Literal Accounts

23 June 2002

So. Yesterday I finished up my journal entry feeling significantly more scattered than I sounded. And it wasn't like I sounded all that "together." So I went and shaved my legs.

Saying it like that makes it sound like an event, like my legs are usually hairy. They aren't. But I am a shower shaver. I take a swipe at my legs just about every day in the shower. Every day? Yes. Because I am so very blind (20-675) and careless that I know that if I have a schedule of some sort, I will miss great swaths of leg hair. Whereas if I kind of note where I'm stubbly, if anywhere, and run a razor over it, it's a continuous process, and I'm never running around with pine tree legs.

When I started shaving, my mom told me that once I started I could never stop. I can come up with several things she might have meant -- the obvious one is that shaving changes the texture of leg hair; another is that it's very hard, if not impossible, to take official semi-public steps towards being a grown-up and then take steps back again. But it was a time in my life at which people were telling me new things about my body that were written in stone (If You Do Not Wear A Bra, Your Back Will Hurt! You Will Have Cramps Several Days A Month For Most Of Your Life! We Do Not Make A Big Deal Of It!), and so I took it to be a medical necessity. I had heard of ingrown hairs. I was convinced that if I stopped shaving, the entire surface of my legs would be covered with them, they would get infected, I would require expensive medical treatment, and the end result would be that I'd have to go back to shaving my scarred legs anyway.

I had nightmares that weekend.

I was a horribly literal child sometimes. I had a wild imagination, of course, and I knew that there were times when things were not to be taken literally. Unfortunately, I had a rather different list of those times than I should have. My mom still rolls her eyes about going on road trips with me when I was very small. She would ask if I had to go to the bathroom. I would ponder it: did I have to? I did not. I could wait a good ten minutes, maybe fifteen. The need was not immediately upon me. No, I did not have to go to the bathroom. My mom realized what was going on after a few frustrating occasions of getting ten miles down the road and hearing, "Okay, Mom? Now I have to go." She started asking if I wanted to go to the bathroom. Well, come on. Who wants to go to the bathroom? It's not something you do because it's fun. Nobody relieves themselves out of boredom. It's a bodily necessity. It's not like going to the park or going to the movies. So I could state, categorically, that I did not want to go to the bathroom. A few more road trips (we were doing about three road trips every two months for most of my childhood) made the futility of this one clear. Mom made a final stab at it. She started, "Marissa, can you go to the bathroom?" She saw my face. I was pondering: could I? Well, possibly...perhaps...I was pondering too long, and Mom said, "Oh, for heaven's sake, just try, will you? Just try." So I trotted obediently off to the rest stop bathroom. Problem solved. And I have never heard the end of it, and I probably never will.

I still think she was being silly. Nobody wants to go to the bathroom.

Anyway, I did figure out that using available restrooms on road trips is a good idea, and that I will not require any kind of medical attention if I don't shave my legs. End of digression. So. Yesterday I noticed I had part of a sample can of shaving cream in the cabinet, and I started doing the math. I got that sample can in one of those semester-end "finals survival packs," and the last finals survival I was part of as an undergrad was in the spring of '99...hmm. I decided that it would be ridiculous to continue to move a partial sample can of shaving cream, and I had the time yesterday morning, and I was too scattery to do any of the really useful things on my list. So I shaved my legs, and they don't feel significantly nicer than usual, but it gave me the time to order my thoughts better. Unfortunately, they were ordered along the lines of, "This stuff really stinks, no wonder I shave in the shower!" That's all right, though. I don't have to move a partial sample can of shaving cream next time we move, and it did not Go To Waste, which is always good.

Well, mostly good.

I worked a decent amount yesterday and read -- finished Discipline and Punish and read D. Manus Pinkwater's Lizard Music. It was -- well. For awhile I thought it was like what would happen if Trent wrote a children's book. Now I think, no, it's like what would happen if Trent was a children's book. Rather in a synaesthetic way. I think this is what I find unsatisfying about most online personality tests -- they don't seem to be written by synaesthetics.

So I finished Lizard Music rather quickly -- it was, after all, a children's book -- and went on to Pat Barker's The Eye in the Door, which I am enjoying and which I commend to you, along with Regeneration, which came before it. Mark got home from his errands, and we determined that Timprov wasn't feeling good enough to go with us up to Berkeley, so we selected music accordingly and set off without him. (It's not that Mark and Timprov hate each other's music, it's just that there's not a lot of overlap, so we try to balance. I listen to nearly everything in the house except Kraftwerk and Ornette Coleman, so I'm not the issue.)

So we drove up to Berkeley, singing along with Billie Holliday and making fun of various poets, and Mark came up with a poem about zero, which begins, "Zero, zero, dreadful naught" and generally goes on in that tygerish vein, and it amused us greatly. We were having a funny night. We got a table immediately at Zachary's (?!) and had yummy spinach and mushroom pizza and came up with a story about Doomsday devices, which I may write today if I feel like it. And we had another successful bookstore run, so I have a very large stack of books to read, and I should be satisfied until August, supplementing with the Alameda Public Library and the David Private Library.

And then we went to Zed's improv show at The Place With The Nice Dog. Er. Cafe Eclectica, his site says, and I believe it. (Why would it lie to me?) He was a chocolate Lab, and when I asked his girl whether I could pet him, he rolled over for a tummy rub before she could answer. Such a Nice Dog. And Zed and his improv classmates were swift and funny, and Zed was the swift-and-funniest, and we enjoyed ourselves. However. We were asked to rate people's skits with applause. Their teacher would say the numbers from one to five and ask us to clap for the one we thought the skit deserved. Ack! Pressure! Much more pressure than having to shout locations and relationships at them.

Hmm. Thomas claims that his life is boring, unlike mine, and that's why he apologizes for the navel gazing. I've heard this before. Usually it comes from someone who's apologizing for not writing me an e-mail sooner. And as part of this, he says he's the sort of person who has a hard time discussing a work in progress. I agree that that's different from me -- I'm a babbler about stories I'm writing. But then it's "If I could tell a story in a few lines, I'd tell it in a few lines, rather than wasting six thousand (or a hundred thousand) words on it."

Um, no. That's not really what talking about work is about. Pop quiz for any of you who have read more than two entries: what do I call the book I'm working on right now? The Not The Moose Book, sure. You all knew that. What's the plot of it? Hmm? Okay, maybe it's hard to summarize plots. Can you name me two major characters? One? No?

Talking about work is almost never about telling the story before you tell the story. Very, very rarely I have a conversation of that type with Timprov. Mostly when I talk about a book I'm working on, it's not about the book, it's about the work, which is pretty totally different. I may say "I'm going to go work on falsifying the Messianic overtones in the post-christening scene" or "Today it's back to the sauna for everyone," but that's just a tag, like if I worked a "normal" company job and had "the Smith project." Mostly I talk about how I'm reacting, how I'm doing rather than how I'm doing it.

If Thomas (or anyone else) doesn't want to talk about work because he just doesn't want to, that's fine. Or if there are other reasons -- if it's not a writing job and it's proprietary, say. Or if you feel like you'd be kvetching too much or crowing too much. Good reasons. But not wanting or being able to tell the story in a couple of lines? I hear that a lot from other writers, and it seems to be utterly beside the point.

Maybe it's that for people who aren't me, how they're doing with their books depends strongly on what they're doing. But while some things are emotionally more difficult than others, I don't seem to have scenes that are consistently harder to write than others in a getting-the-right-words down sense. It's all a function of where my head is that day. That's why working non-sequentially works for me: the bit that looks insurmountable on Tuesday is perfectly obvious on Friday, and vice versa. Maybe other people don't work that way. Maybe how they're working is more explicitly dependent upon what they're working on. Maybe that's where the difference comes from.


So. This morning I am not at church. I am not sick, however. I refuse to be sick. My scratchy throat and slightly drippy nose and all of that, it's nothing, nothing at all. Not sick. Unlike many non-sick people, however, I'm going to take it easy and drink lots of tea. Just so that I don't become sick, you understand. Not because I am. Wouldn't dream of it.

This morning, I want a back porch. Could be a back deck. I'm not fussy. I want it to be too warm to drink tea, and I want to have strawberries with brown sugar and maybe a scone or so and read on the back porch in my pajamas. I will settle for a hot cup of lemon chamomile and a good book on a familiar crappy couch. Those are pretty good things, after all, and I am told you can't always get what you want.

Sometimes I think it's a bit loony to snarl at Rolling Stones who aren't here, but it's more feasible than waiting for them to show up.

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