Not Still Cranky

12 September 2002

Oh, man, was I cranky last night around suppertime. I had just gotten peevish. I didn't want to do any of the things I could think of doing. None of it sounded good. I didn't want to whine. I didn't want to refrain from whining. I was just not feeling pleasant. I went to make the cornbread and dropped an egg on the floor. Eggs don't tend to enjoy that kind of event, and incidentally, neither do I. Washing egg off the floor was not the magic solution that would make me less peevish.

I had chili and cornbread and talked to Mark about plans and started to feel a little better, and then I called C.J. And as I was chronicling my workday to Ceej, my peevishness became a bit more clear to me. I had been working on three things: the rewrite of "Another Hollywood Miracle," which had not yet clicked right in my brain; writing an essay involving grief and gifts, which seems really well suited to a particular magazine's theme, but was also very personally difficult to work on; and doing research on Asian immigration to America, which seemed like it was an emotionally neutral activity until I started talking about exactly what stories were being told frequently, poverty, oppression, prejudice...whee, it was great. Well, but talking to C.J. cheered me up, especially when he said, "You're more fun than tree roots." I mean, you just don't hear that every day. (He'd been breaking up roots that were damaging his sidewalk. It wasn't just the first comparison that came to mind.)

So I got off the phone with him and sat on the couch with Mark and read the rest of Kate Wilhelm's The Deepest Water. It was nice. I realized about halfway through that I really trust Kate Wilhelm as a writer -- that if something seems odd, I trust that she has deliberately written it to seem odd. That's not always the case with other writers, and I don't know if it's fair, but there's not much I can do about it.

Abby, the main character of The Deepest Water, has a dream: "She was drawn to a flower, a gardenia just opening. She picked it, and it turned into a lovely naked girl, and then she was the girl holding a tiger in the palm of her hand. It began to grow, and she knew it was devouring her, she was turning into the tiger. It was neither painful nor frightening, just interesting to know she was becoming a tiger."

The symbolism there is very clear, and I wondered if other people have dreams like this. If they do, I envy them. I'm much more likely to wake up two years later thinking, "Now, when did I become a tiger?"

I've started reading Terry Bisson's The Pickup Artist. I had checked it out from the library at least once before and not read it, and I can only conclude now that that's because I didn't get a chance to start it. I'm hooked in for sure.

In the midst of my research, I found possibly one of the first green-related slogans in California politics. Around 1910, Senator James Phelan, who had been involved in all kinds of anti-Japanese legislation, campaigned on the slogan, "Keep California White!" The Issei, who were heavily involved in farm labor at the time, countered with, "Keep California green!" I liked the change in what that phrase meant. I thought it was interesting. Another thing that strikes me again and again as I read about ethnic prejudice is that if you look at the bare facts of what the anti-Asian people were afraid would happen, they were right. They were afraid that California and the U.S. would become less and less predominantly white. They were afraid that educated Asian-Americans would demand to be treated with full respect and have all the rights of white American citizens. They were afraid that Asian-Americans would work alongside whites in every industry, would live in every neighborhood, would go to every school. They were afraid that their grandchildren would marry Asian-Americans or other non-whites, and that white racial identification would mean less and less.

And it's all happened, and it continues to happen. It's just that it looks a lot more like a blessing than a curse from this side.

I was amused by this site, inspired by the banality of the billboards that claim to quote God. Some of the slogans were kind of meh, but my favorite was, "I don't blame video games when my children start shooting each other." I also liked, "I don't care who started it, just stop it." (All attributed to God.)

Before I went to bed, the specific scenes for "Another Hollywood Miracle" clicked for me, so I'm going to try to finish that this afternoon, and work on the research and the hard essay but also maybe the Not The Moose Book. Oh, and I have another fun phone call to make, this time to the DSL people to tell them that yes, we did already mail their broken box back to them and here's the tracking number so they can deal with it and not charge us $500 for a box we don't have. And I also got a scene for a novel I'm not working on, so I want to get that written down so that I can stop thinking about it now and think about it later, when it's time to write that novel. Surprise for everybody: plenty on my "to do" list.

Hey, do you all have questions you'd like to see me answer here? If you do, write to me with them. Deep or trivial, your choice. The e-mail's below. I'll answer whatever you ask. Of course, I may answer with, "That's none of your business!" But I'll answer.

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