Birthday Birthday Birthday!

26 July 2001

I keep telling myself: if you didn't want to start out your birthday with rejection letters, you should have stayed in nuclear physics, where people were happy to tell you how brilliant you were (but mostly because you were female). Or become a plumber or something.

Happy birthday, Mary Anne! Happy birthday, me!

First things first: the floors are sparkly clean. Mark tried out the new mop last night. Erica wrote to me that, "The best thing to clean the floors with is other people, in my opinion." Well. I would have said that Erica was tough, but I always thought "she'll wipe the floor with you" was only a metaphor. Evidently not.

I spent too much of yesterday putting together a writing sample for people who may or may not want me to write a book about Norway. It took too much time in part because I picked a topic in which I was too interested and kept getting sidetracked. Here's one of the things that sidetracked me:

This is up near where Sweden meets Norway and Finland. Gorgeous, isn't it? I'm going there, someday. Johan and Ulla will think I've totally lost it, but I'm going anyway. There are more pictures of Lappland, too. One of my problems is that I don't read Norwegian very quickly (which I'm totally fine with, since I never learned Norwegian), and most of the sites I wanted to use to verify up-to-date information were in Norwegian. It also appears that the only book of Sami Myths and Folktales that's been published has not been translated into English, making it a huge pain to find and almost as much of a pain for me to read. But I need it, so there you have it. I hope this information is wrong, that there are other Sami Myth and Folktale books. I'm going to look some more in some more obscure places. But I'm afraid there won't be.

The problem with searching on "Sami" anything on Amazon, besides the fact that evidently Americans don't care about Sami, is that evidently "Sami" is a really common first name in some parts of the world. Because there were 408 books that showed up for the search, and only maybe 20 of them, tops, dealt with the Sami people. And if I used the "un-preferred" ethnic term Lapp, most of what I got was people whose last name was Lapp. Evidently there are lots of Amish people named Lapp. Do I care about the Amish? I do not. Despite many Amish jokes made in Mark's general direction. (I swear, dress him and Jed all in black and give them funny hats....)

Which brought up the perennial question: why is it that everything that interests me is obscure? You would think I would get interested in something trendy. But no. Never. I don't sit down and say, "Ah ha, I'm interested in X! No, wait, that's too trendy. I can't be interested in that. Everybody else likes it." Even when they played the heck out of Counting Crows on the radio, I still liked them a lot.

But they don't publish the heck out of the stuff I want to know. Sami culture and legends. Nineteenth century astronomy (with a focus on amateur women astronomers -- come on, there's fascinating stuff here, and it could even be a Women's Studies sort of book and I wouldn't mind). Finland and spies in the Cold War. Thomas Tallis -- or even Elizabethan music theory and history in general, I was not picky. Synaesthesia. Gardening practice, plant symbolism, and herbalism in the nineteenth century. (That's for the same book as the astronomy -- unlike Michelle, I have no special fondness for the nineteenth century.) And so on. On the up side, I feel that few people will be writing books that are even remotely like my books. But I didn't think that was a big danger to begin with.

It's not that there aren't books that I want. Ohhh, no. Yesterday I was decadent at the bookstore and let myself wander. (What was I doing at the bookstore? Buying at least one other person a birthday present. I did not break the Birthday Book Ban, although I was sorely, sorely tempted.) I wandered back into the children's section. Bad, bad idea. I don't own most of the speculative section, but I own a lot of what I want there, and what I don't, I can often borrow. Same goes for the fiction and even the poetry. But the children's section -- I don't have most of my kids' books here. We don't have room for my kids' books here. But I want them here anyway. I want to be able to read all of them whenever I want to. And I want the new ones. Oh, very much so. Will Shetterly, the only person in SF who's paler than me, wrote a kids' book. So did Tanith Lee, in the same series. People kept doing cool stuff after I thought I was a grown-up, and now I have catching up to do. Yay, catching up!

Other stuff I've learned lately: Jakob Dylan is even uglier than his father. Who would have placed a bet that Bob Dylan would be the handsome one in his family? But it's true. I like the Wallflowers a lot, but Jakob Dylan is, like, computer-generated ugly. Timprov says they make posters of him for people to put on their walls. And yet they don't make posters of John Popper. How much sense does this make? I ask you.

Well, I'm birthdaying today because I'm ornery. My dad predicted that I'd be born on July 27. I was born at 11:57 p.m. on July 26. I think it's the only thing I've ever done just to spite my daddy. (He said once that it was entirely to his credit that he had never asked Mom if she could hold off just a few minutes longer.) When I was little, they used to torment me by telling me that that year I was old enough and would have to wait until the time of my birth before I could open my presents. Which Mom had had wrapped and neatly displayed in the living room all week. Argh.

When we were in Sweden, our Swedish family woke me up singing and gave me my presents right then and there. And had a banana-bread texture torte with strawberries and blueberries on the top of it. None of this teasing and waiting and birthday time stuff. Happy birthday, here's some stuff. All right then. Very much to the point.

So, today it's off to the baseball game, armed with dried fruit and water bottles and sunscreen and sweatshirts. And just to make my sister-in-law's boyfriend feel better, I will assure the world at large that yes, Timprov and I will be cheering for the Twins. (Duh. My parents have a shrine to the Twins in their basement.) I assume David will cheer for the A's. Mary Anne can cheer for everybody if she wants to. And then home and Chinese food, probably, and presents, and talking to the folks. It's going to be a good birthday. I can tell these things.

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