In Which an Anniversary Is Celebrated and a New Leaf Overturned

16 February 2003

Hi. To those of you who just changed your links to reflect my new redirect -- I'm really sorry. I know I'm difficult. But it's my second journalversary, and I've been wanting to make this change for awhile. It seemed like it was time.

So. Why not Morphisms? Well, a better question is probably why Morphisms in the first place? When I started this journal, Timprov had just started a journal named Hedonism, and we were hanging out with Tim Pratt, who keeps Tropism. So when I said I wanted a journal, we joked about having an Ism Ring. I decided on Morphisms. We made a bunch of bad math jokes around here (if you know enough math to find them funny, you know enough math to make them for yourself). It was fine. Now, two years later, Timprov decided against keeping a journal ages ago, and we haven't stayed close with Tim Pratt. So I have no Ism Ring incentive any more. But I didn't want to make it a grand gesture -- "I Will Now Change My Journal Title!" -- and besides, it took me awhile to come up with a different title. As we all know, I hate titles.

I hope "why Novel Gazing?" doesn't require too much explanation. You know...novels and introspection...yeah? We have some further redesign plans for pictures relating to this title, but things have been a wee tiny bit busy around here. We'll get around to it.

It's been good to have Morphisms, these two years. I've met some people I would never have met without it, and corresponded with many more. I've had some odd new friendships, too, where my new friends know a good deal more about me than I know about them. I've been able to keep old friends in touch without a lot of effort on their part -- and that's both good and bad. I intend to keep this journal for a good while. Not forever, though. I know I'll stop sometime.

When I was thinking about keeping a journal for two years, I also got to thinking about my paper journal. This is year six of the paper journal -- I started it February 10, 1997, when I was a sophomore in college. So I dug through and found excerpts from mid-February from each year I've kept a journal, and here they are for your edification.

1997, in the Mall of America: "This place only needs a few years' aging, a bit of social decay, to be the sinister arcology. It's already got the architecture, the neon and the crowds and the noise, the hoodlums (a rainbow of hoodlums) and the sharp-eyed clerks who only need to sell gadgets or drugs instead of postcards or sweatshirts to be a cyberpunk writer's dream. I am walking through future noir."

I'm still deeply frightened by the Mall of America. It's a very, very scary place. Mark and I hadn't been dating very long at that point, and we had borrowed Erica's car from Scott to drive up to the Cities to see "Star Wars" re-released on the big screen. This is why Mark officially has naming rights on our firstborn. (Erica was in Italy for the semester, so Scott, who was her boyfriend at the time, and also Mark's roommate, had the car.) I asked if we could borrow the car, because I was already in the mode where I did the talking for both of us. And Scott said, "Sure, on one condition." I said, "What is it?" He said, "If you two reproduce together, he gets to name the firstborn." I agreed. I mean, we hadn't been together that long, and we didn't have a car.

He has not let me live it down since. The all-time favorite suggestion is Pion. We can't agree on whether Pion is a boy's or a girl's name. We aren't genuinely naming the poor sprout-to-be (-at-some-distant-future-point-so-don't-freak) Pion. Not even as a middle name. It's just an ongoing Thing.

1998: "I discovered in Badminton today that a part of myself I had forgotten existed is still alive and kicking: Gym Class Persona, Stage B (Team Sports). She is very shy and quiet, deferential and wide-eyed and eager to do well. All of a sudden she took over, and I barely knew it was happening and certainly couldn't stop it. It had the usual effect of making the gym teacher want to reassure me and help me out, which I guess was good, but it was bizarre not to have more control over it.
Fantasy is drawing me back in a little at a time.
3.3 (5, 10, 16), 3.4 (8, 12, 13), 3.5 (2, 6, 12) -- Thurs. -- Arfken & Weber"

Heh. First of all, gym classes were the very most worthless of Gustavus' worthless distribution requirements, and I am not at all sad that the tornado destroyed my badminton class. (We had to eat dinner where we would have been playing badminton, because the cafeteria was totaled.) But I still remember Gym Class Persona. Gym Class Persona, Stage A (Individual Activities) convinced my gym teacher that she should send me pageant info: Miss Congeniality, I suppose. Gym Class Persona is a very scary person.

I tried to keep problem sets out of my journals, but my Math Methods class was good stuff. (And I can't believe all of the Amazon reviews of Arfken and Weber are bad! I loved Arfken and Weber!) And as for fantasy...I had been thinking of myself as A Science Fiction Person for awhile at that point, because I wasn't paying much attention to what could be done in fantasy, and because I was still thinking in terms of being primarily a working physicist and secondarily a fiction writer, so I figured I might as well write about things that would be informed by my everyday work. It's funny to me how much you can watch the transition just from mid-February journal entries....

1999: "It took great effort not to start laughing at this woman in my head [that was the first day I came up with Miri and her mom, from my other place series] when she showed up in the middle of Complex Variables. The interesting thing about Rosoff is that he would be quite sympathetic to random laughter at nonexistent people."

I still believe this to be true of Jeff Rosoff: he's exactly that sort of person. But look: instead of writing problem sets in my writing stuff, I was then doing writing stuff in the middle of my math class. (I dropped that class, and Jeff was wonderful about it. It was my worst semester ever, in terms of classes, as I think I said recently. But Jeff was a prince among math profs. Actually, all of my profs were great people that semester. It was just time for me to be gone.) I was vastly confused about huge swaths of my life.

2000: "I keep telling myself in a stern panic that if I don't get my E&M done, I'll flunk it. But I'm having such a hard time caring. I'd rather quit than get kicked out, but...I'd rather quit. I'd rather not have to worry about E&M. Or Math Methods, which is child's play, albeit child's very tedious play. Or even Quantum. But I can't write full-time yet. Maybe sell something first, or, hell, finish this novel instead of whining about physics. It just seems strange to only worry about physics in terms of paying the bills, though. And it feels like this whole school year has been about -- not changing, not really, but determining that I was wrong about myself to begin with. Not only am I not now who I thought I was, but I never was. And it seems I was the last to know -- or close, at least. Very strange."

Yeah. Exactly. That journal entry was the first time I admitted to myself for real that I wanted to quit doing physics. It went down in ink in a bound book: I couldn't get rid of it. I had to acknowledge that it was at least sort of true, at least at one point. I had to deal with it.

So I did. But that wasn't until April, when I had finished the novel in question (Fortress of Thorns).

2001: "So enough with the pregnancy dreams already, Brain! I don't know if this is just your thing, or if you and Body are conspiring somehow, but frankly, I'm getting tired of it. Is it that you want me to write this novel? So fine. I'll write the novel. Just get off me!"

Heh. Finished that novel, too: Reprogramming. And the pregnancy dreams haven't been so urgent.

2002: "I never expected it to be like this. I always thought something would kill her outright. Not a choice like this, which [family members] really have to support. It wasn't supposed to be this hard, or this easy....I'm upset, but not that way. Not the dramatic way."

Great-Grandma was dying. We had thought she was dying for a long time, but then it turned out she really was, and it was much different. And upsetting, since it went slowly, and since, well, death is no fun. Death is upsetting. That's how these things work, and I don't really have a lot more to say about it. But that's what was going on in my life a year ago, so here it is.

So -- happy journalversary to me.

And to help me celebrate, John Cullen at Far Sector bought my short story "Prototype." This should be interesting. They give advances on e-book royalties and then sell the stories through Fictionwise as e-books, for I think around 80c. So I'll let you-all know when it's available on e-book, and then maybe it'll earn out its royalties, and we can all be happy. It's an AI story. We all like AIs, right?

Yesterday we drove down to Half Moon and had fish tacos, tasty as always, and went to the beach, where I was happy I'd worn my jacket with a hood. Then back to Half Moon for hot beverages. There were anti-war demonstrators on the intersection, and my favorite sign was "Dialogue not war." Hey, that's what I do! Make dialogue, not war! I like that. My least favorite was, "Never stop negotiating." Oh, for goodness' sake. Sometimes -- stop negotiating! Go to the bathroom. Get some sleep. Have an ice cream cone. Read a book.

Honestly, all exaggerations aside, I think there are points at which an adversary makes further negotiation pointless or even counterproductive. I realize that doesn't make for a very pithy sign, but overstatement on some issues makes me quibbly.

We also saw a Puppy For Peace. He was very sweet, fuzzy and black and tail-thumpy. He looked like he'd rather have been a Puppy For Frisbee, but nobody seems to believe that our international frisbing practices are threatened, so I can see why his people took him to the peace demonstration instead.

I want peace, and also a puppy. I can foresee, somewhere on the not-too-distant horizon, a time when I'll get a puppy.

Anyway, we came home from Half Moon and rented "Shanghai Noon" and got take-out Thai food -- Cal and Bobbie's first Thai. It was good stuff, and now we have pad kee mao in the fridge leftover. Also Angry Trout. I am, I discover, quite fond of Angry Trout, despite the fact that they leave the head and tail on, of which practice I am distinctly unfond. Anyway, we shared around a bunch of Thai food, and it was nice. Then I worked on DBM and the episodic novel (having gotten more ideas for it on the beach), and read Louise de la Vallière. And you know what? After the endnote that spoiled the mystery of the next two books, the ones that snark about Dumas' Romanticism don't annoy me nearly so much. I have gained Perspective on the Endnote Issue.

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