Pell is Australia's most senior Catholic and, being in charge of the church's finances, is considered the world's third most senior. He did not return home from the Vatican last year to provide evidence to the Royal Commission on his knowledge of and involvement in the systematic cover-up of sex offences within the Australian Catholic church, citing ill health. Given my father flew from Los Angeles to Australia on a commercial 747 flight while in an actual coma, I find this reasoning personally uncompelling. There is no extradition treaty with the Vatican, although Pell states that, pending approval from his doctors, he intends to return to defend himself from these charges.
Tim Minchin said it best last year, and as always makes me proud to be Australian.
(If the tone seems strong, by the way, consider that Pell has been been implicated in shuffling repeat offending priests from parish to parish to escape accusations, and in bribing and silencing victims, a shocking number of whom have suicided. In his 2014 testimony regarding the institutional response to abuse allegations, he claimed that the church bore no more legal responsibility for its priests' unconscionable actions than a trucking company would if one of its drivers had picked up 'some woman' off the side of the road and assaulted her. He's also on the record as saying that abortion is a far worse moral crime than priests abusing children. He deserves his day in court, and a fair trial--but even without being personally implicated as a perpetrator, a many very angry Australians feel that 'scum' is putting it mildly.)
Late last night I worked out what this is really about. It's not about the stupid thing I was overreacting to at all; that's just the straw that broke my back.
About six months, maybe a year ago, our neighbors from up the hill dumped some rubbish in the corner of their yard at the top of the retaining wall which separates their property from ours. And a stack of torn out plasterboard sheets fell down from this into our yard, into a rock garden near the washing line where my boys play. Given some of those boys are given to destructive impulses that damage our house and car if not channeled appropriately, I do try to give them free reign to destroy things that are okay for destruction. And these torn out sheets of plasterboard tumbled down among a set of handy rocks... well, lets just say they've spent the last six months joyfully reducing them to fine powder and I have been more than happy for them to do that rather than attacking things inside the house.
A couple of days ago one of the builders we had around, fixing up a corner of our house where the eaves are falling down, asked me: What're all these asbestos sheeting fragments doing in your garden?
... oh no.
Um. That would be, that would be the asbestos my very young children have been deliberately grinding up and whacking with rocks to make clouds of dust to play in?
Yeah, I kind of preferred it when they were cutting through power cords and car seatbelts with scissors.
They haven't exactly been doing lines of the stuff, but they've basically been doing the worst thing possible apart from that.
A sample's gone off for testing to confirm what it is, but they're pretty certain. Next week the removal company comes to look at what they need to do to make it safe (for our eaves as well, which turned out to be asbestos, which is how the whole discussion got started and I want those eaves so fucking far away from my family right now). I need to write a letter to our neighbors up the hill, who have young grandchildren who play in their yard, too, and I have to work out what the tone of that letter will be, which ranges anywhere from 'Hey just wanted to let you know and ask if you wanted our guy to quote on the removal from your garden while he's here' to 'YOU DUMPED ACTUAL FUCKING TOXIC WASTE IN MY KIDS PLAYGROUND YOU BASTARDS'. I could go and visit them instead, but. I've been having enough trouble finding words for a letter, without facing the additional difficulty of actually making those words come out of my mouth. I want to know, if they knew. Surely, surely, they can't have known. Surely.
And you know what? Feeling like this about the asbestos? Yeah. That's, actually... actually reasonable. I'm allowed to sit here and cuddle my cat and cry about that, cause it sucks and it is fucked up and it is really probably not actually a big deal--plenty of kids have been exposed without complication far more than mine for the very many years when no-one knew it was harmful--but my mother-in-law is a world-renowned lung pathologist, and so I'm probably more informed than many about the precise nature of future complications. Asbestos isn't just a scary word to me, the results of exposure are something that's been discussed across the dinner table. A lot.
It is still reasonable to be afraid that in ten or twenty years, one of my children--whom I was supposed to be protecting--will develop complications as a direct result of this exposure, and I will outlive them. And it's still reasonable to look that fear in the face and tell it that it has no need to take over my brain and suck away all my processing power and emotional energy to deal with feeling bad over something that will very most likely never matter; to tell it to save that energy for something that's actually real and can be changed right now.
Because it will most likely never matter. And it wasn't anything I could have helped, because I didn't know any more than they did, any more than my parents did when they let my four sisters play in the cutting dust while they worked together up on the rooves building houses--none of whom, by the way dear Brain, have asbestos complications, which has to say something for the statistics no one one can give on exposure risks and the perspective you get from the dinner-table stories of a lung pathologist at the very far end of the causal chain. And for the moment I'm doing everything I can to minimise the risk going forward.
But for now it's still entirely logical to feel bloody awful anyway. And in that light, also to overreact to stupid things.
So, I'm in one of those odd periods where my focus has gone away from writing/reading/fantasy onto actually doing a whole stack of little things that I normally let slide because real life ugh. I've been going around the house with a can of WD-40 fixing all the seized or squeaking mechanisms, ordering replacement ceiling fans for the ones that are broken, getting the locksmith in to look at the side door we haven't been able to use for five years, clearing out the piles of artwork that have built up on every surface, culling and sorting them into specific kids' folders. That kind of thing.
( Wardrobe )
( Mending )
( Health )
Yes, by the way, my credit card always gets a hammering when I'm manic like this; shoes, clothes (this time they're even for me!), mending supplies, tradespeople, medical appointments. But that's okay because this is a blue moon occurrence; our bank accounts don't get used for anything except groceries and utilities and things the kids urgently need the other 98% of the time. Hubby will freak out in a month's time (despite knowing what's going on) that our mortgage offset amount has gone down and we are LOSING MONEY OHNOES and I'll remind him to measure the account balance not from last month, but from the previous time I went mad and got all the jobs done, three years ago, and that if we actually managed to make more money in a month than I spend in a Jobs Month, that would be truly frightening. (If in a way we all dream of. :) )
There's one more thing, but I'm going to make it a different post when I get to it, because it doesn't deserve to be lumped in with the rest of the stuff. Not trying to be a tease, just. It's so much at the root of everything on my mind that it would feel like tiptoeing around the elephant in the room not to at least mention that there's more I'm not saying. Nothing bad, just thinky-thoughts about thinky-things.
I was awesome.
I even managed to have a pretty relaxing Christmas Day all told despite the lack of sleep. Hubby loved his song (although I'm still going to tweak a line or two before I upload it). Visiting family are gone. I had 9 hours sleep last night. Hubby's taken the kids out to the coffee shop, and I'm blissfully alone for the morning.
( Pics or it didn't happen )
(In the photo at the table, I (in the purple shirt) and my three children, my mum, and my four sisters are sitting closest to the camera. The rest are two of my brothers-in-law, my nine nieces and four nephews, and one nephew's girlfriend. Oh, and Hubby's in there too hidden away at the middle-back. He's the strikingly handsome one in the white shirt sitting at the left of the second photo.)
Always a pleasure to drink white wine in the sun with these fine people.
Now, I'm going to sit down with a cup of tea and do some writing. :)
Am a headless chicken at the moment. Too many projects, as is usual for me at this time of year.
1) Writing (well, re-lyricing) and recording a song for a Christmas present for Hubby. (No soppy stuff, he wouldn't like that anyway.) Stay tuned, I'll post it for the fan flashworks amnesty at the end of the month, it's gonna be awesome. :D But of course this means that I'm fiddling around with:
a) writing lyrics (I've got three out of four verses written, a couple of concepts/lines for a fourth, and there's a few dodgy lines throughout that could do with improvement--but I'm so distractable by process-orientated stuff that I'm having difficulty focussing past the smorgasboard of distractions available),
b) learning my way around the software and post-production filters I'll need to get the sound right and blending in with my backing track (Audacity, which I've used before many years ago, third party high-pass, de-essing, compression, autotune and reverb filters, which I haven't; it's a song for programming to, so I want to do my best to make something that'll sound all right in with the rest of his playlist),
c) pulling together and learning my way around the hardware and setup I need for recording (an at least forty year old microphone from the cupboard which I hope will work better than my phone microphone solely because it will have a decent size diaphragm (although the phone mic I've been testing on sounds pretty decent for the style already, so I can fall back if it's no better (ETA: Hubby asleep, the old school mic is working and I think it does sound like it's got a rounder tone even if I don't want to try singing too loudly with the house asleep, and look I'm still not writing)), pop-filter made from a coat-hanger and a stocking, account created for Unspecified Purposes on Hubby's computer (which has an audio card with an actual microphone jack, what a blast from the past)),
d) finding time with no one in the house to actually record it (Saturday morning, I've got a couple of hours and I'll need to get everything recorded in the one session, which I KNOW will be aggravating because I don't know what the hell I'm doing with a microphone, so the chances of recording anything clean are almost nil and I'll only really find the dodgy parts in post-production when it'll be difficult to do more takes--also I really really need to have my lyrics finalised and given some time to cook before then),
e) explaining to my four year old what the word "bitch" means after he's heard me singing along with the original song one too many times in the car, and
f) repeatedly thwacking on the head the idea that, given I will be an enthusiastic participant in two Kinect dance parties in the next week with my large tribe of awesome dance-loving nieces and nephews while they are all in town, and I have access to the dance game that covers the song I'm covering, and wouldn't it would be super super awesome to go all out and make a music video to go with it (What the hell, brain? It's hard enough overcoming the self-consciousness to sing all out without thinking about actually dancing! Plan: first, write lyrics! Then, do other jobs! Then and only then, if there's time, think about taking over the world with DANCE!!!)
So, yeah. I always promise myself I'm not going to get obsessed with some kind of creative endeavour for a gift for someone this year. And I ALWAYS go back on my promise. Always. Sigh.
2) Not getting too caught up in the above project (ha!) because the prompt at fan_flashworks this week is "Naked", for which the very very obvious fill means another chapter in the Were-John verse (he loses his clothes when he transforms, thus the nakedness), which I soooo want to write. But I always find sequels are sooooo much harder than pulling something out of the air, so who knows if I'll need to pinch-hit for myself.
3) Also Psycho!Jim is on my mind, of which I want to write more of but is getting too big for its britches. Much like the protagonist. *forcibly removes Jim from brain with crowbar* And The Wrong Kind Of Snow is still living in my brain wanting to be cleaned up and cross-posted, but now is NOT the time.
4) I'm also cleaning up and crossposting "Five ways to confess to your flatmate". After the first chapter, everyone seems so excited about where it's going that I've been driven into a kind of anxious despair that where it's going isn't good enough, and I don't want to disappoint so I've got in a vicious editing loop that I have not the time to break myself out of. *puts aside for now, people will have to wait for the next chapter*
5) I have a whole stack of wonderful new comments on Living Conditions, which I still think is the best thing I've ever written, and I always want to get right into the meat of replying to, but it is an all-consuming universe when I go there, so I'm just going to leave that until the new year.
6) Christmas. Apparently I have children? And all sorts of responsibilities for thinking of/buying/wrapping presents for other people as well? *headdesk* I think I'm only missing one christmas present, assuming everything I've ordered online on the last possible posting day arrives, plus a visit to the cheap shop to get stocking fillers. Late night shopping tonight; maybe I can do it then and it will be off the stack.
7) Speaking of which, Christmas holidays. All the kids (who I love very dearly) in my face, all the time. Aaaaaghh!
8) We've got some christmas craft projects. Decorations, and presents. At some point in the next week, I'll have to make time to do that with the kids.
9) All four of my sisters and all of their families are in town at the same time for the first time since before I had children. Obviously I want to see as much as I can of them. I'm hosting two lots of Christmas parties, one of which will have 27 people, the one on Christmas day only 21. I have to feed people. And keep the house clean. And organise enough tables for everyone to sit down together, which hasn't happened since we grew too big for that, but I am keen to do. Our pool is safe to swim in (it's 35 degrees out at Christmas in Brisbane), but the water is still a little hazy--only to be expected because we had to replace the filter earlier this year, and they don't clarify the water as well until they're properly dirty--but I'm babying it in the hopes that it will start properly sparkling before everyone comes around, and that is So. Much. Work.
Right, so that's my brain dump. I always laugh when people wish me "peace" at this time of year. No time to lose, stuff to be done. In the last thirty-six hours, according to my fitbit, I've done 34,000 steps and got 4 hours and 3 minutes sleep. See you on the other side. Or not. Because I may well be unconscious.
( Spoilers! Because now I'm the one with the spoilers HAHA! ) Anyway, I'm up to date now, so I can safely read the shoobies' snippets without my head exploding.
2) I have finally, finally managed to open Futureproof to resume my second draft editing. Chapter 3 and I have been having an epic mexican standoff in my brain for... wow, is it only four weeks? It seems longer! ... which has in any case at last, like in the last few hours, spilled into shots fired in an actual word processor. I'm officially done with listening to its excuses, and this afternoon I made a first edit through to the end of the chapter. I'm going to stop trying to cram in things that don't go there. If I'm having this much trouble, now is clearly not the time for those revelations. I'm drawing a line. Moving on. It'll be off to Pear for review tomorrow night, and the next stop is editing Chapter 4. In which Gary is woobie and put upon, and we're back to the other plot arcs with the character who doesn't drive me nuts, so that should be easier, right? Right?
3) Also, we have no milk. I think Sherlock's done something to it. My only other theory is that the kids drank it all, and that just doesn't seem plausible. I have, however, discovered that cream is not half bad in tea. Much better than powdered milk. And substantially better for the putting-on-weight campaign, because if I have a couple of spoons of cream in every cup of tea throughout the day, that adds up to quite a bit of cream--surely eventually some of it will stick to my bones. I might keep up the cream even when we have milk again.
Speaking of Sherlock: My fanvid. Which I am pimping all over the place because I am so damn proud of it, but it's my livejournal and I'll pimp if I want to. :)
There was July Writing Prompts, of course, and the associated burned-out mental exhaustion. Mr. Two Years Old's birthday party. And then today was Mr. Four Years Old's birthday party. Attempt two, because as our first date approached it became clear that our house and our family were a biological contamination hazard, and we would all require worming tablets and a week's worth of conjunctivitis medication before we were fit to recieve company. Yeuch. In any case, all better now, so that's a relief. And we got to have a Zoo Party! I did an amazing cake, as usual, and also carved a watermelon to look like a hippopotomus, which I've never tried anything similar before, and went down a treat.
In the meantime, I had to do a whole lot of terrible, horrible, parent homework in videoing and editing Mr. Nearly Six's oral presentation for school about the construction of his house. It took a long time, but apparently went down well with the class. He was the only kid in school who did part of his video from on the roof of his house, which earned him lots of cred in school (and coincidentally made him forget to be a grumpy teenager-before-his-time for long enough to make at least *some* eye contact with the camera for that part). So yay.
Same child went a bit scissor mad a month or two ago and cut 1) some bedsheets (actually, that was a while previously), 2) an electrical cable, and 3) one of the seatbelts in the car. Not happy, Jan. Consequences have had to happen, which has been making him very grumpy, but we are now we are out the other side of that and he's got his scissor privileges and his iPad priveileges and his lap-sash belt privileges back again, the car is roadworthy again, and things are more settled with him. Then of course I discovered Mr. Two Years Old running through the house while attempting to give himself a haircut with some pilfered scissors ("Nip! Nip! Nip!" "OMG GIVE ME THOSE!!!") so.... Scissors are good for development of fine motor control. Yes, yes they are.
I've made a couple of new online friends I've been getting to know, which has proved interesting, as it always is. I think the thing I love most about online friendships is the way they go deep so quickly. You don't know how the other person looks, but you know how they feel about the things that matter to them the very most, in words they've had time to consider. It's cool to make that connection with something real rather than, you know, just mums in the schoolyard commiserating about how tough life is with kids and day to day trivialities, oh I know, etc. Which, yeah, but it's different online. Maybe that's just for me.
I've been keeping up with fan_flashworks, and now I've done eight challenges in a row. Loving the way the urge to keep my streak going is forcing me to keep up the flashwork momentum, making writing and finishing little things just another part of life rather than a Big Deal. Thinking of trying something a bit different for this one, an idea I've had niggling for a while, so an amnesty's perfect to actually do it.
And I've partnered up with Wild Pear to work on Futureproof. She's both acting as my arbitrary deadline to get chapters finished, and looking at chapters as I send them to her, reflecting back what she gets from my characters, telling me where it gets a little bogged down or confused... and omg, it's so good. So reassuring. So affirming. And so inspirational to hear those little edges of things she doesn't see in the characters and the things that resonated with her that she does. *loves* If I'm actually going to get this thing done by my self-imposed deadline, I really need to focus on drawing lines and getting it out the door. But there's so many distractions and other things I can just get done first, there's always a good reason not to do anything on it today. New rule: my ten minutes writing per day isn't ten minutes in general, I know I can do that: it's ten minutes of Futureproof.
Speaking of Futureproof, I've spent the last week battling brain weasels again. I've been alternately super busy or super exhausted by it, and I guess I've been caught up in my own brain researching... stuff. Things I'm questioning about myself that don't really matter in the scheme of things, but that have activated the must-research-and-question-absolutely-
I managed to write it out with the last flashwork--despite the fact that my writer's brain insisted the story should go a different direction to what I felt would be truthful and real. It was an interesting conflict to deal with, usually the only battle I have to fight is 'this is wonderful, but am I really comfortable revealing that?' rather than 'this is something that I want to explore, but it is narratively unsatisfying'. It made the final few lines very difficult for me, that battle between true and right, because unlike anxious wibbling which must be crushed, both of them are good reasons in their own right. If the story doesn't... come full circle, to a satisfying ending, then is it really a story? How can I stop writing it if it doesn't end? But if it doesn't tell the story I want to tell... is it really doing its job? And I was super busy with party preparation and just needed to post it and stop obsessing, which I did. *pats self on back* Apart from a couple of nods to narrative causality, I ended up making it the story I needed to write for me, even though the ending felt weak. I'm pretty sure the catharsis it made me feel doesn't come across in the same way to a reader who doesn't live in my brain, but ambiguity is part of the joy of an unreliable narrator anyway. It reminds me a little of On Becoming an Axiom, which people seemed to think was a sad story, when to me it was a shiningly glorious truth. I might end up tweaking the end a little when I crosspost, if I can think of something that unites the trueness and the rightness a little better. And I've also left it open for a sequel if I need to do any more soulsearching along the same lines, so... good enough is good enough. Out the door and posted, and out of my brain, for now at least.
I've got a couple of emails and a couple of comment replies still waiting on my to do list, which I need to just do rather than continuing to find them daunting. Someone asked an insightful question on one of my stories which I am trying to to write an epic essay in response to the fact that I'm intrigued and not really sure of the answer myself. The comments on my stories that give me most joy are always the hardest to respond to, but I'm working on just doing it without trying to do it justice. And hopefully with a few of the real-life jobs out of the way, and with Pear backing me up, I can get things back under control and focus properly on Futureproof again.
The Stratford Stabber - a single, prompt-guided story, where each chapter is semi-standalone [drama, action, (b)romance, h/c]
1. Just Winded (’Tis But a Scratch) [100w]
2. It's how you get your kicks (Roll The Dice) [100w]
3. One deduction too late (A cardboard box) [221w]
3b. Physician Heal Thyself (A cardboard box) [221w]
4. The Surgeon's Knife (Horsemen of the Apocalypse) [442w]
5. Oh Better Far to Live and Die (A False Moustache) [728w]
6. The Least of These My Bretheren (Food, Glorious Food) [559w]
7. Penicillin for a Crime Wave (Epidemic) [887w]
8. The Wonder of Our Age (The Wonder of the Age) [500w]
9. Rationality and Rationalisation ("Please stop petting the test subjects.") [394w]
10. Turning in their Foxholes (A higher power) [337w]
And on to the individual stories:
11. There's Three of Us (Threesome) [drama, angst, h/c 1114w]
12. Pirates of the Faroe Islands (Image) [humour, (b)romance, 221w]
13. The Science of Decomposition (Nature is red in tooth and claw) [humour, 622w]
14. Five ways to look after your injured flatmate (Rehabilitation/Recovery) [friendship, humour, h/c 2650w]
15. The Boxing Builder from Islington (Make a literary reference) [humour, casefic, 1290w]
16. Faithful Companions and Tellers of Tales (Include another great British character) [character, friendship, 1019w]
17. Coordinated Action (Teamwork) [friendship, 473w]
18. Love Letters for the 21st Century (Handwritten) [character, (b)romance, angst, 1842w]
19. Predators and Prey (Great Minds Think Alike: AU with Creatures of the Night) [friendship, action, 2303w]
20. Trouble in Paradise (There are tides in the affairs of men.) [character, casefic, 1548w]
21. Conduct Me a Rainbow (21 song salute: Make Me Rainbows) [character, casefic, 372w]
22. How to Win Friends and Influence Goldfish (Child POV) [drama, 1020w]
23. The Game is Afoot! (Use a pun) [humour, 1089w]
24. And Baby Makes Four ("Nothing shocks me, I'm a scientist.") [drama, 1151w]
25. Finding an Anchor (Trope Trainwreck) [drama, friendship, 3213w]
26. To Do: Strangle Flatmate, Buy Glass Kettle (Elementally, my dear Watson) [humour, 83w]
27. We're all fine here, how are you? (Thx 4 Nothing) [drama, action, 617w]
28. Midnight Sunlight (In July the sun is hot. Is it shining? No, it's not.) [character, 444w]
29. Storming the Ship (Arr!) [action, 1811w]
30. The Adventure of the Cloth Covered Face ("Why exactly do you need chloroform at 2am?") [casefic, 1350w]
31. Playing at Detection (Once more with feeling) [casefic, character, 1233w]
Bonus: That's a Crack Shot You're Looking For Written for fan_flashworks, but mostly written on day 9 and partially inspired by prompt 5 (A False Moustache) [character, friendship, action, (b)romance, 3815w]
( Statistics and Discussion )
A few things:
1) I am writing like the blazing blazes, doing watsons_woes July Writing Prompts month, one fill for every day. Seriously. I don't think I've ever written like this, and I won NaNoWriMo one year. It's not so much word count output I mean, but idea-execution output. Not saying I'm posting Shakespeare every day, but completing, writing things good enough to be happy with them without skipping over some bits and obsessing over others, and some things have been surprisingly good. This is working. It's awesome. Writing 90% decent stuff is getting faster--and easier--and while I'm still working on the not-obsessing over it part, I'm hoping that'll get easier too. There's only so much it's possible to obsess when you're posting every day. Isn't it? Please? In some ways it actually makes it harder to let go, because I know that last line or that title could be better, but time limitations meant I didn't have the time to think of what it should be instead. Of course I'm obsessing over making them better. At least I've only really got room for one obsession at a time, so once I've completed the next 24 hrs story, I move on to obsessing over that one.
I might have to go fanfiction cold turkey at the end of this month, though, if I'm going to get Futureproof done in the following couple of months, which I am determined to do. It is not going to make it a full ten years without completing the final draft. And hopefully, all my practice in drawing lines, saying 'good e-freaking-nough' and letting things go will come into play there, and let me draw some lines and say 'good e-freaking-nough' to the good old albatross around my neck.
2) I've been getting involved in the Holmes fandoms, over at JWP month. It's been cool, meeting people, getting to know a few different people's writing styles, reading ten or so different responses to the same prompt with the same characters and it's... just intriguing. Too see how different all the ideas are, and the executions. How many wonderful interpretations there can be. Because when I've had eight different ideas and discarded seven of them for being too obvious, you'd think one of those 'obvious' ones would have been done by someone else, right? One? Apparently not.
3) I have lost too much weight again. I weighed in the other morning at 47.5kg, which is the lightest I've been I think since... ooh, actually, I do think I hit that when I was wasted with morning sickness on my third child! But before that it was probably pre-adulthood. My current BMI 16.2, which is way, way underweight. I generally try to stay above 50kg, which is still technically underweight but is about all I can manage to keep on no matter what I do. I knew I was down to 48kg for most of this year, because I never really put it back on after writing Living Conditions--and I was thinking I'd bottomed out, but apparently if I keep writing I can keep losing more weight, and another 500g is enough to make me worried. I don't want to stop writing. We're only talking 2.5kg under my goal, but... when you're on the pointy end of the scales, that's the difference between acceptably thin and skeletal. Time to do something about it anyway.
Perhaps I should move away from writing in a fandom where the character I personally identify with doesn't eat when he's working. :P I'd say I should get some more exercise to try to stimulate appetite, but my fitbit says I'm doing 10K+ steps per day just running around after the children, so it's not exactly like I'm sedentary. More likely, if I'm trying to dedicate some time to doing something about my weight every day, I should dedicate it to eating. Instead of, you know, skipping breakfast because I'm in a rush and skipping lunch because kids nap/TV time is the only time each day I get to spend by myself and who wants to waste that time eating?!
I've never had a big appetite. And hunger's never been a strong motivator, particularly when I'm busy or stressed. Unless there's incredibly delicious food right in front of me, I'd just rather do other things. But we're getting to the point where I either have to start making myself eat things, or start putting weights in my undies when I get on the scales. At the moment, my solution is stocking my writing chair with museli bars, and also making a conscious effort to get myself something to eat whenever I get the kids something. That should make a difference, hopefully. But I'll keep the weights in the undies in mind.
4) I was going to do a minor arsehole update, but this is an unlocked post. So, I'll just say things are stable and looking like they're heading in the right direction, and I am stable and managing to keep the boundaries in my head in the right places. Yay.
Well, flash fic happened on the whiteboard, for him to see next time he passed. Reading primer is quite a restrictive style, but I think I rocked it. :D
I mostly mucked around with character charts and trying a single crucial scene a few different ways, to sort out a particular character relationship issue which has a huge impact on the plot. I still wrote about 5K words on it this month, but... yeah, I'm still trying to work out how much to change it to improve things down the line--and what to change, because it's all a complex thing where I pull one string and the whole thing warps in one direction or the other. I feel like if I find the right string or set thereof, it should just all fall into place, but... to be honest, I probably just need to force it through. I'm not very good at doing that. But I'm giving it a rest for the moment because...
I'm currently working on the BBC Sherlock Rehabilitation fic, which I've written 6K on in the last couple of weeks. I'm still expecting to end up around 10k total by the time I'm finished fiddling with it, and I reckon I should be able to finish it and get it off to beta before the end of this week, because I'm really not that far off complete framework. I've only got a few bits to fill in left, really, and my aim is to get *that* done by the end of today, finish the framework, and then spend the rest of the week polishing and bouncing it off my beta. Possibly not realistic to have it posted by the end of the week, but hopefully no more than another week after that - then I want to get back onto my March goals for Futureproof.
The other distraction, in addition to what's going on with my mum, who has about until the end of the month before she's allowed to weight bear on her leg again, Hubby and I are having Big Serious Discussions about the Future. Or mainly, Hubby stressed out of his mind and hiding under a big rock pretending it isn't happening while I draw up charts on the whiteboard and try to analyse the unanalysable. There's a... decision coming up, a fork in the road. And one way means a lot of stress on him and probably less time to write for me and basically taking the risk on our family of wiping out everything we've built--but seems to really be the better decision financially and with family politics, and it's mainly the fear holding us back. And the other way means disappointing a lot of people, and... isn't necessarily safer or lower stress, but... it does mean we wouldn't have to take on the weight of a very, very large loan.
Do we want to buy out the family business when Hubby's parents retire, that is the question? Which is two parts, really: do we want the business at all or should they sell it to a third party, and if so... do we want to buy it for lots and lots of money. Being as it's a family business, we could possibly also officially take over without the very, very large loan. But taking the very, very large loan has major financial advantages for tax minimisation for the family clan as a whole, and leaves us at an excellent tax advantage for the future, no matter how the business tracks long term. But... all the risk is on us. And, it's not like it's a big risk, because we know the business is sound and long-term viable, but... we're talking big, big dollar figures here, figures that dwarf all the equity we've worked hard to build up over the last fifteen years since back when I was working five jobs at once while I was at uni. At least, for the first time, it's being presented as a decision we need to make, rather than an assumption that we will. Did I mention that the loan would be large? *sigh*
Okay, back to writing proper. This is my least favourite stage of writing any story, but if I can get my head into gear and complete the framework today, it'll be done. And done with it will be a good place to be
"But look, then it interferes with this plate here!"
"You haven't seen the system!"
"Oh, I've seen the system, many times, and had to deal with the consequences!
"I put the plate here, and the chopping board here, and then the next plate goes here."
"And look, none of these get water on them, and you can't fit plates on the other side and it takes twice as long to sort the all out when you unload it."
"But look! If you have a saucepan like, say, oh look, a saucepan! You can fit it right here!"
"But not all the dinner plates."
"What is this? Where is the box?! It's like you and the oil bottle! I mean, how hard is it, you use the oil, you put the cap back on, then we never have this problem!"
"But that section is always full by the end of the day! The only thing loading the bread and butter plates like that in the morning means, is that I can't grab a stack of plates and load them with one hand going (machine gun sound)."
"Well, I never do that, I just put them in one by one."
"Otherwise, you couldn't thoroughly rinse each one before you--"
"Look, I'm not saying we don't end up at the same place, I'm just denying it's--"
"You're dragging me down to your level!"
"Well, it gives us something in common!"
"... what, like, Breakfast at Tiffany's? *singing*
Well, I said, what about, loading-the-dishwasher-incredibly-
She said, I think I, remember-how-annoying-that-was!
Well, I dunno, I said, I always kinda liked it,
She said, well that's why, we ended here!!!""That is why we ended up here!"
"I don't like to complain, is all I'm saying. I'd rather you put plates in the dishwasher at all, despite--"
"Well, there's no danger of that stopping."
"--so don't hold back is what you're saying?--despite your completely insane packing system!"
"You know, if it weren't for this physical metaphor of our entire relationship, people might imagine we were alarmingly compatible."
"Crazy, isn't it?"
NB: I don't think either of us stopped laughing about how much it really didn't matter the whole time. The fact is, we have a kickarse dishwasher that will wash things pretty much any way.  But there's ways and ways, okay? Right ways. And wrong ways. Guess which way is Hubby's.
On the bright side, I found the lid to my special happiness teapot, which I had feared lost. The boys got to see grandma being loaded into a real, live ambulance, and I and everyone around got to see what an epic BAMF my mother and personal hero is. My one and a half year old son demonstrated to me his incredible bravery, in getting onto a train without complaint despite literally shaking with fear at the noise it was making. It's the first time that he's been on a train since he started talking about them all the time, and I'm so proud and happy for him that he managed to relax and enjoy soaking in the close encounter.
My family--from the eldest right down to the youngest of all, and everyone in between--is filled with people who face things and deal with them and pull together, not only in times of trouble, but all the time.
And tomorrow will be another day. With happy tea.
It's funny, because in the last two months I've somehow managed to write an entire, stunningly brilliant 60,000 word fanfiction novel, and I've talked very little about it. I've been obsessed; I've been consumed; I've given up eating and sleeping and talking to anyone who exists outside my head; I've lost over 10% of my body weight, which is usually the sign of a good story for me. And I've created something extraordinary. It's turned out to be little like the evil adult love-child of His Son's Father and Mother of Invention, and it's in the BBC Sherlock fandom. Come on, there's so many geniuses in that fandom--you knew I couldn't stay away.
Yes, it's fanfiction, which is not the direction I had decided to go with my writing, but I guess I must write where inspiration takes me. Speaking of which, it's... disturbing. And explicit. And very gay. And did I mention disturbing? None of which was really where I wanted to be heading with my writing either, but I haven't been able to leave this story alone--it's just too good. Did I mention it was also powerful, and hopeful, and thought-provoking, and tense, and emotional, and packed with vivid characters, and absolutely laden with layers of meaning and genuine things to say? And it has a happy ending? The comments I've been getting seem to confirm it; it's not just me. This story deserved to be finished.
You know the thing of which I'm probably most proud? I know it's not perfect. There's lines, there's whole scenes, there's words that aren't... exactly right. Words that I could spend hours or days on, obsessing over, trying to find exactly the right fit. But I'm not doing that. I'm not saying I haven't done that at all, because I have. One sentence ended up with an essay and a flowchart to sort out the six layers of meaning I was trying to convey with it--but I'm doing my best to save it for the moments that are the most important. For the rest, I'm doing the easiest 99% of the job, and letting the other 1% go. And I'm posting it anyway. 99% perfect is actually pretty damn good.
In any case, at this point I'm about to post the tenth and final chapter, and I guess I'm coming up for air. I'm thinking about what I've done, and what I'm going to do next. And I'm thinking about how I'm going to do it, to make sure that I keep this momentum--keep finishing things, keep creating things that are worthwhile, and keep doing things that are important to me, not just as Mum, but as me.
I've still been checking in on Futureproof regularly, and it's progressing. It's had a lot of good work on it, and I'm going to go back to working on it, or perhaps have another go at starting something else original, as soon as this current story packs itself and its assorted outtakes up and vacates my brain.
I've come to terms with the way I work on things. It takes me a long time to write something good, it needs to bake in my brain. Bursts of all-consuming obsession interspersed with vacations--it's during the vacations that some of the most truly extraordinary things happen to the story, so I'm not worried--when I do get back to Futureproof, there'll be something amazing there waiting for me again. If there's not, I'll give it a brief spring cleaning to make sure nothing's hiding under the beds, and then work on something else for a while.
So here's my question: does anyone still read this? Or am I still stuck in my head, talking to myself?
I've not yet discovered anything I can't eat because it makes William upset, but I'm seriously searching yesterday's menu for anything that I might not have had since becoming a milk bar (potential culprits: pistachios and turkey) because last night...
( This parenting thing, eh? Not so straightforward... )
Relief was almost instantaneous. It must have been the placebo affect that caused the results within a few seconds - or perhaps just the distraction of the strange taste in William's mouth - but he had definitely tapered off to occasional sobs within five minutes, and within fifteen he was happily feeding. Not just consoling himself with sucking while he quietly moaned, but staring up at me and making soft happy noises. Half an hour later, it was time to go back to bed - but he was wide awake. He kept smiling and drinking me in with wondering wide eyes: You're so clever, Mummy! You can make anything better!
Yeah. We went to bed together, with me cuddling his little warm swaddled bundle chest to chest, since he was too awake to go back in his cot and I was too tired to spend half an hour unsuccessfully trying to put him back to sleep then end up bringing him to bed with me anyway. I fell asleep before him; every time I'd sleepily open my eyes to see if he was drowsy enough for me to put him back in his own bed, he was still staring up at my face, transfixed in wonder.
I don't know when he eventually fell asleep, but he slept through until midday and woke up bubbly and content.
Hurrah for panadol.
Well. Extremely, incredibly, unbelievably well. I honestly can't believe how easy a baby William is to look after - and how much I'm loving... I was going to say perhaps not *every* minute, but to be honest even when it's the middle of the night or my shirt's smeared with poo or my bra's soaked with vomit or his sad little face is all screwed up in distress, I'm just trying to soak up the experience of him being this tiny and (and this cooperative!).
He's put on over a kilo in his first month of life, which is absolutely brilliant. He attached and ate very well from the beginning, and although at the beginning I kept having to wake him to feed, he's begun making it quite clear when he'd like to be fed, which is... well, a mixed blessing (particularly on days like today where he's presumably having a growth spurt and has essentially decided he wants to be fed constantly - by which I mean I can only obtain any breaks at all where he's not crying by giving him my finger to suck on instead, which pacifies him for maybe 15 minutes before I have to put him back on the breast for another hour - but this is fortunately unusual). As long as I get seven or so feeds in during the day, he only demands one or two night feeds. Nights with two are better, because the only real difference is that he agrees to go back to sleep after the second, so that I can catch an hour or two more sleep and end up with eight hours total. At first we had to spend a few minutes rocking him and singing to him a bit to convince him to go back to sleep again - but now he's figured out the difference between night and day and he's usually asleep the moment we put him back in his bed again. Woot. Seriously.
Oddly enough, even when he demands feeding in the middle of the night, he doesn't actually wake up. He'll squeak a bit, and I'll look at him and he'll be fast asleep. So, I'll go back to sleep. He'll squawk a bit more seriously, but when I look at him again he'll be fast asleep. And so it goes on. Eventually, the squawks get so frequent that I'm getting less sleep waking up every time he makes one than I would just by picking him up and properly waking him for a feed. When I finally decide to draw the line and feed him I'm almost always convinced I'd done that last time he made a noise so I'd already been feeding him but had fallen asleep doing so and so it's time to change sides or put him back to bed (despite the fact that I never feed lying down now that I can sit up, because of the risk of falling back to sleep). It can be a bit distressing, actually, because by the time I'm awake he's fallen silent again, and I start searching for him beside me and he's not there and I worry he's worked his way down under the doona or fallen off the edge of the bed or got wedged between the mattress and the wall... And then I look over into his cot, and he's just there, fast asleep, making no noise, and I feel like an idiot for having fallen for it again. Still, if that mid-nightly ritual is the greatest of my sleep difficulties, I'm definitely a lucky mother.
The last couple of weeks he's been having more difficulty feeding. It's like he's completely forgotten what a nipple is for - he's very happy to hold it in his mouth and lick it or even cuddle it close to his cheek like his very favourite friend, but he seems to have a lot of trouble remembering he's supposed to start sucking. Or even realising that he's obtained his objective. Whether he's calm as anything or absolutely frantic with hunger and shaking his gaping mouth from side to side like a laughing clown on speed and windmilling his crazy arms in the hopes that will help... somehow, it doesn't seem to make much difference to him noticing that it's right there in his mouth, all he has to do is start sucking. This has been heaps better since I realised that I could bait-and-switch by getting him sucking on my finger (which for some reason he's *always* ready to suck - I've got a hickey on my fingertip), then swapping in the nipple when he's got the idea. But because of all the mucking around - and the usual increase in wear and tear on a sensitive part of my anatomy - I've been getting pretty sore, which has been making things even more difficult, because it's not like I can take a couple of days off feeding him to heal. Fortunately, I found some good (if counterintuitive) advice to attempt to feed him more often rather than less so that he'll be calmer and suck more gently, which has made great strides in keeping things from reaching the cracked-and-bleeding stage.
I've been expressing breastmilk the last couple of weeks as well (ever since I started getting really sore, so that if things get really bad I actually *can* take some time off) and it seems I can consistently pump one extra feed per day when I first get up, so I've been building up a bit of a stock of frozen milk to cover me if I want to have a couple of extra drinks every now and then, and to keep at potential babysitters (ie. grandparents) houses as well as, once I've got enough of a buffer to make me comfortable, donate to the Australian breastmilk bank for babies in need who, for whatever reason, can't have their own mother's milk.
I went to see Harry Potter on Sunday, which I enjoyed a great deal, but was perhaps most notable for the fact that it was the first time I'd been out of William's immediate vicinity since he was born. I was away for three and a half hours total which, since he eats approximately every two hours, meant Hubby got to give him a bottle. He accepted that quite happily and seamlessly switched back to the breast afterwards, so essentially that means I'm free to have him babysat or leave him with his dad whenever. Now I just have to work on wanting to be away from him. :)
So that's how he's going for sleeping and eating - I won't go into detail about his other primary function, except to mention that we've just started using our cloth nappies, which are 'modern cloth' - ie, just like a disposable with velcro closures, elastic legs, stay-dry liners, and waterproof covers, only when they're dirty you chuck them in the washing machine. So far, I'm pretty pleased - we'll see if I still feel that way after a few washing days. :)
As for his personality... he's so much more calm and content and easier to settle than I'd expected. He doesn't seem to cry for no readily apparent reason at all. If he's a bit unsettled, it's a short checklist of: hungry? (feed) dirty? (change) wind pain? (sling him over the shoulder in a fireman's carry) tired? (swaddle and rock) just plain sad? (present finger for sucking) And that's essentially it. Of course it's a full time job - I was expecting it to be a full time job. I wasn't expecting to feel calm and in control and almost always able to solve his problems when he's upset.
At this point he has essentially three 'quiet alert' periods every day - one first thing in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one last thing before bed. Each period is one to three hours (depending on whether he has a feed in the middle and keeps going), and during the time (unless he's having a bad wind day) he's just this amazing happy little sponge. He windmills his arms and kicks his legs, lifts and attempts to support his disproportionately sized head on his little pipe-cleaner neck, and grunts and coos like mad. He watches everything - his particular favourites are lights and the security grill above my breastfeeding chair - but he's happily been holding eye contact since he was a couple of weeks old. We think he smiled his first real 'social' smile today, which is a big milestone. We've yet to see when it's repeated. Quiet alert periods are the highlight of my day - I just sit with him cradled on my lap making faces at him, poking my tongue out and cooing back at him, and marvelling that this very small person will one day be full sized.
I can't believe it's already been that long - but I guess as they say, the days are long but the years are short. All in all, I think it's fair to say that so far, I'm loving motherhood. :)
( Read on if you dare... )
( Summary version for those who just want the are-you-okay version, or get bored or squicked in the unbelievably tl;dr above. :) )
Selected picspam to follow.