The Great Complicator Strikes Again

9 September 2002

Bright-eyed this morning, and energetic. It didn't phase me when I had to reboot, not in the slightest. It's morning morning morning, and I'm ready to work work work.

Mark is still asleep, and Timprov is newly so, so the only people I have to annoy with my bright-eyed attitude is you all. I'm grooving along to Barenaked Ladies' "Gordon" album. I can tell Mark has been married to me just long enough, because when we were out on our date last night at North China restaurant down in Fremont, one of the other diners called out to the owner, "Oh, and Eddie, could you bring us some egg rolls?" And I looked at Mark and said, "They called him Eddie." And he got it and laughed. Rock music isn't really Mark's thing, but he listens sometimes, when I play my stuff, and I appreciate that.

Mark was looking last night at the colleges and universities who have already posted their calls for CS faculty for '03-'04. The U is on the list (University of Minnesota Twin Cities, for those of you who think there might be more than one "the U"), and so is UWMoN (University of Wisconsin Middle of Nowhere -- I don't know which one), and so is NDSU. And I almost teared up thinking about moving to Fargo. Not because it sounded so bad, but because it sounded so good. Fargo. I mean, I'm not sure I'd want to live in Fargo for more than a couple of years, but -- I could do that. Sure. Yes. Definitely. We'll wait to see what else opens up as more departments assess their needs. Lots of waiting. But it's excited waiting now. Soon it'll be contingency plan waiting.

One of you-all wrote a few days ago wondering what the parameters were for our upcoming move, and whether I'd be taking suggestions from journal readers. And, frankly, I'm not taking suggestions. We know what our target region is. The uncertainty is in which colleges and universities are looking for postdocs or new faculty members for '03-'04, and which of them would like to employ Mark, and which he would like to be employed by. After that, we're looking for snow, good cost of living, and proximity to friends and family members. And that's the part on which I don't feel I need advice: I know where there are concentrations of my friends and family members. Oh, I'm in love with Minneapolis, you all should know that by now. But I'm not counting on it right away. I'm not planning around it.

But I'm getting to the point where I can start to plan on something. And that's good. Very, very good.

And just as if to say, "Yes, come back to the Midwest!", I got an acceptance yesterday -- the brand-new Twin Cities Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy wants to reprint "Butterhead" in their first issue. So, woohoo! Cool stuff. Reprints are nifty, and I feel kind of like a big grown-up writer-lady, selling a story twice. I feel like that's the sort of thing One Does. And now I do it, too. Hee.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of my beloved Great White North, my mom wants it known that the green socks of several days ago were indeed purchased in Duluth, as even a flashback to those times would not have enticed her to buy bright green knee socks once the '70s were over. Which means that someone in my family has been wearing those socks from time to time for around 25 years. Those are, let me tell you, some good socks. My dad teases my mom about shopping sales and getting bargains, but that was a bargain and a half. If there was any indicator of brand, I would tell you what it is, so that you could go buy some and keep your toes warm for a generation. Alas, no. But good luck finding your own heirloom socks. They're useful.

I have to say, "Yoko Ono" is much better to have in my head than "Red and Black" from "Les Mis." It wouldn't be so bad if I could keep "Red and Black" in my head as it was written. But Timprov had to point out that the rhythm of it fits the rhythm of "Do-Re-Mi" from the sound of music, which got me singing, "Red! The blood of angry men! Re! A drop of golden sun!" Which, of course, morphed into Janelle's Dos song, which she sang for us in the Mall of America. (You know this one, right? "Ray, the guy behind the bar...etc. etc...Ti, no thanks I'm drinking beer!" Sure you do.) So then I was wandering around the house singing in stentorian and revolutionary tones, "Me! The guy I buy beer for! Black! The color of despair!" And I don't even like beer. Or despair.

(Those of you who are having difficulty imagining my voice producing stentorian tones may keep it to yourselves, thank you.)

And then we figured out that it really goes with everything, because it's Monosyllable, iamb iamb iamb. And iambs are really natural in English. The guys were watching Next Gen, and I started singing under my breath, "Wes! You silly stupid twit!" And they looked at me, and then Mark joined in, "Worf! A Klingon strong and brave!" So it really does go with everything.

That can be a bit maddening.

So. I finished three sections of "Things We Sell to Tourists" and shipped it off to the writing group for extra-harsh crits. Scott has nicknamed me The Great Complicator, on the theory that I naturally take fairly simple situations and ideas and make them fairly baroque. (I can hear him now: "It's not just a theory!") The classic example is how he doodles versus how I doodle. We use fairly similar doodling ideas sometimes, but mine have fjords and inlets and curliques all over them. Anyway, I feel like "Things We Sell to Tourists" is me being The Great Complicator again: I couldn't just come up with one story idea for the title and write that. Nooooo. I had to start doing linked short-shorts. I think there have to be at least two more, probably between II and III. Maybe more than that. I don't know. I don't even know if the stories I have now will be worth keeping as part of the linked short-shorts, or worth keeping at all. We'll find out, I guess. I'm not very distanced from them yet. I'm kind of fond of the boy and girl both thinking the other is a cute hick. I like the elderly gay man and the robots at the Turing Museum Gift Shop. I needed to do the young woman who's trying to figure out what her elderly aunt has left her in her will and why. There's got to be a highway one, I think. We'll see. I'm having fun with this. Glad I don't feel the need to do it all the time, though.

I finished reading the Foucault yesterday, and it seemed a good deal like reading about a lot of superstring theories: a fundamentally interesting topic that had been distanced as far as possible from anything concrete or any provable assertions. I suppose that's not fair -- Foucault made all sorts of provable assertions he didn't prove or even demonstrate. Anyway, I've moved on to The Deepest Water, which will be the twentieth Kate Wilhelm novel I've read in the last year. Juniper Time started my Wilhelm kick last September. I guess there are useful aspects to having a books-read list. (Thanks, Zed!) Although I guess the world would probably be no worse off if I just had an estimate of how much Kate Wilhelm I've been reading rather than a precise number.

I've got #21 sitting on the library pile, too.

I was looking back in my journal to find out when I'd read Juniper Time and if I had anything in particular to say about it, and I found this entry. In it, I said, "I'm worried, I'm nervous, there are lots of things in my world, ranging from migraines to impending war, that upset me. But I am. I'm happy. I have people I love who love me, and people I like who like me, I'm doing the work I love on a daily basis, and it's good. I'm happy. I get chocolate when I want it and my back scratched when it itches, and sometimes even fresh tomatoes from various sources. The kitchen is big enough to work in, the sofa is comfortable enough to sit on, the shower produces hot water, and me, I produce books." I went on to talk about how I'm not content, but I am happy. And it's still true. And it's good to remember.

I was thinking that there's a hazard in working in this field and paying attention to who's doing what, and the hazard is this: I know of a lot of people who don't yet have books out but have book contracts and are cool. So I know of more books I want to read than I used to, before they've even come out. It's gone beyond "the next Nancy Kress!" to "the next Nancy Kress and Charlie Stross' first book when it comes out!" And then I think of it in terms of timing -- when I read Charlie Stross' weblog yesterday and he was talking about his books' timing, I thought, well, I know what Daniel's getting for Christmas in '03. That's a teeny bit too far ahead to put on my "to do" list, but I'm pretty sure I'll remember who I associated with which new books.

Maybe that's not so much of a hazard. But still, it's pretty alarming to have advance Christmas present ideas for that long.

Well. It's supposed to be 90 here today. It's September. It wasn't 90 in July, but now that it's September...anyway, I have to get milk and cucumber and Nutella and stamps today, and most of my to do list from yesterday is intact, despite the fact that I did several things, many of them useful. Actually, it's not intact: it's had stuff added to it. Timprov would like me to update my links page. My Onie deserves a letter. Etc. Ah well. Off to it, then.

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