In Which Marissa Finds Cause for Congratulations, Enjoyment, a Bit of Alarm, and Finally Reassurance

6 February 2003

So, before I forget, congratulations to Thomas and Karina, who between them have run up and been mentioned honorably twice (or, if you ask Karina, been mentioned honourably) for the Asimov Award! (That's last year's announcement and picture.) It was a really good thing for me, guys, and I know you had fun last year with it. Congrats again. (See what I'm talking about, Rob? This is what you do: you write a good story, or maybe two or three good stories, and then you hang out with some of my favorite cool people in Florida in March. Look at the purple sky at night. Pop out of the pool and talk to the Haldemans while wrapped in a towel, contemplating how warm it isn't in Iowa right then. It's a decent plan, is what I'm saying.)

So. Yesterday I finished "Big Sister" and sent it out to Roachel. I keep thinking I should write stories for her theme issues much earlier, so that I can try sending them to Cricket first (as it is, sadly, much more lucrative than Spellbound), but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Oh, and now there's Just Weird Enough; I could see what their response times are like. Then if I sold the story, I could try writing another one for Spellbound. Her upcoming themes are pretty far-ranging. It could work. But I'm pretty obsessive about writing books this year, so I have a feeling I may end up waiting until the month of the deadline as usual.

I also read the rest of E.M. Forster's Two Cheers for Democracy, which nearly feels like it will be useful for the Not The Moose, as it indicates some assumptions and commonalities of the interwar period in which my characters would have been formed, and also had some wartime and postwar essays, so, good then. I wrote down a couple of books my main character would almost certainly have read right before the book started, and the library has copies, so they go on the list.

It may be a trifle obsessive, but I want to do this right. It's very important to me to get it exactly right.

And I started reading The Vicomte de Bragelonne. (It always interests me to note what's translated and what isn't. It's not Le Vicomte de Bragelonne, nor The Viscount of Bragelonne, both of which seem reasonable to me. Or even The Vicomte of Bragelonne, if you were to take the position that a vicomte is not quite the same thing as a viscount. Ah well.) I'm enjoying it, of course, with the restoration of Charles II and all. My only quibble with the Oxford World Classics editions so far is that their endnotes are of wildly varying quality, so sometimes I find myself quite happy to have flipped back and sometimes annoyed. For example, they feel the need to endnote anachronisms -- even if they aren't things that the characters did or said but merely analogies and other comments in the authorial voice. I am quite well aware that Louis XIV and Charles II did not have Leyden jars, and so, it seems apparent, was Alexandre Dumas. Superfluous endnotes. Bah.

Despite the occasionally superfluous endnotes, which I trust will drop off in quantity as the narrative progresses, I'm enjoying The Vicomte, as I knew I would. I've already read this section of it, in Oregon, but their library infuriated me by not having the whole thing, so I couldn't read it all at once, and then I came back from Oregon and couldn't find it at my folks' branch of the Omaha library, and then school was starting up, and I was taking Stat Mech, Senior Sem, Quantum Mechanics, England 1399-1688, and Writing Fiction. It was one of my best semesters, course-wise. Stat Mech was much, much better than I thought it was going to be, and I knew I was going to love the rest, and I did. Left less Dumas tracking time, though, even though it would have fit in nicely with the England 1399-1688 class and the prof would probably have approved.

But Eric also approved of what I was reading instead, and what I was passing around to my friends (especially Doomsday Book), so it worked out okay. I think Eric is one of the few professors outside Olin (the building physics and MCS shared) to whom I will feel like dedicating a story at some point. Olin was the center of my days, every semester, no matter what. But I took Western Civ I as a second-semester senior, just because the Reformation class conflicted with Jeff's Complex Variables course and didn't have enough enrollment, and I couldn't bear to think of not having another Eric class ever.

Which comes first, the love of Dumas or of wordy digressions? I'm going to have to take a break between The Vicomte and Louise de la Vallière, I can already tell.

Next time, I am not getting the cookie sheets with the air pockets in them. They become brackish water pockets in the dishwasher, and I refuse to handwash my cookie sheets; that's silly, if you have a dishwasher.

What I want to know is, when did we get to the stage where the fridge is always full, and how? I mean, the veggie bin is not always full. The veggie bin waxes and wanes. This is natural. But the rest of the fridge, always. There's milk; okay. I drink a lot of milk. (No, you probably don't understand: a lot of milk. Really a lot.) There's juice, my juice and often Timprov's juice, and since my juice makes Timprov sick and his has no talismanic properties, obviously we can't share juice. (Talismanic properties = cranberries. Bet you didn't know that.) Sometimes Mark has juice as well. Sometimes (as now) Timprov has two kinds of juice, and Mark drinks them when he wants to have breakfast of some kind. Okay. So that's a lot of juice, and juice takes up a fair amount of space. Then there's water -- we need a pitcher of water, this is earthquake country, and besides, I drink cold water more readily, and drinking water is good for one. So. Then there are always a few soda cans, and Mark and Timprov drink different kinds of soda, so that's some room. (I don't drink soda. I drink milk.) And sometimes there's root beer, which they both drink, only the grocery store doesn't sell the good kind of that very much.

I begin to see how the fridge is always full, but it seems like we always had this stuff, and it wasn't always full then. Okay. So then there's the booze: a bottle or two of beer, a bottle or two of hard lemonade, one bottle each of red and white wine, a bottle of Bailey's, a bottle of Godiva. For three people who drink very little, we seem to have a lot of booze. But you have to be able to cook with either kind of wine at a moment's notice, or at least I do. And we'd probably have less booze if we drank more, because the Bailey's and Godiva would disappear faster and be less likely to be replaced. (And don't anybody yammer at me about chilling my red wine. Like Evan, I judge wine in the same way as I judge doughnuts: yuck or yum. Lukewarm red wine is almost always a yuck for me. If you're my guest, I'll warm some up for you, but don't expect me to drink it that way, correct or not.)

Hmm. I think we need to have a wild party before we move, so as to finish the bottles of Bailey's and Godiva. Problem is, we don't know that many wild partiers. Which is logical, because what would they want with us? Maybe we need to have several mild parties. Hmm.

This does not address the blackberry stuff or the 151 in the cabinet, which I anticipate we will be moving no matter what. But it doesn't require refrigeration, so.

I think that's about all for beverages. Then there's the salad dressing. How many kinds of salad dressing would you think three people would need? If you postulated that two of them almost always used the same kind on their salad and the third almost always used one different kind, how many kinds would you guess? Would you believe six kinds? I'll bet that's not the number you came up with, is it? And jam, how many kinds of jam would you think three people would need? Oh, wait, let's limit it first: how many kinds of blackberry jam would you think three people would need? Three wasn't your answer, was it? Dang. So your total jam answer would also perhaps not feature two kinds of strawberry? It almost certainly wouldn't have counted cloudberry and lingonberry preserves -- and it shouldn't, as we almost never use those as jam. Why would we, when we have three kinds of blackberry jam at our disposal?

The sick thing about the jam is that I've got "apricot preserves" on the shopping list. But you may rejoice with me, for we have limited ourselves to four kinds of salsa!

Maybe this is why people who talk about the insane amounts of choice in American grocery stores baffle me: half of this choice could not be found in our local grocery store, and I consider that a lack. Two of the kinds of salad dressing were not there. Three of the kinds of jam. Both kinds of preserve. All purchased elsewhere, because the selection at our local grocery store was insufficient to my mad, bits-of-fruit collecting needs. Need we to go into the sauce bases? The condiments? The three kinds of mustard? The pickles, the relish, the big bag of baking apples and the small bag of eating apples?

I understand that we don't need three kinds of mustard. But will we use three kinds of mustard? Yes. Will we consume them happily, each in its own time? Yes, of course. Will we use up the salsas before they mold, the jams before they crystallize, the juices before they ferment and the booze before it resugars? Definitely. Is it more wasteful to have multiple kinds that all get used than to buy multiple jars of the same kind? No. So I suppose I shouldn't worry too much about having a constantly full refrigerator. It just seems like it wasn't this constantly full before.

Maybe it wasn't. Two of the kinds of blackberry jam are homemade and only available on a limited basis. One kind of strawberry jam was also homemade and a gift (and its three brothers live happily in the freezer for now, on the instructions of its giver). We'll likely not have a jar of eggplant balsamic vinaigrette in there forever. It'll be less constantly full, maybe. It'll have to be, when we move.

This is where I stop talking about the fridge! You can start reading again now!

Patience, I'm told, is a virtue. I just don't know how people from here can figure out when things happened. Was it last winter? Don't be silly, we haven't had winter in decades. So I end up feeling like it's Aprilish, or at least late February, and things feel a good deal more urgent than they really are. I dated my paper journal entry last night, and then stopped: could it really only be February 5? It could. It was. Oh.

Mark has been crazy-busy, freaky-busy, and I'm not sure that's going to let up for months. But it's hard to think of that sort of thing going on for that long, so I suppose my brain pushes the date forward a bit.

There are still things I should do posthaste. I should make reservations for Mark's and my dinner out on Sunday evening. I should find out when the Hungarian place in the City is open and whether we'll need reservations to go there for Timprov's birthday. (He also should figure out if it's just his folks and Mark and me or if we're doing something with someone else, or if we're doing something with someone else later. That's not a specific euphemistic "someone else," either, it's just that I'm leaving the possibilities of whom and when open.) I should call the apartment people to find out about leaving the couch by the dumpster or other options in getting rid of it. And the work has its own urgency, regardless of external dates. But still. I can wait. I can breathe. We have time.

Sort of.

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