In Which Our Heroine Cleans Out, Packs Up, and Generally Keeps Busy

19 September 2003

I have discovered the disadvantage of moving in October from California to Minnesota. It's unlikely to be miserably hot or cold on either end, but you can't pack a whole heck of a lot in advance, not for certain. I needed a pair of shorts or a short, light skirt yesterday. I will need sweaters before we've unpacked. Any minute, it could start pretending to be fall here again or Indian summer up home, so I have no idea what proportion of shorts to sweaters I should leave unpacked. And okay, we've got a little over two weeks; it's not like I have to have everything packed tomorrow. But it would be nice to feel a little more confident, and possibly to have a theme to my random clothes boxes.

Should that be chests of booty? I'm not sure what the conversion is now, on International Talk Like A Pirate Day (which also happens to be Ed and Jen's anniversary, arrr, and my aunt Kathy's birthday, arrr).

It turns out that the Superhero Generator's fantasy character version is not designed for Finnish winters. In case you were wondering.

I discovered yesterday that some of the edits I meant to type were in the fish journal; that is, my last journal; that is, one of the journals packed in the books labeled "Marissa journals" and sealed shut. I'm a little discouraged by this, but I think it's encouraging me to take a sane view of things, namely, that I shouldn't drive myself nuts over all this. I can keep myself plenty busy accomplishing things with the move, typing other edits, working on short stories and other projects...nothing says that I have to have every single edit to Reprogramming typed in by the end of this week. (Which is good, because I don't even have them all figured out.)

Yesterday I sorted some old papers that had been sitting on the closet shelf. I pitched all of the homework from my grad Math Methods course -- I held it in contempt at the time, why would I want to look at it again later? I have my undergrad Math Methods course which was a million times harder and also more interesting. I have severalmany Math Methods books. And then there's the little fact that I am not a physicist any more. So I'm not as likely to need that much in the way of Math Methods.

Some things were obvious that way: I threw out my grad Mechanics notes, because I learned nothing in that class. I kept my grad Quantum Mechanics notes because I learned so little in that class that I suspected I may have taken story notes on the opposite pages, and I didn't have the energy to go through and find out. I kept my undergrad Mechanics and QM notes because I learned things in those classes, because I had a quality undergrad physics education.

Some things I squinted at and thought, "Why did I ever keep this?" The syllabus for the only course I ever dropped, for example: why did I keep that? Did I want to remind myself of when I didn't have to turn in homework, and gloat? Then there was stuff I knew why I kept. I had some extra pages from my fiction studio senior year, with notes from my classmates on my stories. At the time, I thought I might go back through and revise the stories I wrote for that class, paying special attention to the critiques my classmates gave me. Then I started writing short stories I cared about, had my brain sucked in by a novel, and haven't looked back since. Those stories are worth keeping around to see what I tried (in a faintly puzzled way) under the tutelage of an Updike fan, where I've come from there, all that. But the extra pages of notes? Um, no. I'm not going back to those stories, and my classmates' comments were not particularly astute, either. Most of them didn't even write fiction, particularly; they just wanted an easy senior year class and complained when the professor didn't tell them what to write. And who needs that?

I kept some things that I might not need again. I kept some of the stuff from my interstellar spectroscopy project. I might need it for a story. Kept the notes from the seminar with Freeman Dyson for the same reasons. Some of the stuff I kept because I don't want to lose sight of what it used to mean to me, and having it there in my own words and my own writing will help with that.

Most of the people we already know in Minneapolis know me as an ex-physics geek. They don't express surprise when they see the textbooks on the bookshelf or when some really lame physics joke escapes my lips. Because that's how they knew me in the first place. Out here it's a little foreign to most of the people I interact with, a little strange; they don't know that girl. I don't want to be her again, but I miss her from time to time.

(I will not, however, ask Hathaway if I can room with her.)

Sigh. This morning clearly demonstrated why I shouldn't think too long about my short stories, or rather, why I can enjoy short stories but will probably never, deep down, think of myself as a short story writer. I think "Silent Teraphim" could become a novel. Dagnabbit. Did I ask for another novel. Nooooo. But I was thinking about it, about whether I would want to do anything to it if the people who have it now don't want it. I'm afraid of marketing this one. It's got a love story but isn't romaaaaantic; it's Biblical but not at all orthodox; it seems like it could get sent out to lots of markets and not be quite right for any of them. At least, that's my fear. And so I started thinking about whether there was anything I wanted to bring out more, anything I wanted to do more with...and pretty soon I had something that was approaching the size of a novel. Crud. Stupid novel brain.

I like being a novelist. I really, really do. But sometimes I feel like more than half of my short stories are unpoked novels, or prologues to novels, or related to novels, or something. Which kind of ruins the instant gratification aspect of short stories.

Well, I won't think about that today; at least, not once I've finished making notes on it.

I have no idea how it got to be Friday, really. It was Monday just a minute ago. I've accomplished some stuff in the interim, but...well, I'm not particularly good with time on the day to week scale anyway, and it's easy to lose track of which day goes with what. I've put wild rice chili in the crockpot, so that when it's time for dinner I don't have to do anything but plunk it down on the table. I'm heading up to David's for lunch, and other than that, working, packing, reading, phone calls, getting stuff done. As usual. Friday? Nahh....

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