygram to Hertz over being charged half again what Expedia promised, hosted two private massage clients, had Dominika and her husband over for dinner, and (according to Strava) biked nearly 20 miles all over Chicago. Still to do: mail presents to my mum, finish unpacking, clean out the fridge and microwave (seriously, it's been like two years and they're getting disgusting), create a Facebook page/website to connect with more potential massage/yoga clients, prepare for teaching my first yin yoga class on Sunday, winnow out my clothing/shoes/movies/general possessions, catch up on spring cleaning that I missed because my massage bookings went through the roof in May...and that's not even half of it. Augh! One step at a time.

Still, I've managed to carve out some time for reading, albeit less than I'd like since returning from vacation...

What I've just finished reading

Notes of a Native Son, by James Baldwin. I finally gave up on finding the time to read the paper copy of this I'd bought, and listened to the rest of the audiobook. It's good stuff, and thought-provoking, but I really don't think the format was right for me for this work; I've always been a faster and more thorough reader than listener (much to the frustration of my schoolteachers, heh), and audiobooks are frustratingly ephemeral when it comes to volumes that traffic in ideas - it's hard to consider and write about related experiences when the person just keeps talking. I do hope to reread on paper and consider more thoroughly, but as an overview of the ideas discussed it was definitely a good introduction.

What I'm currently reading

Come As You Are, by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D. This continues to be one of the most fascinating and (to borrow a term from the tech sector) disruptive books I've read on the subject of sexuality. The framework Nagoski presents is far more sexuality-positive, and particularly female-sexuality-positive, than the overall cultural narrative we all grew up with; I've noticed that Nagoski shares my fascination with personal and cultural storytelling, how it assigns meaning to our world, and how that meaning can be either beneficial or harmful to our sense of well-being. For instance, the hymen, possibly one of the most frequently misunderstood parts of feminine physiology, came to that point of misunderstanding largely due to patriarchal concerns over paternity, which led to a cultural narrative of female "purity" being perceived as desirable - despite the fact that the organ itself has little to do with a woman's sexual state.

I also particularly enjoyed the chapter on arousal nonconcordance, describing exactly what's going on when someone's genital behavior demonstrates arousal even when their brain is not sexually aroused. I was particularly interested in the correlation statistics; unsurprisingly, it's higher for men than for women. But even in men, it's only a 50% correlation; contrary to our cultural narrative, it's perfectly normal and in fact common for men to sport an erection without actually desiring sex. (This seems particularly significant given how often female-on-male rape is culturally dismissed, and likely hugely underreported, due to the supposed impossibility of it.) In women, nonconcordance is even higher - only about 10% of the time does increased bloodflow and lubrication correlate with actual sexual desire. Newsflash: our genitals are excellent at indicating sexually relevant scenarios (those where we perceive or expect to perceive sexual stimuli), but our brains are much, much pickier in terms of what actually turn us on.

As with the best sociological research, all of this seems fairly obvious in retrospect; the fact that few of us could have articulated it speaks to the power of cultural narrative (and the power of research to create better, more accurate narratives to displace them).

The Wicked and the Divine vol. 5: Imperial Phase Part I, by Kieron Gillen. The initial conspiracy arc having been (bloodily) resolved, the question for our various god-teenagers appears to now be, "What's next?" And, in the tradition of humans realizing sudden apparently-limitless power, the answer appears to be disturbingly close to, "Anything we want." For those of us familiar with the way such arcs usually go, the shape of the rest of the story is starting to be indicated; the hard limits may have been removed, but that seems most likely to have sealed our characters' fate. It's not difficult to imagine a bunch of teenagers given godlike powers self-destructing spectacularly, and well within the dictated two years' deadline; Baal in specific seems determined to avert that outcome, but it remains to be seen how successful he is. (The title indicates a couple of possibilities, neither of which bode well for regular humans.)

This collection begins with an award-winning issue, written in the style of a gossip magazine, where the authors had real-world writers "interview" the various gods (via chat roleplay) and write articles on them. It's a neat trick, adding surprising verisimilitude; the illustrations are spot-on for a fashion/gossip rag, and the writers add their own voices and reactions in a truly impressive way. For all that Satan remains the best character, and her interview is entertaining to say the least, my favorite is almost certainly feminist writer Laurie Penny going up against racist sexist man-child and self-proclaimed "shithead god" Woden. "And here the self-pity. It all comes out in a slosh of self-justifying red-pill logic that you really don't need me to describe. The biggest issue of all is Woden's specific limitation: unlike the other gods, he can only make magic for other people, which must be a bummer for a misanthrope." Reader, I about died laughing.

What I plan to read next

Still working on the currently-reading pile, heh. Seven books is a bit much, even for someone with my voracious appetites...
missroserose: (Warrior III)
I'm just over halfway through my internship, and picked up enough substitute classes to shave off more than a month (it's been less than two months, as opposed to the three-and-a-half it would have taken if I'd only taught my single regular weekly class). I've successfully dealt with a couple of unexpected issues mid-class - including, one memorable week, a confused-seeming woman bursting in through the emergency exit door (!) in the middle of a class, saying something about wanting her free week. (We have signs in the window advertising a free first week; she had found the front door locked and gone around to the side, where apparently I hadn't pulled the door all the way shut after airing out the studio. I gently-but-firmly explained to her that she'd need to come back before a class, through the front. Fortunately she left without incident; it was disconcerting, but happened at a convenient stopping point and I just skipped ahead to the next section of class.)

As with any performative skill, I have a hard time measuring objectively how I'm doing - whenever anyone asks how my internship is going, I say something like "Well, I haven't killed anyone yet, so I guess it's going well!" That said, I do feel like I'm settling into a rhythm of sorts. I'm more confident, at least within the confines of the format. I'm getting better at the more conversational parts, too, although I usually do some journaling and occasionally practicing in the shower to make sure I can convey my point in the limited time window. Somewhat entertainingly, Dominika (my two-levels-up supervisor/former anatomy teacher/friend/person I greatly admire, who also has taught at CorePower for years and knows basically everyone in the community) came to one of my classes...and of course it was the morning that I'd forgotten I was subbing an earlier class and was mildly hungover. Oops. I got out there and taught as well as I could; I knew I wasn't running at 100%, but past that, I couldn't really tell how I'd come off. So I braced myself for some honest feedback...and then Dominika came out and unhesitatingly told me I was already a better teacher than people she knew who'd been teaching for ten years. o.O Well, I wasn't going to look that gift horse in the mouth, even if I felt a little undeserving, heh. Still, that combined with the fact that I regularly have students inquire what classes I teach on the schedule tells me I'm doing something right.

Making playlists remains one of my favorite parts of the job; this week's, however, was giving me trouble. I'd challenged myself to make something more instrumental-focused, since I'd noticed that it was easier to teach when I wasn't having to compete vocally with singers. And I discovered that figuring out instrumental tracks is a lot more time-consuming - it's harder for me to bring a song's hook to mind without a chorus to hum. I ended up working on that one right down to the wire, convinced that it wasn't one of my stronger efforts...and discovered in situ that it actually was one of my best in terms of mood and timing. (Gift horse number 2!) I also had multiple people comment how much they liked it after the three classes I taught yesterday and today; that marks the first time anyone's commented on the music specifically. Combined with the positive feedback I've seen other teachers get on mostly-instrumental playlists, that seems like a strong indicator...I guess I'm going to have to get better at remembering song hooks and start listening to more instrumental music.

So that's the first half done! I suspect the second may take a bit longer, as I have a vacation coming up and also some visitors, but we'll see. The weather has been mostly excellent, so between teaching at Lincoln Square and Uptown and Sauganash, I've been biking all over the far north side of Chicago; I've been packing my little rechargeable Bluetooth carabiner speaker and having a complete blast listening to the Awesome Mix as I pedal against the wind. My thighs are going to be massive by the end of summer.
missroserose: (Default)
On the more liberal side of the current tug-of-war over basic workers' rights, one concept that's seen some experimentation is the idea of the six-hour workday, wherein the traditional workday time is cut by a quarter. The idea is that, especially in white-collar brain-intensive jobs, studies have shown that six hours gives you the best ratio between availability and reasonable productivity, before fatigue sets in and workers start making more mistakes and/or seeing deleterious long-term health effects - so we should take advantage of that and hopefully reap savings in terms of less stressed-out workers.

Interestingly, however, over the past few weeks I've been having almost the reverse issue. Most of my workdays over that time have been only a couple of hours at most - a massage appointment here, a yoga class there, a shift at the spa a couple days a week. And yet I've been discovering the hidden cost to going for weeks without a break, even when the bulk of any given day seems like it should be fine for relaxing.

For one thing, a massage appointment isn't just a massage appointment, especially working out of my home. If someone's coming over, I need to make sure the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and hallway are clean; the furniture is moved; and the table is set up. Depending on how messy the house was before and whether Brian helps (which, dear man, he often makes himself available to do), that's often a two-to-three hour job before I even get to the appointment itself. (Although, on the upside, the house stays a lot cleaner when I have regular clients than it does otherwise.)

For another, although yoga teaching doesn't require any cleaning, there's the transportation time to consider. When I'm teaching at Uptown or Lincoln Square that's maybe ten or fifteen minutes each way on my bike or the bus; however, my regular class is at Sauganash, which is either a 35-minute bike ride or a 45-minute transit ride away, depending on my energy and the weather. For an eight- (or even six-) hour workday, an hour and a half round trip isn't a huge deal, but the proportion compared to a single two-hour shift is, unsurprisingly, much higher.

And that's not even taking into account the mental effects of going weeks without a proper day off. I constantly remind my clients that relaxation isn't what happens in between everything else you do; it's a conscious choice that requires active practice. Needless to say, it's much easier to make that choice when you're not likely to have to suddenly get up and dash - i.e. when you've got that full day off.

I'm not complaining, exactly - I made the choice to take on the workload I did, for various reasons. (Income is helpful! Practice at my trades are good. Feeling useful and productive is nice, too.) And in a lot of ways, I'm privileged - I don't have to take on less-than-ideal schedules if I don't want to, for fear of not making rent or running out of grocery money. But I cannot even articulate how relieved I am to have a couple of full, real, genuine days off on my schedule tomorrow and Wednesday. And while I understood intellectually why a yoga teacher friend of mine would occasionally cancel plans with "I'm sorry, I need to stay home and eat cheese," I grok that mindset in a much more real and immediate way now.

New growth

Apr. 18th, 2017 11:24 am
missroserose: (Show Your Magic)
Yoga teaching continues to go well. Yesterday was my second weekly class at Sauganash, and the first time I was so focused on someone's form that I completely blanked out on a cue - in the Sun A part of the sequence, which normally I can teach in my sleep. :P Luckily one of the students was a little more on the ball than I was, offering up "...mountain pose?" when I trailed off, and I laughed and thanked her and found the rhythm again. Appropriately enough, I had just set the intention: new growth, and remembering that new growth comes directly from old growth, so if your practice doesn't turn out how you want it to in this cycle, rather than feeling like you've wasted your effort, remember that it'll help your next cycle be better. Way to give myself an opportunity to practice what I preach, haha.

I think it went over pretty well, especially given the glorious spring weather. There was at least one repeat student from last week, and one new-to-yoga student who was enthusiastic about my teaching. Another girl was clearly not new, and clearly working hard in her practice, even though her body wasn't as limber as she clearly wanted. I gave her a lot of assists and she seemed to find them useful; afterward, she came by the desk and was all "I wanted to give you a hug..." She got a big hug, and I hope she comes back.

I remember, when I had been coming to CorePower for a few months, one of my favorite teachers telling me "I love it when you come to class, because you always try." It seemed a little odd to me - doesn't everyone try? - but I think I have a better idea what she meant now; there's a distinct difference between the students who are there just to move and stretch and the ones who are actively working to improve. (And I'm sure it can change from day to day; God knows there are times when I'm just not up for the sort of painstaking body awareness that improvement requires, and there are teachers for whom specific anatomical cueing is just not their skill.) But it makes me happy to see those students in my class, and it makes me want to be a better teacher so I can help them continue to improve. To that end, I have a sub tonight and one tomorrow as well - lots of practice to continue that new growth.
missroserose: (Warrior III)
Almost exactly six months after I began teacher training, I have completed my first day of paid teaching. It's official - I'm a professional yoga teacher now!

It's been a long journey, filled with a lot of work, a lot of anxiety, a lot of learning about community, a lot of growth, and a lot of realizing exactly how much I have grown but hadn't discovered it yet. And now I'm here. Which is really only a brief stopping point - I have so much yet to learn. But it's still a point worth celebrating, I think.

I got this card to send to a dear friend, but hopefully he won't mind me using a picture of it here, as it's perfect to the moment:

Here's to learning, and growing, and doing difficult things we want to do in spite of our anxiety about them.
missroserose: (Default)
I've always loved the archetype of the leap of faith. It shows up in literal form in more stories than I can count, but as with all archetypes, it resonates because it's a metaphor for an integral part of our lives. In any undertaking, there comes a point when you've done all you can do; you've trained, you've studied, you've worked hard, and you've sent the culmination of all that energy out into the world. You've propelled yourself forward with everything you could, and now all you can do is hang suspended in the air, waiting to see if your ballistic arc is wide enough to carry you to the other side.

Which doesn't make it any more comfortable to be in the midst of that arc, with no visible means of support and no idea if the opposite side is coming any nearer.

All of which is to say, I'm having a tough time waiting to hear back on my yoga audition. My default mode is simply not to think about it and get on with other aspects of my life, and that's working to a degree. But it doesn't help with the fluttery nervous feeling I get when checking my email (even knowing it's far too early to be hearing back), or buying tickets (what if I end up teaching a class right then?), or what have you. I'm used to a strong internal locus of control; it's hard to face the fact that significant forks in my life occur due to the decisions and agendas of people I have little to no influence over (and, often, don't even know exist). But it's good practice in patience and acceptance, I suppose.

Luckily, I have a number of (more prosaic) things to be grateful for in my life right now. My wrenched back is 90% better after less than a week - which surprises and pleases me, given that my wrenched knee took something like a month to get to this point. Massage work is picking up, thanks to the new spa management, seasonal changes, and my being more available post-teacher-training. I have a massage of my own booked for this afternoon. And after years of waiting, tomorrow I go in for my tattoo. There does seem to be something poetically appropriate about having a set of wings drawn in my flesh during a time that I'm hanging suspended from a leap of faith.
missroserose: (Default)
On the one hand, going two-weeks-plus without a day off from physical activity (power yoga or massaging or both) was probably not the greatest idea that I've had. It would certainly explain why my quick nap a few days ago turned into a four-hour rest, as well as why, come Saturday, I woke up after a full night's sleep and an hour later wanted desperately to go back to bed. (I cancelled my yoga plans and instead booked myself a massage, and am consequently feeling much better today.)

On the other hand, just now I took a moment to really look at my arms in the mirror, and...damn. Maybe I should go on workout benders more often.
missroserose: (Default)
Not that I figure anyone really had any doubt; I've been plenty active on Facebook and even a bit on Twitter. But for a while I feel like I've had long-form writer's block; I have several blog posts full of Big Thoughts and Theories percolating in my head, but nothing's coming out. So instead of trying to write about Big Thoughts and Theories, I'm going to fall back on my usual blogging habits and relate some small things that are happening in my life right now.

--Things continue to go well in my work life. I've settled into the spa job, and found it to be both interesting and fairly lucrative. There's little opportunity to build repeat clientele, but I'm gaining all kinds of experience working with different body types, and the tips have been quite good on the whole. My private bookings have seen a real boost too, thanks to some good word of mouth, and I've acquired several regulars. For the past couple of months I've been averaging two to three bookings a week, which doesn't seem bad at all given that I'm working out of my home and don't advertise other than in person. And I've had a few of the yoga teachers at the studio specifically ask for feedback on their assists, which is gratifying.

--I'm gearing up for another Big Summer of Travel; upcoming is a trip to Alaska to help my mother move into her (giant, gorgeous) new house. (Related: if anyone's interested in traveling to Alaska in the future, hit me up - I know a great place we can stay.) Shortly thereafter is a trip to Washington, DC to visit [personal profile] peacefulleigh's family. Also, my fellow Arizona-dwelling PNW expatriate friend Niki is finally escaping the desert, moving not fifteen minutes away from Leigh's clan. (I may or may not catch her this trip - her tentative schedule has her arriving a couple of days after I leave - but still. Hurrah for good friends living close to each other! It's the next best thing to having them both live close to me.) Then in September, I have plans to take my friend Elyse to Anchorage to do touristy things, then hop down to Juneau to visit friends I haven't seen there in far too long. I'm looking forward to it.

--My Goodreads friends may have noticed, I've been on a real comics kick lately. After a good friend did a killer cosplay of Gwendolyn from Saga, I figured I should read the source material, and am enjoying it greatly - I love the contrast of the crazypants fever-dream worldbuilding with the so-shopworn-as-to-almost-be-mundane (but lovingly told) story. Also, courtesy of my local comics shop's Memorial Day sale, I picked up the first volume of Sunstone (already read on DeviantArt, but worth revisiting and supporting the author both) and a new-to-me series called Paper Girls. Hopefully that'll tide me over until the new Wicked and the Divine comes out.

--One of the long-form posts I've intended to write and never gotten around to has been a product review of Soylent, featuring some of the goofy labels Brian's written on the bottles as illustrations. Having built something of a backlog at this point, I've started a Twitter account to share them with non-Facebook-using friends. Feel free to follow or retweet!

--I feel like I'm barely skimming the surface here, but for whatever reason this is what my brain's coming up with at the moment. So I'll post this now, and maybe it'll help rekindle my more (semi-)regular writing habits. I can hope!
missroserose: (Balloons and Ocean)
I love that Swedish has a word, "mysig", that basically encompasses the whole concept of "warm and cozy and snuggled down against the weather".

Still dealing with the dregs of this cold. My throat and sinuses no longer feel like they've been scrubbed out with sandpaper, but I've got a serious case of Joni Mitchell voice going on. (This may or may not be related to having had friends over last night for dinner and games. Still worth it - everyone got on well and we had a great evening.) Plus winter, after slacking for months, seems to be running to catch up; it's well below freezing outside. But it's sunny in my living room, I have nowhere to go except perhaps yoga, and Google Play has served up an excellent playlist of slightly wistful 90s and 2000s pop that nicely fits the theme of "snuggled down with books and blankets and tea on a cold day". To break out (and hopefully not mangle) my rudimentary Swedish, "Det mysig helgen börjar nu."

My first couple of days at the new job went well enough. Thursday was a bit rocky - I was having a lot of anxiety, and as a result barely slept Wednesday night. (I made a Facebook post to that effect, which my supervisor caught, and suggested that since I didn't have any bookings in my first few slots that I come in later, which meant I could catch an extra hour-ish of sleep. It was much appreciated.) I got through Thursday but was still incredibly wound up, so I spent a bit of time on the phone with my mother hashing out what exactly was bothering me so much.

Mostly it came to feeling more than a little adrift; the whole venture is still very new, and I get the strong feeling management is still getting products and procedures sorted out. (I keep hearing about these amazing products and experiences we're supposed to be selling, for instance, but nobody's given any specific training on them. I asked the spa manager how aromatherapy massages were going to work, for instance, and she reassured me that everything would be premeasured and easy to use, which was nice, but...not what I asked.) My gut feeling, reinforced by my supervisor's messaging, just says to leave it alone while management gets everything restocked and sorted, but some part of me is terrified that while we're in this nebulous phase I'll do something wrong, or say the wrong thing, or something. I'm trying to sit with that fear and acknowledge it while not letting it affect my work or my life overmuch. And true to my psyche's usual form, just having it articulated helped a lot.

Friday was better, if busier. One of the biggest changes from my old job is the pace of the churn; I'm doing 50 minute massages with 10 minutes of change time, whereas I'm used to 60 minute massages with 15 minutes for sheet/client changes. (Five minutes doesn't sound like that big a difference, but when you're having to wait for folks to get dressed and then take them all the way across the sizable spa space before heading back and stripping sheets, it's a noticeable lack.) The general policy appears to be that, as your schedule fills, the front desk blocks you off for a break somewhere in the middle of your shift, which gives you a chance to catch your breath and generally makes it much more manageable. Hopefully it'll keep working that way in practice.

But in the meantime, I think the next couple of days are going to be about snuggling down and recuperating - I have letters to write, and books to read, and cats to snuggle. And I might've just ordered a bunch of new teas to try as well - The New Mexico Tea Company and their amazing labels will be my downfall, I swear. Hurrah for cozy weekends!
missroserose: (Default)
Lots going on in my life of late, though none of it has struck me as being particularly of interest to the world at large, which is why I've been a bit quiet on this front.

Thanksgiving was delightful; thanks to our friend Kat, we ended up hosting a Friendsgiving, pretty evenly split between people we knew and people she knew who didn't have family plans for the holiday. It was a good crowd, full of friendly and intelligent people; thanks to Kat and Brian's cooking, the food was also excellent. In the wake of it, I've been ruminating on why I enjoy Friendsgivings more than the traditional family-oriented sort; I think it has to do with my Pacific Northwesterner roots, as well as being sort of the black-sheep offshoot of the family (the two are not unrelated - most folks in Alaska live there in part because they're not close to their extended families). Don't get me wrong, my extended family are nice enough folks, but we have basically nothing in common, and with a couple of exceptions, none of them have shown any real interest in getting to know me and my life (or, in fairness, vice versa). So I tend to think of traditionally family-oriented holidays/events (weddings, funerals, etc.) with a sense of obligation rather than joy - and after the drama bomb my aunt set off over my (non)invitation to my cousin's wedding, I feel no qualms about skipping them. But even though many of them have drama stories of their own, I'm nonetheless fascinated by and slightly jealous of my friends with large tight-knit families; it must be nice to feel actively wanted rather than merely tolerated in that context.

My massage therapy career is going well, and growing - in fits and starts, as all growth seems to happen. (The week before Thanksgiving was especially crazy; I'm not sure what happened, but between clinic and private clients I went from maybe eight hours of active hands-on work per week to twenty-five. And of course that was just after I'd promised myself I'd go to yoga more regularly. I was So Tired.) One of my coworkers who lives nearby and I have set up a standing date on Tuesdays to get together and practice new techniques, so that'll help with (informal) continuing education, which should in turn help me maintain my enthusiasm. Milestones I have hit: graduation, licensure, professional organization membership (and associated insurance), acquiring a couple of regular clients at the clinic job, acquiring second occasional fill-in gig (which took basically no effort on my part - hurrah good word of mouth!), acquiring (and rebooking!) a few private clients, averaging at this point about one a week. Milestones I have yet to hit: any kind of formal continuing education, my first Yelp review, averaging more than one private client per week, making enough from private clients to need to report the income on my taxes, heh. (IRS rules say net income has to be over $400 before you need to report it; given that I'm still firmly in the negatives even with my relatively minimal startup costs, I'm not concerned for this year.) On the docket for next year: figuring out CE requirements/opportunities, registering as an LLC, possibly finding an accountant who specializes in small business.

And that's all the news around here, pretty much. Tomorrow is Brian's work Christmas party (still to do: dye hair to match purse and boots, try on outfit to make sure it works as well as I think it will, find necklace to match bracelet), and this weekend we're hosting [livejournal.com profile] thewronghands and her posse. Here's to pleasantly-busy-but-not-overbooked times!
missroserose: (Default)
I'm in Seattle, and appear to have lucked out with regards to the weather - it's been sunny and warm (for Seattle) and absolutely lovely with the fall colors just coming out. Monday I take the train up to Mt. Vernon to see Donna for the first time in far too long and meet my goddaughter, but for now I'm enjoying spending some time in one of my favorite cities. It still entertains me how the smells here translate to "home" for me in a way Chicago doesn't yet; much as I love my new city, that crisp-cool cedar-and-spruce smell just makes me feel at ease in a way few environments do.

[livejournal.com profile] thewronghands, whose social network I've long admired from afar, is graciously letting me stay in her swanky digs and meet a few of her local friends; especially graciously as she's kind of been swallowed by work lately. (Luckily I'm a little familiar with the "work is eating your world" crunch-time environment, heh.) But I've still gotten to meet [livejournal.com profile] canyonwren, whom I've long suspected is pretty awesome, after years of seeing her comment on LJ. Hi! *waves*

Adora Belle has adjusted far faster than we had dared hope, and is already sleeping in her kitty bed (as opposed to jammed under the far corner of the guest bed) and wanting to be let out to explore the rest of the house. Brian has been carefully introducing her to the other cats; as expected, she gets on fine with Dexter, and things look more or less okay with Tripp, but Leo's really not sure about all of this, and there's been some hissing and growling on his part. So, time to find some baby gates at a thrift shop and see about convincing him that she won't eat him. Sigh. I foresee our treat reserves becoming rather lower over the next couple weeks.

Work has continued to go well, although the clinic has had an extraordinarily slow October - possibly due to the Cubs hoopla and everyone saving their pennies for beer at Wrigley Field. Still, I've had a few rebookings - including one particularly enthusiastic client who told me she'd been telling all her friends to book with me - and I'm starting to get hits from the business cards I've been passing out. And as much fun as I've been having in Washington, I'm actually kind of missing work. Which was never a phrase I thought I would utter. Clearly I've been replaced by a pod person.
missroserose: (Default)
--My goddaughter is here! Sophie was born last Wednesday, and (judging by the pictures) is tiny and adorable and only looks a little like a squashed potato. (Or Winston Churchill. Or Yoda. Newborns. *grins*) I can't wait to meet her in a month! And to see Donna; it's been far too long.

--The first week of my new job went well. Lots of requests for the standard fluff-and-buff, but I did get to work on one man who was right up my alley - his muscles were all knotted up from schlepping suitcases around, and some myofascial and trigger point work did wonders. The receptionist told me later that he couldn't say enough good things about me. He's not local, sadly, but his employer has an office here; I did tell him I'd love to see him again when he's in town next. We'll see. So far this upcoming week is looking pretty slow, but that's life at the bottom of the totem pole - priority for appointments is given based on the hours you were available in the previous month, which with my current schedule should put me solidly in the middle of the pack come November.

--Brian was in Dallas for work all last week...and has to go back today for another week. Boo. I don't mind the time alone, in principle - I can set the thermostat to whatever I want, or better yet, turn off the A/C completely and throw open the doors and windows! - but two weeks at a go starts to feel lonely. As independent as I fancy myself, I've lived with someone else nearly continuously for more than a decade now; that kind of time spent leaves an imprint in your life and habits. (And let's face it, he's pretty cool to have around. Half of my more clever quips I steal from him.)

--I picked up a copy of The Body Keeps The Score on an Audible Daily Deal, and it's turned out to be completely fascinating. I initially thought it would be about the ways our body reacts to trauma, a useful thing to learn about for a massage therapist; as it happens, while it touches on that subject, it's turned out to be more about the neurological effects and how they affect the body and mind of trauma victims both. Fascinating stuff, but what's really been eye-opening for me is the discussion of victims of childhood trauma - neglect, abuse, molestation. These people display a well-known constellation of symptoms - difficulty with emotional regulation, propensity toward obesity or anorexia, high likelihood of self-harm, high predisposition toward autoimmune disorders like lupus or fibromyalgia, and a significant lack of bodily awareness, among others - but the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (the "psychiatrist's bible") has no separate diagnosis for the condition, and the completely drug-oriented treatment framework that's sadly the norm now doesn't help either. So they'll reach a crisis point and seek help, and be diagnosed with depression, or bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder, or (if they have a particularly observant therapist whom they trust enough to open up to) post-traumatic stress disorder, and be given drugs to 'treat' that disorder, which won't help long-term because their problems stem from neural patterns and behaviors that were (tragically) adaptive in their earlier years.

This particular bit of knowledge slots nicely into a gap I've been wondering about for years now. I was initially a psychology major in college, but I got discouraged precisely because the field seemed to be all about figuring out which drugs treated what problems, regardless of the person's background or experiences or anything else about them. In all fairness, I know some people for whom such drugs are life-changing; however, in the years since then, I've also had a number of friends who fit exactly the profile described in the book - they've been in and out of doctors' offices for years, trying to figure out why they feel broken and nothing seems to help. Many of them have managed to have amazing lives nonetheless; now that I have some idea of why life has been so difficult for them, I'm even more in awe of their accomplishments. I'm looking forward to listening to the section on treatment strategies, as well; it's good to know there are people working on strategies that actually help these people, even when the medical establishment refuses to recognize their problem.

--I was petting Dexter the other day when I realized that he's developed several more little white furs on his face. In retrospect, this is hardly surprising - he's twelve or thirteen years old, after all - but it startled me a little that I hadn't noticed until now. We humans are so good at seeing what we expect to see, and it's sometimes a little discouraging how easily we fall prey to the assumption that life is fundmentally unchanging. Often it takes something momentous - a birth, a death, a wedding, a career change, a betrayal - to make us realize exactly how time's been passing, and things and people have been changing, despite our merry assumptions of stasis.

I don't really have any great conclusion or insight to this observation, but it's interesting to me how even though we experience time in a linear fashion, we certainly don't perceive it that way. It reinforces my conviction that it's important to take the time to really listen to each other and connect, rather than just taking each others' presence for granted.

And I should definitely spend more time petting my cat.
missroserose: (Default)
Today I start my new job! I'm slightly apprehensive about it, more so than is really justified. I mean, I've worked there before (student clinic is basically an internship), so I know the procedures; I know where everything is, I know the place is well-run by high-functioning and ethical people that I like. I've even heard through the grapevine that clients have been asking after me (although we'll see if they book with me now that I'm a professional and command twice the hourly rate, heh). And I genuinely like and am good at the work. So there's no reason to be concerned.

And yet I can't help feeling just a bit anxious, more so even than the usual "starting a new venture" nerves. Now that I think about it, I wonder if it's the very perfect-seeming-ness of the position that's contributing. I mean, if this were just another office job, it'd be...well, just another office job. I've never really self-identified as "secretary" even when I was doing it full-time; it was always a stepping-stone. (I was rarely certain what it was a stepping-stone to, but I knew I wasn't going to be a secretary my whole life.) "Massage therapist" maybe wasn't my first choice on the list ten years ago, but it's been a bit of a revelation; I don't have the mental blocks about it that I do about music and writing and acting, so I can do it wholeheartedly and with clear intentions; a particular joy I've rarely experienced before and never in a career-type context.

So starting to do it as a career is a little scary. Not because I'm worried I'll fail, really, but because I'm concerned I'll lose that joy. (The phenomenon of people losing former enjoyment in an activity they're being paid to do is a well-documented bit of human nature - something in how our brains are wired seems to think we only need one reason to engage in any particular activity, and "money" replaces "genuine enjoyment" dispiritingly easily.) And because I identify so strongly with this work, if I stop enjoying it, or if some other aspect of it doesn't work out, it's a much bigger part of my identity that I'm having to reshape.

I think my challenge is going to be twofold: more immediately, figuring out how to stay focused on doing my best work in the moment; and more overarchingly, figuring out how to stay engaged and fulfilled in the field, even during the inevitable plateaus. I strongly suspect "continuing to learn new tricks and techniques" is going to be a big part of that second one; despite it being a little premature as yet, I've been eyeing local physical therapy education programs. But I don't have to worry about that now; I can take this one day at a time. So...onward!
missroserose: (Life = Creation)
Technically I have class right now, but it's my clinic-skills class, which is the precursor to entering student clinic. And since the three members of my class are all strongly ahead of the curve, and our attendance numbers plenty high for state requirements, the instructor simply had us take the final on the second day and gave us the last few classes as either practice time or time off, as we preferred. Given how rarely I get to sleep in anymore, and the fact that I've worked quite a bit at the front desk and thus already know pretty well where everything is, I picked the "time off" option. I got to sleep until 9:00 AM! It was glorious.

School continues to go well. I finished my Foundations of Massage class with full marks, so I'm officially able (if not licensed) to do a one-hour classical massage. I've been doing my best to keep learning/devising new techniques, however, both because it's good to be able to customize and because, frankly, doing the same set of moves on person after person gets old fast. I have a practice partner who's been coming over every Tuesday afternoon for a month now; yesterday, I tried some new techniques and also made a significant effort to stay present and not be mentally multitasking (which is usually my biggest liability; I'm so used to cogitating on multiple subjects at once that it's tough for me to stay in the moment). She said afterward that it was the best massage I'd given her yet, and while I'd never done badly, she could really see how I was improving. I'm pretty pleased about that. On to Massage for Specific Conditions, Further Western Techniques, and Eastern Modalities!

On the work-study side of things, I recently finished Internal Anatomy and Physiology, which was a rather poorly-designed class: we were cramming an entire semester-long intro-level class into five weeks; the textbook was aimed at high school students and thus was written in a fairly juvenile tone; the curriculum, while useful information, wasn't made particularly applicable to bodyworkers, which made a lot of the students resent how quickly we were supposed to be learning the information, especially as many of us weren't used to high-intensity academic performance. I did fine, in part because I have a bit of a background in it from my psychology courses/reading, but a lot of the other students were struggling to keep up. Because I'm me, I wrote a pretty extensive critique with some suggestions in the end-of-class course evaluation; I didn't really expect it to have an effect, but I've heard through the grapevine that once my Pathology for Bodyworkers course is done I'm going to be working with the teacher to combine the two courses and make it more applicable/accessible. I'm seriously jazzed about this; one of my biggest frustrations with postsecondary education in the past has been how the administration clearly couldn't care less about the students and their opinions, except as a source of cashflow and enrollment numbers. Admittedly, this is a much smaller (and private) school, so caring is probably easier here, but I admit I'm especially pleased they've been so on-the-ball about recognizing that I want to contribute. (This has not always been the case with organizations I've been associated with.) Maybe I'll see if they want me to stay on part-time as a teacher/administrator after I graduate.

In non-school-related news (I do still have some parts of my life that aren't school-oriented, heh), on Saturday Brian and I had a case of multi-spoon-resistant-derp - we weren't sick, exactly, but neither of us had any energy or could even really think. So we ordered Domino's and sat on the couch to watch Lucy, our Netflix rental. (Capsule review: Fun action flick, with a bit of philosophy thrown in; not as smart as it thinks it is, but eminently stylish with laudable science-forward humanistic themes, even if the premise is a bit of folk wisdom that's been repeatedly disproven.) After that was done, we were still feeling derpy, so we fired up Hulu and watched Agent Carter, which I'd been hearing good things about. Color me impressed - it's a stylish and well-shot secret-agent-noir, with some great performances, some very clever misdirection in the writing, and a refreshing lack of the usual misogynistic "action-girl" tropes. It's definitely part of the Greater Marvel Cinematic Universe (there are moments when you think you're just watching a noir but then Comic Book Trope #384 comes along and you go "oh, right"), but it does a very nice job standing on its own, and Hayley Atwell absolutely kills the lead role, with a very human mixture of determination and vulnerability. If it sounds like something you'd enjoy, check it out; I haven't heard if ABC has plans to renew it, and I'd very much like to see a full second season.

Okay, morning decadence is over. Time to get into gear and start my day. Anatomy quiz later!
missroserose: (Default)
Hello, world! I'm not dead! I've just been...kind of insanely busy. As mentioned earlier, school is ramping up in intensity, and while I don't feel overwhelmed, exactly, there have definitely been some things falling off the edges of the plate. Thus, this post - part assessment, part update, so I can get a big-picture feel for how I'm doing and my friends have some idea of what to expect for the next six months or so.

Stuff that's going well! )

Stuff that's going less well. )

On the whole, I think I'm doing pretty okay. I could probably stand to de-stress a bit more; maybe a few more hot baths are in order. But for the next six months, I think I can deal. After I get my license, hopefully things will calm down a bit, especially if I'm working part-time. We'll see.
missroserose: (Inspire)
First things first: I got my first rejection letter for a story. :)

That may seem like an odd thing to smile about, but I promise I'm not just trying to (literally) put a happy face on things. I wasn't kidding when I said earlier this was a story I was proud of, and this submission was miles above any of the hold-your-breath-and-dive-in submissions I made to story contests and whatnot. So getting an actual rejection letter, even just a form letter, feels like a badge of legitimacy - I truly and honestly gave it my best shot, and it didn't fit with what they were looking for. So now I keep looking, and keep writing. That's what authors do, especially ones that are new to the professional game and haven't established a niche yet. Admittedly, I don't know if I'm comfortable calling myself an "author" yet, but it feels like a big step along the way.

I realize I'm in a somewhat privileged position to be so sanguine, since neither my finances nor my sense of identity were riding on an acceptance. The former's mostly a matter of luck, but the latter...I've been working hard on that. I know I've at least mentioned that I was (and, sometimes, still am) struggling with defining myself, especially now that I'm not working a traditional job and don't have any regular source of my own income. (I think it's partly why I've latched on to yoga so heavily; it gives me someplace to go outside the house, and a way to define myself, albeit more as an enthusiast than a professional.) But mostly I've been trying to take my mother's advice, and rather than beating myself up because I haven't reached a particular milestone/earned a particular title, be more accepting of where I am now, and who I am now, and just enjoy where I'm going. It's a process, true. And I don't want to limit my writing to "when the muse strikes", because that seems like it could very easily become code for "I don't feel like doing something hard". But I've been a lot happier about my life and my writing both over the past month and a half.

Meantime, I've written another short story - one that feels good enough for professional submission, although I'm honestly not sure where the market would be. (I wrote it as a gift for a friend, though, so that's a secondary consideration.) I'm proud of it; it's another project I've seen through a difficult/thorough revision process and come out with an infinitely better product. Once I was finished, I even did something I've never done and went back and read the rough draft. There was more of it in the final product than I'd guessed, but even more, it made me realize how far my writing's come in the past couple of years. The rough draft was about on par with a lot of the half-finished stuff I've got lying around in my Google Drive; the final draft was better-developed, tighter, and far more gripping.

One of the things that made this one such a challenge was that it was about fundamentally different characters than the sort I normally write about - darker, and more aggressive. (This caused a bit of whiplash, as it started off as a playful piece, and then midway through took a couple of comparatively dark turns.) Generally, my characters tend to be in pursuit of Truth/Beauty/Freedom/Love, because I'm a Bohemian at heart; this time, the main character's central conflict was that he desperately wanted those things but was also terrified of them, so he kept sort of orbiting the core of the story but couldn't reach it like I initially wanted him to.

Part of the reason the revision process was so difficult ("I want you to do this thing! Why won't you do the thing??") was that this wasn't something I decided in advance; it wasn't until my faithful beta reader commented "He's a tragic figure, isn't he?" that I realized why I'd been having so much trouble with him. At one point, I even spent some time trying to write him into a sex scene (because, yes, I'm still a porn writer at heart, but also because what people do and say during sex is a good measure of who they are at their core), and ended up with five different variations on the scenario, none of which felt particularly arousing. That was when I started to get that his problem wasn't that I couldn't find his truth, it was that he was too terrified of his own truth to express it, even wordlessly. (And, big surprise, sex without emotional truth really doesn't do a whole lot for me.)

Man, the creative process is strange. No wonder artists are known for being a little eccentric.


missroserose: (Default)

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