In Which Total Orderings Are Scorned

23 May 2003

Some weeks, it's just harder. I still work, but it feels much more like dragging the words reluctantly out than the usual outpouring. This has been one of those weeks -- of course it has, or why bring it up? But the hard part right now is the balance. Do I stay at the computer or keep poring over the manuscript until I get as much work done as I'd like to have? Or is the wear and tear on the touchy back going to make it even harder to do a decent amount of work the next day? I don't know. Trial and error is the key here, with the emphasis on error.

It's not that I think I've been doing bad stuff this week. I think I've been doing pretty good stuff this week, actually. It's just taking me longer than good stuff usually takes me. Is that okay? Okayish, at least. I don't know.

I forgot to mention yesterday that I started another edit of Reprogramming. I did. It's going to be better. I've improved since I wrote it. I'm not saying it's bad now, but it's going to be much better when I've gone over it again. Which is good, I suppose. I just don't remember getting here from there. It snuck up on me. Was it the mad dash of The World Builders? Is it the slow melt of the Not The Moose? It was before Dwarf's Blood Mead, I know, because I knew how to attack that draft better than I've known how to attack drafts before. I'm not saying that DBM is now a perfect book. But the edit -- I think that's a lot of it, was that I knew better how to attack the edit. I bled red ink over the first draft, so I'm not sure whether the first draft was actually better than previous first drafts. But the jump between first and second draft might well have been greater than previous jumps.

I don't know what I did to get here, but I like it. And I can't wait to see what comes next. Which means more work, and I'm okay with that.

Jo Walton quotes Patricia Wrede as saying, "What this novel needs is more words." Which I think is today's Not The Moose principle. And tomorrow's, and....

Didn't manage to finish Dark Lord of Derkholm yesterday, although I'm enjoying it. (Not in that eat-my-brain way I enjoyed Fire and Hemlock, though. I should have saved that one for last, I think.) I spent time working slowly, time puttering around, time playing phone tag with Scott and eventually talking to him. And of course, the time looking at the Strib classifieds, rental and a bit of houses-for-sale.

Oh, this is something alarming I'd never thought of before: someone has to be Anne Lamott's optometrist. The poor, poor dear. How very alarming. For the optometrist, I mean. (I don't know if you'll have to view an ad to get there. I did. It was still amusing in the second page, though, and the ad lets you switch to another window and do something else while it runs. Do not judge by the first page. The first page is more Anne Lamott on war, and, eh, I already know what she thinks of that. But then she hits her optometrist stride.)

AAAAACK! The Merc has an article that begins "Flat is the new black." Okay, first of all, anyone who proclaims any fashion item or trend "the new black" should be shot. Or perhaps killed more slowly than that. I think I've said that before. And the rest of this article doesn't make me want to scream any less. The gist of it: for the last several years, they've been tailoring clothes to attempt to make proportionately small-breasted women look busty. Now they're tailoring clothes to attempt to make small-breasted women look small-breasted. Which would be fine by me if there wasn't the whole matter of tailoring clothes for women who are proportionately busty at all. Which, of course, no one wants to do. Aaaaaaagh. They behave as though boobs have been "in," rather than the ruffle-enhanced optical illusion of boobs. But now they're out again. Excuse me, but what am I supposed to do with mine? They don't take trade-ins on these things.

Summer is just barely beginning, and already these people are making me long for my ski sweaters. Hmph.

They tried to make it into a post-9/11 thing, but I don't care how many people fly planes into buildings, I'm not taking a kitchen knife to my chest. "It's time to downsize our lives and our breasts," chirps this article. Some of us haven't got the padding and Wonderbras to make that choice. Some of us want neither surgery nor garments so tight as to puncture our lungs with our nipples. Jerks. I just think it's totally unnecessary to declare entire body types in or out of fashion. Why would that be a good thing? Even if you're going to do it, why make it explicit? Why not just let us look at all the clothes for the season and go, "hmm, what a horrible line for someone more developed than a 9-year-old?" We're smart. We could do it.

Grump grump. I'm really not in a bad mood overall, but it just strikes me over and over again that we, as a culture, seem to be unable to say that something looks good without saying that something else looks bad. It's all part of that total ordering nonsense. The world is not absolutely ranked. If you like curly red hair, you can also like straight black hair, wavy brown hair, bald heads, blond ponytails, greying braids, green spikes, whatever. Reallyreallyreally. You can. You don't have to like all that, but nobody will make you choose. Life is not one of those e-mail surveys where they ask you, "Croutons or bacon bits?" In life, you can have croutons, bacon bits, and sunflower seeds, which are superior to both bacon bits and mediocre croutons. You can add toasted almonds and coated walnuts. Life is like that.

But I particularly find the appearance/total ordering thing to come up with body types. Invariably, if you find a forum with people talking about how smaller/skinnier bodies are not always more attractive, you will find someone who feels the need to rip on the skinny people (especially skinny girls). Because evidently the point was not, "You don't need [trait X] to be beautiful," it was "[trait X] is never beautiful!"

I can see where people would want to say, "I'm not ugly, you're ugly." It's the kindergarten response. The problem is (that we're supposed to have grown out of that and also), it comes out more as, "I'm not ugly, that person is ugly." And that person probably didn't make any claims of who was ugly in the first place.

It's just depressing, is what. And I know that it doesn't mean that we'll have more social nastiness and war, necessarily; I know that it's sometimes much easier to love-thy-neighbor when you don't have to actually deal with that neighbor, when that neighbor is some kind of abstraction. But local problems are important, too. Interpersonal problems are important, too. And I find it hard to make any kind of dent on so much hierarchical thinking, and it frustrates me so very much.

I'm all right with partial orderings. It's not that I don't believe in orderings at all. It's total orderings that are wrong and a pain. Mark and a couple of our friends -- I think it was Ed and Aaron -- used to say, in sad tones, "In the PO-set of life, some people are just less-than-or-equal-to." (Can you see why we miss these people? It's okay, though, because Aaron lives in Minneapolis and Ed's parents live not far from there, so when he comes back for a visit amidst his whirlwind diplomat-spouse life, there we'll be.)

But in the meantime, here I am instead, and it's time to get going with household stuff around here. Nothing externally exciting on the agenda for today, just work and cleaning and reading and the usual. Mark's birthday is coming up on Tuesday, though, and we're going to try to do some fun stuff this weekend for that. Also going to see if we can match schedules with my aunt and uncle and godfathers while they're in town. Mark hasn't come up with anything he'd like to have baked for his birthday, but he's allowed to, any time now. And then there's another little baking matter, about which some of you already know and one of you can just never mind because it just isn't any of your business, is what. It just isn't. Err. Odds are good I'm not talking to you, though; sorry 'bout that, and if I've inadvertently provoked curiosity, go on ahead and ask.

What I am right now, despite the "out"-ness of my boobular region, is content. Timprov is sleeping peacefully and with a somewhat lower fever. Mark has completed several important steps this week, and so have other people at his office and in his research group. There's exciting news from some of our friends, and others are managing to get by a little better than they were for awhile. (And if you're in either category or neither, do write and talk to me.) I have good books to read, good books to write, fun things to do. I may get to see one or more of my favorite relatives this weekend, if we work things out right. And I get to go home in a month for a visit, and I get to go home in less than five months for sure. I am content with that.

Back to Novel Gazing.

And the main page.

Or the last entry.

Or the next one.

Or even send me email.