In Which Teraphim and Perkins Are Together Again for the First Time

21 August 2003

It's too early.

It's 5:30, and I can't sleep, so here I am, and I can't say I'm thrilled about it. When I woke up, I did the five minute contingency plan I call "Ways In Which It Will Be Okay." Finished that with the conclusion that It Will Be Okay. So...okay. what? How about that new story I decided I should write instead of "Making Alex Frey" for this week but haven't actually started yet? Fine, I told my brain; when it is time to wake up, we will think about that story.

How about we call it "Silent Household Gods?" says the brain. Fine. Okay. Go back to sleep. Or maybe "Silent Teraphim?" Teraphim is a good word. It is a good word. We'll call it after the teraphim. Go back to sleep. But it sounds an awful lot like terrapin, you know? So people might think it was about turtles. And silent turtles are not that unusual. "Noisy Turtles," now there's a title. Go. To. Sleep. Maybe if we put it in the story really early, that that's what they called their household gods? Or if we had one of the gods be turtle-shaped, that might be cool.... No turtle-gods, brain. Not in this story. Hey! Why are you humming "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" at me? "It's getting to the point where I'm no fun any more...." Oh, that's just it.

So hi. Here I am. Rather than letting bits of my brain vacillate indefinitely about the new story's title and contents, I decided to get up and write bits of it. With the teraphim, firmly. And eat breakfast, unload the dishwasher, read journals and the newspaper, maybe write some e-mail...stuff. You know about stuff.

Later in the day, I have stuff on the agenda like packing and dealing with the realtor for the last time before I see her and calling C.J. for the last time before I see him. I think it's probably a good thing not to do those things at 5:30 or even 6:30 in the morning, though.

Also, screaming with frustration is not recommended for this hour. But my hotmail is not allowing me to do attachments. Yarg! It was doing this last night. I'm going to try the magic trick (rebooting the stupid computer) and see if that works. But I don't see how I'm supposed to submit things as .rtf attachments if I can't get it to do attachments, and this particular market has had trouble getting attachments from my "real" mail in the best of times. Sigh. (An hour later, it seems to have fixed itself.)

The up side is that I was trying to submit a version of an essay I've been trying to write since May, off and on. I put it aside for a few months, and the new version is less mopey and less morbid. Matches its subject matter better, which is good, and also may be more saleable, which is a bonus. It's about my grandmother's recipe for rye bread. A few of you had expressed an interest in that, so here it is. A family heirloom, but the kind that doesn't diminish in giving it away: enjoy.

I may do another essay today. I might. It'd be nice to at least give the issue themes a try -- this market has liked my stuff in the past, and they pay decently and promptly, and it seems like a good thing to try, maybe.

I'm kind of into "Silent Teraphim," though. When I finished the first Year's Best Fantasy and Horror last night, I started reading Madeleine L'Engle's Sold Into Egypt, which is a series of ponderings and...character sketches, maybe?...on the Joseph story from Genesis. Sarah and Jeff gave it to me for my birthday. I'm enjoying it, but it got me thinking about Dinah again, the only sister in that story filled with brothers. Anita Diamant's The Red Tent didn't really do what I wanted done with Dinah, and it chased itself around my head with "in those days there were giants in the earth," although I can't really call it "Giants in the Earth" because of Rĝlvaag. But that's all right, because I like the teraphim title anyway.

Tomorrow Amber will take us to the airport, and we'll fly out, and when we get in, I'll call C.J. to meet us at Perkins. I've had to explain Perkins a few times lately; it's not the universal institution I grew up thinking it was. We're dismayed that California lacks them. I'm even more dismayed at having to explain them in terms of places like Denny's. What I told David was something like, "It's like if Denny's had some class," which was understandably hard for him to imagine. I waxed rhapsodic about the muffins. I mean, the éclairs are good, too, and the pie, and you can get decent diner hash-browns (and I probably will), and the food will be more or less decent all around -- not fabulous, except for some of the baked goods, but decent.

And it's open late, in some places all night, which is why The Perkins Run is its own special thing: done with a movie? Don't want to go home? Perkins Run! Have a late flight? Airline food not satisfying you? Perkins Run! Sick of staring at the dorm walls? Still need to at least pretend to do some homework? Perkins Run!

Also, you can take your stodgier relatives to Perkins and still be able to find something to eat there yourself. (Unless you're a vegan. Perkins, being All-American Food, is not particularly vegan-friendly. Maybe someday soon.)

Also, it was where we stopped on the way from Sioux Falls to Minneapolis sometimes. It was where we had breakfast the morning of my graduation. It was where I fished kiddie prizes out of the prize wishing well. It was where we were, eating muffins and talking about books, when we watched them lower the flag to half-mast for Senator Wellstone -- not only where we were, but the right place to be, the sort of place where you could talk with the people at the next booth for a few minutes about what you'd heard on the radio, what they'd seen on the news, and then go back to your muffins peacefully, the sense of community still there but not intrusive. (That's Minnesota in a nutshell for me: sense of community, but not intrusively so. Mostly.)

Perkins for us is like iced drinks for Americans traveling. You don't sit around the U.S. thinking, "Thank God I'm an American, where I can get my lemonade with big ol' frozen chunks of water in it!" But spend a fortnight in Europe and then watch the people around you making a beeline for the fast food kiosks in the airport on the return trip, not for tacos or burgers but for giant beverages that are more than half ice by volume. That's how Perkins is.

Anyway, anyway. It's the year of the encyclopedia here, because in addition to entries for Encyclopedia of Themes in Science Fiction and Fantasy, I'm now doing entries for Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. It's nice and I'm happy: a little extra money, a chance to find out facts about some of my favorite authors, what could go south with this? I got lots of good ones to write, too, including Helen Cresswell (nanny nanny nooner nogs, Peg!).

Nanny nanny nooner nogs. Er. Right. And my mom thinks people are going to give me funny looks when I quote her as saying "that sucks pond scum" or "crap, crud, and corrosion!" I think they've figured it had to come from somewhere, although I admit that my father and my grandfather are not entirely unlikely candidates, and even my grandmother occasionally weighs in gleefully with such candidates as, "That's funnier than a crutch!" Funnier. Than a crutch. Yes. I spent most of my life thinking, "Well, most things are...." But now I'm so amused by "funnier than a crutch" that I contemplate saying it myself from time to time. It delights me. What do your relatives say?

I think it's time for me to get back to the list now, back to "Silent Teraphim" and packing and the Not the Moose and Sold Into Egypt and all. Hey, it just occurred to me: you know what I'm writing? A love story. It's fantasy for sure, and the plot isn't boy-meets-girl (or even girl-meets-giant, which is closer), but there is an actual real-live during-the-story love story. I guess wonders really never do cease. I thought that was just something they said.

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