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I haven't been cooking much lately. Too busy, too tired, or not home at convenient hours for it. But I love it. It has great meaning for me, beyond just a fun hobby. Food is holy; cooking is art and love at once. There's no other art or craft quite like it, in that everybody eats, everybody must eat, and so everybody can get something out of food. I know food's not a big deal for everybody, but nobody can go without it. Food is basic survival, so you can use it to be good to anybody, and then make it so much more.

I cooked tonight. Nothing fancy, just some panko breaded chicken and roasted vegetables. But it was delicious, and I felt so much better and stronger after eating it. I remembered that I made it, that I have the power and knowledge and ability to create something like this, to deliver this feeling when I want to. It's so powerful. I think of how my mom and dad showed love with beautiful meals. I think of how prone I am to bad attitudes about food because of my overwhelming desire to be thin, and how much my love of food helps me avoid those dangers. I think of all the wonderful occasions I've centered around dishes I've lovingly prepared.

I've got a scene in my head that I've wanted to include in a piece of writing for a long time now. I've just never had the right project for it. I imagine a novice chef laboring over a dish taught to them by a mentor. They put everything they have into it. They approach the table with the dish, to lay it in front of their mentor who sits at the head. The novice looks on in trepidation as the master takes a bite. All is still for a moment, then the master lays down the spoon and covers their eyes with their hand. The novice panics a moment, thinking they've failed. But the master stands and embraces them, weeping, because it was just so exquisite.

It reminds me of my mom, teaching me to make her lobster bisque, the most important recipe in our family. I don't have a place for it yet. But I've written other stories involving other passions-- sewing, ballet --so maybe someday I'll write a piece about cooking.



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I remember back when, as a child, I had strong impulses to write but not as much practical knowledge or exercise of the craft, I first noted that some people seemed to often come back to the same ideas or even tropes in their stories again and again, particularly as their bodies of work got larger. At the time I was somewhat judgmental of it; why would you repeat yourself like that? Didn't those writers have any new ideas? I felt like I had literally dozens and dozens of story ideas that all felt meaningfully different, so it seemed uncreative to return to concepts you'd explored before in a new piece.

As I became more knowledgeable and experienced, I think I've found the truth, as it often is, to be somewhere in the middle. Yes, often very prolific writers do end up reproducing work they've basically done before and quit creating new characters, new scenarios, or new takes on the ideas they're dealing with, and that can represent a kind of creative death. But that isn't necessarily happening just because you find yourself dealing with the same concepts or themes in more than one piece. You can explore those ideas from different viewpoints, examine them in different ways. By placing similar notions in different contexts, you can see how the different circumstances change things. If done thoughtfully, and if truly taken from different angles, it can make lead to greater depth and complexity in the ideas' expression in your work.

When I came to realize this, and as I started writing more and more, I found myself examining how I dealt with this in my own work. I often invoke this under the conception of the Creator Thumbprint, the TV Tropes notion marking how writers tend to work with the concepts that interest them over and over again in a way that is unique to them. Partially because I'm amused by it, partially because I believe I improve my work by being self-aware and analytical concerning my own habits, and partially because I want to avoid the trap of actually repeating myself. I want to keep track of this so that I ensure actually do have different perspective on the things I examine repeatedly, so each new take actually adds new dimension.

In the days to come I'm going to write entries examining my preferred tropes, the ones that emerge most frequently in my work and the ones I'm currently feeling most interested in. I want to think about how I use them, and what various approaches I've used in order to explore them. And yes, there's more of them than just the Complicated Feelings About Babies One.
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I watched the new Ryan Murphy series, Feud: Bette and Joan, even though I have extremely mixed feelings about his work. I think he's often a capable writer and certainly very creative, but I tend to think he sets things up well and lacks follow-through on the good idea. Also I occasionally find him not to write female characters so much as drag performances, caricatures of women rather than human beings. But Tom and Lorenzo recommended it and they have excellent taste, so I wanted to give it a try.

It's well-made production, focusing on the late-life rivalry between actresses Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, with mostly a solid script and excellent acting performances all around. It's still an odd blend, at TLo pointed out, of camp and pop feminism, as well as kind of padded and stylized to shape the relationship between Bette and Joan in such a way to serve the story. But what I found most fascinating were the ideas behind it. The most interesting foundational notions are two-fold. The first is that it's about the struggles of female aging, how even successful women are in danger of being cast aside when they start to get old. And the second is the framing of the rivalry between the women: that they aggravated each other's insecurities because Joan was cast as a beautiful woman who was never talented enough, and Bette was a talented woman who was never beautiful enough.

If you know even a little bit about me, you can guess that I find that fascinating. Firstly aging is probably my greatest fear for specifically that reason, that the world no longer takes an older woman seriously and views them with varying levels of pity, horror, and contempt. And I also love the examination of the dichotomy of pretty versus talented, particularly how they are constantly pitted against each other for the thing that they each have that the other one lacks. Bette can be the best artist at her craft in the world, but she still has a big gaping lack in the fact that she's not pretty and never has been. And Joan is automatically run down by the stigma that she only got by on her looks, and now that they've faded, she's got nothing. And I really loved the scene where they asked each other what it was like, to be "the [prettiest]/[most talented] girl in the world" and they each said it was the best thing ever, and it was never enough.

That I personally have felt the tension between the two very keenly, that I have to do everything I can to demonstrate the most of both. I often feel plagued that by the notion that even if I do a great job of one, it will get discounted because I haven't done enough to show the other. And then when I split my focus too much, I worry I'm coming off as mediocre in both respects. I know that to a large extent it's just a sick perception, and a target too utterly unrealistic to hit-- I want to be the PRETTIEST, MOST TALENTED GIRL IN THE WORLD apparently! --but that moment where they expressed it was the best thing ever AND STILL you never feel like it's enough was very resonant for me. I don't know if it's a truly accurate representation of Crawford and Davis, but as a conceit for drama, it really impacted me.
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Well, Easter has come and gone, and that means I have completed my Lenten resolution to give up procrastination during that time. I actually celebrated the weekend by NOT SPENDING THE WHOLE THING WORKING for once, which has not been something that I've been able to do in weeks, and it was refreshing. I held to my resolution quite well actually, and I stayed on top of my work with very little time wasted screwing around before actually getting to my responsibilities.

Unfortunately, that level of focus and self-discipline has left me worn out. My rest this past weekend was helpful and very much needed, but now I've gone into the following week unsure of whether I can keep up that level of effort. I'm already off the grading schedule I made due to having a much more chaotic Monday than I expected to, and an outside project deadline I set for myself has eaten up a lot of time today. I generally find I can't focus on essay grading for very long-- it is sooooo focus-intensive and boring, easily the worst part about teaching --so I break it down into grading a handful a day until the due date. But maybe I should try setting aside a chunk of time and just trying to power through. I usually hate doing that, but perhaps the shakeup in my routine might help, and I'll actually have longer chunks of time to get other things done.

A continual problem I have is that the most efficient way to run my life is also very exhausting. I get good results but can't maintain it without burnout for long. But when I ease up, I find other things crash down on me, like work piling up that starts to feel like a crisis. I'm not sure what the right balance is.
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You may notice that I am posting this to, not my LiveJournal as is my wont, but to a Dreamdwidth account with the same username. I am doing this because of suspicions that the Russian-owned LiveJournal may no longer be able to trusted with the security of one's information, and Dreamwidth offers the easiest way to port one's blog archive to another, more secure platform which has the convenience of basically the same interface.

Even though it's seeming increasingly like the wiser move to do so, I have not deleted my LiveJournal. The idea of no longer having it is a weirdly emotional one for me. Even though ultimately just keeping my entries is the important part, which Dreamwidth fortunately allows me to do with relative ease, I find myself surprisingly sad at the idea of getting rid of my old blog. Journaling and having a platform to express my thoughts where interested parties can read it has been important to me. Again, I guess I can do that from anywhere, but looking now I see that I've had that LiveJournal since 2001. And I used it pretty damn consistently from 2007 on-- a whole decade now. There's a lot of hopes, dreams, memories, experiences, and thoughts poured into it in that time.

And I liked the service, damn it. Yeah, Dreamwidth is not that different. But I don't like any of the themes and my journal looks so ugly now. The whole thing feels like it's an older, less maintained version of LJ. All my internal links in the entries just go back to it, so if I wanted to direct them here instead, I'd have to fix them all manually. And even though most people I know didn't bother with their LJs anymore, I liked that I was already linked up with all my friends and I'd see their posts if they made them. I know that this is not the end of the world and I'll get over it-- I should just be grateful I'm not losing all my content --but this whole business makes me sad in a way I can't quite articulate.

So, yeah. Here I am now, I guess. If you're on Dreamwidth, please give me your username so I can attempt to rebuild my network of follows. But I won't be deleting my LJ today, or even tomorrow. I think I need some time to mourn before I actually get rid of it. Making this my primary posting platform is a tough enough step for now.
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Today is Mardi Gras, which means that the start of Lent is tomorrow. I like to observe Lent in some way, mostly as an exercise in self-discipline for a structured duration for a good cause. Traditionally the observance is giving up some indulgence, particularly one that isn't good for them. Most people now interpret with something food-related; I myself used to use processed sugar as my go-to, and while that would probably be good for me right now, I think I'd like to use it as an opportunity to change some behavioral habits that I'd like to improve in some way.

Last year for Lent I gave up procrastination, and that was actually pretty good for me. I resolved to do the things I needed to at their appointed time, rather than putting them off to the last minute, as well as cutting down on "screwing around time," like being on Twitter when I should have been working or something. I think I'd like to do something like that again. I feel like my work habits need an overhaul, as I've fallen back into the struggle to get my head into whatever I'm doing, and being highly distractable, even from tasks I theoretically want to do. I am going to devise a system that I will stick to for Lenten period, and see if in that time it gets more natural or automatic.

I like giving it a shot over Lent because doing it for a set period makes it feels easier than just "you have to work hard on this forever indefinitely." And with that period of practice, it might get easier to implement on a consistent basis. Structure always helps my brain, and lately I can use a dose of it to get me back on track.

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Apparently I feel like telling funny stories about my stuff lately!

Today I was asked where the name I use online, and as a sort of "company" name for myself, Breaking Light, came from. I use it to represent myself because I like the sound of it-- for some reason "break" and variations thereof are among my favorite words --and because it has some meaning that's important to me. I see it as evocative of light that bursts through the darkness, a nice metaphor for hope, a concept I've struggled with for a lot of my recent life.

But as to how the actual words first occurred to me? They're a mishearing of a lyric in a Scott Stapp song.

...yeah.

For those who quite understandably don't know who that is, Scott Stapp is the former lead vocalist of a band called Creed. This band no longer exists, and seem to be best known for their weird undertone of Christian rock religiosity and the exceptionally melodramatic character to both their lyrics and the particular performance style Mr. Stapp brought to their songs. Seeing as my taste in music is flatly terrible, of course I kind of liked them and still have a couple of their songs in my iPod. My dear [livejournal.com profile] youareverysmall mocked me mercilessly for it back in the day, as was right and proper, and there's still one song I can't hear without imagining them imitating the ridiculous singing style.

So upon the breakup of Creed, our main man Scott embarked on a solo career, which I gather was not terribly successful as nobody knows who he is outside of Creed. But he released an album where the title track had a fair bit of play on the radio, so while you probably wouldn't know it by name, you might recognize the sound of it if you heard it. I spend a lot of time in the gym, which always tends to constantly have pop stations playing, where I recognized the voice and of course my awful musical tastes kicked in. I found it pleasing enough to pay attention to the song, which is called "The Great Divide." But because Stapp's voice singing voice sounds like he's midway through a transformation into a werewolf, his diction is not always the best. And I misheard "the great divide" in the chorus as "the breaking light," which immediately fired my imagination, and stayed with me to the point where I've adopted it as my branding.

Honestly this happens to me fairly frequently, where I think I hear a song lyric as something that I think is really cool, but it turns out I didn't hear it accurately. But that turns out to be even better, because then it's MINE now, and I'm not stealing from the song. Like in this case, where I got a cool expression!

So, yes. I chose my name from an inaccurate perception of a song in the unremarkable solo career of the former lead singer of an awful Christian rock band. Inspiring!

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I've been working out in the gym at Lesley University lately. It's been very convenient, as I can go after I teach my classes, and it has very nice facilities. Mostly I just want to run indoors while it's cold outside, as I tend toward weird asthma-like symptoms when I breath cold air for too long.

As a faculty member, I'm allowed to use the gym for free, which is nice. But I've never seen anyone other than students in there-- at least, never anyone I thought looked like post-college-aged adult. I've decided not to feel weird about it, as I know I'm allowed, but it does seem a bit odd. Where are all the other people like me who can use it as a job perk? Why do I never see them? Is it just the timing? Or are there just not many others who choose to use it?



When I'm teaching I dress very professionally to give myself some authority, but in the gym I wear my typical workout clothes, often just a sports bra and leggings. I dislike seeing students of mine in there, as I don't know if it makes a weird impression. Like, hi, I'm in charge of your grade, and here's my midriff? God, I've been dreading running into one in the locker room. I know I would not have wanted to be around my professor while one of us was changing.

And I wonder how the students who don't know me read me. I've been mistaken for a student at Lesley before, but usually by other employees; only once by an actual student that I know of. Do they assume I'm one of them, or to kids of their age, am I obviously older?

I mean, I know I look good. I am beautiful. Honestly I'm in better shape than most of the students, not just in general but even those I see in the gym. But I wonder how old I read, at least to people younger than me. I turn thirty this year. My skin has been really clear lately, thanks to the excellent acne medication I've been using, but I've begun to worry about the two spots on top of my cheeks that I think are beginning to look sun damaged, or possibly just showing age. I'm afraid my metabolism might slow down at any time.

Only a ridiculous person wants to look twenty forever. But aging is a great fear of mine. So I cling a little bit to things like when I get mistaken for still a college kid. But the truth is, I'm not a kid anymore, and I worry when that's going to catch up with me.

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I do like to make New Years resolutions, despite research suggesting they don't do much good. I prefer to think of it as goal-setting, or as is usual in my case, reevaluating my priorities in which I'm focusing my energy in an effort to reach the things I want.

These are mostly the same as last year, but involve pushing to the next stage of where I am in my important work.

1. Build upon the headway I've made getting my scriptwriting work out there. Keep pitching my scripts. I've made two positive industry relationships so far, which isn't much, and nothing's guaranteed, but it's a start.

2. Complete two new major writing projects. As with last year, not sure what to focus on, but there are certainly plenty of possibilities.

3. Return to my high level of fitness and tonedness without completely overstressing myself with the work and self-denial.

4. Attempt to get a four-semester class load in the interest of professional improvement.

5. Make some improvement in my mental health issues. They got really bad this year and I can't live like that.

6. Redouble my efforts toward dealing with my inability to focus. I didn't really make much headway this year and it really got me down.

And my three perennials:

7. Maintain my important relationships. Love my family and Bernie the way they deserve. Keep up with my friends and make them feel valued and cared for. Same as always.

8. Keep working on being a kinder person, keeping my temper, and being less judgmental. Always until the day I die.

9. Keep on learning to be hopeful. Always a struggle for me, but so necessary.

And the terrifying bonus one:

10. Act in whatever way I can to resist the oncoming Fascism that looms over America. I truly do believe that this is the extinction burst of a diseased, outdated way of life. But I'm afraid we won't survive it, and we must mitigate the damage if we're to live in the world past it.
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Last year I started a practice where whenever something good happens, I write it down and put it aside to look at on New Years. 2016 was an awful year, and honestly I expect 2017 to be worse, but in the interest of practicing gratitude and not getting bogged down in negativity, it's good to focus on good things too.

I notice a lot of this stuff is similar to last year-- it's clear what sort of thing I consider to be a success --which at first glance made me feel like I didn't make much progress. But it actually shows small steps forward, such as breaking into screenwriting and improving my day job situation. And small steps build up, right? So focusing on the fact that I did show forward growth is good for me.

1. Mrs. Hawking and Vivat Regina were performed at Arisia 2016 to an audience of over 400
2. Mrs. Hawking and Vivat Regina were performed again at Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016 to an audience of about 150
3. Vivat Regina and Base Instruments were accepted for performance at Arisia 2017
4. Vivat Regina and Base Instruments were accepted for performance at Watch City Steampunk Festival 2017
5. Started a relationship with one television executive who thinks my work is worth showing around
6. Lesley rehired me for both spring and fall semesters, with more classes and a higher rate each time
7. Base Instruments had a public staged reading with Bare Bones
8. I wrote a new television pilot, Hood, that has gotten some good response
9. I completed 31 Plays in 31 Days for the fifth time
10. I got Hood requested for reading three times
11. I found an acne treatment that worked for me and my skin looks clear
12. Most of the Hawking cast returned for the third round in a row
13. Even with the departure of my old friend, I was able to find a great actress to play Mrs. Hawking
14. Started a relationship with a second television executive who thinks my work is worth showing around
15. I made more money this year than I did last year
16. Bernie got a new job
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I ask my students to refer to me as Professor Roberts. It's a position I decided to take when I first started teaching, and despite how I don't feel totally comfortable and confident doing it, it's one that I have stuck to.

I guess I'm not a hundred percent sure it's the right thing to do. After all, I'm only an adjunct professor, not a full one, so it may be claiming a title I don't really deserve. Also, insistence on titles (particularly ones you only have marginal claim to) tends to be a sign of being a self-aggrandizing asshole. I worry I'm coming off wrong in both of those respects, and as such I have a hard time being a stickler for it when they call me "Miss Roberts" or "Miss" or even by just my first name.

But the reason I do it is on a particular principle. People are less likely to respect the authority of women as professors and, whether consciously or unconsciously, are more likely to fail to use their proper titles when they are absolutely warranted-- like when they are indisputable, FULL professors. So I decided that in an effort to combat that, I would have them call me Professor Roberts just to get them in the habit of addressing their female college instructors that way-- even when they're young, or perhaps not what they expect a professor to be like, like me. I also think it helps shore up my personal authority, which I worry that my relative youth and inexperience undermines, but mostly because I want to contribute to that overall sense of how women professors deserve the same respect.
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I found out yesterday that one of my favorite contestants on RuPaul's Drag Race, Katya Zamolodchikova, is going to be in town as part of Miss Fame's, another RPDR queen, Painted by Fame tour, where she gives makeup technique demonstrations in a seminar setting. I really like Miss Fame's work, which I actually discovered on Youtube before I ever started watching the show. Miss Fame alone probably wouldn't have won me over, but the chance to learn from her skills and meet Katya was enough to get me to spend the money.

I think it will be interesting and fun. I've been trying to develop my ability with makeup, so I could learn a lot of what I'm trying for. Plus I'd love to meet Katya, who is such a creative, talented, interesting person! But the ticket was very expensive for me, much, much more than I've paid to attend anything in many years, and I'm starting to feel guilty about it. I bought it basically on impulse, and I do really want to attend it, but I'm afraid it wasn't a great idea.

Financially I'm doing better these days, thanks to getting more classes at a higher step rate due to my experience. But I worry it's allowed my usual careful budgeting to slip too much. I should be saving for the Mrs. Hawking plays, which will require some new properties due to putting on part three for the first time. If nothing else, saving money is a good idea for me always, because though I'm making more, I'm still not making much.

But I also have been thinking more about how I need to be doing things that I enjoy, if nothing else than to get myself in a less depression-inclined frame of mind. They say spending on experiences is way more satisfying in the long run than just buying stuff, even though stuff superficially "lasts" longer. I mean, the money is spent, the deed is done, I have to get over it one way or another. Maybe I shouldn't do it again in the future, but I should at this point just be thinking of it as an investment in feeling good.
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When I have trouble motivating myself to write, I use a lot of tricks to get myself to do the work. It's why I keep extensive charts of what I've written, because I get satisfaction of making the note. It's why I design benchmarks for myself I can be proud of hitting. And it's why I post things here to my Livejournal. The opportunity to present them in some small way, with the possibility of getting positive feedback, often encourages me to finish something just so it's in postable form. This has really served me, particularly when combined with challenges like 31 Plays in 31 Days.

The downside, however, is sometimes I get too caught up in the "presentation" part of it. I get fixated on what it will look like, how somebody might perceive it if they read it. Usually this isn't a big deal, but every now and then I'll hold back in some way, or chicken out when writing something so it doesn't seem "ridiculous" or "too much". I particularly worry about my pieces coming off as "self-indulgent"-- as in, written in a way that subverts storytelling, character, and drama in favor of gratifying my own feelings in some way. I tend to refer to that phenomenon as "writer masturbation" and hate how it usually produces things that are of no interest to anybody but the person who made them, bereft of any greater artistic value.

But sometimes that fear makes me hold back so much what I write has no impact, no intensity, no BITE. I can think of a couple pieces specifically where my fear of going too far has kept me from taking them anywhere. I think, at least for certain pieces, I need to relax into the idea of NOBODY NEEDS TO SEE THEM BUT ME, and give myself permission to experiment. Pushing myself to write something I could very well end up scrapping is tough for me, as I despise wasting effort. But I think I need to just see where my ideas might take me and not worry if they don't work. If it's holding me back from really finding the right level, I think I need to throw caution to the wind. And telling myself nobody needs to see them but me if they suck might help.
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So among my many pet peeves, I have one that is quite small and absolutely meaningless but still gets on my nerves. Because it gets on my nerves, I end up arguing against it on the occasions that it has come up in my presence (which has happened to me likely more often than it does to most people.) But because of the nature of the issue, I end up looking SUPER WEIRD for standing up for it. Which is NOT REALLY WORTH IT, as it DOESN’T REALLY MATTER, but it annoys me so I always foolishly stan for it even though it makes me look like a freak. Why? Why do I do this? WHAT IS MY LIFE?



Now that I’ve said that, I have to describe it, don’t I?

Okay, fine. It gets on my nerves when people characterize relationships between human characters and nonhuman but still anthropomorphic and sentient characters as “bestiality.” Because it’s not— as long as the nonhuman character’s a person, with thoughts, feelings, and consciousness analogous to a human’s, they’re NOT an animal. So it doesn’t count. To me this seems like an obvious fact.

But apparently, just because it’s clearly an obvious fact to me, for some reason I feel compelled to point that out anytime somebody makes reference to the opposite.

...

Really, Phoeb? This is what you need to rules lawyer? This is what you need to "well, actually" about?

Why? It doesn’t matter! There are no real people or relationships being harmed by the misconception! It harms NO ONE if somebody doesn’t understand this. So why do I put myself in the position of being the champion of characters’ right to fall in love with whatever sentient alien, mythological creature, or anthropomorphic animal they choose? Why do I need to make myself look like a freak over THAT?

Your life has taken a very wrong turn if you’re ever insisting something is “not technically bestiality.” And I’ve done it SEVERAL TIMES. *Sigh*

Play-weird

Sep. 27th, 2016 05:46 pm
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Today one of my students noticed my weird "play-smoking" thing I do sometimes and commented on it. I was really embarrassed.

I've done it ever since I was a little kid. Like, had an urge to act out the motions of smoking while holding an object that was not a cigarette. It's not on purpose, really. Sometimes I don't notice I'm doing it right away. But I do it all the time, and I have no idea why.

If I have a pen in my hand, and I am not actively writing with it, I usually end up holding it like a cigarette and putting it in and out of my mouth. I find myself timing my breathing with it, not quite puffing but close. I'm not sure what I get out of it. I like chewing on things, I guess. I find chewing on things to be comforting, so I destroy things like pen caps. I suppose I like holding something delicately between two fingers in that way. But the breathing thing I have no explanation for. I'm not actually inhaling anything, obviously; I just for some reason like drawing in the air with my teeth clamped on it. As I type this, that description reminds me of cribbing-- a bad habit horses can develop where they brace their teeth against wood and inhale. I rode a horse for years who did that. We're not totally sure what they get out of it, but endorphin release is one possibility. I don't think I really get an endorphin response, but clearly there is something I like about it, or I wouldn't do it all the time.

I've never smoked anything in my entire life. I think it's gross and have zero desire to ever try it. My mom and my grandma got cancer and died of cigarettes, so genetics are against me on that. But something in me likes the motions of it, the thing to handle, to hold in my teeth and breathe around. I guess I definitely better never try the real thing, as I'd probably love it and never be able to stop.

I don't know why I do this. It's weird. I'm weird.
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I plowed through an epic amount of work today. It was pretty grueling, but at least I can go into this weekend without stressing out about getting things done. I'm experimenting this semester with setting designated "work times" that I will always stick to. I utilize scheduling a fair bit, but I tend to schedule things whenever is convenient rather than sticking to "hours on" and "hours off." I'm trying it for a while to see if it helps me focus and not feeling like I constantly should be doing more work.

I am still pretty depressed, but I'm trying to push on through it. Today I went back to eating paleo and am fighting to not lapse back into being a sugar vacuum. I think I will at least physically feel a little better. As I've mentioned, the biggest issue is I'm not INTERESTED in anything I could be doing. I don't feel excited or get any pleasure from stuff I theoretically should want to pursue. I guess that's classic depression. But I don't know what to do about it, and it's become a real problem as I end up not working on anything because nothing seems worth it.

I've had a bee in my bonnet for ages now about doing little audio or video recordings of my thoughts. Maybe like journal entries, or maybe something more codified. I've been listening to podcasts a bit more lately and I guess it's given me the bug. I know every asshole thinks they can do a podcast, and I don't know if I any of the unique things I have to say would be at all interesting for people to listen to. So I keep stopping myself because it doesn't seem worth it. But the idea's been nagging at me, and it would be better than wasting my time not working on anything, so maybe I should just do it and not care if it's any good or if anybody cares about it.
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I got offered an interview this morning for teaching a writing class at Bentley University. That's awesome! Except... I don't know if I could accept it if offered. UGH.

When I was concerned that my third class at Lesley might get cancelled due to low enrollment, I started applying to other universities to see if I could get another class elsewhere as a backup. It turned out that the class isn't going to be cancelled after all, so my schedule was safe. However, I'd sent out a handful of applications by that point, and today I heard back from Bentley asking if I could come in for an interview.

This is of course a good thing! I'm glad my resume and cover letter were strong enough to get invited in. Bentley is a four-year college that's literally like ten minutes from my house, so getting a relationship there would be awesome. But when I was planning my schedule for the fall, it was taking into account how I'll be directing Vivat Regina and the inaugural production of Base Instruments for Arisia this year. Directing two plays, even if one of them is a reprise, is a lot of work. I was pretty burnt out last year by just that plus two classes and tutoring. I wouldn't have to tutor with a fourth class-- tutoring is easier, but a class is more money --but the real kicker is the grading.

Lesson planning and actual in-class time are certainly work, but for me at least, the most seriously labor-intensive is the grading. Literally the worst part of being an English teacher is reading and responding to all those papers in an actually constructive manner. Taking on an additional class would likely mean an extra fifteen to twenty students' worth of grading for the semester. Maybe I could manage to do it, but I imagine it would be a pretty miserable workload. Do I really want that level of stress?

I consulted the archives of Ask a Manager, a great advice website from a woman who is a consultant in management, professional practices, and job searching. She's a great source on the best practices of modern professional life. She is of the opinion that one should not accept an interview one knows one will turn down. Her reasoning is that you risk the hiring manager feeling that you've wasted their time, which could alienate them from ever calling you back in should you ever apply there again, and stealing an interview slot from someone who actually does really want the job. The former I definitely don't want to do, as I could see myself in a situation in the future where it would be great to be teaching there, and the latter I know how painful it can be when folks don't call you back.

So I guess my only two options are either politely decline the interview for scheduling reasons, or accept the interview with the intention of taking the job if offered. I'll have to think which one is going to be right for me.

Crush form

Jul. 13th, 2016 03:07 pm
breakinglight11: (CT photoshoot 1)
Having some thoughts, not totally formed, on a concept you hear about but isn’t that well defined. Excused how rambling and inconclusive I’m being because of it.

People talk about formative influences, the stuff we experienced as children that shaped our outlook, nature, or tendencies going forward. One kind in particular is when we’re just starting to grow into our sexualities but they haven’t really been formed yet, and we develop an early awareness of the hotness of people. And I don't just mean childhood crushes, which can be purely affectionate in nature. The joke people make is, usually when referring to some sexy figure from entertainment we liked when we were children, is “That’s the moment that I went through puberty.” Or something like that.

Obviously this is an exaggeration. Rarely does one lightning-bolt moment set things in stone going forward. But there’s definitely a sense of holding on to the experience of finding somebody attractive for the first time, or one of the first times, at an early age. The classic example I can think of is the way certain men talk about having seen slave Leia in the Star Wars movies as kids— it’s not like everything changed for them in a moment, or resulted in anything particularly specific, but it made an impression that stayed with them to this day.

But when people talk about this, they’re pretty much always talking about it happening to boys, not girls. For girls, the closest analogue to this phenomenon seems to be the “teen crush,” when young girls obsess over some celebrity, such as the New Kids on the Block, Justin Beiber, or One Direction. However, in these cases, the target of these crushes is usually presented in a desexualized manner, and the girls’ feelings are characterized as affection rather than lust. I’m trying to think if there are any exceptions to this, and the only one I can really think of is Elvis, who was not considered as neutered as some of the other teen heartthrobs seem to be.

I’m wondering why this is. The answer may be simple misogyny, treating male sexuality as a given while erasing female. Like, some might say that girls do not have the kind of visual responses to attractive people the way that boys do, and are therefore unlikely to be so affected simply by hotness, but more by emotion, affection, and validation. But as I’ve mentioned, I reject the notion that girls are inherently different than boys. Socialization does of course play a role, and perhaps girls are taught to contextualize their feelings differently, which may contribute to us (and them) seeing their growing attractions as less sexual and more emotional.

Or is it that these youthful romantic obsessions are not true analogues to the phenomenon? Are these in fact more about affection, while moments of sexual attraction occur in other contexts? I don’t think that boys necessarily conceptualized every girl they thought was hot as a girl they had a crush on. It would not surprise me if girls were the same. I mean, did every girl who had that poster of Rob Lowe hanging in her bedroom obsess over his ever move? Or did they have it because they thought he was hot, while focusing their emotional energy elsewhere?

An obvious place to seek a data point, of course, is to look back on my own earlier years and see if I have any such formative experiences. As a grown woman, when it comes to pure sexual attraction, I tend to experience it as is more stereotypical of a man, so one might guess that I’d be likely to have such moments in my youth that set my sexuality that way. In fact, however, I was such a bizarre child that even such a question as “who were your crushes as a kid?” is almost too complicated and difficult to discuss.

I mean, to a certain extent, everyone is their own kind of weird and at the very least men and women are not monoliths. We’re all going to have lived slightly different kinds of lives. But without getting into it too deeply, my maturation process in this respect was complicated by 1) the preoccupation that I might be asexual, which lasted from about age 13 until at least 17, and 2) the fact that my being was consumed with an obsession/romantic fixation/otherwise inchoate longing for Draco, the dragon character from the film Dragonheart, which burned with the intensity of a first love and shut out any other romantic attachment or attraction.

What’s that you say? “You were a weird kid, Phoebe.” YEAH, NO KIDDING.

Besides the fact that #2 made me feel like a freak and worry that I might actually be insane, it did shockingly little to resolve the question of #1 either way. But the upshot is, while that experience CERTAINLY had powerful and lasting effects on me, I’m not sure it counts for what I’m discussing now. I mean, current-day Phoebe tends to form monogamous romantic attachments based more on the total experience of a particular person, while on a pure attraction level is drawn to very normatively physically beautiful guys. That’s… about as conventional as you get, and it certainly didn’t result from any formative attractions.

Heh. That weird little kid had no idea she’d go from THAT to spending a good portion of her time ogling pumped-up, shaved-down pretty boys. I wonder if child-me would be relieved or grossed out.

But enough about my personal madness. I may be speculating on a phenomenon that doesn’t really exist. It may be I’m blurring the affection and emotion of crushes with the development of plain sexuality. It might be that people’s attractions, even as they are growing in for the first time as they mature, might not strike them as strongly or particularly as I imagine. It occurs to me as a write this not everybody may have had moments where that first, visceral reaction to a figure has a powerful or enduring effect on you.

Hell, it’s only happened to me twice, that “lightning-bolt moment,” which it may amuse you to know were Draco and Steve Rogers. I’m a person who maintains very little in the way of sensory memory, but I recall every visceral detail of sitting in that movie theater seeing Dragonheart for the first time and Draco came bursting out of that waterfall, twenty goddamn years ago. When Steve Rogers emerges from the chamber in all his gleaming physical perfection, it is not an exaggeration to say it CHANGED me. I don’t know if these are in any way comparable, or even examples of what I’m talking about— if only that they happened at ages nine and twenty-four respectively, vastly different points of my life and development, and only one was of a purely sexual reaction.

I don’t know. Female friends, do you have any examples of the phenomenon that I’m talking about? Who was, for lack of a better term, your “slave Leia” in this regard?

Edited to add: Comments screened now, in case that makes you feel more comfortable responding.
breakinglight11: (CT photoshoot 1)
I very much enjoyed Captain America: Civil War. But there was one thing that really bothered me, so much so that once it happened it slightly soured the rest of the film for me. For those of you who know me, it shouldn’t surprise you: the kiss between Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter. And NO, JERKFACES, it’s NOT because of my massive crush on him. It’s because it just doesn’t WORK.



I am a hardcore Steve and Peggy shipper. I love the two of them so much that any other pairing just doesn’t compare for me. And I loved the way they couched Steve’s feeling for her— he’d been waiting for “the right partner.” Not just anyone, but the right one. The old-fashioned way their relationship developed was so charming. And I admit, I have a weird soft spot for lovers who are never for anyone but each other. I get that most people don’t see things that way, but even if they must insist on the characters moving on with other relationships, Sharon Carter is absolutely the wrong character for this to happen with Steve.

I will give them credit. This was something I’d been dreading since Avengers, so the fact that they held out this long, four years and like three more movies, is something. They probably were probably actively trying not to rush it. But they clearly knew the implications of the whole deal were creepy. There’s a reason they did not draw attention to the fact that her name was Carter, or her relationship to Peggy at all, until CA:CW.

The storyline is a relic from a dated, significantly less mature time in the development of comic book storytelling, and though some would attribute solely to the lack of respect for female characters, I would say it’s mostly due to the resistance to change. Comics have a notorious history toward refusing to ever let things meaningfully or permanently grow and change. So, when Cap’s freezing was made part of his story, bringing him forward in time, they decided to make him latch on to the Sharon Carter character by making her resemble and in fact have a blood relation to an old love interest.

I understand the desire to maintain the spirit of what we loved in these stories in the comics. But for the cinematic universe, they’ve made such a strong effort to realize these stories for the screen that I really don’t think including that in the adaptation made sense. Adaptation between mediums requires translation, and retelling stories demands updating for the current time. And all the myriad ways the idea of that relationship doesn’t work demonstrates that it just doesn’t make sense to have been included.

First off, the two of them have no chemistry. Steve and Sharon have barely spent any time together and nothing of substance ever happened or was said between them. Nobody in the audience developed any emotional investment in their relationship. Plus we have basically no idea who Sharon is. Again, very little time has been spent with her, and the actress is so bland that no real personality has been created within what little character the writing has supplied. There’s no narrative reason for them to have a relationship, and no audience member who has any desire to see it. Added to the fact that it felt like an afterthought crammed into an already jam-packed film, what exactly were they hoping to accomplish? My only real thought is, with the increasing mainstreaming of slash fandom, that they were trying to remind the audience that he’s straight.

The execution of it felt awkward and gross, too. They basically get together OVER PEGGY’S COOLING CORPSE. Who in the world thought that was something they should write for Cap? I actually thought using her death as his propulsion to take his stance was a strong idea. But that awkward, chemistry-free lip lock occurred like TWO DAYS after they put Peggy in the ground, and I can't grasp who didn’t find that to be indecent and out of character.

And there’s just this creepiness to it. If they HAVE to have Cap get together with somebody new… she REALLY should not be any blood relation to Peggy. There’s just too many gross implications tied up in it. There’s the suggestion that he likes her, not for herself, but for who she reminds him of. There’s this very uncomfortable sense of replacement, like she’s an acceptable Peggy substitute. If I want to get all technical, I might say on Nussbaum’s Inventory of Objectification, it smacks of fungibility, when a person is treated as functionally interchangeable with another.

I have BEEN creeped on because of my resemblance to my mother in her youth. THAT NEVER COMES FROM ANYPLACE HEALTHY OR GOOD. Why would they want Steve to be in a relationship that has any hint of that?

And finally, there’s the issue of youth, where a once beloved and vibrant older woman is replaced by someone who’s supposed to be similar to her, except she’s still young and beautiful. Like that lack of youth and beauty makes the relationship impossible, because a man, especially a man as beautiful as that, couldn’t love someone who didn’t have those things.

If I’m being honest, there’s something about the whole situation that’s not just objectively gross, but that tweaks my issues personally. Probably my greatest fear is aging. I’m terrified of the physical ravages of growing older, becoming weak and useless and losing my looks. It’s so hard for a woman to be respected for so many reasons, but it’s particularly hard for women who are older or not good looking. While I do believe in my true inner qualities, I feel like often people don’t notice those qualities in me until after my looks have caught their attention. Not being pretty any more scares me.

Maybe I shouldn’t care what men think of me. But the idea of becoming ignored and tossed aside because I’m old and ugly freaks me out. I’m not sure why I feel that particular terror so acutely. I’ve been lucky enough to have plenty of counter examples in my life and growing up, of men who stuck with the women they loved through the declines of time and mortality. It’s not like I worry about that with Bernie. But I am obsessed with it, not just with a romantic partner but with everyone, which drives pretty much all my neuroses.

My discomfort with this relationship stems from that. Beautiful men in particular are even scarier in that respect. Men don’t have to be beautiful, so the good-looking ones with their greater drawing power have it even more options with which to replace you when you’re no longer ideal. So there’s something very uncomfortable about watching a gorgeous man move on from his supposed one true love onto a pale replacement who just happens to still be young and beautiful.

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