damselfish: (ballet)

Previously, I spoke with AgentLeavens about my project Cygnus (aka Siegfried/Odile hatesex) and mentioned that Siegfried had no problem sucking a little dick to get his way. "He's a really fun character! Too bad that didn't show up in lesbian Swan Lake at all. I mean, he and Benno could've been shipped? But that was too 'pair the spares' for me...."

And then I thought.

And realized that I could absolutely write a version of Swan Lake that's Benno/Siegfried + Odile/Odette, about their antics in breaking the curse, getting Siegfried married by his birthday, and still ending up with the people they love at the end of the adventure.

Me: "It would be hilarious and charming and totally not what Queen of Swans should be!"

AgentLeavens: "It's okay. You write fic for your fic all the time."

Me: "...I DO."

damselfish: photo by rling (Default)

I'm going to Yellowstone tomorrow with my grandparents for the week, and I'm finding myself peeved with the luddite police I'm running into. I'm trying to find out if there's internet in the hotel but I keep running into people piously bleating about how you should "get away from it all and shouldn't be tied to the internet, enjoy nature!" As if the two are somehow mutually exclusive. As if anybody has ever responded positively to being excoriated on how they "should" have fun by the pathologically smug.

It's part of the idea that taking away distractions will help you relax. I'm sure it helps some people relax. I don't know many of those people. The ability to do nothing, awesome, but enforcing idleness makes me twitch. Makes lots of people twitch (us outdoorsy folks can be high-strung, I've found).

I'm sorry you have such poor impulse control that you need to be totally cut-off, but some of us are perfectly capable of filling a day with hiking, kayaking, and photography before ending the night with some hanging out online. If you have such an internet addiction, you should be free to leave your computer and phone behind.

Especially if we're traveling with grandparents. Especially if we're going to Yellowstone and not somewhere less touristy with some friends who end the night boozing around the campfire. The odds are good I'm going to find myself alone from dinner until bedtime. Maybe I'll find something to do. The idea that I should be happy to fill this time doing "nothing" makes my teeth itch.

I'd spot on a website about the hotels: "Please note that all park accommodations are non-smoking and reflecting the natural surroundings of Yellowstone; televisions, radios, air conditioning, and Internet hook-ups are not available."

Wow, these hotels have fewer amenities than a tent some friends of mine set up.

Also, it reflects the natural surroundings... but there's indoor plumbing. The kind of tech we allow and the kind of tech we consider intrusive into an experience is more reflective of our biases than it is about the experience.

Granted, I'll take "bathroom with four walls and no internet" vs. camping with a 3G connection.

I find the misunderstanding about what tech is and does--particularly for my generation--vexing. These holier-than-thou types don't have a problem with someone sitting on the porch reading a book until midnight, but they do have a problem with doing the same thing with a computer. And to a lot of folks in my peer group, the two pursuits are not actually all that different. If your complaint about people using a computer is that they check out and don't enjoy their surroundings, how is a book any different? I love sitting outside at sunset and reading as much as any proper bluestockinged childhood bookworm, but being told that I have nothing else to do and that is how it Should Be will gall just about anybody.

Sure, I won't miss the internet when I get there. Odds are, I wouldn't use it for more than checking the weather or finding out where to go/what to do in the park with the wifi. Being told to cut the cord and that it's "good for me" makes me want to buy a satellite and bathe the park in internet access.

Mostly, don't fucking talk to me about how to properly enjoy nature if it has to be done on your terms.

damselfish: (martin!)

Back from WisCon!

I think, first and foremost, WisCon makes me miss academia and reminds me how little engagement I have in meaty, weighty stuff right now, even when people tell me I'm very informed and well-versed, it still feels like nothing more than a superficial acquaintance with the subject. Meeting people and having intense, engaging conversations about serious subjects, things these folks come up with on the fly, leave my jaw hanging open. Most of my thoughts on things are "yeeeeaaaaaah" and "wow." Granted part of this is limited mental energy: most people want to talk at night and I've burnt through all my serious thoughts by midafternoon (there's a reason my thesis-writing shift was from 7 - 11 am).

There's something about being immersed in an environment with such intensely thoughtful people that I miss dreadfully. After college I stopped researching a lot of things, and even now I have a hard time sitting down and plowing through long articles or non-fiction books, and even more difficulty actually grappling with the subject and shoving it into my brain. I'm sure other people will say this is not the case and I'm well-informed, but man, I know I can do better. I did better!

But the thought of going to the university campus and camping in the library for an afternoon trying to forge through largely impenetrable texts and yank out the beating heart of knowledge leaves me going "...maybe next week."

Next week is where good intentions go to die.

Anyway, WisCon!

For those who don't know, WisCon is a feminist SFF convention centered on writing, but obviously we're all big nerds so other nerdy things show up (e.g., a dalek bigger than I am roaming the con). When people ask I call it a feminist science fiction convention, because even that is pretty long to say and it raises way more eyebrows (though "feminist fantasy" convention sounds kinda... kinky). I don't do other literary cons so maybe this is normal, but I find it different from other con experiences because it's focused on the audience as creators and peers just as much as consumers, so you have choices between fandom panels all the way to craft/writing panels.

I don't really go for the fandom stuff. I go to siphon off the collective intelligence of people who've thought about things more than I have. Which meant my panel experience ran a little something like this:

Cultural Appropriation From the Non-Western POV: Does what it says on the tin, was supremely useful/interesting and also put me in contact with the only other Miamian at the con and we discussed the Cuban diaspora.

Reaching Readers: Useful if only for the advice that the book tour is kinda worthless and the blog tour is where it's at. How to contact folks, how to promote yourself, how not to make an ass of yourself, and wtf to do about goodreads (do you review other writers' works? Do you review--as yourself, under a pseudonymous web presence?)

Social Justice in Social Media: I came in late after going to another panel that wasn't quite meeting my needs, and most of what I saw was "how to protect yourself from the inevitable threats against your safety." Which, terrifying, but useful.

And so on! I did a few others like "Is SFWA Still Relevant?" which are entertaining from a "we're all discussing He Who Must Not Be Named" standpoint that really erodes the insider/outsider industry perspective, because it doesn't matter if you're a SFWA member, writer, or reader--you know who the bilious maggot in question is. I think there was a race/gender panel in about every slot; really variable depending on who's talking. A friend said that WisCon was weird because anyone could apply to panel, but from my experience most panels tend to attract qualified panelists, especially the more specific you get (historical costuming will almost always bring in historical writers/researchers, for example). Sometimes panels are more 101 than I want, but there's space for that too.

The best thing about WisCon to me is getting to meet people. Lots of people I've only heard of or seen online, either big name folks or folks I talk to almost daily but have never seen. Other cons tend to keep the celebs separate from the plebs--dunno if it's a literary convention thing or not, but I got to sit with award winning authors like it weren't no thing and it's so, so delightful to be like "aaaaah I read your thing aaaaah THE THING" (only, not, because I'm pretending to be cool and normal). Especially since I've been a hermit since losing my car and being able to go "aaaah community! Aaaah!"

It's really fun to meet like-minded people ("editors say they're bored of mermaid stories, but where are they!?" "I know, right? Give them to me if you've had enough, I've had none!") WisCon is worth the cost for the ego boost of meeting like-minded folk alone. I have an audience! An audience with tastes like mine whose needs are similarly not being met!

Suffice it to say, I walked outta there with enough books that I wasn't sure how I'd be getting them all home. Obviously I did. I learned why more books are coming out in trade format (~$16) rather than mass market (~$8). The subject is one that I wonder over any time I hear people kvetch about the price of ebooks, asking why they're more expensive than the paperback version. BTW if you're curious, the reasons range from "it's the standard for books outside genre, which are sized to fit in supermarket stands, especially romance" and "it's what indies publishers publish because you fit more words on the page." I find trades unwieldy and they hurt my wrist to hold open, so even aside from the price this is a discussion I have greater investment in than previously thought.

Of course, going to Madison in May always makes me wonder why I live in Miami: it's a cool little town full of mom'n'pop shops and the weather is beautiful. Then my nose dries up and my hands start to crack and I remember that humidity may make stinky, sweaty beasts of us all, but my skin will be hydrated and fabulous long after other people start to mummify.

Also I bought cheese. Caramelized cheese.

damselfish: photo by rling (Default)

After a frenzied day writing, shouting "I've had too much coffee, aooooaaaauuuu!" I finished my pet Swan Lake AU project at 43,000 words with almost 6,500 written today (my minimum is 1,000/day, my goal is 2,000). I even wrote the epilogue, which I hadn't planned to. I'm missing a few gaps here and there, scenes I need to get back to, but for the most part, the first draft is done. This was my last chance to write until after Wiscon, so I'm pleased as punch.

I haven't finished anything in ages, especially for a project that I had really enjoyed for about 90% of the writing. I wasn't even going to finish it, until I read what I had over again. This was a serious pet project, something I was sure I could never do anything (and so others have told me). Lesbian Swan Lake? Excites people but the market is small--both for f/f and for people who know enough about Swan Lake to care. This project came about when I asked myself "hey, what if Siegfried was the swan?" but instead of merely swapping the story and toying with the themes of female passivity in the swan figure (everyone knows Odette as if she's the star of the show, but she's the object to be battled over by Siegfried, von Rothbart, and Odile) I thought "hey, what happens if you don't break the curse, you just pass it on to somebody else?"

Thus I got the Siegfried/Odile hatesex project, which is officially The Stolen Star of Cygnus but I keep calling it hatesex despite the relative rarity of actual sex.

You ever read over your old stuff and go "jumping jehosaphat, this is exactly the work of the writer I want to be!" and have that weird realization that you made that?

I've been in a slump lately, which has battered my writing as well. Most times I'll look back at it and it's okay, but it's not quite what I wanted, I can read the depression cooties between the lines. All my failings laid bare.

This poured out of me over the course of two weeks back in March, a nonstop torrent of fire and fury, with exactly all the things that I thought challenged me and consciously worked on adding to stories--these things just appeared. Lots of character disagreements. Multifaceted conflicts. Then one day I looked at the screen and realized, I'd written everything I wanted to, I'd scratched the itch. It wasn't anywhere near done, but the overriding need was gone, and I went back to my "real" project. No one would see it, nothing. It was just a dumb idea that I really, intensely, needed to get out of my head.

I shared it with a couple people, including my harshest critic (love her, everybody needs a harsh critic), and the unanimous response was "omg need more, why isn't it finished."

It's the same characters from lesbian Swan Lake, but upending all the relationships resulted in some wildly unexpected tensions, alliances, and facets of the characters I didn't even know were there: Odile couldn't ever maintain her temper with Odette, but Siegfried consistently gets under her skin. You actually get a sense of Odette's fragility as well as her perserverence. You can really see how Siegfried doesn't know anything about Odette when he goes head-over-heels for her. More of Benno being the better son to the Sovereign Princess. Heck, I had no idea Siegfried could be so doggedly pragmatic or ruthlessly cheerful. I was never quite able to tease quite so much of a personality out of him as I did in opposition to Odile.

But damn, Odile, I'm tired out just thinking about how you are off-the-rails 24/7, whether in kicked puppy mode and/or rampaging bird-monster-fairy mode.

The trick to maintaining this while I finished up was listening to the right music... and the right music was by no means easy to come by. I asked for recs for "angry/smart" music since I was getting good mileage out of a Florence + the Machine playlist, but all I really found was that there's nothing like Florence + the Machine, nothing that evokes the embittered sense of wonder. I've never listened to the same thing over and over again in my life.

It was the same 17 Florence + the Machine songs, Nightwish's Imaginaerum (the film OST, not the album), some Birthday Massacre, Dvorak's 9th Symphony, with the epilogue/denoument to the Madoka Magica OST. Some songs, arranged in the right order, could also keep me in the right brainspace, but I found that the order was massively important: sinking into an action heavy sequence via Krypteria, only to have electroswing pop up, could really toss me out--even if I've written a whole lot of action scenes to electroswing before.

Well. I'd forgotten that writing can be so satisfying.


May. 15th, 2014 07:59 am
damselfish: photo by rling (Default)
Who all is going to Wiscon next weekend?

Because I am!
damselfish: photo by rling (Default)

You know how Pinterest mostly exists for crafting stuff and other things coded as feminine? Ignoring, for the moment, that Pinterest is a capitalist's wet-dream of rampant consumerist desire.

I googled for spaceship concepts.

And found multiple Pinterest pages for concept art for spaceships.

Now I'm imagining: homemaker spaceship shelfies, canning while in deep space, DIY murals to liven up the rusting gray hulk of your decommissioned freighter.

damselfish: photo by rling (Default)
There's oil drilling near the Everglades and concerns about fracking. Naturally I Google around looking for groups in opposition to this, because right now my displeasure is known mostly by me going "why are you so stupid?" and frankly that only works when many other people are saying the same thing.

While I do, I find what is quite possibly the dumbest Fox News segment yet. Given the riches of shameless idiocy Fox News usually provides, that should tell you to brace yourselves: Is Opposition to Fracking Damaging the Environment?

I kid you not. Is not injecting deeply polluted water into the boulder zone where it can damage the integrity of the very ground we walk on* and seep into our drinking water really good for us? I can't even make this up.

But what I don't understand is, who exactly is this aimed at?

Liberals/environmentalists only hatewatch Fox. Put forward such an asinine question and you know the answer.

The conservatives this segment is nominally aimed at? They will actively go out of their way to do environmentally unfriendly things. If, say, you have two brands but one says "echo-friendly" they will buy the other one--even if it's more expensive for them to do so. Thus, if fracking is somehow good for the environment, by this logic, conservatives will avoid it.

Wait you guys, I think I just solved the fracking problem. All you have to do is tell conservatives that it's good for the environment and they'll come out in droves to oppose it.

*Leading to an increase in earthquakes. Like, a scary amount of earthquakes.

**I know, I know, the whole segment is meant to point at environmentalists and laugh at how dumb/hypocritical they are, except I think the question is so egregiously stupid that not even Fox viewers would fall for it. Also the argument is that natural gas is good for us... except for the part where we export about half our natural gas, and the majority of the oil is shipped overseas. There is no benefit to Americans for destroying our own homeland. We don't get more/cheaper gas and oil. As Willy Wonka says, we get nothing! Good day, sir!
damselfish: photo by rling (Default)

One thing I find really strange/jarring about a lot of genre YA fiction is how something huge and life-changing happens and then the characters go back to doing normal teen things--particularly going to school. They also don't tell their parents things that they really, really should.

Like, authors, maybe I remember being a teenager better, I don't know, but I have something to tell you: I stayed home when I had to catch a late flight from vacation and nobody wanted to wake up in three hours to work/school the next day.

If I was secretly the princess of a magical kingdom and had until the full moon to find the Fiddlybobs of Rule, I would absolutely not be going to school. And yet, I saw this perpetrated again and again! I can forgive plots where the supernatural side of the story is a secret to be kept from parents (e.g., Animorphs), but that's not relevant in a lot of the books I'm reading now. Or sometimes the characters keep things secret when they really shouldn't because there's no evidence their parents suck, can't handle it, shouldn't handle it, or whatever. When things went south, 90% of the time my first instinct was to make an adult deal with it and those were normal life issues! If I needed to find the Fiddlybobs of Rule I would 100% be asking my parents if they know anybody in the Fiddlybob finding biz.

Were all YA authors raised by rabid disciplinarians?

damselfish: photo by rling (Default)

Don't know if I mentioned this, but I was in a car accident back in February--I'm okay, but I've been without a car for over a month now. For a while it was okay! It is becoming not okay as I am now fighting with bureaucracy on a completely different issue, and I'm running out of things to do around the house. There's a lot in walking distance that makes living life technically painless, but nothing that is really a day-long activity. I can go shopping and buy the necessities but there's only so many times you can walk to the mall or the grocery store. "I'll read a book! Oh right, no way to reach the library." "I'll go to the park! Oh. Hmm. That's too far to walk." "I'll garden! Oh, right, you did everything you needed to yesterday." "I'll play video games. ...No, because then I'll hate myself for wasting time."

Nevertheless, I've played a lot of video games. Except FF14. For some reason I log in and don't care. I've got a month and a half left of paid time but I really don't care. I maxed out my black mage and my options are level another class or... something. So I'm playing GW2 with a friend but wow that big event is reminding me that this is a ridiculously difficult game to get back into and googling for fight strategies (or anything strategies) turns up scanty information.

And what bureaucracy, you may ask?

Well I want to volunteer at the hospital.

Which requires proof that I received the MMR vaccine.

So getting the titer means finding a place that will provide it and getting someone with a car to drive me there (difficult because my parents work and my grandmother's car got smashed up so there is only one car I can use which belongs to a working doctor).

I've been given the run-around on getting the MMR titer--which will cost about $150--but I'm also attempting to track down records from the freakin' 80s/early 90s because I don't want blood drawn, don't want to spend that kind of money to volunteer, and I'm getting stymied at every turn.

Doctor: We don't have that, call the medical records. Also we can't order the titer without you coming in for a check-up.
Medical records: Why would we have that? Call the health department.

Why would I call the health department? They certainly won't have it.

My family doesn't have it because I'm done with school and who needs proof of vaccination once school is over?

So I called my school and am waiting to hear back. Then I called my college because maybe they have it! Well they might, but it's spring break so there's no one in the health center to check until next Monday.

I've been bouncing around on this for a freaking week. I was just like "screw it, I'll get the vaccine again!" and went to get it because unlike the titer, any clinic will do it, but was told that it was risky because it's a live virus. So we put in a call to a doctor to find out if this is true.

The irony if this all is that a few months ago I vowed to keep all records of all bureaucratic dealings because you never know if twenty years down the line it'll show up to bite you in the ass. So what happens? I need vaccination records from twenty years ago.

Now, I've volunteered for the hospital before, and I never needed this vaccination record. I know this is because anti-vaxxers kids are now coming of age and wanting to go candy-striping, and since MMR is the anti-vaxxer boogey man, that's the one they want proof of.

Is there anything that Jenny McCarthy isn't ruining for the rest of us?

damselfish: photo by rling (Default)

All these tumblr posts going around about unusual mermaids are killing me because they make me want to do all the things. I'm a writer with too many ideas at the best of times so this does not help at all.

Stormwright: My current project which stands at about 60,000 words and is the subject of my "Finish It/Write 40,000 Words in February" challenge. Sure I wrote 80k/a whole first draft for nano but I was already elbow deep in Stormwright and didn't have the honeymoon that I did for Swanherd. It's mostly about a witch and a half-merrow boy in a world where merrow men are ugly, so the stories say this is why mermaids like to sleep with human men but really that ugliness is the hotness to the ladies. THE HOTNESS. Also involved: troubled merrow succession, mysticism in re: the deified Shark Queen, and lots and lots of teenaged adorablosity. These protagonists are the cutest you guys, THE CUTEST.

Downreef: A tale of love and sequential hermaphrodism! Also an underwater post-industrial setting because I had two visions coming up with this: a black ocellaris's color and pattern on a flying fish, and a mermaid-filled machine-shop. Our main character, Dovekie, was rescued from the barrens as an egg when a magic storm wiped out the rest of the city's clutch, which made him the only possible friend-of-similar-age for Princess Milise. She's an adventurous bobtail squid and he's--well, they're sea-folk and nobody really knows. A flying fish mixed with something else, which means he gets the side-eye from sea-folk but he's not much of a flier, according to the flying fish. When Mili's given a consort--a seahorse named Shen--Mili has a snit about princessly expectations and Dovekie makes friends with the mild-mannered boy and then takes him to the dirigible races. "But anything on land is monstrous and blighted, right?" "Sure, but look at those beasts fly!" Later, a husband is selected for Mili, a dragon moray off the reef. Eripho spots that Dovekie's parents were a flying fish and black clownfish right away, and also uncovers Dovekie's well-kept secret in the blithest possible fashion: "So what? I used to be a princess." "...What happened?" "Older women."

Arctic Fantasy: Doesn't involve mermaids but it does involve a world of shapeshifters! Which is frankly good enough for me as long as it's set mostly on the water. Almost every story touches on the mafia-like orca families and my current novel project, Brings Them Home, is no different. Our hero is the son of a famed bowhead navigator and a ribbon seal she once had an adventure with, so our seal grew up with a herd of bowhead ladies in the Wilding Deep. To become an adult he has to undergo the Wandering Rite, where he'll find whale-ancestors who've shed their human forms generations ago, spirits, and hopefully Grandmama to teach her a new song and learn an old. Instead he spends the winter in town where he meets Yuliya Nightfoe, the Grand Dame of the poets (a vigilante group of orcas who enforce the laws of the Demarchy) who threatens to adopt him, and later he teams up with Nadezhda Finds-Them, an orca girl who he suspects intends to eat him. Nadezhda just thinks he's a transient orca while she's a claimer (resident) and picks fights with him because tramps and claimers have issues working together. Imagine our hero's surprise to find that nobody recognizes a ribbon seal when they see one (because, really, who has seen one?)

Mermaid Science!: After giving myself fits dealing with mystery deaths in my aquarium, trying to properly light a planted aquarium, figuring out compatibility, and trying to ID fish (I have never seen so many scientific names in my life! I never thought I'd become the person who says "oh yeah, that's totally L. hongi. Nice."), I asked myself if keeping mermaids in captivity would be any more complicated than what I'm doing now (I've had fish since I was ten, imagining tiny dolphins and mermaids in my aquarium was a thing that apparently I hearken back to). Cue a world with various mermaid species ranging from the human toddler-sized teacup (Amplexi ningyo) which is ever-willing to please thanks to the outgoing nature that saw them domesticated back in the Heian Period; the tree hunting Thai Archer (Laquei suvannamaccha) that throws the concept of "megasirens" into question by being a freshwater dwarf species and just as intelligent as the lorelei (Ancillae brentano) or the quintessential mermaid, Sirensis andersonii. I've had various ideas in this world but a lot of difficulty actually hammering them out into a plot. The ideas have gone:

Love and Other Obstacles at Oscar's Koiland: Set in the South Florida Mermaid Sanctuary, which is partly inspired by my experiences with various fish farms and a background in public aquariums as well as my own fishkeeping adventures, with all the weird, smart, funny people you come across in such a, frankly, weird hobby. I also had oodles of fun coming up with charming, odd, or highly descriptive names for mermaid diseases (check out some fish diseases to see what I mean). Our heroine, Luz Betancourt, is a whipsmart lady who works at the chronically underfunded mermaid sanctuary. She has one of the best voices I've ever written and her #1 priority is saving mermaids, either through ESMER (Everglades City Mermaid Rescue), Beach Combers, or on her own when she comes across a previously-thought-extinct exemplar of the deepsea dwelling Sirensis djullanar, who died out when their leviathan cities were killed during whaling. Whoopsies!

Nyxed: Kinda-sorta set in the late 80s, early 90s. No one really understands the nanaue (Pseudalopexis alopex). Back in the heyday of mermaids in captivity they were rare enough to be a real draw, and were displayed right alongside the much larger and more common andersonii. Right up until a youngster they called Pacifica learned to talk--a fact people dismissed as a cheap trick and not a sign of intellect. Until Pacifica, bullied by the bigger and older andersonii, lashed out and killed a trainer. Next up, moved to another aquarium, where Pacifica's older and wiser, and this time worked together with the andersonii in his tank to take revenge on the trainer that starved them. Third aquarium and this time the nanaue--now named Tangaroa--plots an escape and covers for it by helping the maneating and frankly psychopathic loreleis out at the same time. And then he meets the photographer Vinchenza, and they kinda-sorta revolutionize the way the world sees the sentient species of megasirens (andersonii, loreleis, archers, nanaue, and djullanar). Also involves lots and lots of behavioral studies of the continental US's only mermaid species, the goldstocking (Concupiscentiae floridensis) and sets the foundation for the mermaid rescue industry as it stands today (in Oscar's Koiland).

I need more time. Lots and lots more time. And energy to get all this down because I need it all right now and aaaauuugh. But all those "where are the unusual mermaid" posts make me wanna jump up and down and go "here, here! Your science/fishkeeper/I-wanted-to-be-a-marine-biologist-when-I-was-seven writer is right here!"

Also: the ocean is weird, you guys. Fish are weird. Everything is weird and it is so exciting, all the time.

damselfish: photo by rling (Default)

Things I don't understand about American cars:

Why are the pedals tucked up in the foot well like a pair of terrified testicles? C'mon down boys, you got room!

You're supposed to stretch your legs out, but if I have my heel on the floor I can only touch the pedal with my toes. I'd need feet twice as long to be able to drive properly. As it is even with my foot hovering up in the air, I couldn't floor it unless I sank deep into the seat, raised my foot higher and really reached for it.

Given that I was driving a Mustang GT this was kind of a total waste of car. Shame, because I liked it a lot.

Though the GT wasn't so bad as the Mustang V6 because it had a different seat package with shorter European-style seats that meant my knees cleared the edge and I could actually move my leg decently. And while the Mustang has a deeper well than the Beetle Turbo, it didn't feel quite so oversized and claustrophobic as the Beetle (fun car my ass).

But it's not just a sports car thing! I drove a Fusion and while its pedals weren't tucked way up in there, they still floated way off the floor and forced me to keep my feet off the floor, too, to really reach them.

According to dad, though, this is mostly a sports car thing. And then he told me to go check out European cars. Sigh. SIGH.

damselfish: photo by rling (Default)

Last Wednesday, my car got smashed up--I don't want to talk about it online too much but suffice it to say, I am in one piece, my car is in one considerably smaller piece than when it set out that morning, and I am awaiting news from the body shop/the other driver's insurance.

To pass the time I've been researching potential replacements.* My car is 12 years old, yet in spite of the law that says the insurer has to put me in the position I'd been in if my car hadn't been hit, they only have to give me the Kelly Blue Book value. If I wanted to buy a used 2002 model, for the blue book value I'd get a car with double my car's mileage.

It's a good car. I don't want to replace it. But it's a 2002 and it could have some extremely expensive damage that eclipses its value, we don't know yet. It's such a good car that car people usually remark on it. e.g., the tow truck driver said "That's a great car. I had one, a really great car." "It was my first car." "One of my favorite cars," he added, rather wistfully.

I bought it during the few years where luxury car brands were trying to entice younger markets, so they made kinda sporty low-end models. None of them do that anymore, but it turns out that no one is making sports coupes anything like my car (two-door, non-fug, with some room inside). Hell, "two door" seems to be disappearing entirely and replaced by boring sedan. No I don't want a sedan with a secretly sporty ride, I don't want a sedan at all, do I look like a sedan-driver to you? I wrote off entire car brands because they don't have anything at all what I'm in the market for, and I don't think I'm a particularly unusual market.

Imagine my surprise as I look at the market and I don't see anything I actually want for less than $50,000. It's not like I want a luxury car, my needs are simple:

1. Safe! This is especially important as I looked at the damage done to my car. Sure it was a low-end Mercedes sports coupe but it was still a Mercedes and all that implies. It was much smaller than the car that hit me, but it's still a fuckin' tank and if the seatbelt hadn't gone off, I probably could've driven it to the body shop after clearing up the broken glass. This whole "safe" thing writes off about 90% of the small cars I thought I'd be looking at.

2. Sporty! I spent 12 years driving a sports coupe. My experience driving other vehicles tells me that I require a sporty drive--I don't know entirely what this means except that it's more responsive, has more feedback as a driver,** better suspension, and very importantly: bucket seats. When you're as short as I am, you want short seats, too.

3. Good looks! Where do I even begin with how great my car looked vs. the lackluster field right now? This car, in this color blows all the competition away on sheer aesthetic value, particularly if you're looking for a two-door hatchback with lots of space (which this car had in spades, to the endless surprise of everyone). The only car that looks half as decent is the Honda CR-Z, which is maybe half the size of my car on the inside.

In fact, after some research I found that I can get sporty or I can get good-looking and never the twain shall meet. Though amusingly one of the articles I looked at was a list of 10 cars under 25k guaranteed to get you laid and I'd written off a lot of the list as lamesauce already. I am not sure what this says about me as the subject the car-buyer is attempting to lay, but... there you go.

Hatchbacks have mostly re-evolved into station wagons with altered lines. I cannot say PASS fast or loud enough to that. (That said, the Veloster Turbo is tentatively on my list because it's got the best mileage I've seen and it doesn't look quite so station wagon-y).

One of the cars that keeps coming up is the Golf GTI which... have you seen that thing? Even when it's cool, it's an uggo.

I also keep coming back to the retro muscle cars. My sister's had two Mustangs, and they look good, but over the past few years the body appears to have been... I don't know, melting into a car-blob. The 2014 is better than it was but for some reason the 2015 is melting again. That grill! It's so droopy and sad! I like the look of the Challenger and the Camaro, but I am not sure I'm in the market for an actual sports car. Driving the Camaro felt a little like being in a submarine (and I didn't get to see how feisty it was because the dealer pressed me about the color and ignored my "v6, please" and took me down winding side streets instead of somewhere I could nominally open it up). Perhaps I'm still bummed dad sold his '91 z28.

Then I think of the mileage and sigh to myself. My car is from 2002 and it got better mileage. We're in the future! Improve this! (I know, I know, no comparison. Still. SIGH.)

I spend a lot of time looking at cars but now I'm really looking. Both online and from my window: I live above a busy intersection where I see all sorts of cars, and I've realized that most vehicles on offer now are converging, stylistically, into some uberauto of pedestrian dullness. The lines are all the same! The colors are all muted! BLAAAAAAH.

*When I first got my car--my first car--I didn't imagine I'd be that person that wanted to hold onto their car forever. I'm easily bored! I want new, cute things! Nope: I'd drive this car forever if I could. It is my platonic ideal of cars, doing everything I need and being fun to drive.

**One possibility, my grandfather suggested I take his car and he buy a new one. I've driven it enough to know that it has the same problem as a lot of other non-sport cars I've tried: it floats along. My car tells me exactly what I'm doing and how I'm doing it--rolling into turns, accelerating, decelerating, etc. I'm sure I'd get used to this but I'm not a fan.

damselfish: photo by rling (Default)

I decided to challenge myself in February, to write 40,000 words and hopefully finish my current project, Stormwright (or possibly titled The Lightning Tide, I dig the latter a little more but Stormwright is easier to type when I talk about it).

It was something I sat down to write several months ago on a whim and figured "I'll just write this to please myself and we'll see where it goes." I said to myself, "you know those stories where mermen are ugly? Obviously, mermaids find that ugliness hot. What if, instead of a mermaid's daughter living in the small town, what if it was the mermaid's son?"

I got a lot of sparkle out of it. The protagonists were so cute I could kiss them. The worldbuilding was the perfect mix of mermaid mythology, folklore, and groundedness. I didn't tell anyone about it, I just wrote it. It's totally different from my usual while also being exactly my jam. Nevertheless, I put it down to play with other toys. After all, I hadn't intended to do anything serious with it.

Out of the blue, I got an itch for something involving sharks and shark gods and realized, I could apply it to Stormwright. I finally mentioned it to a couple friends, and the response was universally "omg yes!" so I figured, why not finish it?

Note, I picked almost all the teen's names off a "top baby names" list for about 1995/2000, and it sounds so much more like a fantasy book than any fantasy I've ever written (I never tire of ways to have people mispronounce Niamh. Never.)

Gavin: an unknown mermaid seduced his father and left Gavin on the doorstep some months later. The merrows are endlessly speculative about who his mother is, but as far as he's concerned his mother is human and the other one can rot. He keeps to himself too much to be "the weird kid" but he's sure everyone thinks he's the weird kid (no teenager really considers that no one thinks about them very much). He has zero awareness that as an unmarried shark-merrow, he's something of a hot commodity among rich merchants looking to add a second husband or consort to their household, since most are promised in marriage contracts during childhood. If told, he would make a rude noise because it is cold and wet down there and fuck that.

Also, I saw the joke about how male protagonists curse a lot because rawr that's what dudes do, and I noticed Gavin curses way more than Niamh does. He curses almost as much as I do. As far as I know, I am neither a teenage boy nor a male author, so I don't know what this says about me. Other than I have yet another book where I will have to go back and clean up the language.

Niamh: a witch and the daughter of Mairi Faulkner, a huntress of considerable renown who lives for roaming the earth and killing shit. Niamh, on the other hand, has all the makings of an ass-whomping witchy warrior like mom, but what she really wants is to be a hedge witch and settle down in some town and cook potions and get up into everyone's business.

Instead, she follows mom to a small island that lies next to a merrow empire where things are rapidly falling apart. The merrow queen doesn't have an heir, and she really, really needs one. Problem is, the mystics--the stormwrights--that would choose the next queen can't come to a consensus. Public opinion favors the queen's eldest daughter, who is still a broken woman after having to kill her lover, Alsztrate, a stormwright who ravaged the empire in the way only a jilted mermaid with the power to call maelstroms could. But the field is wide open and there are plenty of other women with enough political or monetary clout to make a serious bid for the throne and probably shatter the empire in the process. Never mind the queen's youngest prince consort, scheming behind the throne.

In short, the merrow queen thinks Alsztrate is back, and is pretty sure that she:
1) Needs her to reach a consensus about who is going to succeed one of the most successful conquerors and peacemakers in nearly a millenia
2) Needs to kill one of the most powerful stormwrights in existence before she finishes what she started

I spent far too much mental energy stitching things together, going back from my brilliant first scene and rearranging everything to be more streamlined, to fit the changed plot, to maintain some of my old work and I still ended up leaving about 20,000 words on the floor that I may or may not cannibalize later. I'm now sitting at about 38,000 words total and while the form is still giving me fits I'm going to try to power ahead and get through the rest and fix everything in post. I've spent two weeks "fixing" and wanting to cry about how it will never be right and all I'm left with are the ugly, functional bits instead of the great sparkly bits (not true, I am mostly left with the long, long discussions of language and culture that will also have to be cut, sigh). I haven't even gotten to a big ball scene! Or a big battle! How will I live without endless digressions on mermaid fashion and embroidered flying dolphin or leviathan motifs!?

Mostly, I am really, really sad about dropping thousands upon thousands of words wherein our teenagers are more Scooby and the Gang than they are pawns in political machinations. Niamh is just so bright and earnest and wobbly about her place in the world, and Gavin is just so smart and sensitive and waiting to get hurt/shut out that they play against each other brilliantly and spend 90% of their time being intellectual dorks and 10% confirming each other's worst fears without realizing it. And Gavin's friends! They are so cute too! And in over their heads! I could spend two hundred thousand words on them hanging out and doing lots of nothing important adorably!

damselfish: photo by rling (Default)
Alyc gave me some vital writing advice today while I moaned about being stuck in a scene.

me: …you did help me and also tipped me into an existential chasm

Alyc: oops. I’m sorry

me: “What is the purpose of this scene? …I should cut this sequence and have them attacked during their date. I still spoil the date and then they’re chased back home. Yeah. Much better. …I just need to figure out a way for Gavin to put his pants back on.”
"…what is the purpose of this book?"

Alyc: bwhahahaha
I love that the issue is needing to get Gavin back in his pants
as for the purpose of the book, that’s something you don’t figure out until waaaaay after the book is done

me: bahahahaha
well I’m glad it’s not just me then

Alyc: No really. Stephen King says so
so does Neil Gaiman
And Samuel Delaney
you aren’t allowed to argue with them
well, you’re allowed… but you’ll probably be wrong :D

me: and yes, it’s very important for Gavin to have pants before throwing lightning at some mermaids

Alyc: yeah, having lightning thrown at you isn’t nearly as daunting when it’s done by a guy without pants

me: yeah it was a cute date Niamh took him swimming. And the pants problem always stymies me
"how do I get from merman meetcute to dude in pants for big battle showdown"
merpeople! so vexing

Alyc: he could be wearing a kilt?

me: bahahaha

Alyc: this is why scottish people wear kilts
for proper mermaid meet-cutes
damselfish: photo by rling (Default)

I said I needed to blog more. One of the reasons I don't blog or engage as much online is because I'm tired of flamewars and find it stressful waiting for some asswipe to make an asinine remark.

So what do I do?

Wake up to a dumb comment from a MRA who really, really wants me to tell him "yeah you can dismiss and minimize women's issues, that's fine bro!" and ended up in a flamewar (oh, I'm sorry, a "devil's advocate" discussion). I just posted and he's typing already. I'm still reading my comment and he's already responding! This guy is salivating to prove a dumb woman wrong.

And, y'know, make my point for me.

That's fine, bro, that's fine.

damselfish: photo by rling (Default)

Hello readers! I return to you from skiing. I went to Utah, so there's no talk of polar vortexes. I enjoyed the trip but by all accounts it was something of a humdinger:

I didn't recover from altitude sickness until two days before I had to leave, hence why I haven't done anything online beyond feed my dragons on Flight Rising (I'll be responding to comments and stuff today). My mom said I needed more water which resulted in me having to pee about every 15 minutes for the first few hours of the day and not much more that I can tell though it probably saved me from serious muscle pain. Altitude sickness is the worst, you guys. The worst! You spend a kabillion dollars to fly across the country (after which the cost of lift tickets and everything else seems like no big deal) and all you want to do is sleep.

The snow was wonderful which meant the weather sucked. Fresh powder = snowing = cloudy, windy grossness which wouldn't be a problem except I have delicate princess skin especially when it's dry and the snowflakes feel like razors driving into my face. The last day was our only clear day, and sometimes I boggled that people actually went skiing. One day I called it quits when the wind pushed me sideways across the mountain--while I was standing at the top of the lift deciding where to go. The day before the snow was perfect... until temps above freezing and between one run and the next the entire mountain turned to ice. That night it snowed enough to cover everything again.

I had some spectacular non-injuries! I'll start from the top.

3) the final and least spectacular of my falls, which had the same source as all my others: one ski went a-wandering, this time without any wiggly boot action. I was (once again on a green) cruising along, my ski went into some powder and my face went "ploff" into a snow bank. What do I mean by no wiggly boot action? I've got small feet so finding ski boots wasn't easy--for a few years, my options were slightly too-big rentals or child's downhill racing boot. When I wandered into my usual ski shop and the guy said "try these!" I did. They actually came in a size smaller, but I could barely put my current boots on. "Too tiny!" I said. "Perfect!" said he, and for years, they were. Now there's wiggle in the heel of one boot. I've since fixed it with various mods, but after a half day of skiing it starts wiggling and I need to clamp it down further. I should have gotten the smaller size, but then I remember I could barely get my current boots on (and I need help if it's really cold because the plastic stiffens).

2) I'm cruising down a green run that gets you from one mountain to another, so it's busy and people are crazy, either going really slow (fine) or zooming between them. A speed demon nearly gets sandwiched between another skier and myself, and since I'm on the edge I'm like "hey! Yield to downhill!" and am treated to a look of sheer panic on her face when she realizes the unskilled skier can't turn with her alongside and I am, indeed, at the periphery of the run. I'm spared and speeding along myself after breaking from the pack, then my boot wiggles when my ski catches a groove. My legs go in directions they shouldn't and I tumble facefirst and come to a stop about forty feet from my poles and one ski. One of my gloves slides twenty feet downhill. A guy gathers up my things and spends so much time helping me up that I'm super-duper touched. My foot and ankle are in that tingly-numbness of pain that makes it hard to get my ski on and the guy practically holds me over the binding until I've got it. He grins, "and that's what we call a fire sale."

This was the most painful thing I did.

Impressive because....

3) I'm on a green run, minding my own business, when one ski wiggles. I try to bring it back, fail, and think "oh god! Must save my legs!" as images of my legs snapping off with skis still attached dance through my head. I fall and spin around and my back hits the ground hard enough for my helmet to bounce and the back of my head to register "damn girl, that helmet is HARD! Ow!"

Which prompts two thoughts. One, dang isn't the helmet supposed to save me from banging my head? Two, oh damn if my head hit the helmet that hard, what did my brain do to my skull!?

I lay there in a daze for a minute and a guy skis over and asks if I'm okay. "I... think so." "You think? Do you need ski patrol?" I consider. "No. My helmet's hard, that's all." He helps me up and I am super touched by the kindness of skiers, who (at least here) are always ready to help others out. I go to lunch with my mother where we decide I don't have a concussion, or not a serious one anyway. I have lunch and go on my way. Three hours after I bang my head I go into a lodge to use the restroom, go down the stairs* and each step jars me right to the top of my head (more than normal) and then my stomach does flips. While this is certainly due to too much lunch, I go "oh god, what if it is a concussion!?" and call mom. She tells me to call grandma. Grandma goes "oh god! Get to the clinic now!" I think this is overkill but whatever.

First Aid checks me for a concussion. Nope. But they do palpate my neck and ask where I feel pain. "Right there." She has someone double check and "right there" is in the same place. "That's not muscle, that's right over the C2, and since you reported pain in the same place... we want you to get a neck x-ray. Sometimes people fracture their necks and don't know until they get a CT scan years down the road, and the only reason I'm not calling an ambulance is because you've been active for three hours, you're wiggling your head around--stop that!--and you're not guarding."

Down I went to the ER because you can't have neck x-rays anymore, they have to be CT scans. Mom calls my grandparents who freak out, while I'm like "chill! I'm fine. Though if I did break my neck I could laugh and laugh about how I broke my neck skiing!" But seriously I didn't want the grandparents to know until after I could say nothing was wrong.

The Park City hospital, by the way, is the nicest little hospital I've ever seen. Everything was so quick, everyone was happy to talk to me, and while I was getting my CT apparently the doctor, a nurse, the receptionist, and a volunteer all visited my mother to ask if she needed anything or to get info.

Final diagnosis: minor whiplash and I would be sore in the morning.

I really wasn't and only needed a few of the extra strength ibuprofin and none of the muscle relaxants. Pulling a muscle in my calf during crash #2 was far, far more painful and even that just meant I limped around pathetically.

Oh yeah, and the world cup was going on while I was there, so I saw some incredibly talented people do incredible things and got tons and tons of free swag from all the companies with stands down at the main lodge.

*Silver Lake was designed by sadists. Who puts the bathrooms of a ski lodge, one of the busiest in the resort, downstairs!?

damselfish: photo by rling (Default)

I noticed Blackfish was up on Netflix last night so I settled in to watch that (and right after saw that apparently protesters had stopped the Seaworld float at the Rose Bowl parade). I'd recommend it, though according to what I've seen from others it can be rough watching. During my research for arctic fantasy and comedy of manners I'd come across a lot of snippets and basic info of the incidents so I knew what was coming and none of it left me particularly shaken but there were still points that I'd consider chilling or breath-taking. A lot of people said they had to stop/pause when they took Kalina away from her mother and heard these heart-wracking cries afterward. I've listened to more orca calls than is good for anybody, and I'd never heard anything like it. The documentary pointed out that neither had anybody else, and it doesn't take an expert to know how raw it sounded. That's the kind of thing that'll haunt you.

The interview with the whale hunter early on alone is worth the watch, when he says that after catching the baby whales the rest of the pod stuck close and called for them that he "realized what we were doing. We were kidnapping little kids."

I think the one thing that really boggled me were all the videos of Seaworld staff claiming that orcas live for 25 years so their lives are even better in captivity because they live longer (Lolita, at 40, is the oldest orca in captivity, which is still less than half a natural lifespan). The video might be back from the 90s (they look recent in which case there's no excuse because you should wikipedia that, seriously), but we've known they live well past that since at least the 80s. Corporate greed and indifference? No surprise. Blatantly spouting easily disproven misinformation? Yeah, that still surprises me, though it really shouldn't.

The bit on Loro Parque could have been expanded more, but the film was focused on trainer deaths--and honestly, while there were things in the film that surprised me, it didn't quite capture the full-on madhouse that is orca life in captivity for the orcas themselves. It did show more of Tilikum's life than I expected, I knew he'd been bullied terribly at Sealand but apparently that continued at Sea World and that was the start of his spending time alone, to protect him from the females rather than his history of killing people. I also heard, for the first time, that apparently he was an eager people pleaser. Striking, given that no one else mentioned that and it made the story all the more painful, I guess. Here's this whale getting dumped on by his tankmates who is the most agreeable and amiable whale to work with to humans. I know people might say this shows nothing, it's not like he's a bullied soul seeking solace where he can find it and then lashing out, he's an animal, but it's a hard comparison to shake.

The more I learn, the less I think it's possible to overly anthropomorphize their behavior.

damselfish: photo by rling (Default)

Io9 reposted some really cute "sealmaid" art and said "Mermaids are played out guys, and selkies are ripe for a pop culture takeover. Just compare the sheer number of appearances by mermaids in film, TV, and books to the appearances of selkies. Plus, if you had a choice, wouldn't you rather be part seal than part fish?"

To which I had two thoughts:

1) Selkie mythos is far, far more constrained than mermaid stories which may be part of their more limited appeal. You've got a person with a seal skin who becomes a fantastic spouse if you steal their skin but then they leave you! Sure sometimes there's twists on this but at heart it's the school of "you can't really tame the wild thing you brought into your house" animal bride stories (note that "you take her skin, make her your wife, and then she leaves you" is almost always an animal bride because women are wild and unfathomable, animal grooms, if they can't be tamed, tend to eat their wives before leaving them. Harsh).

2) Speaking of constrained, there's a reason the artist called those "sealmaids." Because they're mermaids with seal tails! Selkies are either people or seals.

But it got me thinking about selkie mythos and if I'd want to do anything with it, because the stories as they stand don't do a thing for me. Even when they're not stories about kidnapping, rape, forced pregnancy, and servitude, it's still a story about a good spouse who eventually returns to the sea and doesn't have any of the fun animal-ness of an animal bride story.

"Well duh, because seals are jerks and that spoils the whole 'good wife' thing. You try to sit on the couch and she scratches you until you fall off because she was there first."

"This is my couch you find your own couch!"

Seriously seals are jerks to each other.

Adorable, adorable jerks. There's plenty of room on that board, seal! Jeeze!

Sure your selkie-spouse would be pretty and adorable and snuggly, but a good, biddable spouse?

I don't think so.

Anyway what kind of asshole steals a seal skin when you could do this instead?

Sure you'll still get bitten but it's bites from love instead!

And you could see this when they bring their friends over which is way more entertaining than Sunday night football:

Of course selkie stories are always told as "that guy, he was a jerk" so I suppose "what kind of asshole steals a selkie skin, I bet most people wouldn't do that" is sort of begging the question.

So I guess if you asked what kind of selkie story I would write, it would have a lot more biting in it.

EDIT: Actually I'm a liar, Rockall did pretty much all I could ask of from a selkie story. It's a complete webcomic at 60 pages so check it out, you have no reason not to.

damselfish: photo by rling (Default)

76,388 words at the close of NaNoWriMo, the first time I've ever reached 50k. More amazingly, I wrote the big climax on Saturday and today I did the denouement, so all that's left are the gaping holes I left behind. The great big battle, the plot threads all meeting up, everything unravelling and then tied back together. That's an entire novel in a month, pretty much. And that's with no outline and relatively little idea of what I wanted to do, just a little 2k ficlet I scribbled out at the end of October. I'm pleased enough with the story, it remains to be seen if I like how it unfolded. Mostly I'm surprised and delighted that, without planning, it grew organically into something I like so much. I've always been a pantser but this is the first time I dove quite so enthusiastically into something with no ideas except for what popped up as I went along.

I'm sure that lacking any conceivable plan would have been more complicated if I weren't writing a fairy tale retelling, and no matter how far it strayed from its roots I still had the basic plot to guide me along. Boy did this story mosey way, way off the beaten path. It became less about a girl spinning shirts from nettles and more about realizing she's a foreigner from fairy-land and what it's like to have a god/fairy for a mother who wasn't so good at being human as an excitable eight-year-old remembers. Also coming to grips with just how much her brothers sheltered her--or didn't.

I went into this with no ideas other than:
1. Somebody's gotta punch the king (check!)
2. More sibling interaction (oh yeah!)

Everything else basically unfolded from a few other questions I had about Wild Swans/Six Swans:
1. Why do they change back into men at night? Are they some kinda magical night people?
2. What does it do to your mental health to have animal helpers?
3. What kind of person overwhelms magical toads and turns them into poppies by passive acts of goodness?
4. ...How did that person end up being the wild child I wrote?

Who knows how much of that will stay if I ever revisit this. The fairy thing popped up as a random idea, and amoeba-like, it absorbed the rest of the story into a fun-to-write snowball. Then there was the realization that there are more men in this cast than in any other thing I've written (four main female characters versus ten main male), which should feel weirder than it does.

The story started off with my quirky, cynically whimsical fairy tale voice, but as the manuscript went on I can feel it devolving into my "regular" voice. The story's definitely poised between a light-hearted skimming over a dark story, or a story with some real wildness to it, and I'm not entirely sure which side it's going to fall on but either way it's going to need a crapton of editing. This also brought a bunch of my writerly insecurities to the surface--anything from form to characterization to grasping human experience and frankly I didn't expect this project to be the one that made me go "oh god! I can't write XYZ and I never will because it's outside my ability to comprehend!"

Or maybe on the re-read I'll see that it's still pretty good. Reading first drafts is always a harrowing experience, a mixture of the affection and seething hatred you feel when a particularly dumb pet does something cute and then follows it up by shitting in your favorite shoes.

I like this system of just tossing out the whole draft in a month, I've never churned out anything so fast before. I'd definitely consider doing this again, though I don't know how replicable it is. Looking back for nano, I averaged about 2,500 words a day--more by steadily sticking to a 2,000 to 3,000 word range than having huge writing sprees. I had a few here and there (broke 4k four times over the month) but it seems that even when I give myself all day to write, I only manage to knock out about 2,500 words before my energy peters out. I would have liked to do more, but it seems like I can't be an all day writer at the moment, so this is good enough. I'm pleased I got as much done as I did, particularly since I circled the drain for about five days or so with no idea where to go or what to do and writing 500 to 1,000 words/day in little bits here and there. A problem I solved with a monster attack that not only got me over the hump that was stalling me, but also dragged almost all the plot threads into position for tying up. When in doubt, add more monsters.

Now... the question is going to be what in the world I hit up next, because for the most part writing at this pace pushed out my desire to do anything else, except a few spurts here and there for Stormwright that assured me I don't hate it nearly as much as I thought I did.

damselfish: photo by rling (Default)

For the past month or two, I've been going to paddleboarding classes which are mostly focused on getting people into races. I don't have much intention of racing but the classes have been invaluable because paddleboarding is not intuitive at all.* Kayaking, fairly intuitive. Paddleboarding, less so. Still, I like it slightly more than kayaking as something to pursue because:

1) Better exercise
2) You can see more stuff from the standing position and I'm here to spy on all the sea creatures
3) Your hands stay dry, never ever underestimate the value of paddling with dry hands

Since class is ending this means it's time to look into the expensive equipment. Luckily for me, they're selling off some of the boards from class! Barely used boards for almost $500 off? Yeeees. Only problem is, they're a bit big and unwieldy for me. On the water they're fine, but I'm 4'11 with proportionally short arms, which means picking it up properly is a challenge. That's when you have the board, face down on the ground, and you reach across it to lift the opposite side. Which means I've rolled 30 pound boards onto one of my big toes... a lot. Then I have trouble getting them onto my head because they're just wide enough that I can't get my arms around them and carrying a board under one arm is a no go.

I found out one of the boards they're selling is the Suplove Stingray. That is, one of the fastest boards on the market right now.

Instructor's bringing it to class on Tuesday and it does solve some problems over the current boards. It's 14 feet (versus the standard 11'6" I'm using) but it's 8 pounds lighter. Then I reach the worrying note: "one of the fastest flatwater boards around." It's so tippy that the instructor said that if you can paddle on that, you can paddle on anything. Given that I want ocean touring because that's what I have the most access to (mix of ocean and mangrove, where I paddle now is about 50 miles north of where I live in some nice canals), this is almost certainly not the board for me (but what is!? The options break down into touring v. racing v. surfing).

Pretty excited to give it a try, though.

I just wish actually figuring boards out and comparing them was easier. I just want a board for my short arms and my relatively light weight, I don't care if the board can hold 250 pounds no problem and the board volume doesn't mean much to me. I'm mostly looking for women's paddleboards which has its own pitfalls (I don't want a super short board, I just want a narrower one! Stop telling me about yoga, dammit!), and while I'm as appearance-conscious as anybody else (and then some, probably), goddamn y'all if you're gonna make it pink and flowery at least make it attractively so. Pink + flowers doesn't mean women will automatically love it. Unlike other sports, though, women make up a huge part of the paddleboarding community (my kayak group is about 50/50 men and women but my paddleboarding class is all women and the social group is "201 bitches," so... that tells you about the gender make-up, though the races I've been to have been closer to 50/50, suggesting to me that men are some sort of paddleboarding hermits, appearing only to race and disappear again) which means that there's actually a lot of boards and companies targeting women directly. Much like skiing! And, much like skiing, I am still smaller than what most equipment makers consider and am constantly asked, have you tried the kids' stuff?

Then the mean voice in my head goes "you're going to drop a lot of money on this hobby and then move to DC" and the voice goes off, cackling, while I admit that it has a point.

*When I first saw paddleboarders, it was usually women in bikinis looking like they're having a lazy day and I was like "that looks boring and easy!" I later learned that paddleboarding is an intense core workout. Then I learned, after actually trying it, that it's even harder than that. In fact, the class started because one of the people involved tore a rotator cuff because you're not supposed to paddle with your arms at all. WHAT? How are you supposed to figure that out on your own!? So basically at the end of the day my arms might hurt (since your arms are involved) but the muscles that're sore for a day or two after an intense session are the obliques (never felt soreness in those before) or the muscles right above my butt when I've been doing it wrong. Which is often.

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