In Which The Oakland Airport Is Revealed to Be The Ugliness Center of the Region

24 February 2003

The thing about winter -- yeah, yeah, all right, I know, just this one little bit and then I'm on to something else. The thing about winter is that it grounds you. It makes you be where you are. You can't ignore place and time when you have winter. It's sometimes a tap on the shoulder and sometimes a punch in the teeth, but it's never, never negligible. When you have winter, you can't do something like, oh, say, write two novels and a big chunk of a third in six months and not notice. Winter will remind you even if no person does.


So we got David from the Oakland airport last night. Hoo-eee. I have not seen that many kinds of ugly in a long, long time. They had white ugly, black ugly, Hispanic ugly, East Asian ugly, both kinds of Indian ugly, multiracial ugly and inbred-for-generations ugly. It was like the Epcot Center of Ugly. They had subgroups of ugly you don't often see out here -- Irish ugly and German ugly and some of my very own Scando ugly. Old and young ugly, tiny and huge ugly. Your-momma-dressed-you-funny ugly and you-dressed-yourself-that-way ugly and big-belt-buckle ugly. Neckless ugly, chinless ugly, lopsided ugly, hairless and hairy ugly. Adam's-apple-bigger-than-chin ugly. Over-made-up ugly, leopard-print ugly, sweatpants ugly, worst fashions of the last six decades ugly. People whose ugliness was in full bloom and people who were just starting to be ugly, people who might get over it and people who would clearly be ugly forever. David said he'd seen worse, and recently, too, but I just wanted to know why all the ugly people were flying out of Oakland, and where they were going. I have broader definitions of what's attractive than many people do, but even I had to just shake my head. And shudder.

I'm doing better than I was yesterday morning, less achy, clearer-headed and brighter-eyed. I gave up on Ship of Magic on Saturday, by the way -- I liked Robin Hobb's Assassin series, but I just couldn't get a good start in Ship of Magic, so back to the library with it. The Measure of Reality was not too bad, but it made a few logical leaps, and most of the points seemed to be less than unique to someone with a bit of education in European history. So I started in on Jonathan Lethem's Gun, With Occasional Music, which I really like so far. Lethem has absolutely nailed Raymond Carver. I read a bunch of Carver one January at Gustavus, because I was reading all the books referred to in Tam Lin, and there he was, and sometimes I think I shouldn't tell people this, but I really am that obsessive sometimes. Or I was that January. I had the time, you see, because I was writing epic poetry in dactylic hexameter and my J-term class was FORTRAN. So. Obviously the missing piece was Raymond Carver or, once, Josephine Tey. Or the rest of the fictional Janet's English/Classics curriculum. Whatever. This is the kind of craziness I love about Janua -- oops, sorry, I said I was going to leave winter alone for the rest of the entry.

Anyway, if Raymond Carver had written a science fiction mystery, Gun, With Occasional Music would be it for sure -- not just the language, but the SFnal ideas. I always liked Lethem a bit, but this makes me even more kindly disposed towards him. I may go seek out the others I haven't read yet, if he finishes this as well as he's started it. It's fun.

I spent much of yesterday wanting to be entertained, but I did manage to work on DBM, and I'll do more of that today. And I talked to both my folks and Mark's, and pretty much did everything on the goals list for yesterday, including breathing. I think I can be a bit more ambitious today. I hope. My back is better, somewhat, and if it isn't a lot better soon, I'll take it back to Dr. Bill, so there. I'm not nearly so cold, either. Yesterday I had to wear the outer layer over what I described as middlewear before, so I had leggings and a shirt and a big bathmat-lookin' sweater and jeans and wool socks and slippers and hot tea (I wasn't wearing the hot tea). Today, a more normal number of clothes, I'm hoping.

One of the people who posts on Columbine's Utopia With Cheese had a lovely, lovely Gwendolyn Brooks-y geek poem, and I want you to go read it, because this Francis person rules.

I made a Trojan horse out of toothpicks when I was 12, and I named it Francis. Naturally. What else would you name a toothpick Trojan horse? With the little bit in the belly for the Greeks to crawl out of and all?

It's bitterly amusing to me sometimes how easily different political groups know how to push their constituents' buttons. On the one hand, you have the "if Saddam likes it, it must be bad" school, whenever anti-war demonstrations are the topic of conversation. (If these people were alive in the 1930s, they would have insisted that since the fascists had a big reputation for making the trains run on time, all of our trains should obviously be late, just to show the fascists.) Then on the other hand, you have the people who throw the word "colonialism" into the discussion because anything that can even be accused of being colonialist (justifiedly or not) is obviously and automatically bad. You can watch the knees jerk on both sides, just a sea of jerking knees. Hooray for politics.

I love them so much, my latest book is full of them. Silly of me, and yet. Ah well. It'll be fun, and it probably won't be finished by Friday, and that's okay. Right now, one day at a time seems like the best course of action. I just wish I was given a choice of which day. I think I'd shuffle them up much differently. Probably yet another reason to be glad I'm not God. There's a whole list of them. The smite button is just the least of it.

Back to Novel Gazing.

And the main page.

Or the last entry.

Or the next one.

Or even send me email.