Purple Screen of Gloom

21 July 2001

Timprov has his new computer, and I'm in the process of making mine do what I want it to do now, as opposed to what I wanted it to do before. It's usable, but the Purple Screen of Gloom still needs to be fixed. I sigh.

There are boxes waiting for me, too, and like Mary Anne, I am being a good girl and not opening them. I'm not even opening my cards. That's how virtuous I am.

Trying to decide whether we'll be heading out to Books By the Bay this afternoon, and/or to J. Neil Schulman's talk this evening. He's going to talk about age of majority/age of consent stuff, which is fascinating to me. But it would involve finding the place and dealing with new people. New libertarian people. And while I love libertarianism, sometimes libertarians are a bit much. I'm leaning towards going, at this point, just because The Rainbow Cadenza was such a book. (All descriptions omitted here because it's a family site. I did like The Rainbow Cadenza, but it's not a nice book, nor an easy one.) And how often do such things come up? Carpe that diem. Or something.

Is there a culture, do you think, in which it would be acceptable to proposition a person in exchange for free photocopies? Is there a person who looks so destitute that this is a viable form of payment? (I am fairly confident that, despite what some people in this neighborhood may think, that I am not such a person.) (Also, I took a mini-survey.) And why do people always think writers need a lot of photocopies? Sure, I need to send out more than one copy of most stories I write. But I don't plan on it. I don't think, "Hmm, now this is a seven-rejection story, not counting e-submissions." No. I have to deal with each copy individually. I could maybe see for picture book markets, because they take simultaneous submissions. But most writers have no need of multitudes of photocopies. (Certainly not that much need.)

When I was little, people (middle-aged female relatives, to be exact) were always assuming that, because my mother said I liked to write, I would want a diary. A diary. With a little lock on it you could easily smash with a hammer, or even a mallet. (What only child needs a locked diary? The locks are purely symbolic anyway. If your parents want to read your little diary, they can. This is why they're the grown-ups: a tiny metal latch is not too smart for them, but they have enough ethics to leave the thing alone. Or ought to.)

And the diaries always had one page for every day of the year. One meager diary page. If I was going to sit down and really write, I was going to more than fill the page. Instead, I tried to do something I knew would be limited to the page and ended up with either the standard diary crap ("Went to school. Mrs. Huntley was nice and saved the new books for me.") or else used way too many abbreviations "w that J wld tmhlmmtDM." (Actual remembered diary abbreviation.) Is this useful? I think not. The only reason I remember the above abbreviation is that I remembered what it stood for first, then remembered how I had abbreviated it. So my choices were pages of boredom or pages of gibberish. (No offense, Liz.) So the diaries sat there, and I wrote in spiral notebooks. I spent the entire second half of grade school with spiral imprints permanently on my right hand. (Have to write on both sides of the page.)

The other thing people kept giving me -- and sometimes do to this very day, though not so often -- was bookmarks. You read a lot! You must need a bookmark! Which was true, except that I read so much that I needed (and still need) more than one bookmark, and I need them to be not at all fancy and close to hand when I want them. Which means that a Post-It note or a bit of newspaper was more often useful to me.

Most people don't want to give their friends Post-It notes and bits of newspaper, however.

What it did not occur to people to give me: books. Actual books. "She reads a lot, let's give her a...." I'll bet most of you would fill in this blank happily with "book!" Or, if you were feeling creative, "magazine subscription!" Not my friends when I was younger. Nary a book to be found. I think they were terrified of my book collection. Didn't know what I already had, didn't know what I wanted. (I wanted everything. I was literarily promiscuous in my childhood.) (Go ahead and dispute the past tense on that one if you like.) So I would tell people, "Mandy collects jewelry, so I give her jewelry. I collect books, so she gives me...jewelry." She always picked out really interesting jewelry. But I could have given her books on the same theory.

Mr. Taylor, the only person who ever got away with calling me "Lingen," used to talk about his literary orgasms. How some lines, some paragraphs, some poems, some whole short stories or novels, were so good that they were literarily orgasmic. This was quite risque for my high school (or my college, for that matter), but I knew what he meant. I'll bet you do, too.

Some people, who shall remain Mary Anne, are evidently feeling -- what was the phrase? -- a blight upon their mornings due to my leisurely updating speed. (It is now, I will tell you, not yet 9:30.) So instead of listing my favorite literary orgasms, I will stop now and post this entry. Here you go. Have fun with it.

Oh yeah: it's Hemingway's birthday. I'm going to write really, long, complex sentences, with lots of clauses and adjectives, just to exorcise him.

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