In Which Our Heroine Isn't Quite Done

27 August 2004

Here's the thing about cultures (no, I'm not entirely done with this immigration thing): you don't get to keep today's culture ten years from now. No matter what, you just don't. If you try to hold onto it and keep it exactly the same, you will make it pinched and crabby and stale. Have you ever had a relative whose spouse died, and they kept the house identical to when the spouse had last seen it? There's something pathetic about a candy dish that has been dusted but otherwise not moved since its owner died two decades ago.

What I'm saying is, I don't want the unmoved candy dish culture. I love being a Scandosotan. You all know that. But I have made the conscious decision to love it as a dynamic thing. To love it with outside influences its originators couldn't have dreamed of. To love hearing a thick Scandosotan accent coming out of the mouth of some guy named Karl and then turn around and see that he's Asian. To see Somali features framed by head scarves and see our people in that, too.

I'm lucky, because my grandparents' Minnesota was already open like this. It featured Afghani immigrants and Lebanese cooking and recently integrated neighborhoods as well as lutefisk suppers. It was already changing. I never got taught a static Minnesota as "mine" or "ours." But some people don't get taught it and pick it up anyway or make it up.

It's the same as the problem I was having with the architectural history books, really: the man who wrote them had fallen so in love with Minneapolis-that-was that he couldn't love Minneapolis-that-is or Minneapolis-that-will-be. And it offended and upset me, because it struck me as similar to criticizing my grandmother for looking and being different at 72 than she did at 22.

It's such a cliché, change or die. But I think it's a cliché because it's true, and I think it's hard to accept on a specific level. And some specific changes are not good and do not have to be celebrated. But the presence of people who think differently than one does is really not one of them as a generality. In some specific cases, sure, but generally no.

Ah well. My printer is now playing a game with me. I am required to pull the paper drawer out and push it in again every so often so that it recognizes that there actually is paper in there and grabs it and prints on it. This is the sort of game one plays with a two-year-old, without the advantage of the giggling two-year-old.

But I have fresh cherry tomatoes.

I'm almost done with Graham Joyce's The Stormwatcher, and I was having a hard time figuring out why it wasn't exciting me more. It's decently done, and I'm usually a sucker for freaky little kids, and I didn't read the lousy jacket copy until I'd already bought and started reading the book, so that can't have prejudiced me too much. Finally I realized: it was the character relationships. The characters themselves were decently enough done, though not what I would call cuddly likeable people. But their relationships are falling flat for me, feeling very stereotyped or unreal or both. I don't think the relationships are very well done, and as it's a very relational book, this is a problem. Joyce still has the knack of making sentences follow each other smoothly and events pile upon each other, so I don't hate the book, but it's not going to join my favorites list.

Expect sporadic journaling for the rest of this week, people. I leave for WorldCon on Tuesday morning, and tomorrow I'm doing half the cooking for 13, and there is always, always the book. And there is photo software to reinstall, and different photo software to install if that doesn't work, and some of you are getting impatient. I know. We'll get there.

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