Repeat Play

24 May 2002

Good morning, dear hearts. I'm digging out of the sleep deprivation. You can tell because while I still feel like a zombie this morning, I got a second wind yesterday. I'd barely been getting my first winds this week, so the second one caught me by surprise: oh, what's this? I also got to do the fun parts of tired yesterday. The giggle-at-everything parts of tired. The word "yarf" was so funny as to impair my breathing.

I'm not really quite that tired. Still exhausted and working out of the sleep deprivation. But getting much better. Should be able to celebrate Mark's birthday with no problems.

I've been working on the Not The Moose Book and on -- surprise -- the Moose Book. Yep. There's a moose book. It's a children's story, and I think I'll be done with it soon. It's kind of silly, but that's all right. Sometimes a little silliness is good for us.

For example, last night Timprov was flipping channels and came upon Ellen Degeneres doing "Shoop." That, now that was silly. We enjoyed it, though, in an odd way. "Shoop" was one of the songs Manda Fritz would put on repeat play in high school. It was one she'd break into as we walked down the hall or stood at our lockers. She loved that song. (Manda could spend ten minutes straight describing a guy's butt without repeating herself, so it was appropriate.) And it gets in my head: "Like a shotgun, bang, what's up with that thang, I wanna know...." I have put Blues Traveler's "Straight On 'Til Morning" to keep me from mumbling "Shoop" all morning.

We were talking about songs that only people who were teenagers at a certain time would know, but that pretty much everyone who was a teenager at that time would know. It came up the first time at the last writing group meeting, when Alec knew exactly what I meant when I was talking about "Baby Got Back" stuck in my head, and none of the others (the lucky people) knew "Baby Got Back" at all, not even the opening line. I think "Baby Got Back" is one of those songs. "Shoop." Weezer's Buddy Holly song. (Oh, my poor mother. She was flipping channels and came upon that video, said, "Happy Days!" and settled in to watch. I said, "No, Mom, it's not 'Happy Days,' it's Weezer." "But it looks like --" "No, it's a Weezer video. It's supposed to look like that." "Oh." Poor disappointed Mom.) Songs like that.

Sometimes songs like that get to be emblematic of a generation or a year, in movie soundtracks, and then they rise above that category and become symbols of their own. But really, sure, you'll play your old albums for your kids, but who's going to pull out the Mr. Big single and make their kids deal with "I'm the one who wants to be with you?" Not even Manda. Certainly not those of us who didn't like the song at the time and just heard it because we were in high school.

Manda was my "one hit wonder" friend. My "repeat play" friend. When "Linger" came out, she and Kristy and I were staying in a hotel for a debate tournament down in Lincoln, and we'd brought someone's CD player -- mine, maybe, mine was portable, but it could just as easily have been Mander's. She had the whole Cranberries "Everyone Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?" album, but the only song she wanted to hear was "Linger." Over and over and over. She also was fond of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" (by the Beatles, thankfully, not some ungodly Cranberries remake -- "With diamonds, with diamonds, with diamonds, with diamonds..."). But the only way to derail her from a repeat-play song was to get her another one. Sometimes it felt like Kristy and I were kind of phoning in performances as high school girl friends that year, but Mander just threw her heart into it.

I would like to talk about Margaret Cho's "the sweet one, the smart one, and then there's the ho" theory of girl friends, but I don't think my folks want to read that. So if you do, you know where to find me.

When I finished Fortress, I wrote to Kristy and Manda, and to Hilary and Becca who were my best girl friends in Kansas in sixth grade, and I thanked them. That book wasn't entirely about young girlgeeks' friendships -- thank goodness, or very few people would actually want to read it -- but they did play a pretty major part in what it became, as a book. And while there was no way you could assign the characters Charlotte, Miri, and Megan to me and either pair of the above girls in a one-to-one mapping, their relationships were definitely informed by those friendships. I learned how that kind of friendship works from those people, and I do appreciate it very much.

I didn't manage to connect with Manda at Christmas, and I haven't talked to Kristy for years, except for that thank-you note. The same goes for Becca -- after I moved back to Nebraska, Bec went a different way in high school, and we just didn't have much to talk about. I still hear from Hilary from time to time, when she's in this country again. Hilary is a missionary. She went to Tibet. It's funny how some things can be so unexpected and yet so unsurprising: I wouldn't have said, "Hilary will go to Tibet as a missionary," but then when she did, it was just, "Oh, of course." Sometimes my books work like that, so I'm always amused when people do, too.

I've been supplementing my Edge City reading with Susan Vreeland's Girl in Hyacinth Blue. Interesting so far, but I'm not sure how well I'll like the backwards-time format yet. It was only all right in Charles Baxter's First Light, and that stuck with the same set of characters, only went back to the end of their lives. If I just read it as a short story collection, perhaps it won't be an issue. But I've only read the first two sections, and already I'm wanting more about each of the sets of characters. I'm not usually like that with short stories, not like Michelle, so it's quite noticeable when it comes up.

No rejections yesterday, but I did find out that a magazine that had asked for a rewrite from me clear back in November had closed when I was busy with other things, and I hadn't noticed. Drat. So. Out that goes again. At least it's movement. I've had two rejections so far in the last two weeks, and that seems like rather few, so I'm getting spooked about the deluge again. Trying to focus on work in the areas that I can control, though. Seems like a productive mindset. One would hope.

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