Friday, April 24, 2009

Like a Book

My Middle Finger

Last week, the day before starting my new job, the first two fingers of my left hand ached a little in the middle knuckles (PIP joints), kind of a crampy pain. That night they woke me up throbbing and burning. That mostly subsided, but they were swollen and tender the next day. I assumed I'd damaged them when I crushed them between the laundry basket and the metal gate at the top of the stairs. 'Cause, you know, when you're 38, injuries don't manifest immediately. They sneak up after a day or two.

But then, after the weekend, when they still hurt, and in weird, inconsistent ways, I started to get worried. My friends all laughed at me when I said I was too young for arthritis, and my knees were bothering me, too. At first I'd blown that off because they do that from time to time. I'm fat. I haven't exercised in months way too long. It happens.

So I did a little quickie research on sudden-onset arthritis, and freaked right the hell out. I stopped before I read anything that was actually based on medical education. I can remain in denial as long as it's lay people on message boards.

The pain is mostly in the PIP joint of my middle finger now, though sometimes I have a little cramping-type pain in the DIP and PIP joints of the pointer and ring fingers. I can't decide if that's sympathetic pain, compensatory pain, or evidence of the onset of a condition that will soon render me a screaming invalid. Also, it sometimes feels like stinging, like it's the soft tissue around the joint rather than the joint itself, or like the skin is dry and raw, but there's nothing actually wrong with the skin.

Today, though, things are a little different. I did different work today, so I didn't use the finger as much on the keyboard or in the same way, so the overall ache wasn't as strong. That one PIP joint is swollen still, but it isn't hurting unless I use it, mainly if I pressure it laterally--like bracing a heavy bowl in that hand. I get a sharp pain in the joint and it actually felt like it popped out a little, and I clicked it back in.

So now I'm thinking fracture. Today, it feels an awful lot like the DIP joint of the same finger did when I jammed it playing football.

I guess only time will tell. (Yes, I could go get an x-ray, but 1. I don't have a doctor, 2. I have a high deductible plan and would have to pay for it, and 3. there's not much point because what can be done? I'll just try to find a splint to use so I stop trying to carry heavy bowls with it.)

Oh, Sammy

I really loved "Jump the Shark" last night. My initial reaction to hearing that John had another son was just as negative as anyone else's, but I was sure Kripke and Co. would make me love it just like they've made me love everything else I hate. Of course, being unable to keep away from spoilers meant I know Jake Abel was only cast for one episode so I figured he was going to die. But how it happened TOTALLY surprised me. And shocked me.

Things I loved:

1. The opening scene before the boys. Hell-llo, creepy Supernatural. The whole bed/foot shot was ultra-tense. There were a few other moments like that, too, especially with Dean in the crypt.

2. The opening scene with the boys. Sam brushing his teeth--YES! We need more everyday stuff like that! Next up: Buying rock salt at Wal Mart. Right, Megan? :) Dean waking up, being a ten-year-old boy with his rumbly tummy--and tuna! Ha! And the phone call...

3. Dean. I tried to be more specific, but it was just everything. Dean being so furious and positive that it was a trap (and it was, even though it wasn't a lie). His emotions were so pure--God DAMN it, Jensen needs an Emmy. Then when Adam managed to convince them, he just as furiously was determined to protect him and make sure he didn't get sucked into the life. It shows incredible personal strength and maturity to have so much pain (baseball games!) and personal regret and still recognize that Adam wasn't to blame for it. When Sam started to tell Adam the truth, and Dean exploded with "Sammy!" instead of Sam--there's so much vulnerability there.

4. The glimpse into the past. We were seeing the hunt from John's point of view for pretty much the first time. Working with the bartender, finding the bodies, hunting the thing. And then falling for the local nurse and later finding out he had a son. It DOES make sense, because you can't have 23 years of complete focus. John had to have had detours and layovers and stuff, and parents always have lives their kids don't really see.

I also loved how they brought in the ambivalence of hunting again, without being too heavy handed. There was just one mention of it--that ghouls don't (normally) kill, there was nothing evil about taking those bodies, but John hunted and killed the thing, anyway. Cause and effect, because if the kids hadn't grown up alone, they might not have warped enough to decide to go after fresh meat, and use revenge as a motivator/justifier.

5. The rock/paper/scissors moment was sheer perfection, all the way through.

Things that made me have to work a little to find them okay:

1. Adam's body looked a little too intact. They feed on the bodies, and they talked about how they ate him. But I might have just not looked hard enough, and maybe they're grazers. You know, eat a little bit at a time, frequently.

2. Why Sam didn't use his demon mojo to get free. I thought of it at the time, and we talked about it later. I decided he hadn't had a fix for a while, so his power had waned.

3. Why it took them so long to go after anyone. I didn't think of this myself when I watched, it was mentioned elsewhere, but I think they explained it in their duonologue (monologue with two people *g*). They were very young children when their father died. They needed to survive first, and the anger and need to act would have grown over time, fed by their aloneness and exposure to the world. Then they had to figure out what happened and come up with a plan.

The part I really don't like:

Sam. Oh, Sammy. I love you, but I'm not liking you much at the moment. The things he said aren't outrageous. He started down this path way back in season 2. Remember in "Playthings," right after he saved Susan, how he said there was no time to coddle her, they had to figure it out. It was a change from his usual compassion and gentle prodding. In "Malleus Maleficarum" and "Fresh Blood" he was more absolute, more ready to do what needed to be done without trying for nicer alternatives. He was trying to be more like Dean. And, of course, in "Jus in Bello" he was willing to sacrifice Nancy.

But's different. He's not tempered by "greater good" anymore. Nancy's death would have saved all her friends, and he was weighing multiple lives over one. It wasn't that he didn't care about Nancy, but that he thought the choice was hers to make, and a sound one. With Adam, though...God, he called him meat. He's becoming Gordon, wanting to kill anything he can label evil. His rage and pain and hatred for Lilith have drowned the Sammy I love.

Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suff-er-ing.

Not that Luke ever really listened to Yoda, either.

Ten or eight or even six episodes ago I never would have believed they could make me buy Sam going dark side. It was way too foreign to the character they'd established. But they've slowly but surely transitioned him, fully backing the change with tons of motivation and logic, and fueling it with fabulous acting by Jared Padalecki, direction by the directors, and writing by the writers.

This whole thing is the epitome of a love/hate relationship!

My Schedule

Man, am I struggling. It's ridiculous to even sound like I'm complaining, because many, many people have a more insane schedule than I do. I used to have one, myself. And things could be a helluva lot worse. I can focus fully on the day job while I'm there. But once I'm home, I'm trying to give the kids my attention while not letting my freelance work slide. Then we have the evening schedule, school needs, and household crap (most of which is falling way, way, way by the wayside, I admit). I'm getting the writing done, but it always comes last, and even then I'm making tradeoffs that make me feel guilty.

After this many years, after all my counseling to other authors, HOW do I let myself do this? When does intellect and conviction overwhelm programming and my actions prove that I *don't* believe everyone else is more important than I am? I hate taking on the martyr role, but can't seem to help myself. I guess it wells up in response to my natural selfishness.

So. Instead of writing this book blog, I should have been proofing the galley of my May release, Indulgence II, editing 40 pages of Fight or Flight, and reading Mandy's story to tell her I don't think she's a sell-out.

I have a feeling I'm just going to go upstairs, make a cup of hot cocoa with kahlĂșa and a bowl of popcorn, and catch up on some neglected TV. Then I'll try to do all of the above (plus 20 additional pages of FoF) tomorrow between the early soccer game, the late soccer game, the lawn mowing, and the house cleaning.

Wish me luck, and have a good weekend!


MJFredrick said...

Good luck!!!!

I thought when Sam called Adam "meat," he was talking about him being helpless, just open to anyone coming after him, if they didn't help him learn to fight. I don't think he was being heartless. And he really seemed to get into the big bro role.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

There was that bit of it, yes, but I also got the sense he meant it in a bait kind of way, too.

But it's not just that. Sam has suddenly lost the ability to see gray. There was NO reason Adam had to give up everything and become a hunter just because of doing this one thing. It didn't have to be absolute--he could have fought whatever was after him and then move on. He'd be different, of course, but he didn't have to take on the life Sam and Dean have lived.

Ava Quinn said...

I've been so crazy, it's taken me three sittings to finish your entry. Every time I sat down to read it, something came up.

Yay! Mandy's not a sell out!

I fall into that martyr role with the greatest of ease. I doubt I have a hope of ever overcoming it.

Can't wait to see the ep. Sounds good. Lots o' conflict.

Lilith's argument for Sam was self sacrifice for the greater good. I don't think it worked on him. They're definitely making him look like he's starting down the path. I don't think deep down Sam can go totally dark side. He'll pull back at the last minute, or he's got a plan and seeming to go bad is part of the ploy. At least that's my take of the moment. :)

Ava Quinn said...

Oh. And I hope your finger feels better soon!!!

Me=dork, this time! ;)

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

LOL--thanks! It's getting there.

I'm sorry my post was so long it took you three sittings. But I *did* say it's like a book. LOL

I'll have the ep to you soon. Haven't had time to record it yet. I'm sorry!

I hope you're right, that Sam can't go totally dark side, that his core is good. They've all told him he has good intentions, but his methods are wonky. I hope he wises up to that at some point.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Hope you're taking some advil for your fingers. There are a lot of tendons in there and that bump could have started a tendonitis flameup.
The busy martyr thing, it comes and goes. I've been where you are and there are years in there where your kids and family really do need you to be everything. It's part of who you are so don't feel like you're not being true to yourself. That do everything person is yourself. As the kids get older, you'll find a little more time to write and spend on yourself. I've been there with four kids keeping me busy. Time for yourself doesn't mean you get two hours every day of every week of every year. It might mean this year you average 10 minutes per day and five years from now you make up for it with 6 hours per day.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I'm taking some Motrin here and there. It's more of a nagging pain than anything really bad. But thank you. :)

there are years in there where your kids and family really do need you to be everything.Nope. I'm not allowing it.

Obviously, there are extremes. If one of my kids got deathly ill, or had school issues or went through something traumatic or something, more focus would have to be put on that situation. But for day-to-day living? No freakin' way.

I had a single mother and watched her constantly subjugate her needs for ours, even when we didn't want her to or when it wasn't necessary. I don't think any person should give 100%+ of themselves to others and never fulfill their own needs (unless giving to others is what does fulfill them, and even then there are limits).

I don't want my kids to grow up to be that way. Therefore, I can't be that way. Despite my guilt, they're not losing anything in the time that I spend writing or that is otherwise for myself.

Of course, having 2 kids is much different from having 4, so our mileage automatically varies. :) That's part of the reason I made abso-damn sure we couldn't have more than 2. ! :)