Sunday, June 29, 2008

Some true things about my brother

My brother Ryan is going to have another birthday next week. My brother Ryan is gregarious, funny, charming and (perhaps except for the cab-door ears) pretty good looking. It is also an incontrovertible fact that my brother Ryan is, sadly, dead.

I love my brother. I'm living in a world that is just wrong, wrong, wrong without him. He was ferocious in a way that I could understand. He was an angry dude with the muscle to back up that short temper. It got him in a lot of trouble. But he was blood. He was bone marrow. He was strong in ways that made his weakness all the more tragic.

He could hold a grudge because he was so sensitive inside. And a lot of people let him down. People who should have done better by him. People like me. Oh, sure, the parental units have their crosses to bear. The Navy could have taken better care of the thing they were shaping as a weapon. His friends could have tried to talk to him about his drinking problem.

But I might be the worst of all, because he has been gone a while now and I just can't forgive him for leaving me. I'm selfish. I want him. I want him to talk me into getting a tattoo. I want him to sit me down on the back porch and pour me a shot of bourbon and give me endless shit until I swallow it, feeling it burn all the way down while he laughs at my watery eyes. I want him to meet his niece and lift her up in the air until she giggles so hard she almost pukes. I want him to track down that asshole that date raped me and the criminal that did that horrible thing to our sister and make them suffer pain. I want him to show me that practiced Billy Idol-style sneer until he breaks into that big, raucous laugh. I want him to be ten again, when he would really still allow me to wrap my arms around him and pepper his face with kisses.

I want to hear him say he still loves me, because I really need that right now. He's seen the worst of me and loved me in the face of all of my fury and mental collapse. When my father unceremoniously dumped my ass out, he found ways to come and see me, even though he was only eight. He was the only one that could get me to come out when I was so broken inside I would just hide behind furniture and scream if anyone tried to come close. He would crawl under the desk with me and curl his body against mine until I stopped shaking and agreed to go buy him an ice cream cone. He paid sometimes. He always had more money than me.

And he does say he loves me, but he's a ghost. Or I'm making it up because I want to hear his voice so badly that I will allow myself any amount of self-delusion to have him close to me. There isn't anything funny he can say or do to lighten me up anymore. I'm too serious without him. Too self indulgent, too vain, and too fucking sad.

I miss him. I miss him like I pulled my heart out of my chest and left it in the desert wind to dry out rather than have to feel the throbbing pain of his absence every time it would beat.

I promised him I would love him always, no matter what. I always keep my promises. I'm still kicking his ass next time I see him, but after I'm done blacking his eye, the chocolate double scoop is on me.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Getting Myself Kidnapped

I'm all about getting out of Dodge once in a while by myself and stirring up some trouble. I like the idea of getting myself kidnapped and having some new shit happening to me. It really shakes the cobwebs out of my brain. I need to do it more often, actually.

So, this weekend I am hitting the road in search of a little peace and quiet, as well as some fun talks with total strangers and coffee in a different city. I often make it to San Francisco, so this time I am going to Palo Alto, scene of many of my teenage crimes. It will be interesting to see if it looks any different to me. I seem to remember good bookstores.

I'm hoping to get a few ideas or do a little writing while I am there, too. I'm taking stuff with me to support that, but who knows? I might just hook up to my iPod and recline on my hotel bed all day just to get some rest. Either way, I'll be back home on Sunday, hopefully with renewed energy for my daily routine.

Strange Planet

Spinning on the periphery
A lush planet intent on a stable orbit.
It might not be the center of the universe,
But it gravitates nonetheless.

What strange creatures live there!
Endless streams of writhing lemmings
Cooing, gurgling dolphins in the spray
And thriving societies of hermit crabs.

So lovingly it rotates
Showing every continent to an effulgent sun.
In longing sighs it turns its seas
below the daily horizon.

Those darkened, paranoid chaparrals
Teem with life and wayward daydreams.
Psychropiles abound in the polar caps
And cry for light, glorious light.

(c) Stacie Ferrante

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Who gets to decide
Where I will lay my hands?
When did my flesh and bones
Cease belonging to me?

Fingers hesitate on buttons and keys
On skin, on lips, on knees.
Clutching like claws to fight the need
To feed the hungry integument.

Have I lost the right to tickle?
To poke, to caress, to gouge, to stroke?
I can rend the bread at table
But can only build with empty clay.

Never mind who holds the title on my lips
My hips, my back, my hair, my womb.
Just for today, I want my hands
Just fingers, palms, nails and scars.

(c) Stacie Ferrante

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

World on Fire

I should really post a picture of my sexy new glasses, with frames picked out for me by the sweetly flaming boy at my eye doctor's office. I told him I was going for a "funky, naughty librarian" look and he delivered it in spades. What does that have to do with the fires that are raging in California? The smoke has travelled over the Sierras and into the little desert valley where I live, making everything smell like an acrid campfire and making contact lens wearing impossible. The way my eyes felt this morning, I didn't even want to try to jam my finger in there.

I hate fire season.
  • My lungs get really unhappy with the smoke, and I feel more inclined to keep Little A indoors, which makes her cross.
  • Sometimes the fires are caused by lightning strikes, and we never get enough rain that falls all the way to the ground to put them out.
  • But some fires are man-started. Seriously, who lives in the middle of a bunch of sagebrush and decides to flick a lit cigarette butt out the car window?? WHY??? I was benind a guy in a Jeep who did that yesterday while we were at a red light. I very nearly got out of the driver's seat in my car and brought the burning projectile back to him. I wanted to flick it at his crusty gray mullet and say sweetly "Excuse me, sir. You dropped this..."
  • Likewise, who goes camping and doesn't adhere to the basics of fire safety, or learn how to properly extingish a campfire? I learned how to do that when I was about six. I also learned to not feed wild animals and how to secure my cooler from bears, although I would say I have a more than passing interest in camping issues. People do a lot of things wrong when camping, in my opinion.
  • I like taking long walks outdoors, but my lungs really can't take this. Yuck.

Monday, June 23, 2008

How am I doing?

Most of my friends and some of my family know I have a blog. Some of them read it. All of them tell me how I should keep in touch more often. Even the ones who read it regularly never comment on the blog, or they mention it in passing when they finally pin me down on the phone.

Mostly people call me and say: "I never hear from you, but I hear from your mom (or your other friend or your husband) that you have a lot going on. How ARE you?"

Maybe people just don't find my writing very entertaining, or what I share here seems withholding in some way. It is true that the minutiae of my life is not chronicled here. But how I am doing overall seems pretty well covered if you are paying attention.

I'm contemplating my life and my art and my identity and my worth. That's how I am. I'm thinking about how the world in my head sometimes gets mangled when I try to lay my hands on it and bring it to fruition. I'm wondering if I get points for good intention when I try to be of comfort to others and end up being inadequate. I'm wondering how I can be getting a bunch of things I have worked hard for and still find ways to feel like I am not enough for the world.

I'm thinking about the nature of motherhood and wife-dom and womanhood and lover-ness and artistry. I am pressuring myself to fit all of that into the crucible that is my limited 24-hour day.

Is the real question "Are you cracking under the pressure?" because a lot of people tell me that they could never juggle the number of plates I have spinning on a daily basis. I have been known to hold down multiple jobs and freelance writing gigs and still feed my family and write notes for whatever creative writing projects in the margins. I have had two pieces of paper on my desk: one with a diagram of the nucleotide bases in a genome that codes for a specific amino acid or some such and another with a heartrending and almost too personal to share bit of poetry about how much I still long for my dead grandmother's hands on my fevered brow. Ambidextrous me, I drink coffee lefty so I can write righty. Little A imitates me by putting her play cell phone to one ear, while juggling a book, a teddy bear and a sippy cup. She mutters, "Yeah, me too." into the phone.

So, am I cracking? You mean more than usual? Aren't we all?

Song from my Mixtape #2

This isn't my usual musical taste, but I dig this song, and it seems to fit my mood today. Sometimes I just wonder if love is enough to fix the things that feel amiss in my life. Sometimes I think it is, and sometimes I doubt it. I think that when I doubt it, it is because I forget how strong love is, even though it is seemingly so fragile.

Dixie Chicks

"More Love"

I'm so close to you baby

But I'm so far away

There's a silence between us

And there's so much to say

You're my strength,

you're my weakness

You're my faith, you're my doubt

We gotta meet in the middle

To work this thing out

More love,

I can hear our hearts cryin'

More love,

I know that's all we need

More love,

to flow in between us

To take us and hold us

and lift us above

If there's ever an answer

It's more love

We're afraid to be idle

So we fill up the days

We run on the treadmill

Keep slavin' away

'til there's no time for talkin'

About trouble in mind

And the doors are all closed

Between your heart and mine

More love,

I can hear our hearts cryin'

More love,

I know that's all we need

More love,

to flow in between us

To take us and hold us

and lift us above

If there's ever an answer

It's more love

Just look out around us

People fightin' their wars

They think they'll be happy

When they've settled their scores

Let's lay down our weapons

That hold us apart

Be still for just a minute

Try to open our hearts

More love,

I can hear our hearts cryin'

More love,

I know that's all we need

More love,

to flow in between us

To take us and hold us

and lift us above

If there's ever an answer

It's more loveI can hear our hearts cryin'

More love,

I know that's all we need

More love,

to flow in between us

To take us and hold us

and lift us above

If there's ever an answer

It's more love

More love

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pine Cones

I found a pine cone similar to this one sitting on the windshield of my car a few weeks ago and immediately palmed it. It is currently sitting on my desk at work, where I periodically pick it up and examine its beauty.
Whether it is the aesthetically pleasing spirals laid out in perfect divine proportion, or the sentimental feelings evoked by the fact that it is a pine cone and therefore reminds me of childhood camping trips with my grandparents, all I know is that it moves me and I enjoy looking at it.
I'm not too shy about admitting that mathematical concepts make my eyes glaze over, but the idea that there is a golden ratio that, if employed by artists or architects, enhances the beauty of an object is very compelling to me. If you want to look at the math,
The golden ratio is expressed in nature, especially in plants. Look at the way the petals of an open rose form layer after layer of pentagram. Then look at the way branches arise out of trees. Look at my pine cone. Lovely spirals that are so precise, it is fascinating to imagine that the DNA of that tree is coded to express its reproductive capability in such a way. That natural selection favors the tree that can "apply math" to itself and selects against a tree that perhaps puts out abstractions of that design. Going more micro yet, the genome itself arranges its nucleotide bases according to the golden ratio. That is for the tree and for us.
So I have something in common with the pine cone, the tree that made it, the chambers of a nautilus shell, and DaVinci's Vitruvian man. The same power that made the proportions of the bones of my hand made the pine cone that rests in my palm. Meditating on that even for just as long as it took to write this blog entry has already brought my blood pressure down. It takes me out of my own head long enough to allow me to envision myself as part of the grand design. Even if I can't see it from my perspective, I probably fit.
Even if I don't fully comprehend the math, I AM the math. That has to mean something. Maybe if my hand is in yours at some point, it might be as lovely and wondrous as a pine cone to you.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Amor Gitano (Gypsy Love)

I am loving this song right now. It is on the Gipsy Kings' record "Compass". It is so full of longing and sung so passionately. I looked up the lyrics this morning and now love it even more. If you can find it, give it a listen.


I want to fall in love

With the master of my life

I want her to fall in love with me

I prayed for you to come soon

Who, I know

That it's you who don't know where to go

That's why I will give you my hand

Today fulfill well

Your love I already know

Can arrive one day

And be put there

To truly suffer

As never before, and I ...

If the things of the night are good for me now

Swear that you will be thereI saw her in the past

Who, I know(phonetic - I don't know what it means)

Look what you are doing

I am a manTo fall in love

Again I saw you in the street

I'm going to look for you
The way, dark one

The gypsy woman whom I loved

I will give you a sign that there is no fear

To love the gypsy woman I have loved

And loveI have lost everything

I gave agony to your love

And a pure heart was found there

Tell me my love

Don't go away

It is my life
I am coming here

I, serene one, anguished and humble

Will give you my life


And the love

Where I have arrived

That I lost

Like a loved one
I let her flee

Yes, I have already known her

And lost her
And will give for her sake

The kisses that I have given you

I will give you

I want a future with you

One of the delights of lifeI spent there

A gypsy "love"

I will never forget

I will never forget

Lai lo lai lo lai lo, etc.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Let's Play

It is time to hurt the ones I love.

I will admit without a tincture of shame that I am in love with the boy I have created in my "Daniel" series. I have, with loving attention to detail, expressed my affection for him in deep and nuanced ways. I have raised an icon in him that I am in the throes of a passionate, if too rarely consummated affair with. That he is a figment of my imagination, and a literary creation does not change the fact that I have strong feelings for him.

But I need to make him hurt.

He's spoiled. He's had it too easy. He's cocky and simply must start to suffer or risk lacking in character. It will give me no pleasure. It will hurt me more than it hurts him. Or maybe I'm afraid that it will give me a sadistic thrill to twist him and make him cry uncle. Maybe I am blocked with writing this not because I am too busy or too tired, but because I don't want to look at how cruel I am willing to be.

I've been putting it off, lingering over better days when it was new and flushed with innocent and compelling curiosity. Flushed with new love, I shaped him with my hands and breathed life into his limbs. I became his goddess, the focus of his rapt and fevered attention. Now I need to pull him up by the root and cast him into the world to fend for himself. I need to tear his heart out and feed it to raptors. I need to crush him, hurt him, bloody him a little.

He's a nice boy, but he needs to become a man. Everything costs something. I can't cling to him and protect him anymore. He'll thank me for it later, I can only hope.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Things I don't approve of

Sometimes I love being a misanthrope. Some of my cranky reactions to the world make me laugh.

I am a judgmental, disapproving little thing. Some Examples :

  1. Strawberry-Banana flavored stuff: Strawberries are great and bananas are great, but why mix them? Actual fruit strawberry-banana smoothies are pretty good, because they taste like actual fruit and the banana gives it a nice texture. But candy, yogurt, or other stuff just tastes fakey-fake and nasty.
  2. People who spoil the endings of movies and then ask "Oh, were your going to see that?" *slaps forehead*
  3. People who laugh at my joke and then say "I don't get it." Conversely, those same people tend to start off telling a joke and then forget the punchline midstream.
  4. Walnuts in brownies. I would think that was gross even if I weren't drop-dead allergic.
  5. Why do so many products that are ostensibly for children have to be filled with food dyes and high-fructose corn syrup? I don't buy that stuff, but sheesh, it sure takes up a lot of room at the store, and Little A sure sees it where it is placed at her eye level. Then I have to be the bitch mommy who says no all the time.
  6. Mixed bags of jelly beans. Who the hell takes a random handful that would have possibly cherry and lime and black licorice in it? Then again, my OCD forces me to sort even my same-tasting M&M's by color.
  7. Companies that market padded bras and thong underwear for six-year olds. Oh, google it yourself.
  8. Companies that think it OK to give growth hormones to cows, causing 6 year olds to need bras.
  9. Parenting magazines. For the most part they are just the same as Cosmopolitan is for single people: bad advice and stupid ads to make you feel guilty/insecure/vulnerable to sales pitches for cellulite cream and children's lingerie.
  10. "Womens'"magazines. I didn't start having a good love life until I gave up on reading Cosmo et al. Besides, I don't need the "20 tricks he wish you knew in bed" article. Here's the gist of it. Guys like more head. That's pretty much it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Trouble With Stacie

If the last year or two have had a theme, it would certainly be "tying up loose ends". Having a presence of any kind on the web means, for me, running into old friends acquaintances in unexpected ways and at random times.

It is super-pleasant to catch up with people, especially if they harbor fond memories of me. That is a nice ego-stroke, for sure. The only downside of these remembrances of things past is the constant reminder that I was a late bloomer to the effective communication game. Gawd, I was awful. The temptation to beat myself up for something I did at 15 is pretty compelling. Tongue firmly in cheek, I have to at least make fun of myself here:

I have to pinch the bridge of my nose a little when I think about, for instance, the awkward and terrified attitude I carried with me to my very first date. That poor boy was so nice to me, and I didn't even let him hold my hand. Let's just say I was a less than gracious companion. My mother was so worried about me going on a date that she remonstrated me to be protective of my body (and presumably, my virtue), and she gave me more money than was strictly in the budget so that if things went horribly awry I could not only take a taxi home, but reimburse my hapless date for his trouble. I guess my mom was trying to make a point to me that I didn't have to make out with a boy because he bought me a movie ticket and some Junior Mints. Way to overkill, mom. I took a perfectly gentlemanly teenage boy and made absolutely certain that he wouldn't hazard to attempt to ask me out again. Brilliant.

*Waves at Keith*

I'm totally going the total public apology route on this one. Mea Culpa. You deserved the kind of friendly warmth that I wouldn't be able to muster on a date until I was at least 22. You were just way ahead of your time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Here's a Thought

Call me a busybody if you want, but I am going to take a moment to tell you how to raise your kids. This isn't directed at anybody in particular, but we aren't even into the hot part of summer, and kids are already dying in hot cars. That shit pisses me off no end. When I look at our struggles to add children to our family, the fact that others can just give birth and then neglect or abuse those kids just blows the top of my head off. As a foster parent, I have to be held to much higher standards than biological parents. I'm no parenting expert, but how hard can it be to take a baby out of the car seat when it is 90 degrees outside?

So, jackass parents everywhere, here's your free lesson:

  1. Don't leave your kid in a car with the windows rolled up. Not even for "just a minute". The temperatures in that car will soar way above the air outside in minutes. Your little one can NOT deal with that kind of heat. If your baby dies because you are too stupid or selfish to take them out of the car seat, I and legions of others will wish painful retribution on you, in this life and the next. You will totally deserve it if bad things happen to you.
  2. Do you figure that your drug abuse problems don't affect your kids? Think again.
  3. Don't leave your kid unattended in a store/public pool/meth lab. Take care of your own kid and make sure they don't steal/drown/take a contact hit.
  4. Fireworks are not great "toys".
  5. Cheetos are not in the vegetable food group.
  6. Neither is Mountain Dew.
  7. Take an Infant/Child CPR class. Seriously. Even if you mess up any of the above, you might be able to save a life.
  8. Mullet hairstyles became classified as child abuse around 1992. Ditto the rat-tail and the Dorothy Hammill bowl-haircut.
  9. Dora the Explorer is not your babysitter.
  10. Smile at your kid every once in a while.

Got more? Add on!

Monday, June 9, 2008

David Bowie and The Bolivian Nose Candy

As I sit contemplatively chewing on a chocolate-covered espresso bean, I'm thinking about drugs and how creative people use them. David Bowie and many MANY others were pretty well known for snorting mountains of cocaine and still churning out some of the most amazing art. I was reading a book review of Angela Bowie's book where she complains end on end about his dysfunction as a person, a husband and father. But the reviewer basically said, and I agree, that if high Bowie gives us "Hunky Dory" and sober Bowie gives us "Tin Machine", who are we to judge? How can I really condemn him for his greatness while altered? I don't have to live with him, of course.

Twisted Fangirl love for the Thin White Duke aside, what does it say about me as an artist? I never did go in for that experimental drug phase that some of my friends, and countless Rock Gods, have indulged in. Going on a drug binge would be unseemly at my age, and I can only imagine how gross I would feel. Add the fact that Little A deserves sane and sober parenting and you can readily see that even getting drunk is pretty much out of the question. Am I missing out on some vital, visceral thing as a writer because I am prioitizing my family? Do you HAVE to be crazy to be creative? Its it mandatory? Or does it just make it easier to focus on one thing if you can take drugs to blot out that you aren't meeting all of your responsibilities?

I won't even go into all the artists who have gotten sober and their creative mojo dried up as they dried out. I'm talking to you Aerosmith/Van Halen/Duran Duran. Just as many musicians tank out or die trying to stay high all the time. Talking to you Curt Cobain, Keith Moon, Elvis, John Bonham and Jim Morrison.

But look at the writers who have shaken history with their words, and are just as famous for spiralling (sometimes literally) into the gutter. Jeeebus. Edgar Allen Poe, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, Kafka, Oscar Wilde, Dorothy Parker and the list goes on and on.

But drinking and drugging to that level makes you into a horrible person to be around. And I am trying to picture any one of those people doing a "corporate" reading at your local Barnes & Noble. The horrors! Who will think of the children? But my god, what is the alternative? Wholesome "Christian Rock"? *shudders* I'd rather explain the dangers of heroin to my kids than try and tackle that shit.

Now that Bowie is older and still makes art, he is seen as one of the survivors, a venerated elder statesman of decadant disco-style excess. The cocaine use seems almost quaint compared to the shit people are taking nowadays. Don't even get me started on the "sell your soul to the Devil" thing that is Meth. I'm seeing what that does to families up close, and it isn't pretty. The state doesn't even know what to do with it all.

But one gets the impression that Bowie was destined to be great as much as he was destined to get high and cheat on his wife with anything that moved, name his kid "Zowie", and ultimately end up becoming an arbiter of taste (albeit tongue firmly in cheek) in "Zoolander" and "Extras".

I'll always sort of love him, albeit from afar. VERY afar apparently if I want my vision of his genius to remain spotless like that suit in the "Modern Love" video.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Creativity and Libido

The drive to be creative artistically is closely tied to the sexual drive. Creating babies and creating works of art are similar quests in that they attempt to produce something that will last outside of us after we die. Perhaps not every artist or skilled technician feels this way, but for me, the two are linked more clearly because I love to explore sensual feelings in my writing. I have spoken to other writers who balk at crafting the kind of blushingly frank sexual prose that I engage in when I am at the height of a creative cycle.

There is a self-consciousness there, where if I put these fantasy-based things on paper and other people read them, I have made myself very vulnerable indeed. Some writers (and perhaps readers) find such content distracting, or disturbing, or even cringe-worthy. Some might think I am interjecting too much of my personal stuff into the work.

I like to think that if I show characters interacting sexually with each other that it is done in service to the narrative. Could I accomplish the same thing in a more subtle, mainstream, commercially acceptable way? I guess I could and I sometimes do. The suggestion of intimacy is a very powerful thing, too. But in some of the manuscripts I have written, the revealed intimacy tells us something about the characters that the mere suggestion wouldn't.

There is something really compelling to me about showing what happens in an intimate moment between two people. There are things you just can't learn about a person in another way. Small, vulnerable things, predilections and kinks for example, say a lot about a person. I like the pillow talk and little bits of conversation that lovers exchange while working towards a goal of shared pleasure, and how isolating it is when one partner withholds part of themselves even as they give their body to it.

Again, could I reveal these character traits in another way? Sometimes I can and I do, but the interplay in those scenes gives me a lot of enjoyment, and not just in the sensual way one might imagine. The problem for me creatively comes up when libido gets stifled. My ability to write any content is closely linked with the sorts of things that turn me on sexually so to speak. So, conversely, sex-stifling things like stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, and lack of sleep really affect my ability to work.

On the flip side (or the third hand?), lack of writing stifles my desire for sumptuous food, pleasures in bed, and stimulating conversation. I feel less interesting when I am not writing. Not in the cocktail party "I'm working on a novel" type of way, but on a deeper level where if I am not writing I am denying a part of who I am, and therefore become a withholding lover, lacking intimacy in my relationships, romantic or otherwise. I skim the surface without tasting the core of my life.

If I can't make my writing as exciting to me as having a lover's flesh responding to my touch, why bother doing it? If I strip away all the things that raise my pulse, who would want to read such a sanitized, denuded thing? I don't write friendly, chicken-soup-for-the-soul type of stuff. Nothing taken away from people that do. They are making money off of their inspirational stories, and I am not at present selling anything.

It is just that for me, writing without the cathartic release is more frustrating than anything else. If that makes me an exhibitionist of ideas, then I can live with that. I just need to tap into that audience that, in secret or not, gets a thrill out of being voyeurs.

In the meantime, I'll be between the sheets of my latest projects, lingering over the way the simple act of opening one's eyes during an intimate moment can take the narcissism out of it and focus the intention on what is really important: namely the feelings one has about the beloved object of desire.

Monday, June 2, 2008

"I hope you still love me"

I had a dream last night that really helped me out on a couple of levels.

I was dreaming that I was at my grandparents' old house, and lots of my cousins were there and we were having a sort of family party. Daniel Radcliffe walked up the driveway and I met him at the breezeway door. He embraced me and whispered in my ear "I hope you still love me, because I can't wait to get you alone."

I kissed him tenderly and led him by the hand into the heart of the party. I had a really warm, affectionate feeling for him.

When I woke up this morning, I knew exactly how to fix a bit of writing where I had painted myself into a corner. I had finished a chapter about a page earlier, and had tried to artificially stretch it out with some content that just wasn't working. It felt good to cut it off where the cut belonged. It wasn't the same exactly as doing new writing, but I hadn't had any insight into that manuscript in a while. I think I have a good idea on how to proceed next, so unblocking that felt really good.