Messy Book Lists

22 June 2002

When Thomas goes off on a personal writing tangent in Shadow Shapes, he tends to apologize. I don't really feel the need to. This is all about the shape of my navel, thanks, and if you want someone else's navel-gazing, well, you're free not to read this. I kind of like "The Shape of My Navel" as a journal title, but I think I'd get a lot of people who were expecting fewer words and more skin if I changed the name.

If I was in that branch of the armed forces, though, I don't think I'd be able to resist having a journal named "Naval Gazing." I just don't have that much restraint in me.

This does feel like a particularly rambling set of gazings, though, and I'm sorry if that's a problem.

I did a lot yesterday, but it didn't feel like it at the time. I spent yesterday afternoon in a funk. No reason for it, not that I could think of -- nothing out of the ordinary, I mean. The question isn't whether I'm homesick, it's whether it's bothering me to be homesick. Just like the question isn't whether I love the Not The Moose Book, it's whether it's making me happy to love the NTMB. In absence of external factors, I really can't tell you why some things carry the day, emotionally speaking, but yesterday, funk time.

I theorized that perhaps reading accounts of the history of penal systems was not cheering, so I put down the Foucault and read James White's Hospital Station. Good Lord. Oh my land. That was such a bad book. I am overcome by what a bad book that was. You know how some things are so bad they're good? Hospital Station zipped right on through that and straight into bad again. I was goggle-eyed at its badness.

I, um, I still intend to read the sequel, and possibly the third one as well, because David assures me that they get better. (He keeps reminding me that he has never said they get good, merely that they get better.) They're fast and light, and sometimes that's a good thing. But I'm not going to be rushing to read them, certainly.

The Foucault is very, very good. Many story ideas. Many pauses for thought. And best of all, the story ideas are coming with titles. Titles! Big hugs for Monsieur Foucault. It's just not a bouncy happy book, is all. Definitely good, though. I immediately called one of the short stories I've been working on "Docile Bodies," from one of the chapter titles. I really like that title, too. I like it enough that I can imagine appending "And Other Stories" to the end of it. Of course, I don't know if I'll like the actual story that well...I guess I'll just try to make sure.

I made a new list. Zed had been teasing me for not having a "books read" list, so I started one. Don't know if I'll actually keep it up, but I figured that organizing things often improves my mood, so perhaps generating a nice bit of order out of chaos would help. I'm not sure if it did, or if it was the nice date that Mark and I had or what, but I am doing better, even though my hands and my back ache.

The problem with where we live right now is that we have an almost total divorce of relationship and proximity. So if I'm bummed, I can't just run over to someone's place or have them come over here at the drop of a hat. Even if they don't work normal day jobs, I have to plan it, and I have to set aside a minimum of 20 minutes one-way for travel time. We have friends "in the area," but that's a lot like someone in Mankato only having friends in the Cities -- you can do it, it's just not at all convenient. But Mankato, for all of its industrial crappiness, is a self-contained unit. Hayward is not. It's also disturbing when it comes to the neighbors -- we live in a big apartment complex, and when the weather is moderately nice, you can hear our neighbors yelling at each other through their open windows. If we knew them, we'd be able to tell whose screaming meant "I love you, and this is how we deal with conflict," and whose screaming meant, "This child is in danger, call the police." We don't know them. We can't tell. We have to go by sound, and so far nothing has sounded utterly urgent. But we can't really know, because we have proximity without relationship as well as relationship without proximity.

So anyway...Mark got home and we went for Chinese food, which was a happy thing for everyone except the waiter. Poor waiter. He gave me this massive mound of orange beef and then thought something was wrong when I didn't polish off most of it. Or much of it. But there was lots. He was distressed, though.

Timprov ate some of those leftovers last night, but there's still orange beef. And chicken scampi, and mashed potatoes, and Cuban black bean soup. Um. And we're going to Zachary's tonight, which doesn't guarantee leftovers, but.... So I don't think we're allowed to get any new food ever again after tonight. Too much food.

But we're not going into the City today. Timprov is sleeping, and Mark wasn't particularly enthused about the Datlow reading, and I wasn't particularly enthused about the drive, and we have plenty, oh, plenty of stuff to do this afternoon before we drive up to Berkeley/Albany. So we'll be doing that stuff instead.

I did get to do some bookstoring last night, though, and we had a good haul, lots of big bargains, enough books to be satisfying but not so many that we can't look in the bookstores on either side of Zachary's. (The other Zachary's, Zak -- you didn't miss the bookstores when we went.) Thing is, I now have a used bookstoring list, and while I found things I was looking for and knew I was looking for, none of them were things that could be crossed off the list. Ack! I had "Michael Chabon" on the list, for example, but I may want other stuff besides The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (which is what I found), so he stays. Kate Wilhelm stays. Poor list.

Lots of book lists so far in this entry, so I might as well make a confession: I love the recommendations lists at Amazon. I really do. I like messing with them. I like going through and rating what I've already got, just to see what they tell me I should have. I like watching their algorithms work, finding out what other people who like Charles de Lint have wanted to read. It's like having a very stupid librarian with infinite patience, and while that would annoy me at the library, it's kind of cool on the computer. I can kill way too much time by clicking on what I already own and what doesn't interest me. And I know I could remove the recommendations that come from stuff I've bought for my grandparents. I just don't want to. I like seeing how histories of the Marine Corps and Shirley Temple movies skew what they think of me.

Oh, my own tip for you: do not buy the cheapest keyboard available. Just don't. My keyboard now does not have s, c, v, or any of the right-hand letters except p printed on it. The orientation bump on the j is starting to go as well. When I can't feel or see which one is j, I'm going to have to buy a new keyboard. I hope I finish the Not The Moose Book before then, but I'm not betting the farm on it.

Sigh. What a mess.

I've been dreaming of old acquaintances lately. When I dream of old friends, I figure it's my subconscious sending me a message, so I write them e-mail saying, "Hey, I haven't heard from you in awhile, this is what I'm up to, hope you're okay." But acquaintances don't quite work that way. Lately it's been the same one: Matt Egger, a guy I met when I was two and knew all through high school. I was going to say I've known him since I was two, but I don't really know him right now. And I wouldn't put his actual name in this entry except that another old acquaintance found me that way, so what the heck, why not. It's not as though I'm saying anything objectionable (or, you know, specific) about him. I dreamed that his parents moved in next door to my parents, only my parents were living in the house on 107th St. (early childhood house -- from infancy to fourth grade). Why should I dream about Matt Egger? Very strange. I think it's because his brother got married, and my grandparents sent me the announcement from the paper and reminded me of that family's existence. And Matt seems like he might have grown up to be cool, but I just don't know.

I haven't been dreaming about anybody else whose wedding announcements they've sent me though, and that's more than fine with me.

La, la, la...babble, babble, babble...look, I'm really sorry about this, I don't know where my head is this morning. If I did, well, I'd go there or do that or whatever it would take to get my head on straight again, but I don't, so instead I'm just writing about lists of books, for heaven's sake. I have the Simpson's Comic Book Guy in my head saying, "Worst Morphism Ever!" and I hope he's right, because I really don't want it to get worse.

Oh, I know what! (See, this is why I write things down on the little Notepad dealie, so that I don't have to remember them later.) I was reading this month's Scientific American yesterday, and they had an editorial about the Intelligent Design folks yesterday. Turns out that one of the major bibliographies of "serious scientists who challenge evolution" is a total lie, and the authors of 34 of the 44 papers cited don't consider their work at all contradictory to evolution. The other ten didn't respond one way or another, so we don't know for sure what they think. None of them said that they didn't believe evolution worked, though. Um, oops. That's just shoddy, there. Why would you bother to make a claim that's debunked that easily?

Okay, well...I'm still all rambly and random, but I think I'd better be done with journal entries for the day. I'm getting less focused instead of more. I'm going something. And then do something else. Perhaps I will move the thing. And the other thing. Right. Off I go. Plenty to do, organization needed...and I'm good at that, right? Right?

Back to Morphism.

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