Unending Variety

24 September 2001

Stanford officially starts classes today, which means that Mark is back on half-time at his start-up and half-time at Stanford. Which means he spends Mondays working from home. I had thought that my mental distinction between weekends and weekdays was largely whether Mark was home or not, but last week, I learned that's not true. I have distinctly different expectations of myself on a weekend than on a weekday. I don't take weekend breaks, but I do expect less and different work of myself.

Anyway. It's still trying to be fall here. Mark and I tried to get malts at the soda fountain in downtown Hayward yesterday, but it's closed on Sundays. Also on holidays, Saturday afternoons, and all evenings. Basically, they asked themselves, "When might we get customers?" And then decided to be closed at those times. I wouldn't be averse to trying again this afternoon (unless they're also closed on days divisible by six), but we may not get the chance. There's always so much to do.

(Mark thinks it's time for my editor with Fortress to call or write me so that we don't have the slightest bit of guilt about getting ice cream. I have thought this for ages without any ice cream incentives at all, and I think that linking my ice cream to editors' behavior is a bad, bad idea.)

This weekend, one of my friends made a comment in an e-mail about "the unending sameness of suburbs everywhere." I had an immediate negative reaction: I don't believe in the unending sameness of suburbs everywhere. I don't believe in it at all. The Minneapolis suburbs are very different from the Omaha suburbs, and both are very different from where I live right now. Even Hayward and Concord have been quite distinct suburbs to live in, and they're suburbs of the same metro area. My friend said, well, maybe it was only Midwestern suburbs, but I still don't buy it -- as I said, Minneapolis and Omaha suburbs are different, and both are different from Milwaukee suburbs and Kansas City suburbs, and though I have conflicting reports about Saint Louis, it does sound fairly different.

So I have a problem. I don't really want to say to my friend, "It's your fault that you see unending sameness." But on some level, I think it is. I know in some ways I've been really lucky -- I've met great people and been able to do cool things wherever I go. But I get a little skeptical whenever someone is said to be lucky that many times in a row. It starts to look a lot less like luck and a lot more like a certain kind of readiness.

And every time I try to treat places as though they were all the same, my own brain bites me on the butt. (Not a very nice thing for one's own brain to do, I admit.) Like when I was trying to say that Concord was not a particularly interesting place, and my brain interfered. So I don't want to jump in and be a writer-snob at my friend about where he lives, but I guess at a certain level, I think I could write an interesting story with the setting of where he lives and/or works. I think I could make it work quite well, with the setting being more than incidental. I think there are things to see there. I don't know what they are, because I haven't been there yet. But I think they're there.

I don't know how to tell him this without blaming him for not seeing them.

Yesterday, I mostly read books about Finland and sent tidbits about them to people who happened to get in my e-mail way. "Did you know that Jean Sibelius liked every interpretation of his work as long as it was technically competent?" I said. "Can you believe the Finno-Soviet trade agreement during the Cold War?" I said. Evidently everybody did know it, could believe it, etc., because I got no e-mails back saying, "No! Wow! How fascinating!"

I will soldier on, lonely Finnophile.

Mark is singing, "I like Sami. I like Sami. They only come up to your knee...." I think David is right that we should maybe stop playing Monty Python albums for awhile around here. When the Finland song and the "I Like Chinese" song start to blend like that, cut us off, we've had too much.

Back to Morphism.

And the main page.

Or the last entry.

Or the next one.

Or even send me email.