In Which Our Heroine's Brain Arrives Belatedly in California, But Doesn't Bring Her Coherence With It

15 July 2003

Well, that could have been worse. Could have been better, but could have been worse.

I'm talking about sleep: I stayed up until almost 11:00 and woke up just now at 6:00. Which sounds mostly fine, except that I also woke up at about 3:30 because I was rolling over in my sleep and my shoulder/neck went out again. I feel like I have a teenager, here: it goes out at all hours, it does what it wants, it doesn't seem to care if I can't sleep because of its behavior...I got up at 4:00 to take Advil. It got enough better that I could sleep again, and eventually something popped back in, though not everything. (And my brain is raising an eyebrow and tapping a foot at the shoulder: "Glad you decided to join us, missy." The shoulder grunts noncommittally.)

So I am not up to full speed, shall we say. I'm good with the ahead part, it's just the full speed part that's being problematic.

I am in Ozy and Millie a bit too often. Today, for example, I am Millie.

I caught up on a bunch of e-mail yesterday, and I read a bunch of journals,, I unpacked, partially. The thing is, there was a lot to unpack. Even sending the suckies and Nutella with Mark left me needing to borrow an extra bag from the folks. Thing is: I got to go shopping for my own birthday presents in Omaha, and it seemed that the entireties of their malls there were on sale. On very good sale in many cases. Mom and Grandma each had a birthday budget in mind, and things kept being on such good sales that we weren't getting up to the budget yet, so we had to keep going. Darn. Some of the items...well, there will be pictures. I'm not sure these garments could be done justice any other way. The descriptions will not sound adequate.

And one of the garments is a pair of pants.

I have a problem with pants. The problem is that I hate them. Hmm. Maybe hate is a bit strong. I dislike them strongly, let's say, and sometimes not even that. I just don't usually choose to wear them. There's That One Pair Of Khakis, but it started wearing through in tiny spots, so I have to give it up. Other than that, I just don't choose to wear pants. If the occasion is too formal for jeans or shorts, I put on a skirt or dress, and that's the end of it.

I'm moving home to Minnesota. This may have to change a bit. As a Minnesota-living grown-up, I may actually want some pants for winter. But I'm either bored or annoyed by most pants. The key is finding pants I will actually wear for themselves while not going over the top into obnoxious. The actual pants I got are more warm-up pants -- not athletic pants in any way, just warming me up to the notion of pants. They're definitely summery. We'll let winter take care of itself.

So, linear narrative? Oh, I forgot to say that I met C.J.'s parents, finally, and they told stories of their new grandbaby, and we discovered that C.J.'s mom and I shared a silly and false conviction about our shoulders, and all was well. But that was back in Minneapolis, which I was pretty much done with yesterday, at least until we get to the pictures.

So. Mostly in Omaha, I spent time with the family. We went to Sioux City to Kari's for the Fourth, and it obligingly poured down enough rain that I could enjoy the deluge but not enough so that they couldn't set off the city fireworks there. We watched from under a bridge.

I got to see Mike and Tom a couple of times, and we talked about moving, and that was good. It seems strange that most of the people I've kept in touch with from high school will be gone from Omaha next time I'm there, but Michael was the last person left that I saw regularly and hung out with regularly in high school. And now he's off to Seattle to teach wannabe engineers how to write. Well, it's got to be better than teaching wannabe doctors how to do physics...maybe....

(It was Mike's birthday yesterday, and he was Old. Old, old, old. Twelve days older than me, in fact. Which means that my birthday is in eleven days! Woohoo wooho! Birthday birthday birthday! Ahem. Sorry.)

I also got to have lemonade with Trent -- I had completely forgotten that he had a journal at all. That was at the last minute, so I'm glad he made the time. I'm still thinking about in what ways I agree with him that people need to think more about literature when they're writing. Not every way, to be sure. I think it's good to think about structure and theme and that sort of thing (mostly after you do the first draft, though!), but overthinking can be a problem in several ways. It can choke otherwise-promising careers with obsessions about How Will I Matter In Literature -- that's not something you can know, but it's something you can fuss over until the wee hours of every night if you want to. And it can encourage pretty pretentious views of What I Am Doing For The Field. You can't force a work to revolutionize a field. My views of what's really revolutionary may seem minor to you, and vice versa.

It's like something I talked about with Tom and Mike: I think our brains, our thoughts, our selves are shocking to other people, but we can't always know in what way. The things that seem like huge revelations to us just might not matter so much to others. I had a pretty clear demonstration of this when one of my dear friends (who couldn't make it up to Omaha this time, unfortunately) was telling me a defining story in his personal history, and I was still waiting for the story to get started when he was done. It sounded much like any other grade school kid's day to me. It changed my friend's life. It's hard to tell what will work like that. So I think all we can do is tell the stories we have to tell in the best way we know how, and let the Field of Speculative Fiction (Poetry, Drama, Butter-Sculpture, Etc.) take care of itself.

Hmmm. It seems not entirely unrelated that Rob wrote a journal entry about meeting me in person -- he and Megan came over for an afternoon, driving all the way from the wilds of Iowa, which I appreciated. Anyway, it struck me reading that entry that the sorts of things Rob was talking about that were different about meeting me in person are exactly the reasons I won't write that type of entry about meeting him and Megan. I just...don't. I see myself as a very private person. And on some things, I need to be able to gauge the reaction of the person I'm talking to. So I can't talk at length about Rob or Megan, because I can't see you or even guarantee that I'll get an e-mail back from you -- I don't have the feedback to see whether you're interpreting things the way I meant them or whether I should steer towards another focus that will make it clear what I meant.

Mostly, though, I feel that I tell enough of the whole truth in my fiction that I can stick to just some of the truth in my weblog. That's not an entirely rational position, I realize, but it's what you get. So I'm not surprised Rob found me more forthright in person. I am.

Hmm. Sometimes with new people, I find myself doing a look that my Aunt Ellen does, where I'm quite obviously and deliberately checking, are you getting this? is this resonating with you, is this something you can identify with? It isn't on purpose. I just noticed it recently. I don't really mind it, though.

What I will say about meeting Rob and Megan is that we laughed, we found out some things about each other we didn't know before, and I'd be perfectly comfortable inviting them up when we've moved. Which is a good thing, because I already have...but I do feel more comfortable having met people before they become my house guests, even if it's just for a weekend. Maybe that'll change when "house guest" doesn't mean "sleeping next to my computer so I have to step over that person in the morning to get breakfast."

Ohhhh, the houses. Oh. Moment of reverie here.

Anyway, anyway: even if I hadn't already invited Rob and Megan up, I would now, and that tells you something, I think. It should, anyway.

On a completely different note...uff da. This Salon article right here: I know people who could have written it. I know a family that has embraced and adored two little girls for the last few years, little girls who are now 2 and 4 and have already suffered abuse I literally cannot imagine. And they, too, are waiting to find out whether those girls have to go back to the woman who let that kind of abuse happen.

I have some anger about this. I have a good deal of anger about this, actually. And if I'm this angry, I can only imagine what the girls' parents -- their real parents, not their biological parents -- are going through. So we wait, and wait. And try not to grind our teeth, because that doesn't help the kids any and hurts our collective jaw.

It's Rembrandt's birthday. That doesn't have anything to do with anything. It just is, and I didn't know how to get myself out of the Salon article thing, know. Transitions are hard sometimes. I was doing so well for awhile up there.

I got a statement from my Minnesota credit union account (which has $6.34 in it, just so that the account stays open), and in the statement, they included a flier for loan rates. Car loans! Boat loans! Snowmobile loans! I love Minnesota.

To be clear, I have no desire for either a boat or a snowmobile. It's just another sign of home.

Omaha, Omaha, what else...oh, I got to see the Wiley/Catalano side of the family, with the exception of Mary, and I got to eat in some favorite restaurants and try some new ones. We went to the zoo to see the new desert biome and nocturnal critter habitat, and we attempted Shakespeare on the Green but were thwarted by rain. We were not thwarted when it rained on the Fourth, but watched fireworks from under a bridge instead of on top of Jake's office building.

And I got family news, but I don't know if I'm supposed to share it or not. It's new enough news that I think I won't mention it until I'm sure that the person whose news it is has gotten to share it with anybody she knows who reads this. It's good news, though. It's: "Eeeeeeeeeee!" That kind of news.

It's not my news. Don't worry about it too much. Just know that I'm happy about it.

I read my mom's copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix while I was there, and I liked it better than the previous volume. Columbine quoted his Debby as saying that she felt it needed editing but couldn't point to anything in particular she'd cut. I could. In fact, I could point to something in particular in pretty much every scene, as well as some larger generalities. I also agree with a lot of the criticism I've seen online of the house elf subplot and of Harry's stage of romantic awareness/development at 15. And it seemed like everybody in the book spent a substantial chunk of time Being Dumb. That bothered me.

I liked Terry Pratchett's The Wee Free Men, also borrowed from Mom, much better. Ye can take our lives, but ye canna take our trousers! So true. Well, except for me; I hate pants, as we've already said today.

This entry is getting long. Sorry about that.

We went to see "Finding Nemo" and then watched "Monsters, Inc." later in the week, because I have discovered the five-letter secret to pleasing my grandma with movies: Pixar. Not all Pixar, but a lot of it: my grandma likes cute movies, and I like movies that don't make me want to hork, and so Pixar is generally an okay choice for a compromise. She liked "Nemo" and loved "Monsters." It was fun to watch "Monsters" with her, because she kept laughing and saying, "How do they come up with all this?" Totally different perspective for me right now, as I think most of the people I hang out with have a fair idea exactly, concretely how they come up with all this.

Grandma also inspired another novel idea for me. Which I suppose was not exactly what I needed, but it's still interesting, and it'll do fine rattling around the back of my head.

I have a bunch of stuff to type on the Not The Moose, and new stuff to write. I kept fussing (although Karina and Timprov have both been reassuring), because every time I sat down to work on the outline for the last sections of this book, I'd get a specific scene in my head and take the time to write it, and when I finished, either there would be another scene all ready to go, or there would be a friend or relative there with some other thing they wanted to do. So I never did get much done on the detailing of the outline. I am informed that this is all right. I will attempt to believe it.

I also worked a bit on another novel, but we're going to type that up and then pretend it never happened, at least until I'm done with this one. There are some short stories I'd like to work on this week, though.

Oh, and I found out while I was gone that I'll be doing entries for the new Encyclopedia of Themes in Science Fiction and Fantasy. I think that's the right name. I'm supposed to write entries on Dimensions, Miniaturization, Nuclear Power, Physics, Sea Travel, and Underwater Adventure. Any literary or critical source recommendations on these topics would be appreciated. I'm sure I'll talk about them more as I get started. The entries aren't due until next June, but I don't just want to leave them sit, so we'll see what I can get started doing on them.

The list...I know I talk about the list being large on most days, but it's way over the top this time. It's alarming. But that's what the list is for: for not being alarmed. Because the things I need to do are right there on it, and so they won't get forgotten...the thing is, before I left, I had several weeks' advance lists, so I could put things on next week's list and say, "I will deal with that next week!" I came back to find only one week worth of list. I need to sort things out into multiple weeks' worth...but part of it is just that I have a lot that I should get done this week, right now-ish. So I think that's all the journal entry I have for today...oh, except that I went and read the newspaper, so one more thing:

The NAACP held a presidential candidate forum yesterday, and President Bush and three of the Democratic hopefuls skipped it (Lieberman, Gephardt, and Kucinich). And the Merc quotes Kweisi Mfume as saying to the Dems who didn't show, "In essence, you have now become persona non grata. Your political capital is the equivalent of Confederate dollars." Gephardt said he had a family event, and Kucinich wanted to be in Washington for votes in the House of Representatives. You know, of which he's an elected member and all. And Lieberman already had campaign events planned, for which I have less sympathy, but still. It just seems so arrogant to me, no matter who you are, to have an event more than a year in advance of the election and get screamy at people for not attending. And to try to make it about how the candidate feels about black people, and especially, especially to use rhetoric about the Confederacy, instead of recognizing that one group is not all black people, and that one event isn't the entirety of the group. I'm wondering what other groups' leadership, if any, would feel they could get away with that kind of rhetoric without their constituency rolling its eyes at them, at best. Seems like a small set.

Okay then. I'm going to get clean and dressed and then attack the list and see what plans I can make with Her Movingness for lunch.

Is it just me, or do the rest of you get sick of washing and wearing the same limited set of underwear when you're on a long trip, too?

Okay, that's obviously enough. I'm gone.

Back to Novel Gazing.

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Or the last entry.

Or the next one.

Or even send me email.