In Which Image Matters

20 June 2003

I am actually cooking tonight. Of course, I'll probably "actually cook" a potato casserole to use up the last of the potatoes I bought for potato salad for last week. But no longer can we live on leftovers! We have triumphed over the leftovers!

Well, mostly; there are dips and carrot sticks that are still perfectly good, and Mark needs to take a look at his watermelon and see how it's doing. (It's not my watermelon. I don't eat watermelon. It's like mealy sugar-water. Wait, no: mealy sugar-water with seeds. How fabulous. No thanks.) And it's not like I ate much in the way of leftovers yesterday, because I didn't eat much in the way of food yesterday. I felt nasty, and the cucumber had gotten moldy already. I bought it Tuesday. By Thursday it was moldy.

I hate California so much. It's like living in a very, very low-budget, slow-motion horror movie. In a higher-budget horror movie, I would wake up and Mark would be covered in mold. They couldn't afford that, though, so it was my cucumber instead. Cue tense violins. It was preferable to Mark, if one of the two has to be moldy already. But still. I wanted that in my salad. I wasn't eating much already. And it was nasty. And I had to pitch two mushrooms as well, for being slimy. Stupid California.

That's it: I'm moving.

I got three and a half chapters finished yesterday. Wooo! That leaves me two and a half, and the two are in Edward's POV, so I only have half a chapter more of Ansa Nikkanen brain to handle in this section of book. I could use a break from Ansa Nikkanen, I think -- I've been using her perspective a lot, proportionally, and I really need some more Edward time to balance her out. And yet I'm kind of on a roll with her perspective, so I'll probably finish the half-chapter before I start in on either of Edward's remaining two.

Despite hating California's mold tendencies and feeling crappy yesterday and having a hard time sleeping because I felt crappy -- I still love my life.

I keep getting spam that says, "You forgot to write." I just want to thank those spammers: it cracks me up every time. I forgot to write! Hah, yeah, whatever. What, you mean that half hour I wasn't writing yesterday morning? I didn't forget, I was in the shower! I wonder if this makes the people who need prodding to write feel guilty. I hope not.

I didn't actually spend all of yesterday writing. I read the rest of the Analog July/August double issue, and some of it was pretty good. Then when I couldn't get to sleep right away, I read part of the July F&SF. I am officially an Adam-Troy Castro fan now. I liked "Unseen Demons" in Analog last year, and now "The Tangled Strings of the Marionettes" hit me just right last night at elevenish. And I'm pretty picky about novellas in magazines, because I'm aware of how much else could have been put in that space. This one worked for me, though.

What hit me just wrong is the "Style" section of the Merc this week. I read the Style (Arts & Leisure, Arts & Entertainment, whatever) section first in the morning, to warm my brain up before I read the national and world news and have to get mad at reporting bias, shallow articles, etc. But what should greet my eyes in "Style" but an article about how women really should learn to handle finances. Excuse me? Isn't this a "Financial/Business" article, or does the reference to women automatically make it not business? And what year are we living in, anyway? Honestly. Also, one of the tips was about investing money early -- $2000 a year from age 19 to age 26, compared to $2000 a year from age 27 on. Because the reason most 19-year-olds don't invest $2000 a year is that they don't understand it would get them a great retirement fund! Yeah! Has nothing to do with them going into debt to pay for school or working jobs that don't give them $2000 a year extra. Nooooo. Grrrr.

Then on the inside, there's a sidebar to another article, and the sidebar is, "Secrets for forming strong sisterly bonds." Including, "Long distance? Exchange videotapes of yourselves every few months." And "Go online." Augh! What year, what year? Stupid, condescending...yarrrrrg!

Maybe I should just go read something peaceful and relaxing, like the world news section. Sigh.

I keep getting Barenaked Ladies' "This Is Where It Ends" in my head -- the book pile brings on the line, "I don't buy everything I read -- haven't even read everything I've bought," and then I'm sunk. It's a little bit of variety from the Karina-enhanced Counting Crows obsession, though, so I don't mind too much.

Today's Salon letters made me roll my eyes some more. This time it was people writing in to say that they cared about the issues, darn it, and they didn't care how people "felt" about a candidate -- and it popped up in regards to two different articles. Well, they can sneer condescendingly about feelings-with-quote-marks all they want, but someone who can articulate the top five issues in an ideal candidate's platform and cares enough to write to a news mag about them is probably going to vote anyway. And the number of those people who will switch party affiliation for a specific candidate is probably pretty low. But if they campaign only to the people who are already going to vote their way anyway, they will lose. Either party -- if they both do it, it'll become a contest of who stinks the least.

Image does matter. Appeal does matter. And yes, the feelings of the voters on the street do matter. We can't predict them perfectly, but once we watch them in action, they matter. People who care about political platforms can rail against telegenic, photogenic, empty candidates, or we can try to help substantive candidates to be more telegenic and photogenic. There is no political point of pride in dressing the candidate in clothing that makes him/her look three days dead, or in having the candidate sound like the issues are the dullest thing imaginable. That isn't standing on principle. It's running a campaign poorly.

This is one of the many things that frustrates me in the Libertarian Party, so seeing it in the larger, actually-winning-elections parties makes me just want to shake these people and ask them, "Do you want to lose?" It just seems like the equivalent of sending an editor a handwritten manuscript on scented purple paper with roses embedded in it and saying, "If that editor really cared about how good a story was, it wouldn't matter that I made it very hard for them to pay attention to the story in the first place." The editor, like the voter, has no reason to assume that your story (candidate) is more wonderful and life-changing than any other. You have to make it easy for them to see how it is.

Some people have difficulty with this in manuscripts, though, so I shouldn't be surprised that it pops up with candidates as well.

So. The plan for the day is to stay in the house and go no further than the mailbox. There's plenty I can do here, including the small matter of the Not The Moose Book. I'm still waffling on some key packing issues, but I have until Monday morning to decide (our flight leaves at 5:25 p.m., so we have plenty of time to pack in the morning if we want to -- I still may do it Sunday night, though). I think I'll pack clothes and toiletries first and then see what happens with books and manuscripts. As I said in an e-mail yesterday, I'm really not sure what's reasonable to ask of myself for the time I'm gone, how much work on which projects. I don't know. It might be good to take a break and do short stories, but I'm not sure how much time I can stand to take away from the Not The Moose at this point. It needs so much more work, but it's good work, and it's mine.

Anyway, I'll work on it, and I'll work on other things and give the house a lick-and-a-promise. Then I'll cook real food and hang out at home comfortably and watch the season premiere of "Monk." And it will be good. I can tell these things.

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