In Which Our Heroine Starts Cranky But Gets Better

10 September 2003

People. If you are asking a favor of someone, is it too much to double-check that person's name? If, for example, you're asking someone to do your research for you, and her name is Marissa, addressing her as Melissa is not the best way to get her feeling warm and cozy about doing your work for you. If there is an "in" with her, that is not it.

Even when I get e-mails that say, "Hey, Melissa, great story!", it makes me want to grind my teeth or just plain scream. I know I shouldn't take it personally. I really shouldn't. But it feels like something is being taken away from me when I'm given some random stranger's name in praise. Have I told the story about being Kathy? You know what? I'm in a bad mood, I'm going to tell it again, and those of you who already know it can sing along or just skip a paragraph.

I was temping one summer, and they had me doing data entry at a combination office/warehouse. I entered data like a mad thing. Every once in awhile, someone would say, "I'm going out to the warehouse now, Kathy, can you catch the phones while I'm gone?" And I'd look around for someone else, and then, seeing no one, I would say, "I'll answer the phones, but my name isn't Kathy, it's Marissa." And the person would frown skeptically and say, "Really? George told me it was Kathy." And I'd say, "Well, George was wrong; I'm Marissa." This went on for eight days. On the eighth day, Kev and Michael and I think also Scott came to get me for lunch. I was in one of the back offices. And Mike went in and said, "Hi, is Marissa here? We're ready to take her to lunch." And they said, "We don't have anyone working here by that name." So Mike said that I was a temp and gave a description of me and what I'd been doing, and the two people in the outer office frowned at each other, and one of them said to the other, "Do you suppose he means Kathy?"

Head, meet wall. Wall, say hello to head.

This is the way it goes around here. Head and wall, wall and head. The reference letter that says we aren't deadbeats, the one that I verified they sent out on Thursday, did not arrive yesterday. What's more, the letters that were supposed to be faxed directly to Pam the Mortgage Being on Monday and today were not so faxed, and so now I have to call again tomorrow. Some people have suggested that I'm being too anal about this, since the closing isn't until October. Thing is, because of the screw-ups of Steve The Mortgage Moron, our sellers didn't want to agree to financing arranged by closing. They wanted the financing to be arranged by today. They have agreed to extend that if necessary, for which I am truly and deeply grateful.

And people, will you please stop arguing with me? Please? I'm not making this stuff up, all right? Don't try to tell me what I don't actually need. Let my mortgage person do that. It's her job. She knows the lenders better than you do. Also, please stop suggesting that if we were dealing with a reputable company, they wouldn't care about documenting whether I was a deadbeat etc. They would care, and this is a reputable company. I need you people to be nice to me, dammit; it's fine to mention that you didn't have to provide extra credit references when you got your loan, but don't assume that we have, for example, the same number of car payments or student loans that you have, and are therefore getting ourselves worked up over nothing. Don't assume that you have all the information just because I'm sharing some of it with you here. Don't assume that any information you don't have is about me being an idiot. I am not in the mood. I don't think I ever will be in the mood, actually.

If I'm talking to you, I've probably said it to you already. But if you were sitting around thinking, "I bet I could be helpful by suggesting something really obvious and/or not applicable!", just don't help. Learn from "Free To Be You And Me": some kinds of help are the kinds of help that helping's all about, and some kinds of help are the kinds of help we all can do without. Send sympathy and support. Do not send suggestions.

We are so lucky that the sellers are nice people and want to sell to us and all that, because otherwise we'd be at the point of thinking, "Oh, the postal service and the apartment complex management can't get their act together for the simplest of tasks, so I guess we can't have this house!" And that would not be pretty. Even as it is, I have had several quiet but intense things that I would not print in this journal. Not, shall we say, family-friendly things.

I keep getting spam that says, "Lower your monthly mortgage payments!" And I keep thinking, "No, no, silly people! I want to raise them! I want them to be higher than their current level of zero!"

Whew: I just got notice from the mortgage being that the apartment being sent her the appropriate stuff. So that's one less person I have to nudge/bug/harangue. And it improves my mood way more than it seems like it ought to. Which is a good thing, I suppose.

However, I still don't know what magical realism is, and last time I asked you people, I got answers that directly contradicted each other. So I think you guys don't know either. So I should send out some this-world fantasy that isn't too sorcerous in its fantasy elements when people say they want magical realism, and they can reject it their ownselves. But perhaps Jay Lake's explanation of genres is relevant here. Magical realism: explain nothing. All right. I can do that. In longer works, my characters tend to want to figure things out in technical detail (even in my fantasies, actually), but there are always things that they just assume will be so, even if they're fantastical; I can write within that. I can do that. Especially if it's shortish. Maybe. I hope.

"I can do that here, I can do that no problem, but it takes tools, and it takes time, how long is this stuff going to last?"

Yes. The theme of this month is "Jordan from 'Real Genius' gets a mortgage." Except that I do sleep. I almost slept in a chair in the living room yesterday afternoon. I sat there with my eyes shut, and then...I kept sitting. I just sat inside my head. What? That's almost sleeping. I wasn't moving. I wasn't doing anything or planning anything. I was just sitting in my head. Definitely almost sleeping.

Timprov has been having a colossally bad back week, in the direction Dr. Bill can't really help with. I'm hoping he'll wake up feeling better. I'm making chili tonight. Chili makes everybody feel better, right? With cornbread. (It's this version, but this version makes vegetarians and vegans feel better, too. Unless they're Michelle, because it's jam-packed with mushrooms. But if we've already made the entire world except Michelle feel better in two fell swoops, I think we'll have the time to track down that British chocolate mint stuff she likes.)

I finished the Popper yesterday and enjoyed it, and once I live in Minnesota I bet I'll enjoy the next volume of it, too. It would be more convenient to borrow it from David as I did Vol. 1, in terms of getting the book for free and on demand, but I have no need to add things to the to do list. No, that's not quite it. To be more accurate, I have no need to add fun things that I can do perfectly well in Minneapolis to the to do list. I can add necessary things to the to do list ("get homeowners' insurance"), and I can add California fun things to the to do list ("SF-MoMA with Karalee"). But a book that has to be read before we leave feels like another obligation, and I'm a little wary of those just now. Especially the ones that don't come with people attached.

I may miss out on one of the books I have on hold from the library, too, because it showed up last week right after I'd gone. But it'll be okay. Even though it was Karina-recommended. They will have it at Uncle Hugo's, and possibly at the library as well. And hey! The Minnesota libraries interlend. Like, in the whole state, basically. If you're outside the metro, you have to return the books to their original library, but inside the metro, no worries. And also we're 3 minutes from a library in the new house. Which is great. We don't even have to go out on the main road to get there.

Now I'm reading Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah Ross' Zandru's Forge -- a posthumous collaborative Darkover novel. I am weak. I discovered Darkover through Thendara House when I was 12, and I can't let the new books be, even though they're barely more Bradley's than Foundation's Fear was Asimov's. So I get them from the library and sigh and remind myself that the originals weren't perfect, either.

Okay. My mood has kept improving while I write this, which is good, because I was in a pretty foul mood last night and right away this morning. We will get things taken care of, and we will be grateful we live in the era of the fax, and we will try not to yell at the obits for Edward Teller. ("'Edward is almost unique for really having the courage of his convictions,' said Lowell Wood, former director of the Lawrence laboratory, in 1985." That's from the Merc's obit writer. Oh, really? Very few people were so convinced of their principles that they were willing to use anti-Communist hysteria against their colleagues for personal gain? Somehow I would have thought that kind of courage of convictions would be easier to come by. Okay. Right. Trying not to yell at the newspaper. Because it can't hear me and all.)

So I'm going to get on the phone to poke people one more time, and hope it doesn't shake the decent mood I've built for myself. It's gonna be fine, it's gonna be fine, it's gonna be fine. Eventually....

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