Date: December 30, 2020 08:10 pm Title: Chapter 4: Lullabies and Masking Fluid
Much as I loved Pam’s escape act in the last chapter, I’m glad that you acknowledged that that sort of triumph, no matter how cathartic, was invariably going to be brief. She can escape having to do a talking head and having to sit there with Jim and Karen, but she can’t actually leave anything behind. Her life is exactly as messy as it was before she peeled out of the parking lot, and it’s going to take work for it to be unmessy. It’s just real stuff, and you’re telling a real story with it.
I think Pam being overwhelmed by anxiety is a perfectly natural outcome at this point. As One_Small_Writer among others has noted, Pam in general gives off a lot of signs of someone dealing with anxiety issues throughout the early years of the series, and she’s been pushed to her mental limit over the last few days. I especially appreciated the note about how EMBARRASSING this is for the very private Pam to have all her business out there like this, something which is not often a big feature of post-Cocktails/Negotiation fics.
“The tragedy for which Pam fought back tears again, as she flipped on her turn signal and entered the line of traffic, was the realization that life would likely never be simple or uncomplicated” is a good line, and such a good line for Pam, who as you noted is someone who has actively resisted complication for years and paid the price for it.
I like the parallels of the two trips to Jim and Mark’s, one to break her out of the denial stage and one to help cement her acceptance of her loss. And this image of Roy as an overgrown teenager who is barely concerned about his own girlfriend going to the hospital would have been hard to read without knowing that she and him were over.
I may have mentioned this before, but it’s really fun having someone write about Pam as an artist from the perspective of someone who is deeply engrained in that world. It’s great seeing her break away from the drama for a minute and start exploring this new world she wants to be part of – and presumably nice for her, too. That oath seems like exactly what she needs to hear right now. You can really see how Pam might benefit from a little support and guidance from someone like Madeleine who believes in her and frankly is removed from the situation.
Looking forward to seeing where you roll on with this next!
P.S. I'm okay with the use of the song that hadn't been released yet because Sara Bareilles defies the constraints of space and time. Like, Sweet As Whole clearly has far more than eight or nine years of history behind it.
Author's Response: I’m slightly embarrassed by how happy your reviews make me. It’s delightful to see the details I’ve mulled over not only noticed but appreciated. So thank you for writing this and therein making my day!
Date: December 28, 2020 04:44 pm Title: Chapter 4: Lullabies and Masking Fluid
Very nice follow on chapter. I think it makes a lot of sense that Pam would have a ton of conflicting and intense emotions following the pepper spray incident. Roy was a big part of her life for a long time. Regardless of everything one usually can't just let feelings that have been entrenched for so long just fade away like smoke on the wind. Same with Jim. So all the conflicting feelings she must have been going through would have had to bubble over in some way and you portrayed that well.
Lovely to see her get some of her spark back in class. After everything that happened, indulging in her love of art seemed to be a balm. Give her time to focus on something else, something she loves, something she's good at. So hopefully that's calmed her mind down enough that she can better process her feelings.
I also loved Madeline's oath. This is primarily for fun. Comparrison if often the theif of joy. By reminding her students and herself of that Madeline and Pam can just relax and enjoy what they love. Beautiful touch.
Thanks so much, warrior! I think we’re on the exact same wavelength for Pam’s mental state and the progression. I know, for myself, it can be annoying to see characters take steps forward and then seemingly immediately backtrack. But I think to a certain extent it is realistic. Change doesn’t happen overnight. For some things, that can be good, because if Pam could just “fall out of love” overnight that would kind make her a sociopath.
And you reminded me, I totally forgot to put a credit at the end. The oath is a combination of oaths/pedagogical theories I’ve encountered in various institutes. I’m really glad to hear you appreciated the sentiment of it! It’s one that I’ve always found both important and refreshing, and how I’d want to lead a class :)
Date: December 15, 2020 04:54 pm Title: Chapter 3: Gouache Sunlight and Pained Overtures
No the plot's not plodding along. Rather I see this as Pam processing everything and starting down a new path for herself. She wants to be more open, more honest, less like a doormat. That journey has to start somewhere. Getting the context behind it, in this case her almost sleepless night, helped to show where that journey is starting from.
But I'm getting a little ahead of myself. Grea use of description throughout this chapter. Though her thoughts at the start did peak my intrest a bit.
"absent the peaty complexity or wooded finishes she associated with a higher grade of liquor."
Sounds like Pam is a fan of Scotch or other fine whisky. Well done Pam. A line like that to me shows that Pam is really interested in exploring the world around her, not just going through the motions of it. Thus her artistic abilities. Take time to enjoy and savor the drink rather than just knock it back to get drunk. Great detail.
I also loved the fact she peeled out of the parking lot to get away from the doc crew. She told them already she was done talking about Roy and his actions are not her resposibility. They tried pressing and she's not having it. Well done Pam again. That's how you stand up for yourself. If the start of this chapter is Pam getting a spark back into her life, that parking lot peel out is fanning that spark into a flame. Loved it.
So it seems the stage is set. Her life is going in a new direction that is right up her alley and she seems genuinly happy to be traveling that path. Can't wait for the next update.
Date: December 15, 2020 03:15 pm Title: Chapter 3: Gouache Sunlight and Pained Overtures
I’m really liking this version of Pam’s post-Cocktail struggles – and especially how you’ve dressed the touchy question of why Pam didn’t warn Jim about what might be coming.
The description of Pam’s apartment works on so many levels. “The fact was that Pam had never been one to take up much space” is such an insightful line about who Pam is and how she’s lasted in this relationship with Roy where she’s not free to take up much space – plus, the fact that this noticeably small apartment is *still* not something she can quite afford is another clear illustration of her financial struggles. Although the natural light makes this about the best studio I’ve ever heard of.
The construction metaphor (post-demolition phase of her renovation) is an interesting thought on what led to Pam’s painfully passive approach to Jim between Casino Night and the merger (and also mostly after the merger). Pam is very much a work in progress, and in that way I suppose it makes sense she’s not ready to be displayed to the world.
Say what you will about Dwight, it does kinda make sense given their relationship that he’s the only one to apologize – and also that his apology is basically “art sucks… but *you* don’t suck.”
I’m fascinated by the concept of the camera crew in Office fic – the relationships of our characters with them, the way they impact the story – so I’m really glad you made that interaction a part of this story, and gave Pam some room to be resentful of how intrusive they are. Feels a lot more natural than her canonical reaction in some ways, it always felt to me like Pam’s friendlier with the camera crew than her personality suggests she would be. And it’s a big sign for her development that she’s running a scam on them to get out of talking to them – not quite the “just say no” place she should be aiming to get, but ole Pammy is indeed getting what she wants and not giving a hoot about what other people are trying to get out of her.
My general rule of thumb is “write the story like you’d want to read it and don’t worry too much about how the readers may or may not react.” In general, it feels like Pam introspection is a big part of what you’re trying to do with this story – so why wouldn’t you make room for it?
You know that feeling when you say or read a word a bunch of times and it starts to sound incorrect (TIL: this phenomenon is called semantic satiation)? I think that’s what I did with this chapter. Reread it one too many times while proofing until it just sounded worn out and dull and nonsensical. I should probably seek a beta. At the same time, you’re absolutely right, and I really like what you said on your approach to writing. That’s solid advice and something I need to commit to memory.
I, too, am absolutely fascinated with the doc crew and I hope I can continue to keep them balanced in this story. I have many theories about the whole canonical relationship with Pam and the crew. One of my (jokingly) favorites is that Season 3 Pam has a side hustle in which the crew slips her a 20$ to give them one or two decent takes that they’ll actually be able to use. Otherwise they just have reels and reels of sassy/resentful Pam. There’s a fic that needs to be written (if it hasn’t been already)!
Gosh, I love the details you’ve brought up and your analysis. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to write such an insightful and encouraging review!
Date: December 15, 2020 01:57 pm Title: Chapter 3: Gouache Sunlight and Pained Overtures
I really enjoy your insights to Pam's psychological makeup. "...never been one to take up much space" is early Pam in a nutshell. Your reference to invisible wounds explains why. I sometimes think the invisible ones take longer to heal than the physical ones. Humans tend to pick at the emotional damage more.
Describing Pam's insomnia with a dancing metaphor is a change up from the painting ones. I think you were going for a ballet visual; mine tend to be cloggers or Russian Army dancers. I believe the cure for insomnia is to abolish the hours between 2:45 and 4:30 AM, the hours when the dark night of the soul hit.
Ms. Shay is a bright spot again. Her job offer/job description sounded more like an invitation than a business deal. For Pam who is trying to establish more control over her own life, it was a perfect approach even if Madeline had no insight. The extra bucks means Pam gets to eat!
One thing I did notice in Roy's attack in the office is that Jim looks to Pam first before protecting Karen right before Dwight pepper sprays them all. I'm wondering if Pam noticed it as well. I think her Jimdar (Jim radar) would have clocked it. Hope, the bane of human existence.
I enjoy plodding. It makes me introspective.
Aw, thank you for this. I love all the details you’ve touched on here and agree 100%, especially on abolishing the insomnia hours (@Russian army dancers had me lol! That’s perfect.)
@Jim’s look - yes, yes! You are absolutely right; here’s the question though - what does that look entail? I rotate from horrified, to baffled, to protective, to resentful, to ??? It’s very interesting and I think Pam’s Jimdar would definitely have latched on to it and replayed it in her mind for days...poor girl!
The human condition is such a gloriously complicated thing, it’s been terribly interesting delving into Pam’s psyche. And it makes me so happy to hear you are enjoying that process too! Thanks a million for reading and reviewing!
Date: December 15, 2020 01:24 pm Title: Chapter 2: Aerial Perspective
Nicely done getting Jim's low cloud overhang in the first paragraph. The time jump from Oz to Roy's violent meltdown was a little jarring.
Since I live in the home of the jackalope, I was delighted they got a callout.
Author's Response: Thanks, Once! Yeah, I was worried about that jump, I rushed it all a bit. Haha, yay! I’m glad you appreciated the jackalope reference! I’ve always felt creativity is such a magical thing. So when it came to Pam, a jackrabbit just didn’t speak to the enchanted chaos that I’d like to think would be in her frenzied mind :)
Date: December 07, 2020 09:53 pm Title: Chapter 2: Aerial Perspective
The rest of the office having held a karaoke night instead of going to Pam’s show is a GUT. PUNCH. Even before we realize that’s why Jim isn’t there. I think it’s a good choice – it’s sufficiently emotionally painful to provoke Pam to react to their abandonment of her immediately.
This is a really solid encapsulation of Roy at this point in the story – he is absolutely just kind of checking the box, which is an improvement over his past performance as S.O., but he still doesn’t understand what Pam wants in a broad sense and still isn’t really capable or interested in giving it to her in the long run. (TWSS) And of course, he immediately proves it by blowing off her big news, demanding credit for his “accomplishment” and acting like he’s done enough to have won her back already. (The unspoken contrast with how Jim, even S3 Jim, might respond to being told she’d been recommended for a paying gig in the arts, is sharp.)
Obviously the idea of Pam reaching her Beach Games moment without Jim there, and with the idea in mind that being courageous and honest means that it’s time for her to let Jim go, wildly reshapes the back end of the season 3. Looking forward to seeing what you do now that we’re off the beaten path.
Author's Response: You all write some of the best and most helpful reviews on the internet! Thank you!
Yeah, total gut punch about the art show/karaoke night, although alternatively they are at home? To our knowledge, only Toby had something :( Another reason I had all of this happen in a single night was because, to this day, I am ((mortified)) that none of them approached Pam the day after the bar scene or attack on Jim. It's absolutely in character and totally speaks to the whole "invisible and undervalued Pam" arc; but still, when faced with outright violence and potential signs of abuse, nothing? Ugh. It just makes me sad (which we can all agree is why the show's writing is *perfect*...and I've now destroyed it...well done, me). I guess we'll see if I can write myself out of this hole, lol! Thanks again for reading and leaving your review!!
Date: December 07, 2020 07:23 pm Title: Chapter 2: Aerial Perspective
Big night for Pam here. She gets high praise for her art and has a wonderful come out of the fog moment. Very much a scene where Pam rescues herself and I love that. Clearly there's a ton of emotions going through her right now. Thus it seems like she deletes Jim's number from her phone. I get it. She wants to be free, she wants to be herself. That may be a bit hasty, but we'll see.
Other than that it seemed like you got everyone pretty well in character. Kelly being her overly peppy self. Roy thinking he can just tick a few boxes and get Pam back into his favor. Or Roy thinking he can just solve her problems for her and that'll work. Come on Roy you really want her to move back in when Kenny is also there? Wow that guy is dense.
So all in all a really good chapter to get Pam into a much more independent space. Might still be some bits of chaff to burn off, but it's good to see the steel in her spine starting to really forge into something hard.
Thank you for your kind review! Yeah, Roy, gosh. He is just an absurd man-baby. Tragically (albeit humorously) dense.
I wanted to clarify, and maybe I should do so in the chapter if it's confusing (?): Pam didn't delete Jim's (or Roy's) number entirely from her phone, just from her "favorite contacts" list. Like how you used to just be able to speed dial 1-9 on a cell and it would call whoever you assigned to that single digit (or select from the list like in this story). Pam is realizing she can't depend on Jim to be there even just as a friend so, in my head, it would be really painful to see his name in that list, especially if she used it regularly to call her mom or Penny, etc. So under that premise, it's less a means of preventing herself from contacting him and more to protect her (broken)heart and preserve her mind. Sorry, I'll stop rambling about this, lol...
Thank you again for taking the time to review in such detail. It really helps me know what is properly being conveyed and what is trapped in the spiderweb of my own mind, and it's so appreciated!
Date: December 05, 2020 01:46 pm Title: Chapter 1: Lifted Paint
What wonderful writing.
I particularly liked the extended metaphor of Pam's painting and her opinions of it to show her overall emotional state at this point. Your respect for the readers' full grounding in established characters physical descriptions shines through. After setting the stage briefly and subtly about Jim, his influence in Pam's life seems to hover over this piece. You've conveyed a mastery in the skills needed to be a watercolor artist with the fine points about creating a painting; the details anchor your lyrical writing in reality in a good way.
Ryan's comment about Jim's inadequate wardrobe for Stamford cracked me up. It was a nice touch of levity in a thoughtful piece. Allowing readers fill in Kelly's chatter was an excellent choice. I really liked your depiction of Toby as a competent HR Rep; he does know his stuff.
The character who really shone through for me though was Madeline Shaw. Your compact description of her attire gave me a clear picture of her. Her dialogue showed her understanding of being a starving artist, a teacher/mentor, and businesswoman.
Author's Response: Aw, you’re the sweetest. Thank you! I really appreciate and am heartened by all the details you picked up on. I feel a bit like Pam, watching Michael observe all of the details of her work.
Date: December 05, 2020 10:58 am Title: Chapter 1: Lifted Paint
First of all well done on posting your first story here. That can be intimidating from time to time, so bravo.
I really liked this. You did a great job with the decriptions of everything as well as all of Pam's introspection. Yes this is just a set up chapter, but it's a great one. You really get into Pam's mindset here. Especially with the flashback.
I'm really looking forward to seeing where this goes. The next instalments should be really interesting.
Author's Response: Thank you! I admit I was more nervous than I thought I’d be to post. So silly. Yes, we’ll definitely get more into the thick of the plot in the next chapter or so. But I’m really glad you’re enjoying it and so appreciate you taking the time to write this review.
Date: December 05, 2020 10:32 am Title: Chapter 1: Lifted Paint
This is an interesting concept, and I'm looking forward to seeing where you go with it. Certainly these two characters who are both really bad at confrontation would benefit a lot from finding their way back to each other without having to take that sort of drastic action, and I'm looking forward to seeing how you play that out.
Pam refusing to acknowledge and deal with imperfections in her artwork, even to its detriment, is very in character and a good metaphor for how she's living her life at this point in canon. And I appreciate the commitment to letting her view the world through art. It's a very specific sort of inner monologue, and one I absolutely believe Pam might have.
I will also note that I'm *really* happy to see you acknowledging the financial challenges that come with Pam's new life and letting them shape the story and her decisions. Feels like something that would weigh heavily on her during a lot of Season 3, and it often remains stuck in the background.
There are a couple of great individual moments here, too - Pam not having considered that Jim wouldn't be there to get her mug off a high shelf is a great example of the sort of little ways he's built into her life.
Welcome to the ranks of MTT writers! We're so happy you're here! Hope to see you continue this soon.
Thank you, I’m so flattered by your kind words and review. It means so much to hear that I have portrayed these characters and their inner beings in a realistic and believable way. To your comment on Pam’s financial situation: yes! You hit the nail right on the head. And I’m glad that prospect is coming through appropriately in this story.
And thank you for welcoming me, it’s so lovely here!