Sunday, January 31

Planning, Week

Sometime last month (about the time I found out about Traveler's Notebooks) I had a revelation.

If I made my own inserts, I could start the week any day I damn well wanted to.

A photo posted by Koren M. (@cybermathwitch) on

This was followed quickly by the realization that part of my planning troubles were inextricably related to the combination of 80% of my chores, tasks, and creative projects happening on the weekends and the "established" systems either splitting the weekend right down the middle, or basically "back-loading" all my to-do list into the very end of the week.

It's no wonder I felt rushed, stressed, and ineffectual.

Okay, that sounds like a stretch, right?  How can the arrangement of boxes on a piece of paper cause all that?  The days are still happening at the same time, after all.

Well, yes, but.

Here's how things were typically going:

  • Plan to plan on Saturday morning.  Attempt to do the weekly review/plan for the upcoming week (assuming a Sunday start) even though most of the personal creative projects and housework/errands I'd slated for the week I was finishing up hadn't been done yet, as they were on Saturday's to-do list.
  • Make a to-do list for the day (Saturday) *and* next Saturday (subject to change), and try to make one on Sunday based on my best (hopeful) guess of what I'd get done still yet on Saturday afternoon.
  • Realize there was a family dinner scheduled for the late afternoon/evening and have to move all of last week's tasks to Sunday anyway.
  • Push Sunday's "next week's" tasks to the following Saturday.
  • Plan to do the planning on Sunday morning (the start of the week, right?) - but get stressed out and anxious because I didn't get a solid picture of Sunday's to-do list until half the morning was already over.
  • Get overwhelmed, inevitably focus on the wrong tasks, and let several necessary things slip through the cracks.
  • And then have to go to the grocery store.

In either scenario, I also spent all week looking at a huge task list of things that I wasn't in a position to do anything about until the very end of the week, which went beyond frustrating right into demoralizing.

As I was making some daily pages to try out in my new planner, though, I had the sudden, light-bulb-choirs-of-angels-singing realization that, if I was designing the damn things anyway, I could start them whenever I wanted.  Further more, if I started on *Saturday*, then I'd get that 80% of my to-do list done and checked off before the work-week began.

Which made coming home and restricting myself to nothing but knitting, reading, or coloring before bed (because I am a. not good for much else after work, and b. will not go to bed at a reasonable hour if I get sucked into doing anything too analytical) feel less like I was putting things off or slacking or worthless and more like I was taking the well-deserved break it was actually supposed to be.

And the sooner I go to bed at night, the more likely I am to actually get up early enough in the morning to use the one or two precious hours of time when I'm still mentally on top of things to get some of my stuff done before I go to the Place That Pays Me So I Can Pay the Bills.


Friday, January 22

Compare and Contrast - AO3 Meme 2013 vs. 2016

Despite how my AO3 account looks right now (sans updates - sorry guys!), sometimes I write fic.

Sometimes I write a lot of fic.

It's time for that AO3 Meme again.*

I last did this meme back in August of 2013, but I'm not sure I ever posted it. (I did save it to Evernote, though, with my answers at the time.) And since I am home on a snow day (SNOW DAY!) I thought a comparison/update was in order.

P.S. The first question was "Account Created", which of course, hasn't changed between 2013 and now - I've had my account on AO3 since 12/21/2009, courtesy of the Yuletide small/rare fandom fic exchange.

August 2013 January 2016
Total Stories 60 83
Total Wordcount 172,303 243,399
Average Wordcount 2872 2933
Shortest Story The Lesson (Farscape) The Lesson (Farscape)
Total Kudos 1936 4591
Average Kudos per Story 32 55
Story with the Most Kudos Non-Networked Solutions (Avengers) Non-Networked Solutions (Avengers)
Total Comment Threads 258 412
Average Comment Threads per Story 4 5
Story with the Most Comment Threads Heavy in Your Arms (Avengers) Heavy in Your Arms (Avengers)
Total Author Subscriptions 42 76
Total Story Subscriptions 73 299
Story with the Most Subscriptions Heavy in Your Arms (Avengers) Auld Lang Syne (Avengers)
Total Bookmarks 272 688
Story with the Most Bookmarks Heavy in Your Arms (Avengers) Heavy in Your Arms (Avengers)
Stories with No Comments or Kudos Post-Apocalyptic Sex (BSG),
In the Infirmary
(Harry Potter), Falling (Harry Potter)
Everything has at least 1 Kudo or Comment on it! \O/

Monday, January 18

X-Files Season Two: Episodes 9-12 (Firewalker, Red Museum, Excelsis Dei)

It's like "Ice" only warmer.

2x09: Firewalker

This is pretty much Ice, only warmer, and with a handful of "no really, I can go back to work now, Mulder" undertones from Scully.

2x10: Red Museum

It's interesting which episodes I forget are actually Conspiracy arc stories. But this is the return of Purity Control, along with Scully realizing that she recognizes the man who killed Deep Throat.

Scully absolutely admits that there's the possibility Purity Control has an extra-terrestrial origin.

2x11: Excelsis Dei

I love the casual acknowledgement throughout the series of Mulder's porn habit.

I'll come right out and say that the sexual politics in this episode are a mess. It's a little like the spousal rape episode of Barney Miller, both of which attempt to address what were "new" (in terms of media attention) subjects for their time, and in both cases, looking back decades later, did a horrible job. I'm in no way qualified to address those kinds of points, but just be warned, it's uncomfortable to watch and leaves a bad taste in your mouth. None of which is helped by Mulder (in particular) being written quite a bit outside character here, in terms of how he reacts to the nurse making the rape allegations. There's a very narrow segment of people that Mulder dismisses like that, and it usually includes government suits or people deliberately trying to derail their investigation, and doesn't make any sense here.

Also, DANA KATHERINE SCULLY. You know VERY WELL that mushrooms and fungi can cause hallucinations. YOU JUST SAID THAT. Why are you all of a sudden like "no, nothing could be causing that I don't know what you mean"? Have I mentioned the writing in this episode is just terrible? Because it is. (It was bad enough that I had to go look up the writer and make sure that it was a one-off and not a normal series writer. I mean yes, we joke about John Shiban and the animal episodes, but this was so much worse.)

2x12: Aubrey

Nothing struck me as requiring much commentary on this one.

Sunday, January 17

X-Files Season Two: Episodes 5-8 (Duane Barry, Ascension, 3, One Breath)

"Monster" lighting...

2x05: Duane Barry

So this agent is a terrible hostage negotiator. I'm just putting that out there. Geez.

"That man is afraid, and the only way you're going to win his trust is by trying to understand what he's afraid of." - Can the approach Mulder elucidates be extended to the method the conspiracy uses on him to win his trust?

Krycek is a rat bastard. But we already knew that, didn't we? (I did.)

The suiting up of Mulder is awesome. And in a way it reinforces how young he still is. (But I'm a sucker for this kind of scene.)

What Mulder tries to do with Duane Barry? (talking to people who've been overlooked or ignored) - this is what Mulder does. This is why he pursues the truth, even if he doesn't consciously realize it yet. Is this what makes him different from X? Is this what they think is his weakness is and ultimately what makes him who he is? (Compare and contrast this with X later in 1 breath, and did X end up in the game to find out the truth for "the truth" or because of the people it impacts?

The idea of Scully in Mulder's ear (and vice versa) is an extremely powerful one. I love this.

**Mulder believed him**. I cannot stress that enough. Mulder believed - wanted to believe - that Barry was really an abductee and that he was telling the truth.

2x06: Ascension

Maggie verifies that Dana isn't really "a believer" but she (Maggie) is, at least somewhat. (We will, of course, later get Melissa at the other end of that continuum.)

The really fascinating question is how much of Duane Barry's experiences, escape, and actions in these episodes is orchestrated by the Consortium to get Scully out of the picture? (The music playing in Barry's car reinforces that - Nick Cave's Red Right Hand.)

The level of aggression Mulder shows to Barry is so very antithetical to his usual character. Scully is usually the more aggressive one, but if anything is going to drive either of the two of them to violence, it's going to be the endangerment of the other one.

Krycek seems to doubt his mission, which is interesting.

This episode really shows scope. There's a really impressive shadow war going on in in the background.

"They have something on everyone" - so what is it? What do they have on, say, Skinner? Or Krycek? Or X? How did all these people come to be involved in the conspiracy?

2x07: 3

Note the changed episode header, which is an odd choice for a stand-alone episode, even given that it's happening in the middle of the major Scully-Abduction arc. (DENY EVERYTHING)

Skinner wants to protect Mulder.

Skinner also gives Mulder back the X-Files.

Mulder falls back on his profiler training to deal with going back into the X-Files alone. So where is Mulder's head? He's dulled. His speech, his countenance - he looks like he's in a stupor and sort of on autopilot, at least until the case gets "interesting" when the guy supposedly dies of burns in the cell. He played a hard card with the suspect's delusion, but honestly didn't think it would hurt the guy. He really believed it was a psychological artifact.

Sidenote: we had a very different relationship with blood back then. Yes, he asks Kristin if she's afraid of AIDS, but over the course of the first two seasons of the show people are a lot more blase about being around open blood.


He's back to being alone and it's because of his mission - go on as you began - (and how many times over the course of the series will Samantha and Scully parallel?) EXCEPT, and this is a big difference, the show never gives Samantha her own agency. She is, functionally, an artifact of Mulder's psyche. SCULLY on the other hand, is very much not, she is nothing *but* agency, and while he blames himself for things that happen to her in a self-loathing sort of manner, he's never functionally responsible for them, nor for saving her (with the possible exception of Fight the Future, but we're not there yet).

2x08: One Breath

Contrast Dana as a child vs. the Dana who will kill - and relatively easily.

Would Scully have gone to the hospital or taken out the bad guys in the apartment? (I almost want to say that we'll actually see a similar situation with Scully later in the series? But I can't swear to it. She's certainly more cold-blooded about this kind of thing than Mulder is, or can be. Although in part that's my utter devotion to Wintersong's "The Lost" talking.

Watch the lighting in the scene of Mulder's apartment right after they get the tombstone and before he gets the phone call that Scully is alive. It's exactly like the lighting they used on Tooms (and possibly other "monsters" who blend out of the shadows). "Monster lighting" if you will. Will Mulder become a monster? If so, which kind of monster will he be? The bestial, impulse driven kind that Tooms is? Or the methodical, impersonal kind that the shadow conspiracy members are?

Please note - the FBI notified the hospital of the terms of Scully's living will. I'm not sure if that's standard procedure, or if it hints at someone at a higher level deliberately trying to leverage her demise.

(Side note: she decided to create a living will after joining the X-Files. Stick a pin in this, we'll come back to it in just a bit.)

Then we have the dichotomy of Mulder and Melissa Scully. Mulder *should* be the believer - he always claims he wants to be a believer, but he openly scoffs at Melissa's beliefs and practices. He denies that Scully could've told her anything because the EEG didn't show any record of it. (Essentially he's asking for hard scientific proof.)

(Note the tiny tiny glimpse of very early internet here!)

So, who (or rather, what) is Nurse Owens? (Also, nice job on the Sixth Sense-style camera work - Mulder's eyes never actually track on Owens, nor does he given any sense of acknowledgement that there's someone else in Scully's room.)

So, X is frantic about Mulder pushing too far, and I do believe him when he says that it's for/because of his own sake. Is X Deep Throat's heir in whatever war they're waging? And there's fantastic commentary here from X about how he used to be Mulder (like Mulder) and the visceral evidence that the difference is the willingness to do terrible things and his "you'll be able to live with yourself Mulder, on the day you die" (implying of course that X certainly won't be able to live with what he's done).

Maggie both brings Mulder in and pushes him away. She draws distinct lines that Mulder can be involved in Scully's death, but that she doesn't consider him part of the family. The look on Mulder's face is heartbreaking.

Skinner knows more than he's letting on, and I loved the "No Smoking" sign nod. CSM says "If you're having trouble sitting on Mulder", which implies that CSM's faction of the Conspiracy (which seems to be the visibly acknowledged faction) has at least assigned Skinner to keep an eye on Mulder because of where he is, if not actually placed Skinner in that position for that job. It's further evidence that even CSM's "official" faction sees Mulder as important, because really, why the hell else wouldn't they just get rid of him? And Skinner is obviously deeply involved.

What does Mulder know that we don't know he knows? It's easy to forget that as viewers, we don't necessarily know everything our POV characters know.

Mulder tells Skinner "I didn't warn her about the potential consequences". Remember that pin we put in Scully's creation of a living will after joining the X-Files? Mulder thinks that he didn't adequately warn her, but something spurred her into creating the will. And she was well aware of what had happened to the DNA researcher, and even Deep Throat, back in season one. He may not've sat her down and bluntly said "Scully this could cost you your life, or worse", but she was well aware of what was going on around them.

Does Skinner believe Mulder killed the man in the garage like CSM claims he did? For that matter, does CSM believe that he did it, and how does that change his view of Mulder?

My favorite moment of the episode may be Skinner coming down into Mulder's office and stating that "I do not accept resignation". Not "I don't accept your resignation", but "I do not accept resignation". He's not just talking about Mulder trying to quit the FBI.

"I can't tell you why she was taken, it's too close to me" We effectively know that Scully was taken to remove her from Mulder's equation. She wasn't meant to survive, either. That was all Scully's (and possibly god's) doing. Then X offers him the men that took Scully, and we finally see why Mulder had "monster lighting" at the beginning of the episode. He's given the choice between taking revenge and stepping on to X's path, and turning around and taking the higher road. I don't think he sees it that way, for him it's a choice between facing Scully's death and distracting himself from the reality of it by trying to tell himself revenge on her abductors, but regardless he's on the edge of a precipice just as much as she is. To choose to take the lives of her abductors for revenge will destroy him just as surely as Scully's death would be the end of her life. Instead, we get Mulder at her bedside (thank you, Melissa) and he says "But I'm here". The tonal emphasis is on "here" as an indication of here rather than there and indicating Mulder's choice of location, as opposed to the more common "I'm here" that emphasizes as aspect of support as in "I'm here for you".

Photo from Shadow of Reflection

Saturday, January 16

X-Files Season Two: Episodes 1-4 (Little Green Men, The Host, Blood, Sleepless)

And we're back! Moving, NaNoWriMo, the holidays, and then a monster of a head cold derailed the X-Files rewatch project, but over the next few days I'm going to offload my various comments on X-Files Season two.

2x01: Little Green Men

I'm going to keep harping on this for the rest of forever, but as previously mentioned, I think fandom as a whole oversimplifies the "skeptic vs. believer" dynamic between Mulder and Scully.

Neither of them seem to be coping well with the separation - on the one hand, there's a level of shock from how the final moments of Season 1 played out... I think that's the first time they've really seen that particular casual and deliberate level of murder before (the DNA researcher Scully had taken the sample to as well as Deep Throat being killed). They've probably known intellectually the risks of what they're doing, but it's suddenly incredibly visceral and real. Added to that, there's the knowledge that anyone they take something to or bring into this equation even in the most innocent of circumstances, could be in put in danger.

Please note that Mulder has pretty much given up. He's questioning himself, whether or not there was ever anything to actually look for or investigate - it's Scully who is insisting that "no, we shouldn't stop" and that there's something real to work on. (Also I love the way she ruffles his hair. It's comfortable, and comforting, and she's trying so damn hard to retain a connection to him because she can tell he's slipping away from her by degrees.)

They do a fantastic job throughout the episode with Skinner and CSM. Skinner initially comes across as a "bad guy" - but they're making it very clear here, when he tells CSM firmly that he doesn't smoke, that he's not on the Consortium's side of this thing. He doesn't like or trust CSM, that's obvious, too.

I have to wonder a bit at Matheson's agenda, and I'm not sure it ever really gets explored. We know that Deep Throat at least claimed to be wracked with some guilt over his part in his previous activities (E.B.E.), but we never get any kind of information about why Matheson is involved of helping Mulder out.

"Now I can only trust you." Trusting no one is hard - now Mulder has a new level of doubt. He also doubts himself. He's come to rely on Scully's input, and without that, he doesn't seem to be sure what really happened and what did he really see?

The wire tap shocked Skinner, and then he kicks CSM out. Is the wire tap what turned the tide for Skinner? Was that his last straw? (And by extension got the X-FIles back?)

The lack of translation/subtitles while the truck driver is ranting heightens the sense of how out of his depth Mulder is here and keeps us in his shoes.

Remember how in Season one, we talked about the reaction Scully has in the face of possible real, visceral evidence? Her tone of voice and level of deference shift, and they do it again here. Scully asks "is that them?"

2x02: The Host

Mulder is thinking if leaving, Scully asks "What would you do?", Mulder says his only reason to stay would be to work with her and "they won't let us work together". There's a direct parallel much later in Fight the Future when Scully talks about leaving the FBI.

And we have the introduction of Mr. X. "Reinstatement of the X-Files must be undeniable." Why is that the case?

2x03: Blood

Mulder is obviously dosed with the same chemicals the inadvertent murderers are. Is it just that Mulder's anxiety isn't triggered? Or that he doesn't, on a base level, have the same sort of anxiety issues the other victims do?

2x04: Sleepless

Compare and contrast Krycek's first approach to Mulder (I followed your work) vs. Scully's - Krycek emphasizes Mulder's conspiracy work, while Scully implied respect in general but also in a non-sycophantic way. She implies respect even in disagreement, she doesn't try to manufacture trust by falling in line with Mulder's ideas.

I love the body language when Mulder and Scully hunch close and shut Krycek out.

X tells Mulder "I don't want to be here" - so what does X want? There's implication that he's doing it out of a respect for Deep Throat, and that he has regret about his death, but he's certainly more reluctant to give Mulder information, and he's obviously not in anywhere near the same level of power that Deep Throat was.

There's this beautiful hesitant longing between M&S when they're on the phone together. <3 <3 <3

Mulder goes nuts and Krycek is all like WTF and then Mulder floats his psychic theory Krycek just accepts it.