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Okay, this is the post about fencing and gender that I've been thinking about for a while. Because I think about fencing literally every day, haha.

Today in particular I was talking to another coach at a competition. We were from the only two schools that had brought sabre that day, and we were bemoaning that. A couple other schools had promised to bring sabre, but had dropped out at the last second because they didn't have enough people. Sabre is generally the smallest event at any fencing event, but it can be especially rough at the high school level. Well, sure, I said. After all, it's only in the last generation (my generation) that you have women who grew up fencing sabre and can pass it on/coach/act as role models for the next generation of fencers. There wasn't an American national championship for women's sabre until 1988, and that only came after huge efforts by the amazing Ruby Watson. We didn't get a world championship until 1999, or an Olympic event until 2004. Two thousand and fucking four.

"What," said the other coach. "Are you blaming this on the fencing patriarchy?"

Yes. )
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I've been pretty quiet lately, and it's because I've been SUPER STRESSED OUT about this fencing competition my club was hosting. It's the brainchild of me and one of the other officers, and I ended up doing quite a bit of the organization. Which sucked up a lot of time since the competition attracted about three times as many people as we were expecting. Like, it was a silly relay team tournament, and we were figuring about 4-6 teams per weapon would show up and we'd do a round robin. Instead 11-13 teams per weapon showed up (about 100 people), and we had to do bouts + bracket. For a solid two weeks I've been watching the registration numbers climb and panicking. I obtained extra strips (so that we had 12), got us access to one of the local clubs when we realized we'd probably run past the closing time of our gym, got places to stay for 11 out-of-state fencers, and sent a huge number of emails.

Put on top of this that I had agreed to fence all three weapons with two of my friends. Hahahaha.

But it all went really well! Really, really well. We fit all 12 strips in the gym, and all of the out-of-state fencers had places to stay. Sabre ran smoothly, and while foil and epee got delayed a little, they ran mostly smoothly too. We did end up in the overflow location, but mostly it seemed like people understood that this was a ridiculous experience and had fun with it. People came up to me all day to say thank you for organizing it and that they'd had a great time and were looking forward to next year. I was my usual competitive mess and got pretty upset when we got knocked out in sabre, but I did have a lot of fun fencing foil and I did better in epee than usual. And my friends were very high-energy, which was great because we finished at 10.45 pm. After starting at 9 (and I was already doing organization stuff at 7.30). 14 hours of fencing. My mantra was 'NEXT YEAR TWO DAYS,' and I think that will help us out a lot. Also it wouldn't be as exhausting. I spent today in a fog of stiff limbs, bruised arms and superbowl, haha. In total I fenced about 39 bouts, which is A LOT.

There's lots of little things that made it super worthwhile. Getting to fence the head coach of my HS gig in her weapon (and getting crushed). Swapping between weapons and feeling how it changed my sabre game. Chatting with people that I know well or have never met or see once a year. Getting to fence against some of my students as competitors (although I sadly missed out on fencing some of my other students). It was a huge full day and it was overwhelming and wonderful. As one of the other officers put it: "this is a nightmare, I'm so excited."

Results-wise: top 8 in sabre and foil, and second place in epee (which is great because none of us fence epee). The head coach at my HS and her team got second in foil, a team mostly made up of my students got second in sabre, and of course I know half of the people who participated so a full accounting would basically be the same as reproducing all of the results. But I'm really glad it went well and I'm really glad it's OVER. Last night we went from cleaning up to a late night Chinese place, where I ate a huge amount of food and reveled in the fact that I'm almost done with this tournament. Just need to upload the results tomorrow and send out an email thanking everyone for fencing and helping and being great.

I was re-reading my earliest posts about fencing on this blog the other night, and thinking about how I would never have been able to envision myself doing any of this stuff. Coaching, being a club officer, organizing a big competition. I'm really glad I've kept a journal for these 7 years of sports obsession, so that I can see how everything gradually changed.
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I'm preparing to get on a bus tomorrow morning with the high school team, to coach them at a big tournament on Saturday. In order to get there we have to be on a bus 12 hours each way, which adds up to TOO MUCH BUS and TOO MUCH KIDS. I'm sure it'll be fine. I'm preparing by digging out my DVD of By the Sword, because they are old enough to be introduced to that greatest of fencing classics. I am also preparing by not going to bed as early as I had hoped (I'm waiting for laundry to finish), which I guess will mean that I'll sleep better on the bus?? We can only dream. Probably not dream, I usually don't dream when I nap on buses.

Today I got ambushed by a neighbor who has a broken phone and no car, loaned her my phone briefly, acquiesced to giving her a ride to the hospital and back, and then hid in my house with the lights off in case her lawyer failed to show up and she needed a ride to court. It was okay, lawyer showed up and honked really loudly outside of my window to let her know that they were waiting. I also took my cat to the vet, coached, and went to my own practice with the new assistant coach who I'd never seen fence before. She's okay, she fences like someone from Western Mass who never got a proper lesson and has been learning by doing. There was a lot of frantic slashing that I just sort of backed away from, but she's got some solid footwork and takes correction very easily.

Now that I have shared my day and done a proper journal post, please help me in my bus endeavors by telling me interesting things about your day or fandoms or ??? I'm too tired to think of three things.

Related Works

10/1/15 08:17 pm
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ALSO I am a disaster area who is always forgetting to talk about the cool things people are doing with my fic. So here are three belated things:

Kollega translated my Doctor Who fic The Most Secret Diary into Russian, which can be found here. She ALSO sent me some comments translated from Russian to English, which was awesome and saved me from awkward google translate (I am always hungry for comments).

[personal profile] juniperphoenix made a podfic of my Doctor Who fic Young Men and Fast Cars, which can be found here. It's a really good reading that completely captures the tone I was trying for :)

More recently, petercapaldi on tumblr (who assures me that they are the real Peter Capaldi, definitely) made a fanmix based on my Hawkeye fic Life of Crime, which can be found here. I have been listening to this over and over while unpacking/studying/lying around uselessly, it is a good time.

Quick life stuff update: I went home for two weeks and now I am back in grad school land, where I have been doing a little bit of work but have mostly been lying around and coaching and being kind of sick. Coaching is FRUSTRATING but actually going really well?? No one will do what I think they should except for when it suddenly works. For example today I had to scold one of the kids for hitting too hard and make his friends scold him etc and he was totally blowing me off and I was going to murder him... Except then he stopped hitting so hard and started being a little more controlled and won the competition. I am proud and annoyed. I have to hang out with all of these kids for allllll of next weekend while we ride a bus all over the place and fence and ride back, haha. I will probably not murder any of them.

I got up at 6am and coached from 7.30 to 4.30 and I feel like I am slowly collapsing in on myself. Currently I am sitting around in someone else's house with someone else's dog, as part of a 'write things' party. So far I have written one entire email, filled out part of an application for a summer program, done that Yuletide repost, done some tag wrangling, and responded to a few comments! And written this post. I am not sure if this is an illusion of productivity or actual productivity.
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Hi, here is one of those omphaloskeptic posts about fencing.

Fencing! Fencing. Much of my life is consumed by fencing. Things that have happened or are happening soon:
Club practice started up, I'm one of the club officers and run part of practice once a week when the coaches can't make it.
I went to a referee clinic and got rated to direct all three weapons.
I finally won my E rating at a local competition.
I've been learning bits and pieces of ASL to help coach a new deaf fencer on my club team.
I've been practicing an average of 10-12 hours a week, woooo.
I also started taking lessons consistently for the first time in basically ever, from a super great coach who I haven't really gelled with yet but who does seem to get what my main technique problems are.
I had a competition last weekend where I went 20-3 and mostly did not have a meltdown and strip-coached and talked to friends from other teams and was awake for 24-fucking-hours between travel and competing and travel again.
High school practices are about to start up again, at which point my personal practice time is going to take a nose-dive and I'll be coaching about 10 hours a week and only practicing between 2 and 4.

Skill-wise, I've had some really clear indicators lately that I'm trending up! The directing rating, and the E, and the 20-3 record. A friend of mine who coaches for another team told his fencers that I was a 'good - not amazing, but competent' fencer, which is extremely accurate and pretty high praise from him. Although I gave him a hard time about it, haha. It can be hard to tell how I'm doing since my benchmarks are other fencers who are ALSO getting better, so the concrete signals help.

Time commitment is a challenge. I don't have time to do all this stuff - or I do, but barely. The more I talk to older fencers, the more I realize that almost everyone, even the very best people, even college coaches and world-class referees, lives a dual life between fencing and their 'real' job. And living that kind of dual-track seems exhausting but also inevitable. I already know that part of my job search when I'm done with my PhD will depend on what universities are hiring near fencing hotspots. Which is worrying, because you honestly don't have that much choice with academic jobs. I guess I'll just play it by ear.

Emotions-wise - ehhh. I'm beginning to figure out that it's always going to be a matter of good and bad days for me. I've had a lot of good days recently and only a couple of bad practices where I just could not deal with how shitty I was feeling. At this most recent competition I was mostly good and having a great time, but apparently I scared a few of the newer fencers by yelling/being super intense. Not sure what to do about that, but the more experienced people said I was fine so maybe it will just have to be part of the competition experience for newbies. I also got really upset after a late 4-5 loss and scratched my face a little (which is a fun new self-harm behavior that I hadn't done before). But I bounced back quickly and finished the competition on a good note. I don't know where that leaves me. I care SO MUCH about fencing, way more than most things I do, and it's definitely where the majority of my emotions end up. Coaching takes me out of it a little, so it may be that as my fencing career trends further into the 'senior team member/strip-coach' area I'll even out more. We'll see! I think mostly I need to refocus from 'I am going to make myself stop being so intense and miserable about fencing' to 'I am going to make sure I can turn around quickly from being intense and miserable and just keep fencing because that will make me feel better.'

I also wrote up 3 emails for my team-mates about how they did and what their next steps should be, ran them past the head coach, and got them ready to send out. That helped me a lot and hopefully it will help them too! Senior team memberrrrr.

I feel like this is a more up-beat post than most I've made about fencing, anyway. So that's trending up too, haha.

woooo

21/9/14 11:42 pm
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I have officially survived my big exam. I have probably passed? I won't know for a while, but unless I massively screwed up in some way I have no idea about, a fail is kind of unlikely.

Immediately after my exam I went for drinks, went to a baseball game, went home, slept in until noon, did errands on Saturday and then got drenched on my way to a fencing thing, went home and slept again, had people over today and fed people great stirfry. So I'm feeling like a success.

Although I totally blew off any and all work this weekend. I need to get on that.

(Also I told several people I would catch up on Who this weekend and IMMEDIATELY chickened out, haha. But I watched the Ace Attorney movie instead and did a brief tumblr review.)

Fencing-wise, things are going GREAT so far, maybe mostly because my competing has been minimal and my administrative/coaching things have been high. I had a great time at the ref seminar and learned a LOT, and I think we might have a full sabre team for the college competitions? SO EXCITED. I can't believe that I haven't fenced with a full women's team since Spring 2012, I miss it so much. (Someday I will post my rant about why mixed-gender fencing is both a good thing and a terrible thing for women in fencing, but for now I will save it for the people who have the misfortune to ask me about it in real life.)
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If you're wondering, I've been scarce because I have my second prelim (master's exam) in exactly 10 days and am waffling between panic, preparation, and fencing a lot and ignoring my impending doom. It will be fine! It will be fine. I feel a lot better now that I have written 3 pages of one of my essays and feel like I sort of know what I'm talking about.

Also I am the recruitment officer for the school's fencing club so there has been a lot of... important fencing things that I couldn't blow off, not just practice. And our coach is extremely not present so far, and I've been taking up a lot of leading practice + coaching sabre + trying really hard to figure out fencing-relevant ASL so I can communicate with one of the new fencers.

SO MUCH STRESS. Haha. Ha.

Buuuut this has not stopped me from going to another baseball game and signing up to go to a referee clinic and writing 9,000 words of Great Mouse Detective fic (which I will finish editing SOON). So maybe I am exaggerating my stressed-ness because it is midnight. Basically I should go to bed.

Good night!
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[personal profile] aralias asked me if I could do a commentary on Change of Engagement, my By the Sword roadtrip fic. Here it is! There's a lot of it - less commentary than fic, which is good, but still a lot. And mostly it is babbling about fencing and By the Sword, rather than much insight to my writing process, haha.

under the cut! )
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Yes! Update! I am still alive!

Since the semester ended in May, I've been in Kansas, Texas, New York, Boston, New York again, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and finally New York for real this time, hopefully. I drove to all of these places. I went to a graduation, did the last weekend of one faire, went to a fencing competition, visited friends, went to a wedding, went to a different fencing competition (just to observe), visited family, and then collapsed in a heap. Yaaaaay.

Next order of business - do all this summer RA work, study for my big exam in September, and work the summer faire. So, actually, a lot.

Meanwhile I am suffering a comics-fandom relapse and also getting really into baseball for some reason? I have been on tumblr more than usual (which is to say, once every two weeks or so), and if you would like to observe my baseball-fandom spiral I would check this tag.

Also a friend of mine was working with one of the guys who worked on By the Sword today. I told my friend to relay the fact that I am THE BIGGEST FAN, but I am not sure if that happened. Still. Gosh.

This is a really disjointed post, but I felt like I needed to get this through before I could make more substantive posts, I guess? I have a post about relationships and normalizing poly through fanfic that I want to write up, but idk when I will have the energy to make that happen. Maybe Monday. I also need to get through the last couple idfic summer self-prompts, but currently I am working on a Taskmaster/Deadpool fic that does not fill ANY of the remaining prompts and is also highly absurd. And obscure. Only six more prompts to go! It'll get done eventually.

Anyway, yes. Many things. Yep.
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I've been super quiet on the internet lately! It is because everything is ridic busy. My last substantive post was in, wow, mid-February.

Here is a short summary of what I've been up to since then, I guess?

- High School state champs in fencing went really really well. I'm super proud of my fencers and reasonably confident that I'll be asked to coach next year. It was a great experience.

- Midwest club champs happened, and I did okay the individual day and then my 2-person team didn't manage to advance on the team day. It was super close, agh. I won all three of my bouts, and my teammate won one and then lost one by a point. The invisible ghost person didn't win any bouts. There were some fun times and also some drama with my least favorite teammates, so all in all it was a pretty normal competition, haha.

- My friend who also coaches a high school team introduced his team to the wonders of BY THE SWORD. Oh my god. They loved it. Also apparently some of the girls jumped right on the Maestro/Suba train. There was legit gasping during the scene where they're fencing with their hands and Suba slaps the Maestro and the Maestro touches his face and chuckles. Which is right. That is a moment of glory. Also during the Maestro's topless sword exercises, one of the high schoolers kept saying 'there should be more light in this scene. I can't see his muscles.' These kids truly understand the wonders of BtS.

- I guest lectured at a Public Opinion class for a friend who had to go to a wedding. It was actually super fun! I always think I'm not interested in teaching as a career, but I enjoy the process of it a lot.

- I turned in the final paper for one of my classes, because it was only for half the semester. Supposedly I will now have more free time, except I ditched a lot of important things in order to keep up with coaching and my course load and research. I will still not have free time.

- Last week was spring break! I flew down to Texas and hung out with my parents and did almost none of the work I brought with me. Instead I cleaned sheet pans and went to a chiropractor twice and wrote 17,000 words of Hawkguy AU. I don't know. I'd really like to finish that while I'm still rolling and motivated, but I'm suspicious that it's going to turn out to be 25k+.

- I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel in Texas with my mom, and it was super amazing. I don't have anything coherent to say about it, except that Tilda Swinton was fabulous and totally unrecognizable.

- I got up at 4.30 this morning, got on a plane in Dallas, flew back to the Cities, and landed in the snow. Majorly unhappy about the temperature change (it was briefly 75 in Texas! it is 20-30 here!), but I will cope. Accomplished practically nothing today, except hanging out with my cat, some repairs on my fencing jacket, and mainlining the first four episodes of Agents of SHIELD. It's okay, it kind of feels like it's starting slow (which people warned me about).

- Can we talk about how good Elementary has been lately? I feel like the bits with the roosters were straight out of the best kind of fanfiction.

I think that's it? In the next two weeks I'm going to a lot of academic talks, supposedly writing a draft of another term paper, doing a fun team competition in Iowa, going to a Bastille concert, going to a Caravan Palace concert, and probably collapsing into a puddle of exhaustion. And I'm thinking I should sign up for Remix and aralias' romance novels thing. And getting somewhere with this Hawkguy AU. Woo!

here is a post

7/2/14 12:46 am
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Having a lot of trouble winding down, which is bad given that I need to get up and be moving tomorrow morning. Had a really shitty fencing practice at the club today, which is definitely why I can't get myself to get up and shower and go to bed.
fun fencing negativity under the cut )

Ok. I'm going to bed now. Sorry about the word dump, thoughts are always appreciated.
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So I coached at my first ever competition on Saturday! It was super intense - we drove all day Friday, the kids fenced all day Saturday, and then we drove back all day Sunday. Also I woke up Sunday morning with a cold + cramps, which was... fun. When I bought cold medicine and cough drops and pads and donuts at the gas station, the cashier was very sympathetic.

ANYWAY, I think the competition went well. It was kind of overwhelming, but I wasn't anywhere near as anxious as I am when I'm competing (I was still very anxious). A lot of STUFF happened. One of my kids got injured and also fell over like three times (not unexpected, with this kid). One of the grounded strips literally fell apart. One of my kids got like three cards, including a red card that gave his opponent two points. Okay, all of these things are with the same kid. I did coach other people, which involved a lot of jumping up and down, trying to get the one referee I like to do as many of the bouts as possible, and nearly getting in a fight with another referee. At least I didn't actually get in a fight, which can't be said for one of my fellow coaches, haha.

Overall, we got 7th in women's sabre, and falling-over kid got 9th in men's sabre. The two other guys got 22nd and 24th (out of 50-odd). It was great! It was a lot of fun coaching people who care and know what they're doing and just need a little push. Although I have lots of ideas for more things to work on.

I really like coaching, even though it's stressful and kids fall over and I get into arguments. Partly it's because the other coaches are great - they're around my age and very experienced and way less intimidating than I expected. Partly it's because coaching for an expensive private school is fun in that I didn't have to pay for meals or my hotel room etc. But also I just enjoy working with people and trying to help them get better. I'm a bossy person, so I've strip-coached for years, haha, but it's better when I feel legitimized by my coaching position.

Also on this trip the four sabre kids told me that I'm a better coach than my predecessor, which made me ridic happy. They added that I'm not as funny, though, so... whatever. I'll take it. Six more weeks of this season, with at least one meet every week. Hopefully I'll keep getting better at this coaching thing. And maybe eventually get over my cold. And start studying for that prelim exam.

quick update

7/1/14 09:48 pm
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Drove from New York to Minnesota on Sunday/Monday, which was TONS OF FUN. Sunday I had to stop early in Ohio because blinding snowstorm. Monday I drove on snowed-in turnpikes most of the day, then into ridiculous cold+wind once the roads were clear. Best traffic I've ever dealt with in Chicago, though.

Anyway, I am back and working again, which is sad in the short term (I already miss family and sleeping for nine hours a day), but in the long term this is good. Classes don't start for another week and a half, but in the meantime I have coaching and research responsibilities, and I'm studying for my first prelim exam, bluh. On Friday I'm driving with a bus full of teenagers to Indiana for a huge high school competition, which is freaking me out a little. Hopefully it will be chill - I'm an anxious competitor, but I usually do pretty well with strip-coaching.

How is everyone else handling the new year?
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Tweedymcgee asked me to sort Doctor Who characters into fencing weapons over on tumblr, and I did! At great length. You can see all my ridiculous headcanons here.
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Basically, it's going really well! Weekend before last I was at a Big Ten competition that was a lot of fun. My team didn't win against many other schools (there were only two of us against three-person teams, so), but we did beat at least a couple places. As as individual, I won 19 and lost 6 so that was pretty awesome. Overall, it was a great time and I enjoyed hanging out with the other fencers.

Last weekend was a local competition, and I took third in sabre both Saturday and Sunday. Also fun! I think I could have done better than I did, but I'm still pretty happy with it. In general, I feel like I'm calming down. Partly that's because I'm better (I still get really upset when I'm losing and frustrated), but partly I'm also not reacting as strongly to losses. I think that's good, haha.

I started coaching at a high school yesterday, and it's going fine so far. It's all footwork atm - we hand out gear next Wednesday - so I'm not super hands-on right now. The other coaches are super nice, though, and all of the kids are really into it. Hopefully it'll work out once I start having to actually give drills and remember people's names.

Fencing! So much fencing! It is everywhere.

Also, I've been catching up on Who in preparation for the 50th. It's weird because I'm watching very critically and I can't turn that off, but I also want to be able to enjoy the 50th and not just be mad at people, so... idk. I guess we'll see what I think about the most recent series.
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Gonna fence tomorrow and then sit around and watch other people fence on Sunday. Wooooo.
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I started the idfic summer planning to write a lot of short and silly BDSM porn. Instead I've just written 8k of mostly-gen fencing fic. I feel like I could have predicted this outcome.

Anyway, it's about one third silly roadtrip stuff, one third intense fencing, and one third Villard and Suba angst. Apparently this is what my id wants - hopefully it's readable. (This fulfills the roadtrip and fencing AU squares on my idfic bingo, even though it's not an AU. There's a lot of fencing.)

Change of Engagement
By the Sword
Rating: pg
(canoodling, swearing)
Characters/ships: Max Suba/Rachel, Alexander Villard, Danny Gallagher, Erin Clavelli, Jim Trebor, Johnson, Tanos, Hobbs, and Tatiana. (A note on minor characters if you need to remind yourself who they are.)
Wordcount: 8200ish words
Summary: A year after their big confrontation, Suba and Villard run into each other at the same competition. It doesn't go that well.
A/N: There's a lot of fencing stuff in here - while I've tried to make it accessible to the non-fencer, I've also put together a few notes on some of the more obscure points, which you can find here.
Also, this fic comes with a soundtrack, because idk what I'm doing with my life. You can get it here.


fic and notes under the cut )
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Have people gotten tired of daily posts yet? Spring break is about half over, soon I will go back to posting once a month or so, don't worry.

Two pieces of news: I've just read all of Zen Cho's work that's available online and it's wow, incredible. Prudence and the Dragon is my big rec, but I love it all.

Also Congress just decided to eliminate NSF funding for political science unless the NSF head provides written testimony that a given project is vital to national security, ahahaha I'm so screwed. Everyone is going to get crunched for funding all of a sudden, and I have no idea what will happen with a travel fellowship I applied for last month.

So that's awesome.

The rest of this post is also kind of negative, I am going to talk about fencing. Tomorrow I will post fic, I think! Something to look forward to.

cut for negativity and swearing, basically I just typed about my fencing problems for a while and now I'm going to hit post without looking at it )

ANYWAY, word dump over. I'm going to go work on my uncoventionalcourtship fic some more (5k and counting, I'm pretty sure it's going to be twice that). If anyone wants to ask me questions about fencing/life/just questions in general to distract me HAVE AT IT, otherwise thanks for being an f-list, you are very good at f-listing :)
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Early birthday present to me: while on a grocery run today, my car engine turned off about a quarter mile from home and refused to restart (in the middle of a snowstorm, while I was in the far lane of a three-lane highway entrance with no shoulder). I was halfway through talking to AAA when a guy pulled over and offered to tow me - he got me back to my building and we pushed my car into a parking space.

He also put up with my nervous confusion, refused to take any money from me, and drove off with "Be nice to Arab people!" I feel like I should write in to Reader's Digest/similar.

Aaaanyway, I am Not Thrilled. I'll probably have to try and take it into a shop later in the week (I have solid class days tomorrow and Tuesday, can't reschedule or do anything). This past week has been inexplicably and kind of absurdly terrible in terms of not-actually-disastrous-but-still-terrible-happenings, so I'm just hoping next week is better.

Good news, though - the fencing meet went well, I was 9th out of pools, got a bye for the round of 32, then fenced my coach for the 16, won (after being down 11-14 and then making four touches in a row to get 15), then lost in the 8, bah. The guy I fenced was REALLY GREAT, it was just astonishing. My coach was kind of mad (in a kidding way, sabre's not even his weapon), but he signed up for all three weapons and then delayed sabre for about an hour while he was busy WINNING FOIL, so I have no sympathy for him.

Oh, and the guy I lost to managed to actually cut under my mask while we were fencing, nobody has any idea how. No permanent damage, but I got a red scrape along my throat that I'm hoping lasts until tomorrow so I can freak out my friends who I keep telling that fencing is TOTALLY SAFE, you know.

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