Bookstore Cousin

4 March 2002

So tired yesterday. I'm a little better today -- lounged around and stretched a lot and so on, yesterday. Talked to a bunch of people: Michelle first, then the folks, then Aunt Ellen. And it's a good thing I'm better today than yesterday, because we have an art museum to see and Chinese food to eat. It's a late birthday celebration for Timprov, featuring his aunt and uncle. I just hope he feels a little better by then, because he really wants to go, so I'm sure we will, but when I got up, he just blinked wretchedly at me. Stupid cold.

Also stupid nosebleed, which is what I just finished having. Sigh. I thought I was done with those. They don't pop up all the time like they did when I was 9 or 10 -- my first moments on Norwegian soil were spent with Kleenexes pressed to my nose and my mother trying to find a pressure point that would help -- but somehow I feel that I shouldn't have them at all.

Ah well. You can tell I was tired yesterday because Scott's bedding is still in a pile near the balcony door, and because I only worked a little on "Endgene" and a new contract project. Mostly I read. I finished Island of the Sequined Love Nun and read all of The Glorious Ones, Fong and the Indians, and The Master Puppeteer before starting in on The Centurion's Empire. The Glorious Ones was by Francine Prose, and from the two samples I've had, I've decided I like her work. It was about a commedia dell'arte troupe, and it's from back when she was a wunderkind. Which fate she has thankfully escaped, and kept writing books. Fong and the Indians was a Paul Theroux book David lent me, set in East Africa -- readable but not a book that seems like it'll stick to me very well. The Master Puppeteer is a children's book by Katherine Paterson, who did the wonderful Bridge to Terebithia (and, as always, if you haven't read Terebithia, you have better things to do than read this journal -- go find a copy! Read it!). Of course Terebithia is a tough act to follow, or in this case precede, and I didn't think Puppeteer was particularly successful. It was doing a big dance about "Look, kiddies, we're in Japan!" Otherwise not much to it.

I think I'm particularly sensitive to "Look, kiddies, we're in _____!" dances in books, because I'm used to avoiding that very behavior in speculative fiction. If my prose says, "Ooh, ooh, hey, this is fantasy, look, look, people, fantasy," the reader will roll his or her eyes. And in that sense, I have no distinction between Japan and Middle-Earth. If it's bad setting practice in the latter case, it's bad in the former, too.

And some people wonder why we have so many books. I'll tell you why: because I can get tired and burn through about four books in a single day without trying. That's why.

Oh, my parents brought home a story about my cousin Rebecca, when they came back from the funeral. Evidently her parents have heated tiles in their bathroom. And evidently Rebecca is fond of curling up with her book on the tiles -- they find her in there at odd times, enjoying her book and the warm floor.

This is evidently known as "pulling a Marissa."

I haven't seen this kid in a couple of years, but I'd like to have a chance to get to know her. With my cousin Joey and probably with Rebecca's brother Matthew, I'd like to be the rock concert cousin: the cool older cousin who shows up and takes him out for pizza and a rock concert without his mom. But if I lived in the same town with Rebecca, I would love to be the bookstore cousin, the one who takes her out for tea and to a crinkly-smelling used-bookstore or two. If Rebecca develops a taste for rock concerts, I could handle that, too. But I think it would be beyond nifty to be the bookstore cousin.

The latest family news is that my great-aunt Barb died recently. Grandma and Grandpa are going up for the memorial service in South Dakota. Aunt Barb was one of the cool aunts but not one of the close aunts, if you know what I mean. Probably you don't. Hmm. Well, there are great-aunts I saw "all the time" as a kid and make an effort to see as an adult: Aunt Ellen, Aunt Doris, and Onie. And then there are great-aunts I saw only occasionally, at family reunions and other events, but enjoyed talking to then. Aunt Barb is one of those. She was a Girl Scout leader for years and years, a teacher by profession. Funny lady. She was married to Uncle Ardean, Grandma's oldest brother, and I think Uncle Ard got major, major style points for bringing Aunt Barb into the family.

She was the one who actually listened to the answer when she barked, "D'you like school?" at me when I was little. She always wanted to hear what merit badges I was working on, and she laughed a lot. A lot. I can hardly remember her doing anything without laughing about it. Also she brought Auntie Mim, her best friend, into the family, so she gets some style points of her own for that.

Some people I have recently heard of deal with the death of a loved one by trying to wipe out all traces of her existence for the next twenty-four years or thereabouts. This is not acceptable behavior. And I get a little snarly about fighting it.

Well. I have a few errands to run this morning, and then this afternoon will be SF-MoMA with Stan and Judy, as I said. Plenty of time to get some work done and maybe also some household stuff. I have a few e-mails I need to catch up on, too. Always with the list.

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