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36.1 / 75

Small steps.


Still busy. Have noticed, however, that getting enough sleep helps.

Current dilemma: one-day writers'-conference on MHC campus on Saturday; ridiculously expensive; might be awesome. Do I go, or do I save the money and officially dedicate the day to Working On Novels? Fret, fret, etc.

Also? Am wearing not-quite-copious but still a lot of purple today. So--yeah. That's happening. (We had a quickly-planned not-quite-flash mob at lunchtime today outside the campus center. It went off remarkably well for something we came up with last night! We sang gay songs, someone passed out purple ribbon, someone took pictures.)
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Today it rained all the rain. We attempted to not get swept away walking to class, and were mostly successful.

Additionally, I have now seen DEBS, which is a very silly movie--teenage spies, just add lesbians. The supervillain anti-hero woman is the most sensibly dressed of them all.

I actually washed all my dishes today--and last night I finally finished the second Lymond Chronicles book--and today I picked up my ILL books... and read Strong Poison because Sayers is still my favorite. So I feel a little accomplished, even if I didn't work on any novels or do my laundry or anything actually useful like that.

Tomorrow perhaps it will not rain, and I will get some writing done, and maybe actually wash my clothing. Who knows? The days are filled with boundless possibility.
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The Urban Fantasy Novel, first draft in-progress:

280 / 350

The ridiculous revision dash (by wordcount in thousands), novel I wrote last summer:

6.4 / 80

Other tasks accomplished: made blueberry-strawberry pancakes, baked raspberry muffins, slushed for Ideomancer, read part of Jo Walton's The King's Peace. (Can you tell that one of the things I enjoy most about summer is berries?)

We could call that a day.
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Today was a Day Of Things Which Were Not Progress On The Novel. These days happen.

Things included, um, lying about, drinking tea, posting to the Ideomancer community (Atlas of Imagination! Still up and running!), working on the still-untitled short story, taking a nap (I pretty much never take naps, so this was of note), walking to the store to buy food, and seeing How to Train Your Dragon (which was cute! Though of questionable morality at some points).

Rainy cold days make me want to work on this short story, apparently, which says bad things about how cheerful the story is. All of those bad things are true, with cherries on top. It is a story of Doom and Gloom, so it's... sorta nice the weather's cooperating, really.

With luck, though, tomorrow I'll leap out of bed and work on the novel. Spending a day working on something else once in a while is probably good for me, but I don't want to lose too much momentum.

The Demon's Lexicon, with as few spoilers as possible: hmm. I'd gotten spoiled for the main spoiler of the book long before I read it, so I'm not sure how it would've read if I hadn't known that going in. There were a couple of parts where I was confused, either with logic or presentation of material, but they all sort of made sense eventually. I liked the Goblin Market a lot, and I found it refreshing (and awesome!) to have a queer character whose sexuality was present in the text but wasn't really made a big deal of. Result: I'll read the sequel, though I don't plan to buy either at this point.

Also, I took my tiny laser apart entirely today. It had a laser diode inside. I'm pretty sure it's irreparable now, which is a pity, but what would I really use a laser pointer for anyway? Taking it apart was entertaining, at any rate.
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133 / 350

Today: one of those days where I did not want to work on the novel. Mostly because I seem to have overrun my headlights, and so although I wrote a page, I don't know why she is doing what she's doing or what she hopes to get out of it. And I think I'm in what the technical term for is "the horrible middles", wherein you believe that there is not possibly enough material left for the rest of this whole novel. So.

I also got distracted by writing Diana Wynne Jones a message telling her how much I love her books. Diana Wynne Jones... I've been reading her books since I was a kid. I love her characters. Her writing is splendid, her ideas are often really neat, but her characters are the best. Which was why I dressed up as Chrestomanci last year for the geek dance. (It is also, indirectly, why I still kind of want to write feminist Chrestomanci fanfiction--even though I'm usually not one for writing fanfic.)

...okay, so now I feel the need to correct myself. My other favorite thing about her books is the moments that just... resettle the world, a little. I'll namedrop Homeward Bounders and Year of the Griffin as two that had those moments for me; spoilers may exist in comments, for these or other books. You have been warned.

At any rate, awesome characters and that sort of world-resettling moment are pretty easy to win me over with.

(Of course, considering these facets of her work, I want to see now how I can apply that to my own. This particular novel I'm working on doesn't quite have either, yet, but I am learning the characters as I go and their representation will improve in further drafts. Moments that resettle the world, though... I'm not sure that it will ever have that. Considering, though, it's possible that I could work one in there. Or at least, that resettles the characters' worlds. Hmm.)

Anyway, just in general it has been a day in which clouds of various fluffiness turn out to have linings approximately the color of algae-choked ponds.

However, I went to an event at the Walker, which did much the same thing except they also gave me a free tiny laser pointer. It is on a keyring. I could carry it around on a keychain or a carabiner if I wanted to. I want to take it apart and put it back together, except I'm not sure if that's advisable, so maybe I'll just point it at things and whisper, "Physicssss."

Lesson of the day: I will forgive much for free lasers.
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I have boxes packed up, ready to be taped/labeled and shipped out tomorrow.

I have turned in all my papers, gotten confirmation all were received, and have taken my final.

I have not yet packed up all my things to be stored, because there is a certain amount that I have to pace myself. (My stuff won't be picked up for storage until Tuesday.) For the same reason, I haven't even dragged my duffel bags out from under my bed yet.

Which I guess are all things that say what I have done, but not how I am doing. So: I am okay with the amount of stuff I own. (Why is packing to move so much like writing a novel? Any large project, I guess.) I am dealing with leaving-campus and not-seeing-people by... ignoring the fact and listening to strange music on youtube. But, you know, I'm distracted and I'm okay.

What I plan to do with the rest of my afternoon: attend a Coyotecon session and figure out what to do with the three fingers of maple syrup left in the bottle.
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Today is a Good Day. I started exploring the Mandelbrot set for math class: so. cool; our physics demonstration accidentally started to combust during lecture; I finished reading Privilege, Power, and Difference (a book recommended by someone, forget who, on the comments in one of [livejournal.com profile] jimhines's posts); started my Classics reading for tomorrow; and this afternoon I get a friend-prospie to show around campus and introduce to people.

I am also practicing boundary-setting, since I shaved my head again recently and people like to pet me when it's this short. I am not, on the whole, against being petted. It feels nice, and physical contact is sometimes quite reassuring. On the other hand, sometimes I don't want to be touched, and I'd really rather that people asked first--even nonverbally--whatever mood I'm in. (Some people have an Understanding with me wherein they can pet my head at any time, but they know who they are.)

Which, I mean, okay, having to set boundaries is kind of a not so great thing, but I am in a very cheerful mood today and actually setting boundaries instead of just subsiding and allowing it to continue = plus.

I saw two bunnies this morning, one of whom kept trying to sidle up innocuously to the other one, who turned (making the sidler leap away as if in slow motion) and glared--it was sort of adorable, but of course in the boundary-setting mode I look at that in a slightly different light. ... Still cute, though. Um.

On the Writer's Block thingy of childhood fears: I was afraid of school buses as a child. Still am under some circumstances. See, I was homeschooled, and school buses (so my thinking ran) try to snatch you and take you away to some terrible place with people who aren't interested in fascinating geeky things, where you just have to do pointless worksheets all day.

I am pretty sure this is a valid fear. School buses are scary.
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The past couple of days I've been working the MHC production of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog as a techie.

I had almost managed to forget how much I like tech work. There are small tasks, clearly defined, that must be remembered and done with the right timing; efficiency and organizational skills are a big plus; and while you can get away with doing it any old way, performing these tasks with grace and competence wins you gratitude from your peers.

Also, over the past two days me carrying a pocketknife with me everywhere has become not only relevant but deeply useful.

Tech work also includes nighttime road trips to the hardware store, windows rolled down, blasting Dr. Horrible and singing along, skipping into Home Depot at nine o'clock at night with cries of joy for a box of screws that would in fact work.

Another thing I've learned lately is that my college email inbox filled up (they told me, but I forgot to do anything about it), which would be why I hadn't received email for a week solid. From anyone. Including email lists. I'm not sure how I managed to go seven entire days without realizing this fact. It was kind of nice, actually--but I'm glad that I figured out what was going on.

Now that I have it fixed, the server is giving me random chunks of my last week's worth of email, without regard apparently to chronology of any kind, or any other order for that matter. So that's entertaining. I got an email this morning about something that will happen... this morning... and am glad that the server saw fit to deliver the message, y'know, before it actually happened. Hooray.
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Just finished my application for the physics REU! Sent my statement of interest flying off into the ether that is the Internet. Oh, the glory of online application forms.

In the meantime, I have pretty much recuperated from Illness. I am glad to have my brain back, but on the other hand having it back means having to distract myself from teaching myself number theory.

(I find that sort of thing really interesting; unfortunately I am already way ahead of the class on this unit, and don't want to outpace it too ridiculously.)

Thankfully I do have other things to do--finish my REU application, write, stuff like that. Picked up a biography of Gauss at the library today since the man seems to have done everything. I'll survive.
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Illness, day three.

I was mostly recovered this morning; was feeling a bit down after dinner, but have perked up with the judicious application of Tea.

Tomorrow is classes again, heigh-ho. At least it's only a week 'til spring break, and I have nothing major due.

Mugs of tea: 2?
Math papers revised: 1
Books read: 1

The book was Connie Willis's Doomsday Book. I am convinced that this is perhaps the best book to read when one is recovering from being ill. The funny parts make you laugh, and the parts about the Black Death make you grateful you aren't quite as bad as all that.

It would in fact be the perfect thing to read when one is ill, if it weren't for the fact that the whole thing just sort of hits you in the solar plexus, or at least hits me, and leaves you in some ways exhausted. I had to put it down near the end to go eat dinner and I did not want to go. I don't think that I have ever cried at a book, but Doomsday Book has gotten closer than almost any. (Okay, I'll admit it, the other one was Abhorsen when I was twelve. --wow. I had never actually calculated before how old I was then.) At any rate, it's gorgeous and sad and true and it makes me want to weep.

...my other reaction is, "I wish that I could write like that." To which the answer that immediately appeared in my head is, "You're eighteen, Alena. You have time."

The nice thing about Doomsday Book is that, for all that it is fantastic and depressing, it doesn't make me depressed; it makes me optimistic. Hey, maybe someday I will write a book as awesome as this one! And its existence does not make me obsolete, because there is more than one story to be told.

So. I might start reading random books from the library, for some variety and scope, but sometimes it's good to just go back to ones you love.
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Awesome Discovery, sick day #2: Can download television episodes from iTunes for cheap, most importantly Criminal Minds. Hooray, technology!

Sore throat is (mostly) gone; tea is now (mostly) for comfort purposes. Still not up to heavy-duty brainings, so actually effecting math paper revision might wait until tomorrow, when with luck I will be wholly recovered.

Mugs of tea consumed: 6 or so
Math paper revisions considered: 1
Half-naked men seen in upstairs hallway while fetching tea water: 2
Times gone outside: 1
Drag balls not attended: 1
Responsibilities discharged: 2?

(Before you ask, no, there were no half-naked men in other places or situations that just did not make the list. I feel, myself, that two half-naked men is quite enough for one day at a women's college.)
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Today I am Sick. I am not even really all that sick, apart from the scratchy sore throat and occasional sneezing. But it's my first illness at college and I intend to enjoy it.

As I said earlier today, "I was going to update my facebook status about how I skipped class at college for the first time, but then I realized that it probably doesn't count as skipping if I actually went to class and my professor told me, You are sick and know all this stuff already, go get some rest." To which the answer, which was given me, is, "No, no it doesn't."

Also I skived off work, but this sort of sickness would make the best workday a slog.

So I spent the day convalescing gently, with the aid of tea.

Books read: one (1) John M. Ford novel, Princes of the Air
Mugs of tea drunk: 7 or 8, so far
Classes attended: one (1) physics lecture
Words written: ~1000
Items bought: one (1) travel tea mug with the MHC seal on it, for the inevitable time when I will have to leave my room
Items stolen: three (3) slices of bread, five (5) tea bags, five (5) packets of sugar, and one (1) orange, from dining hall at lunch
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Having finished all of my midterm obligations, what I have done today, apart from "go to class" and "work":
- read Chill
- sent one (1) summer-stuff-related email
- picked up one (1) letter of reference to send to physics REU
- made one (1) to-do list
- read eight hundred (800) lines of Agamemnon aloud

...that looks like a day off, except for the Agamemnon part. I really like the translation that we're using--Greene and Lattimore--it has a nice poetic tendency. Hence me reading the whole thing out loud. Like Shakespeare, it parses better that way.

The plot's all coils of gender relations and familial murders and vengeance, and I like it. I like Clytemaestra, who seems thoroughly underestimated by the Chorus--well, by everyone. I don't like Aegisthus, who is a smug and violent creep. I love that Agamemnon contains enough knots of theme, of character, of imagery, of emotion and resonance, that I suspect you could spend a lifetime unpicking them and end up with a lap draped full of strings tugging you off in new directions.

(Is "I would like to see what Agamemnon is like in the original" sufficient reason to learn ancient Greek? Not that I didn't want to before, that's been my plan all year, but still.)

Today's work discovery: a folder in the "Administrative Offices" section labeled "Master Plan Office". No, really. Disappointingly, it contains only two memos--no copy of said Master Plan whatsoever. I believe that this can only mean the Master Plan is so secret that the Archives do not know about it. I await further developments.
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1. I have decided that I need more math geek friends. I am not sure how to accomplish this objective. (Well, okay--I could go to math/stat club meetings, I guess. I've only been on their email list all year.)

2. Agamemnon is kind of awesome.

3. After tonight, I will be done with midterms. All I have to do is--um. Everything else. (Spring break details and logistics, physics REU application statement of interest, housing-for-next-year forms and meetings with everything sped up because of disability services deadlines, rewriting my first math paper.)

4. Flash fiction working from prompts is probably the best form for me to work in between papers/midterm work. They are microcosm; if I get an idea, I can scribble down a few paragraphs and be half done with a rough draft. They aren't often deep enough that my mind gets wholly absorbed in them. They are a good distraction.

5. We have a new issue (and a new shiny shiny shiny website) up at Ideomancer. Also, a swag shop. And we are open for story/poetry submissions again. Go and admire, for lo, they are shiny.
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Doing things entirely unrelated to college makes me happy. Working on things for Ideomancer, or doing comments for the Codex novel exchange, or just working on a story. It proves that I am a real person, not just A College Student. That I have a life outside of writing papers and taking tests.

So today was a nice day, even though half the snow melted. (It stayed long enough for me to have a snowball fight, though. I am content.)


Question: who's going to Wiscon this year? Fourth Street Fantasy?

(Fourth Street will probably be a go for me no matter what, as I suspect I will be in Minnesota all summer; Wiscon is more shaky, and depends on, well, mostly me working out where I'd sleep, and if anyone I know will be there.)


Here, have an article about a guy who was a professor at my college. My boss at work was telling me stories about him the other day.

Also, have a poem.
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1. The math paper is twelve pages long. The conclusion, as it stands, consists of key words followed by exclamation points.

2. Distracted by math, I did not remember to check schedules before I signed up for things. So, a week from Thursday, I will do a presentation in one class and take an exam in another.

3. After an hour and a half of depressing in-class discussion of Kafka's "Metamorphosis", I came up with an optimistic interpretation of the story which now seems blindingly obvious.

4. It's been snowing all day.

5. It's still snowing.
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I hereby declare this weekend Write A Math Paper Weekend.

I will be celebrating this holiday several times throughout the semester.

It took me most of the day to write four pages, and by the time those were out my brain was tired, tired, tired of math. So I read Kafka's Metamorphoses instead of trying to bang my head on math any longer. (Of which more later, maybe. The reading is for my Critical Social Thought class. I hadn't read it before, and it was interesting. Not quite what I'd expected.)

- My brain does in fact work in the right way to synthesize math and make it into a halfway readable paper.
- However, it takes far more work than either writing or math independently. (Unsurprising, especially because I've rarely tried this kind of exercise before.)
- I start making egregious math jokes after approximately two and a half hours.

My current facebook status, for posterity, is "Alena McNamara is chasing lemmas off a cliff."

Time for dinner, maybe a bit of the Odyssey, and then back to the math mines.
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Today: maybe half an hour on As Large as Alone again. There are now only nine spots still highlighted. This is working! Most of the spots left are phrases or sentences; there's only one that's most of a paragraph. Soon draft four will be done, and it will be time to see if all this care and thought has in fact made a difference in how people read it.

Complex numbers going swimmingly. Need to redefine how I'm thinking about speed of convergence in all cases, I think, but I can manage that. And then probably I should figure out the last bits, and then start actually writing the paper, since I suspect it'll take me a while.

May 2017



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