BART, Onlies, and Tricksters

8 April 2001

I took BART up to Oakland last night for a party at Ken's new house. Didn't know Ken before that. He was cool, though, and so were the other people I talked to. Of course, I didn't talk to that many people. Not that I was unsociable. Just that I didn't talk to many of Ken's coworkers, even though they seemed like nice people.

Riding BART by myself was very strange. I got hit on politely by two guys and a girl (not together, separately), and four different people asked me for directions. One wanted to know where to change trains. The other three wanted me to tell them how to get around Berkeley. I don't live in Berkeley. I've never lived in Berkeley. Evidently I looked very Berkeley-ey. And then I was waiting at the BART station for Tim and Heather to pick me up, I was just standing there reading my book, and this woman came up, smiled politely me, peeked around to see what I was reading (Pamela Dean's Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary -- a reread), and then grinned and said, "Hey, do you need a ride somewhere?" What I want to know is, what would I have to have been reading for her not to offer me a ride somewhere? Would Tim Powers have been okay, or Nalo? How about Philip K. Dick? Would Lethem have been on the kosher list, or is he too lit'rary?

Susan, whom I had also not met before last night, was reacting to cohosting a party in about the way I do. Pretty nearly exactly, actually. It was kind of a relief: I could watch her and say, "Oh, that looks familiar," and then think, "Oh, good, I'm not particularly annoying when I do that, if it's as familiar as it looks." When I'm new-party-hyper, I always feel like I must be driving everyone nuts -- but Susan didn't, which gives me hope for me. Make sense? Sure it does. I wonder if it's an only child thing.

There are lots of only child things we don't think about much. I read a book awhile back, called something like My One and Only, and it was a study of only children and their common points. One of the ones that was in there is that o.k.s have a tendency to keep in touch more actively than people with siblings. Makes sense to me: we're not used to being able to take it for granted that people will still be there. If we wanted to be with people as kids, we had to make an effort. It sticks with you.

Another one the book didn't mention, but I noticed, is that o.k.s have to learn how to fight when it's not for keeps. I think many of us are really bad at fighting with people we intend to stay friends with. People who have siblings get practice having to be around people and hate their guts and still like them. I don't know that I think either way is better, by the way -- I think most only kids avoid fights more than people with siblings. Fights mean serious business.

Anyway. I got some new books Friday night and didn't mention it yesterday, but they're cool. One is a copy of the Kalevala, which I needed and did not expect to find used. (This is yet another piece of information that my parents led me to believe was common knowledge, and now I find that it isn't. The Kalevala is a series of Finnish folk tale poems, kind of the reference on Finnish folk magic and mythological beliefs. There's also the Old Kalevala and the proto-Kalevala, which are valuable in their own ways.) This was shelved under poetry. Go figure. Why is it that nobody sells good poetry? I think it's that nobody buys good poetry unless they're really serious about it. Which is kind of a pity in its own way, but kind of cool. The same seems to go for plays -- at least, that's my theory. You find a lot of Shakespeare, Ibsen, and Euripides in the used bookstores, because that's what people are forced to buy for school, but very little Tom Stoppard or Christopher Fry, which is what I'm looking for. Ah well. Yet another thing Wrong With Schools.

The other book I got was Trickster Makes This World. It's a study of Trickster figures in world mythology. I don't know how good it'll be, but it's the type of comparative mythology I find really interesting. If I get a chance, I'm going to pick one up for Tim, on his request. I don't know when I'll use this for a book or story, but I can very nearly guarantee that I will. Just like The Fifth Essence (about dark matter theories) -- may be totally wacky, but is sure to make me think of something. I like books like that. Oh, wait. I just like books. Sometimes I really do, I fall in love with books all over again, and then I like the Platonic form of books. And that's why I'm reading Pamela Dean right now -- because her characters are nearly all like that. And because I'm homesick, but that's going to be a recurring thing, in the back of my brain.

I feel the need to chip away at the "to do" list just a little further, so that's what I'm off to do. Not enough time in the beginning of this week. I don't know if journal entries will be a way of relaxing or if they'll be just another thing to do. Don't be surprised if they're a little short this week. Got a lot going on.

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