Theories from a Day Off

7 June 2002

Boy, you people aren't very relaxed, are you? Or else you were too busy relaxing to tell me about it. I don't know. Tom helped me relax not by telling me how (although he did some of that, too) but by reassuring me that Mystic Mints still exist. Whew.

Anyway, despite the general lack of comments or suggestions, I attempted very hard to relax yesterday. Timprov was worrying about the stressful dreams I'd been having, and he asked me to please take the rest of yesterday off. So I did. Timprov was asleep and Mark was at work, so it was just me. Hasn't been just me not working in a long time. I read some of No Defense and some newspaper stuff my folks had sent. Went and got myself my rejection Jamba Juice and sat and read at the store for awhile. Walked to the video store to rent "An Ideal Husband" and "Life Is Beautiful." (They were on our movie list, and nobody seemed enthusiastic about watching them with me.) Watched "An Ideal Husband." Talked to C.J. Finished painting the front of the journal cover I'd been working on. Wrote e-mail, read journals...just did stuff. Random stuff. Nice random stuff. It was good to have a break and not feel like I had to get back at it immediately.

I think I'm going to paint the back journal cover today, just because I can. Maybe. But I'm going to get work done, too, because one day off is fine, but two is just too many.

This week, including the walk yesterday but especially the walk with David on Tuesday, has cured me of the cold fear. There has to be one hot day each late spring or early summer to cure me of my fear of being cold. I didn't even realize that's what it was until this week, when the hot day came. But I don't like being cold, and when I get dressed in the rest of the year, I try to make sure that I can layer to be warm, even if coldness is highly unlikely. I take sweatshirts to very warm places, just in case. In the summer I don't have that underlying fear. I just put on clothes and either grab The Sweater or not. Not a big deal.

(Yes, I know, I don't like being cold, and I want to move back to the upper Midwest. What, haven't you heard of central heating?)

It's interesting how the different ethnic subcultures we have locally produce such different behaviors in people that you can observe them clearly in a few miles of walk. Nobody around here but the Latino men will actually hang out of their car window to swivel their head around and watch you walk. I have to say, when it comes to ogling, no culture does better than Latinos around here. If a white guy is looking at you too overtly and you catch his eye, he'll flush and look away. He's been caught. But a Latino guy will just give you that "Yeah, girl, I was looking at you!" look, and keep looking. (Some black guys around here do it, too.) It was disconcerting until I realized that none of these men actually wanted anything of me. They were just looking. So...all right, then. As long as everybody knows what's going on. Also, parents with children under the age of three or so are more likely than most people around here to say hello to someone they pass on the street. Parents with children over that age are less likely. I don't know if they're trying to teach the kids not to talk to strangers, or if they're just too harried trying to keep track of the kids in the first place.

The entire state of California is being instructed to read The Grapes of Wrath. Um, no. I read that in high school. I hated it in high school, and I remember why I hated it in high school, and I believe I would hate it for the very same reasons today. And I'm rolling my eyes at these attempts to "get communities reading together," in part because they always pick books from the high school curricula, books that have already been assigned to people once or twice in their lives. I suppose the advantage to that is the people who were going to skip it and read the Cliff's Notes have already done so. I've never used Cliff's Notes, but I'd imagine that few of them are such masterworks of literature that they ought to be read twice.

How is it going to bring a state together to read the same book? The people in my grocery store sometimes won't even casually chat with me about the good summer produce, much less some art form they've participated in. How will it bring me closer to some guy in Chico or Santa Monica? Will it actually bring me closer to the people I like in SoCal? Because that would be nice -- I'd like to see them again. I doubt it will work through the magic of Steinbeck, though.

In this culture, we already have works of art that huge swaths of the population share. They're called movies and television. If Episode 2 didn't bring the population of California together, I am quite, quite skeptical that such charmers as the Joads will do so. Sure, books are a more actively participatory medium. But that seems to make it less likely that people will participate in them, not more.

But it makes the governor feel good about what he's doing for reading. Bully for him.

And speaking of Episode 2...Evan and I were talking about it, mostly about costuming, but he brought up the very good question: what makes the original trilogy good? We can all come up with dozens of ways in which the new movies are bad (well, all of us except Lileks, and he thinks that Christensen did a hell of a job, so judge accordingly). But, Evan was asking, what made the old ones good, except that they were fairly new at what they were doing?

He wasn't saying that nothing did, mind you, so don't send him pro-Star Wars hate-mail. He was just asking the question. We all have our theories around here. Mark seems to think it's Darth Vader. Timprov seriously doubts the proposition that many other movies since have a) been sci-fi and b) improved significantly on Star Wars. And me, I think it was the exuberance. Even when the actors were chewing the scenery, they were taking great big bites. The characters cared about the things they were doing, and they didn't have to have expository conversations about how much they loved democracy because they were out fighting to restore it. (In Lucas' concept of democracy, of course, which is kind of skewed anyway, but let's leave that be for a minute.) Both Luke and Anakin got frustrated with their training, but Luke wanted to be doing something else. He wanted to be off helping his friends, fighting a war, freeing the galaxy. Anakin just wanted to be the greatest Jedi of them all. Whoopee doo. A bit harder to get behind that one -- not because it's e-Vil, but because it's just kind of lame.

This is not a long-held theory, mind you, and I will drop it immediately if people have better ideas.

I'm not participating in Jette and Kismet's June Journal Smackdown, although I'm watching the results with some interest. But the first question -- "How do you think other people perceive you?" -- came to my mind recently because one of you, oh journal readers, suggested that I had a typical princess look to me. Not in terms of fashion, just in terms of features/body type/coloring/etc. Um. I have to tell you that if I'd done an entry on how I think other people perceive me, "looks like a princess" would not have been in there. At all, actually. You could have had me fill in the blanks with "M'ris looks like a _____," and I don't know that I ever would have said "princess." I would have started repeating "great big dork for doing this" many times before I got there. So...anybody else? Princess? Yes? No?

I find this a bit disturbing, actually. It wasn't like he spontaneously generated this comment, which is a relief, but we were talking about Dr. Henry mistaking my wench suit (worn on Halloween) for a princess suit. (Are you a princess this Halloween? Uh, sure, a princess. That's it.)

Well, knocking repeatedly on wood, our DSL connection is going, so our mail program is picking up messages that have been floating around the ether for awhile, some of them 36 hours late or so. If you wrote to me before last night, it was mail that needed a response, and I haven't answered, it probably hasn't gotten here. Please let me know. (Unless you're Scott, in which case, yes, I still have your message from Wednesday night yet to answer.) We have no one scheduled to fix our DSL, so I remain hopeful that it will stay fixed for the day. I got three fiction rejections and one nonfiction rejection yesterday, all extremely enthusiastic. Which is not particularly helpful, but I suppose it's good. I'm going to work today, and maybe go out, and maybe run a few errands, and definitely read, and maybe paint some more. It'll be good. Trust me.

And it's Grandma Lyzenga's birthday! Yay! Happy birthday to her!

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