Reading and Reading and Reading

28 July 2001

Day of the birthday party! When I'm done writing this, I'm going to wash the fruit and hull the strawberries, and then I believe we will be ready. Except I may need to change clothes. It's supposed to be a high of only 70 in Oakland. This is not the weather I ordered! I ordered bright, sunny, bikini-top-and-jean-shorts, picnic weather!

Now watch. I'll change into moderately comfy 70 degree weather clothes, and it'll warm up and I'll wish I could peel down to something cooler. Mark my words. (In anticipation of this, I'm wearing a sweatshirt, a T-shirt, jeans, and my bikini top, with shorts in my backpack. So there! Take that, Bay Area microclimates!)

Susan and Mary Anne, as they prepare food for this event, are writing sweet nostalgic things. Ahh, the smell of gingerbread. Ahh, short eats and family parties. Not me. No, I am writing a religious tract on potato salad. It's not a recipe. Recipes have measurements and stuff in them. No, this is a set of commandments. The Potato Salad Commandments. Potato salad is serious business. I can be friends with people who disagree with me about potato salad, just as I can be friends with people who disagree with me about God. But I will not be converted to some other path.

My mother wants it to be a matter of public record that her and Daddy's prenuptial agreement did not say that she won't clean the bathrooms, merely that she doesn't have to. She doesn't want anybody to think Daddy leads a rough life. And she wants it generally known that she "cleaned the blue bathroom just last week, so there."

So there indeed.

Other than baking cakes and working on short stories, I read yesterday. Read a lot, actually. Finished David's copy of Galileo's Daughter, in which I wanted more nuns, less astronomy. (You will almost never hear me say that, but I already knew the astronomy parts.) And then I read Albert Goldbarth's Popular Culture. Poems. From my godfathers. Goldbarth is cool, but this was not my favorite of his collections. Which is really too bad, because it's the only one I own. And now that I own the lovely Anne Sexton collection (thanks, Sarah!), I can shove that down people's throats. I would like to be able to shove some Goldbarth with it. It's not that it was a bad collection, just that something else would probably be a better choice for someone's first Goldbarth.

Now I'm picturing My First Goldbarth, complete with brightly colored bunny and ducky illustrations.

Anyway, then I read Tanith Lee's Islands in the Sky. Timprov bought it for me because he has a habit of saving a little bit of present buying and then asking me right before a holiday, "All right, what do you really want that you don't think anyone else has gotten you? What have you forgotten to ask for?" (He coordinates with Mark, who coordinates with other folks, to make sure I'm right that I'm not getting whatever it is somewhere else.) And this time it was Will Shetterly's children's book, Thor's Hammer. But when he went to get it, Timprov noticed that it was number four in a series, so he bought me the first one, Islands in the Sky, as well. And it was okay, but it sometimes degenerated into preciousness. I expected a little better of Tanith Lee. (I'm not sure why, since we don't have any of her other books. But her short stories in the fairy tale anthologies were definitely worth reading.)

I take a vow before you here and now: no one in any of my books will ever, ever say, "This is the land of the imagination, my child." Ever. You can count on that.

So when I finished Islands in the Sky, I started Diane Ackerman's A Natural History of Love, a birthday present from Mark. I love Diane Ackerman. Her poetry is so good, and then her nonfiction is also so good. And it's really her fault I have creeping Asimovitis, because she writes the kind of nonfiction I want to write. When it comes to nonfiction, I want to be the love child of her and Oliver Sacks. When it comes to fiction, today I want to be the love child of Octavia Butler and Spider Robinson. (And isn't that an image for you.) But the fiction ones vary a lot more widely, because I don't really want to write like anybody else, I want to write like me.

I also want to read the newspaper, but in the immortal words of Jagger/Richards, you can't always get what you want. It seems like the newspaper should never be related to those times, though.

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