In Which the Back Colors Everything

4 February 2004

It's easy to forget the back, once I'm up. It's easy to forget that the back was the reason my eyes flew open and wouldn't close again, easy to focus on words and tasks and ignore that it's still tight, it still hurts. And then there's a twinge or a stab, outright painful, and I think: oh yes. This is why I only got six hours of sleep last night. This is why I was up at 5:30. Oh yeah. I know this drill. I remember how it goes.

It's not much fun, how it goes. The energy I have when I wake up with my back all messed up is false energy. It's "get your butt out of bed lest you start hollering" energy. "Change position, I don't care how" energy. It will run out, and soon.

And when my back is like this, hunger is like a prairie cloud system. It kind of looms on the way in, easily seen but easily ignored, until it breaks and drenches everything all at once.


And I know that it is not unrelated to the 15" I shoveled off of most of our steps yesterday (Timprov did the driveway, Mark did the rest of the steps and the end of the driveway when the plows had ruined Timprov's lovely clear end bit). I know that it is impossible to separate the current state of my back from the past state of our steps. I know that this is winter's fault. But I love the snow and the winter anyway. Despite it all, I still do. This is what home is supposed to look like.

Other than the back thing and the near-zero figure in the word count column, I had a good day yesterday. Got a bunch of things done around the house, and they needed doing. And we had a lot of fun having Pamela and Lydia and David over for dinner. And I hope we do it again soon, because it was fun for me at the very least, and no one else seemed to be behaving as though their toenails were being ripped out at the roots.

And a conversation with Pamela reminded me that editors and publishers just take a long, long time and I shouldn't fuss. You know what I think it is? I think it's that writer years are to editor years as dog years are to person years. That with dogs, it has already been forever since you threw their stick/ball/chew toy/etc. Even if you threw it when you were reading the first sentence of this paragraph. Forever. And when you were gone from the house? The dog thought you were never coming back. (Of course, humans tend to return to their dogs within twelve hours or so, or at least arrange for some other human to tend to their dog. So I don't feel quite so ashamed of slobbering on the carpet and staring woefully at the door.) Hmm. Well, part of it, I'm sure, is like with the dog thing: the dog really has nothing to do but play fetch with you, when you're outside playing fetch. It could maybe sniff the ground or chew on something, but for the most part, those are stopgap measures: the dog is out there to play fetch. The human, on the other hand, is out there to play fetch, but also often to grill dinner, or to contemplate the nature of life and death, or to weed the flowers, or to push the small child on the swing, or all of the above. The human has other things to do. "Didn't I just throw that ball?"

You know what else? I was writing to Hannah about writing workshops and whether some things should be banned in them or not, and I think this is one of those cases where different learning styles come into play. Here was my example: I have mostly learned spelling from reading. I read like crazy, have all my life; I saw words spelled correctly enough times and remembered how to reproduce them. So spelling lists and spelling tests and all that seemed faintly silly to me. I have a good friend who went through the same school system as I did and is as avid a reader as I am. But he just doesn't learn spelling from reading words. It's not how he does things. He needs to learn spelling more explicitly and consciously. So I think with writing workshops and difficult tropes, we see some people who can learn by example and some who have to learn by doing -- and it's not always the same people for every skill -- so there's a disconnect about how people "can" figure things out, or how they do so "best," or the like.

And on a completely different note, people, a public service announcement: naming a fault does not make it someone else's problem. If you say, for example, "Oh, but I'm always an hour late, you know that," that does not make it the other person's fault for being annoyed with your extreme lateness. You've still screwed up. The other person may decide that he/she will not plan things for an hour after telling you to show up, because you won't be there; the other person may decide to just deal with your faults because you are worth it. But you don't get to tell them which of your faults they just have to cope with, and you certainly don't get to get angry with them for not being absolutely indulgent of whatever faults you've named. Faults are not like the front seat; you do not get to "call" them.

Two of my friends in as many weeks have dealt with this from other people. It's silly. It's annoying. Just stop.

And I can see where this comes from, because we all accommodate people we care about in one way or another. For example, C.J. tends to be late. He'll get wrapped up in a project and not look at the clock. So if I want him somewhere at a certain time, I will tell him a time slightly in advance of that, and then if it's important I will call him half an hour or so in advance and inform him of the time. And for the most part, it means that I am not annoyed and C.J. is not late and everybody is happy. Or my mom and her best friend: her best friend doesn't feel as comfortable having people to her house, so Mom does a lot more of the hosting, and that's fine, even though a more balanced approach would generally be desirable when possible. (Why do so many of the people we like have cats? I like cats. The allergies don't. Tangent, sorry.) Or the birthday thing: I know some people forget birthdays, so I make sure that no one could possibly not know my birthday is coming. Because it's important to me to get little e-mailed notes and stuff on my birthday -- long-term readers know this. If it's important to me that someone remembers something, I will remind them. I have no need to play memory games here. But that doesn't mean that everyone has to behave like me just to get a friend or family member to remember their birthday, and it doesn't mean that it's acceptable to make no effort with close friends and family.

Bleh. Okay, let's see; there was other stuff. I still have printing out to do, and three-hole punching, and other happy happy fun fun tasks. There are even house things that need doing, in the rooms where we didn't have company last night. There is still much of a book to be written. I haven't been to the library or the grocery store. Etc. etc. But the stuff I haven't done or thought about is not all that interesting.

So -- oh yes, more on the death of the magic. I think one of the reasons I love Bridge to Terebithia is that it looks like it's going to be a Death Of The Magic plot, and then it isn't. It's got rebirth of the magic. Which is good good. More likely to make me cry than when the magic just flat-out gets to live (like in the Secret Country books), but just as lovable.

One of the people who posted a comment when Columbine linked that entry on Utopia With Cheese seemed to have bought into the death of the magic. Which made me sad, but not as much as I'm happy that most of you don't seem to buy it. Not a nickel's worth. Or else you're too polite or busy to argue -- which is it?

I just left this be for several hours, and I think the other stuff I have to say will wait until tomorrow. I really do. Sorry.

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