Overshare undershare.

Two opinions on the how-dost-thou-blog conversation:

Kat Howard errs toward the undershare.

Ferrett Steinmetz, the overshare.

My unsolicited opinion:  Well, of course I trend toward the overshare, and for similar reasons as Ferrett.  I will say I try to hedge my bets by not laying absolutely everything on the table all the time; I’ve definitely not posted entries that I felt, a day later, were just over-the-top bitter or negative or complainy or catty or snarky or whathaveyou.

But.  The blogs I frequent most frequently, what do they have in common?  The Real Person on the Screen effect.  Which to me is synchronous with oversharing, putting oneself out there, defending unpopular opinions, interacting with commenters (even those who disagree).  I like watching the messiness unspool.  No surprise there–I was a flame war for Halloween for a reason.  I want to keep the sort of blog I love to read.  Which means the occasional unduly honest post about love life or writing life or unending illness. I too hate how the brightsidedness of author self-promotion only allows us to talk about writing when it’s going well.  It’s unduly demoralizing when you’re in the rejection trenches.

Once exams are over, I do believe I’m going to start doing monthly State of Submissions posts, because I so appreciate it when other people do them–they’ve gotten me out of several slumps of hopelessness.  Oh, the I-am-not-aloneness of it all.


Exam news, nonfiction sadface, fiction happyface.

Yesterday I had my final meeting with the first reader on my paper.  Promptly went home, put in all necessary revisions, and emailed that sucker off to my second reader.  A giant boulder has been lifted off my shoulders, and I can (briefly) breathe.

The details:  I met with my first reader nine times between Dec. 13 and Feb. 19, with one week off for the holidays and one week postponed due to illness.  I typically submitted in 3-7 pg. chunks.  The final draft is 25 pages long (with four charts), not including five pages of citations (nearly 100 sources).  I generally managed to salvage from two paragraphs to around a page and a half every time I generated new material; the rest was often reworked, rewritten, or cut in such a way as to be unrecognizable from its original state.   My conclusion is still “lame,” but it’s a response to a hypothetical, so I can’t conceive of an answer that wouldn’t have been lame.

Also, dear John D’Agata: please stop critic-baiting so I can write about you?  I thought About A Mountain came as close to an anti-memoir as anyone’s managed, and I had fun analyzing it in that context, but what made the book interesting has been completely obscured beneath a truckload of criticism of its truth claims.  Ugh.  Some days, the state of nonfiction makes me sadface.

And now, some happy news:  Again with the basking in reflected glory, but another Clarionaut friend has been kicking ass and taking names.  I adored these stories when we got advance-sneak-previews of them at Clarion; I’m thrilled that Bo’s babyfoxes are out in the world (and adopted into such excellent homes)!  Many, many bearhugs, Brooke the Red.    [Note: This pic was snapped the last day of Clarion, hence our tragic expressions.]

A gratitude post, or: beware incoming mush.

No more blogposting while ill.  That’s when I’ve had time lately, but it’s also when I’m at my mopiest.  Past several blogposts have been meditations on a theme of sickness-related self-pity.  So, let’s be done with that.

Life changes in light of what appears to be permanent leg and foot pain:  I’ve been stretching near constantly.  Jim’s hands crack and bleed when he gets home from the store where he works, so we’ve been trading hand and foot massages, and it’s helped immensely: I can walk, and his hands crack less.  I bought better gym shoes and a pair of orthotic insoles, and thus far they’re at least letting me get around Chicago with minimal pain, although I’m still hurting enough after a short walk to the store that I’m leery of returning to the gym.  Maybe elliptical machine after mucho stretching this Wed., if possible.

Mostly I’ve been trying to keep off my feet, which (conveeeeeeniently) has kept me glued to my desk.  I really, really love my exam paper.  A little too much.  When it goes badly, I’m devastated like it’s a failing story.  Half the battle’s been research–I need such specific info, involving hours (days!) of searching .gov sites and obscure news organs, and half the time I still can’t find precisely what I need.  But this paper’s still the best thing I’ve ever written, even in its messy, deconstructed state.  I want to love it and squeeze it and call it George.  It has five charts!  Charts!!

The exam paper is the 800-lb. gorilla in the room, and it’s definitely been getting in the way of my other two lists, which is displeasing.  Goals for this week: 1) catch up after lengthy illness(es), and 2) time management OMFG.

I am so not complaining, though.  Jim’s pretty much saved me over the past week.  In light of Valentine’s Day, a quick mushy-mush:  He’s done 90% of the cooking, cleaning, and household caretaking for the past three weeks.   The house would be a shambles, with me starving and/or surviving on ramen and Saltines, if not for him.  And he’s helped me walk places, and gotten me to places on time when I couldn’t walk.   When he arrived in Chicago last September, he could cook meatloaf and spaghetti sauce and not much else.  Yesterday he made me five kinds of crepe.

Yeah.  So, not complaining.  SO not complaining.

I feel very loved, which is happymaking this Hallmark time of year.  Love it or hate it, Happy Valentines’ Day.  Whether you’re single or partnered, I wish you good food and the sure knowledge you’re loved.

End mush.


Frittering around on the internet this morning, I wandered by Theodora Goss‘s blog, where she has a piece up about envy.  The pull quote:

“I don’t like envying other people. For one thing, there’s something unworthy about it. If I want something that someone else has, I should figure out how to get it for myself, rather than envying that person.”

I have a wicked, wicked envyspite’n’guile problem.  I waste far too much time bemoaning failures and railing at the fickle gods who let so-and-so get away with murder, get pubbed in this or that magazine, appear to be living the dream, etc.  This is especially difficult when it comes to writing.

The writing and submitting…isn’t going so well (are we allowed to admit that?  Yes, yes we are), but I’m doing what I can, where I can.  Rather than envy the people around me, howzabout being a leetle more self-aware and acknowledging that my failures are a result of choices I’ve made?  I chose to focus on school.  I could’ve dropped out, gotten a day job and written in the evenings.  It would’ve meant lots more writing time, that’s for certain.  Watching many of my colleagues postpone exams in order to write doesn’t help matters, either.  I made a different choice, and my writing’s suffered.

As I knew it would.  And yet, I keep getting bummed out about all the work I’m not doing — exacerbated by all the brilliant people around me getting shit done.  I spend far too much time being envious, especially of those folks who seem to have near-infinite writing time, when I can barely squeeze out a blog post, or a single revision pass, or even just keep the work I do have complete out there and circulating in the marketplace.

The solution here is not to turn green and muscly, thump my chest, and beat up on myself (or other people–their successes are not my failures), no matter what the angrybrain says when it’s in self-hate mode.  The only solution is to stick to my gameplan: to get through this exam process, and then to write, write, write, bigger better faster moar.

This is almost over.   In two months’ time, it’ll all be nothing but a bad dream.

[TMI that will make you turn green: In the continuing cold war between me and my body, body pulled the ultimate trump card this weekend: the flu.  I was down and out all day Sunday/Monday, and am only now crawling back to the land of the living.  Dear body: I am taking my exams.  You may as well get used to it.  Suck.  It.  Up.  Love, Your disgruntled headmeats.]

…and now I’m going to go revise my paper, for the umpteenth time.  Oy.

One step forward, two steps OW OW OW.

Exam process speeds up as doomsday nears.  I take my written exams the weekend of March 9-12, only five weeks away.  Then I visit the family, and when I return, I have a short window of prep time before my oral defense on April 3.  I turn 30 four days after that: plans include hiding in my house curled in a fetal ball around a bottle of wine.

I feel like a frog in a pot, and the water’s been boiling for a while now.

I don’t generally acknowledge stress.  Like, I say the words “I’m stressed,” but it’s more of a “oh hey we are doing the commiseration thing!  Yes yes clearly I am mad with anxiety, just mad.”  But then, when a deadline nears, I buckle down and get stuff done (spent eight solid hours, almost nonstop, revising my paper yesterday, for example), and then why would I be anxious?  Because, stuff, it got done, and I appear to be in good shape in terms of prep work for getting through this nightmare.  Wherefore the crazed hairpulling and railing at the gods?

Except that my brain and body think they know better.  My brain is like, “You think you are not stressed, but wait!  Now you will snap at people you care about and start crying for no reason!  MuHAH!”  And my body’s like, “You seem too serene.  Perhaps I should break.  All of me.  At once.”

So, witness this week of my life, wherein I accomplished much (advisor says at this rate I should be able to turn in a draft of paper to my second reader within two weeks, yay!), but also went on random crying jags and fell apart.

See, I starting running again, for stress reduction, aka to keep myself sane during this pressure-cooker exam process.  Then on Friday I realized my running shoes (less than a year old, a present from my mom) were hurting my feet; it was as if I was walking on a thick metal bar every time I took a step.  I figured, “eh, time to get new shoes” and that it’d go away in a day or two.  Jim and I went for a walk in the neighborhood on Sunday (it’s been 60 degrees here in Chicago, WTF gorgeous) and halfway through my left foot hurt so bad I had to sit down.  I limped home and stayed off it all day Monday and Tues. Did the ice/heat thing, took painkillers, massaged it, etc.; there’s no sign of swelling or strain, and it doesn’t hurt unless I put weight on it.

But I barely made it through work today, and I was in tears multiple times, even on many painkillers.  Got X-rays taken, and there’s no fracture, so basically it’s just a “your feet are awful (fallen arches, hammertoes, the works); take a bunch of Motrin and good luck.”  Thanks for nothing, body.  Amazing that I can incapacitate myself completely while walking at a leisurely pace in comfortable sneakers.  Sigh.

So, from here on out, I’m going to TRY to be stressed, because keeping my cool is just not working; body and brain conspire to make sure I feel the anxiety I’m repressing.  This shouldn’t be too difficult, because without exercise, I turn into a raging maniac in 2.2 days, and I can’t walk like this, let alone run.  Oh, and the best part?  I have a hard-to-snag meeting (which I just can’t reschedule, not this close to exam day) with one of my committee members tomorrow, so I get to hobble onto public transportation and hoof it up to my office and back AGAIN tomorrow morning.

I do believe I may hie myself to a Walgreens and purchase one of these:

I can’t wait to shoo children off my nonexistent lawn like a proper thirty-something.