Monday, February 10, 2014

Walking Away

Something not a lot of people know about me is that sometimes I get rage-induced nosebleeds. Conditions have to be right: fairly dry weather, and I have to be sitting still so that the spike in my blood pressure is a substantial difference, and I have to be really enraged. But it's happened, a couple of times. I get headaches, too. More frequently, I'll burst into tears when I'm really frustrated.

None of these circumstances are great for making an argument, which goes kind of counter to my burning and vicious desire to get the last word.

One of the things I was told when I was bullied as a kid was to just walk away. This was not helpful advice, as kids are, by and large, sociopathic and predatory, and pounce on weakness. Turning your back and trying to 'be the bigger person' like adults advised was not a functional solution, and sometimes made things worse.

The good news about kids being awful is that they grow up!

As an adult, arguments that degenerate to shrieking that someone else is a poopy-head . . . are not productive, and for me the stakes no longer involve social ostracism. The stakes different, a lot of the structure of disagreement is different, and usually the premise of the disagreement is different (Russia should be sanctioned for human rights violations vs. "you're fat"). This means that a lot of the - really maladaptive! - strategies I developed as a kid are no longer functional.

Which brings us around to walking away. Because it's a more tenable strategy now. I get to consider things like 'will staying engaged in this conversation yield anything productive?' and 'is getting the last word now worth the headache I'll have in an hour?'

And if the answer is no, I can walk away. I can physically remove myself or say 'I'm done talking about this right now,' or  'can we please be done with this,' or block people on social media sites, and I'm not required to engage in things that harm me. Being an adult kicks ass.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


So I referenced the fact that I'm in university again in my last post.

I'm back at UW-Whitewater, this time majoring in Liberal Studies, and this is my second semester, and the second doing courses entirely online. Doing it all online has required a major reshuffling of my time, which has coincidentally enabled me to work more hours. Time management helps, who knew?

It's interesting being back in school, especially as an older student: I'm much more inclined to argue with authority. One of my textbooks this semester said something heinously and easily verifiably wrong in a chapter about research, so I ended up putting together a long and well-cited argument about why it was wrong.

As a condensed version: top-level domains are sometimes shorthand for figuring out credibility of information. Sponsored top-level domains are almost always going to be much more trustworthy than generics, so it's important to know the difference.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Literary Analysis

I've actually been attempting a fair portion of literary analysis in the last few months, and the deconstruction of narratives in general. The only issue, and the reason it's not here, is that it's all fandom-based.

My reluctance isn't a matter of shame (please see links on Words page to erotica I've written), but a matter of context: the discussion occurs primarily on Tumblr, and is tagged such that mostly other fans see it. I don't have to introduce characters or concepts and I don't have to preface arguments with a description of the common perceptions I'm rebutting: I get to rest on the laziness of shared common knowledge.

But this semester I'm taking a required entry-level literature class, and I'm finding exegesis much easier. Surprisingly, arguing about the significance of driving to a relationship or about how someone's mistranslation means they're evil (it was true) has prepared me very well for expositing at length about women as portrayed in 1946 movies about veterans. Of course, it's also prepared me for injecting comparisons to Jane Austen and the Vietnam War into the same essay, but that's what second drafts are for.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Meta: Falling Star

This was my first serious foray back into original fiction after months and months of fan fiction. It's a very different process, because characterization and worldbuilding are about creation as opposed to adherence or clear alteration. In writing fanfiction (at least the way I do), the focus is more on building emotional connections between characters and having a well-paced adventure, so that's what I got to focus on.

Falling Star involved a lot of research on the late fourteenth century in Europe, and then throwing out or altering parts of it because magic. I wallow in description a lot: probably too much, for people who don't like historical detail, but it was a lot of fun to take the time to show that I had done the research. Lord of the Isles as a title is a bit of an exception, since in the real world, it's a Scottish title.

Titles for stories are usually a challenge for me, and I generally hate them after the fact, but I like this one, because it works on a couple levels. The body of the action takes place during a meteor shower, so under cover of what are often misnamed falling or shooting stars, with a lot of important bits deliberately staged at night (the introduction, the first real conversation with Arthur, finding out what Rigel had done). All of the characters except Eadweard are also named after stars: Vega for the brightest star in the constellation Lyra, Arthur as an Anglicization of Arcturus,  the brightest star in Bootes (and also to suggest that he's a good King by way of association with King Arthur), Rigel as the brightest star in Orion. I get a lot of mileage out of that one astronomy class I took in university. In hindsight, I'd have gone for something like Albireo (from the constellation Cygnus) for the King of Alba, because, while it might not suggest a common name for an English King like a modified version of Edward does, it sounds more like Alba and might further suggest that this is Alba rather than England, and things are different here.