In Which They're A Lot of Work, But They're Worth It

3 June 2003

If the rest of you are reading someone's journal, and they haven't mentioned whether or not they have siblings, do you assume they do? Or are you surprised when there's some new reference to a sister or a brother? I'm always surprised, myself, but I don't know whether that's because I'm an only child. (And not just that, but the only child of an only child.) In fact, if there's only been one reference or maybe two, if the sibling hasn't been integral to some story or another, I may forget them anyway. I don't know which direction normal is from here, most of the time.

It was warmish here yesterday, and I believe it will be warmish again today. The weatherbeings believe it, too. We shut up the house and turned the AC on yesterday. Then we opened up the house again: the fan on our AC is broken. It can cool air just fine. It's pushing that air out through the apartment that's the problem. And that's a fair-sized problem, since we don't really care how cool the air conditioner itself stays if we're melting and running into our shoes.

It wasn't so hot that I just wanted to lie down and groan. It was hot enough that I wanted to wander around the apartment picking at things. Hot enough to have the strong urge to whine. Hot enough that my hair kept getting bigger and curlier until I remembered that I do, in fact, have the amazing ability to put it in a ponytail (and have had that ability for years), so I did that and felt much better. I have very white-girl hair, so the bigger and curlier version wasn't very 'fro-like, but it was still a relief to have it off my neck. I keep forgetting to do that. I did it almost every day in college -- in fact, people who know me from college probably have a default mental image of me with a ponytail, unless they've seen me a fair bit since. But somehow now I just keep forgetting until I'm ready to scream with my hair sticking to everything.

We knew a woman named Fro. I think I would have gotten a new nickname decades ago. If my Aunt Mary Jane could start just going by Mary in the Sixties....

The master list is shorter than it was at this time yesterday. I Did Stuff yesterday. There's still Stuff to do today, naturally. Yesterday's Stuff involved errands; today's will have a theme of phone calls. Oh yay.

And I need to go down and talk to the rental office people. Uff da. If we would sign a year-long lease, they would take another $85/month off our rent. But if we go to a month-by-month instead, they will add close to $300/month to our current rent. (All of which shows you how huge our rent is, I think, that they can continue to offer to take nearly $100 chunks out of it, or can add $300 blithely.) I'm hoping we can come to some kind of accommodation: we can't do the year-long lease for obvious reasons, nor would they want us to, as the mortality rate of their tenants would go right up. (Last night's late, scintillating, loud courtyard conversation: "So he's like, hi, how ya doin', blah blah blah, and I'm like oooookaaaaaayyy....") But we can tell them for how long we will be here, and I'm hoping that's worth something. A little bit? Maybe? Something less than $300, obviously, but...then they would know when the apartment would be open, and they'd have a guarantee of several months' rent, and that would be good? Sort of?

When we were at dinner with Wendy and Daniel, Mark and Timprov started talking about how our stuff could live, like Hiro Protagonist, in a U-Stor-It, waiting for us to get there, and we could live in a motel for the intervening time for almost as cheap. Eeeeeeek. We won't be doing that, I don't think. But $300/month more does seem like a lot.

You know what I think? I think you should all tell me things that will make me feel better in the face of an additional $300/month to live where I don't want to be. Please. Happy thoughts?

Oh, happy thoughts: talked to Frank about the WIHA cover this morning, and he's already got some pretty cool ideas. He's allowed to change them as he reads the stories, though, or not. I think it'll be nifty, though. I really like Frank's stuffs, so I trust that he'll do well with the antho cover. (And the nice thing about anthology covers is that you don't have to interpret the cover as illustrating any particular story, so if he has a person who doesn't look like any of the people or an alien who doesn't look like any of the aliens, that's totally all right, as long as it's a cool person/alien. Which it will be, because we trust in Frank.)

I finished reading Union Street yesterday -- eh. Well-written, but not really my kind of thing. Lots of squalor, release only in death, marriages pretty much universally unhappy and mostly abusive..."'Fourteen hundred children, murdered in their beds!' 'More, more!'" (That's not from Union Street, to be clear. It's just that I'm reminded.) I started Katherine Paterson's The Invisible Child: On Reading and Writing Books for Children. It's a collection of speeches and essays, and it's mostly okay. I think it was drastically mis-shelved, though: it was in the children's nonfiction section, and I think that any kid who'd be old enough to read/enjoy it would be old enough to read/enjoy stuff from the adult section. It's not aimed at kids. Mis-shelving and mis-categorizing can kill the circulation of a book, I'd think, although maybe less so with nonfiction.

Hmm. So one of the distressing things about yesterday is that I have a potential subplot to add into Reprogramming. I'm pondering it. I could do that, or I could save it for the sequel. It might make the book better, or it might weigh it down. I don't know, at this point. Poor Mark didn't know what his lines were when I was telling him this before bed. At first he thought he was supposed to keep me from obsessing: "Just say no!" I said, "But it might make the book better." "Oh. Then go for it!" Always supportive, which is not something to underestimate. I'm going to ponder it. I'm going to keep working on the Not The Moose and let it percolate in the back of my head and decide later. There's no reason to rush to a decision this morning. It would involve a new fairly major character, though, and all the scenes attendant thereto.


Well, one of the day's phone calls is now made: I have a Dr. Bill appointment for 3:00. I'm hoping that helps straighten things out. After I wrote, "I don't know which direction normal is from here, most of the time," up there in the first paragraph, I started thinking about how many ways in which it's true. Luckily, it doesn't have to be true in the back, sort of. I can combine Dr. Bill and yoga and feel somewhat more normal in the back. Maybe that'll help in other ways, too. Let's hope.

On the way up to Berkeley on Sunday, we were listening to Maroon, and the opening of "Pinch Me" made me bang on the armrest and shout, "Why is this song always appropriate?" We all laughed, and we're putting it on the first of the drive CDs: "It's the perfect time of year somewhere far away from here. I feel fine enough, I guess -- consid'ring everything's a mess...." Yeah. Although the list is supposed to help me straighten out that messy everything. C'mon, list, don't fail me now.

(I would put on some messy piano concertos with too many notes in them, but I have the feeling that Liszt would definitely fail me now.)

(I'm sorry. I couldn't help it.)

It's not even that I feel bad, necessarily (although in the back, yes, bad). It's just that I feel constantly overwhelmed, even with the list. I wonder, though, whether I wouldn't be feeling overwhelmed working on the Not The Moose Book even if I had an entire staff of cleaning beings and personal assistants in a tasteful mansion down by Lake of the Isles. Overwhelmed may be the right thing to feel in the face of this book. It may be entirely appropriate. Biggest, hardest thing I've ever done. To date. There'll be harder, I'm sure.

Wanda Sykes has this bit in her stand-up routine about people with kids, and how they'll never meet your eyes when they tell you about how worthwhile it is. "They're a lot of work," she says, and then looks away ostentatiously, "but they're worth it." I hope none of you think that my novels are like that. This book may make me feel like the mom whose four-year-old is asking her to explain the collapse of the Mayan Empire, but I'll look you straight in the eye when I tell you she's worth it.

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