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The were-swan in my head and other stories
SSar's Beast
Lately my life themes are: fanfic, clothes shopping, work stress, weight issues.

I have a ridiculously involved story I want to write set in Robin McKinley's Sunshine universe (ssssh - the author hates fanfiction), but it's the kind of thing where I'm spending so much mental energy on figuring it out and feeding more ideas into it that it's getting harder and harder to start writing. It's basically the back story of a very minor character who gets mentioned about five times in the book, but by now I have a complete headcanon for her: she's American Jewish (probably Ashkenazi), probably of Polish extraction, loves writing letters, is very serious as a young woman and slowly develops a sense of humour, takes betrayal really seriously, loves and trusts her family, needs community around her, likes to garden (okay, that's canon)... Oh and by the way she is a were-swan. BECAUSE. And she is a were-Jankowski swan because I needed a Polish last name and there actually is a Jankowski swan and just because there are taxonomical (because of regional) confusions with the Bewick's swan make it more plausible that this species occurs in Were.

See above re: ridiculously involved.

The only problem is, the more details I get locked into my head, the less I can write this. And I really want to write it as a plausibly culture-steeped story. (Thank goodness for reassuringly weighty tomes like Jewish Literacy). Like, right now, the first scene is supposed to be Elsveta (that's her name now, yes I realise a better Polish version is Elzbieta but I just love Elsveta) getting into a charter plane with all of her family to attend her wedding. And suddenly I'm worried about the kind of charter planes that might be available in late 1950s/early 1960s magic-AU America. And whether they would have a cargo hold or a open space in the back for cargo or no space at all.

This is no way to write. Argh.

I am shopping for clothes a lot lately. It's a bit odd. I used to avoid clothes stores like the plague. Also I am about as plump as I have ever been in my life right now, so being MORE comfortable in clothes stores lately is either super awesome, or supremely ironic. But I've gotten addicted to browsing ModCloth, no matter that nothing from there will ever fit unless it's in disparaging terms like 1X, etc, and I have also struck up a nice customer relationship with Chrissie, who runs The Dressing Room, a nice but struggling second-hand designer clothing store on Manners St (opposite Arty Bees). I have bought some lovely things there: a long embroidered purple dress, a white work-safe blouse with green embroidered detailing, a really beautiful brown skirt, and a white silk shirt that looks ridiculously good under a brown cowl dress I have. That shirt makes me think: wow, I have a classy adult outfit. I even wore it to the drinks evening the new neighbours hosted.

I am not buying a lot of items, overall. It is nice to actually walk into clothes stores and feel enthused rather than oppressed. I think having LARPing friends has had a small effect on this - being able to speculate on the era or fashion movement a piece of clothing is inspired by makes it a lot more fun. Maybe that's why I'm enjoying ModCloth so much. That and their Be the Buyer function is rather like a Facebook game.

So, everyone at my work is superbly competent. This is good! But daunting. And they have just hired an absurdly competent student from my class last year who was wasting her time on an internship down south. She's only been here two weeks, and is her usual unflappable self. Somehow this makes it harder to audibly and visibly ask for help when I'm stressed out, as I am now.

I had a week of feeling like nothing I had to do was something I knew how to do. Mark up product boxes for re-design? Uh, there must be an efficient way to do this... what is it? Send a budget through on an ongoing project? Uh, how do I do this when I'm waiting on approval on an aspect of it from someone, when that someone is also someone who really should have this budget? And the most competent, amazing people in the office are currently on a mega-stress project that has them working from home a lot of the time, so it's a bit hard to wail.

I just hope there are things this week I feel confident about. I'm going to go in a little early tomorrow and write down on my notepad all of the problems and questions I have (I think best on paper), and follow all of those up with the questions I actually need to ask people, and the actions I need to take depending on which way they answer. It's just... mostly this is thinking I can do in my head. When I get stressed out, trying to figure out "so, I can't do this, what is the missing information, who can supply it, when they supply it what do I do next," is something that causes me to short-circuit.

Yeah, not going to give that one an exclamation mark.

For the last three years, I lived at the top of a steep hill I climbed at least once every single day. I also joined a gym a year and a half ago. Now I've moved to the city edge of Northland and there's a bus stop outside my street, and my gym's not convenient to me any more. So.

This wouldn't bother me so much except that it's becoming genuinely harder to shop for clothes, there are far too many things shoved to the side of the closet with a mental mark of "Looks bad/feels bad", and there are certain physical side effects I don't like. Attempts to fix this are very watch-this-space; I can't really say I'm doing something specific until it turns into an actual habit. The most obvious change I'm making is walking to and from work more often. And I've stayed up too late tonight to have time to go running tomorrow morning.

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Ooh! I'll keep my lips sealed, and then read the hell out of that story if you ever post it. If it helps, we all know that there's more author knowledge of details than are usually shown in a story. No reason you can't say, write the scene and make a list of things you want to consider looking up, and promise yourself to fix anachronisms on your final editorial pass. This said, I did stop writing an original novella because I lost the booking number for an airline flight the main character was supposed to take, argh! I couldn't remember what time of day they were departing, or with which airline.

Work sounds awesome and horrible. Could it be that some of your coworkers are also feeling like you do, and you're all running around terrified of what will happen if your weaknesses are exposed? I hope things get easier to live with, whatever happens. Good luck!

As for clothing, argh. Remember that it's not your body or lifestyle at fault for stockists failing to select things in your size, in your area. Tell those stores off, complain to them, because they suck, and once in a blue moon a store manager will actually promise to stock wider ranges in the future. Also, they suck. Also, I am coveting your purple dress from afar.

Many thanks! You're right. I think I need to sketch out the outline and just fill in the parts I can while I gather information for the rest. That is a sad story about your novella. I feel that the story as to why the airline fact was a lynchpin to it must be interesting meta. Forgive me: the first thing I think of is Lost, and the initial airline numbers. (I only got through one and half seasons of Lost.)

Work is probably worse than I'm making it out to be! I had a mini-meltdown on Friday, which is to say that I finally emailed people to say, "Help, please," politely, and help arrived. A couple of meetings were had. I think things are generally more stressful than usual around the office, and I think people acknowledge that. It's a very small office, though. Only nine people. Very flat-structured. So it's not as though no one wants to be the first to complain to the boss - it's that everyone has their own standard they act on, most of which are pretty high.

Your sympathy re: clothing is appreciated. Again I may be making things out to be worse than they are. It's not truly a hardship to find clothes that fit, the options are just a little more limited. I am size 16 NZ, which is 18 UK - I don't know the Australian equivalent. If we lived in the same city you could absolutely time-share the purple dress. :) Is purple a favourite colour of yours?

I don't want to go down the path of blaming myself for my lifestyle either - partly for myself and partly because it would be pretty disloyal to the friends who are larger than I am. When I tell them I think they're beautiful I'd better well mean it, and if I blamed myself for weight it would be hard to say I'm not blaming them. But it alarms me that I'm gaining. Also, it makes it harder to lift myself up in pole dance classes. ^!^

Oh, by the way, because of seeing your prompt about it (I read the first line and shelved it), I got Stranger Than Fiction out from the video store last week. I ran out of time to finish watching it, but I really enjoyed the first half hour and will rent it to finish watching it soon. Will Farrell isn't usually an actor I enjoy watching, but maybe I'm unfairly judging him by comedy painted with broader brush strokes.

Heh, the airline's less plotting or foreshadoing, it's more worldbuilding, establishing the ways the airline and immigration and society works to kickstart characterisation. I only ever saw one episode of Lost, I think everyone taped it that week, and I enjoyed it the first time, and never wanted to see it again after the tenth time around (back when I was in the epic sharehouse of six plus transient friends).

Phew. Good to know help has arrive at work! I've seen that happen in archaeology too, when you get a bunch of different specialists trying to work together to generate a site report, and we all have different best practices and methods from where we've come from. Fun, but overwhelming.

I'm a 12/14 AUS size, hehe. Ah well, I'll have to find my own purple dress. I do like it a lot. Part of it comes from an Ursula leGuin essay I read in high school, but I heard from someone in the industry that purple things sell well in Australia, and the US is a more red and yellow market. Maybe it's partly being socialised in a purple world?

Yeah, feeling comfortable in your own body and being able to do what you like with it, that's important. I think the distinction between finding clothes that fit on a basic level, and clothes that suit your identity becomes important when you're an outlier in any direction (large, small, tall, short, needing to accommodate medical aids.) Even online, it's hard to cater to that long tail when people really need to be able to try things on.

That's really exciting to hear. I chose not to watch it myself, until a friend brought it around a couple of years ago. I was astonished that Farrell was watchable and interesting. I think that the rest of the cast makes the film for me though, also the repeated mathematical and academic references. Looking forward to hearing what you make of it.

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