In Which There's No Going Back

25 October 2003

And let me tell you about my nightmares.

I have two kinds of them lately. The first one is powerlessness. This is my classic one. It started out that I was powerless to save myself in this type of nightmare, from various hideous and graphic things. Then, somewhere around college, I started having these dreams that featured other people. People I care about and was powerless to help out of their equally graphic and hideous torments.

The other kind is more subtle. I keep dreaming that they make me go back. Well, having just moved from California, I guess it's not that subtle, is it? But it beats hot irons for subtlety, is what I'm saying. It seems like it would be merely a bad dream. It isn't. It's a nightmare. It wakes me up in a panic because I am not going back. And when I'm thinking about it, this doesn't make a lot of sense to me: I didn't have an unhappy childhood. For a geek, I didn't have unhappy teen years. I adored college when I was in it. Grad school...had a lot of other happy things going on at the time. It's not that going back to these things is so heinous, in general, I think. It's the very idea of having to go back. I go forward. This is what I do. Back, not so much so.

(And invariably, when I've been forced back into grade school or high school in my dreams, I offer sensible grown-up rationales for why I shouldn't have to do things. "I learned differential equations years ago," I tell them. "I shouldn't have to do this worksheet." What my subconscious remembers quite clearly and my conscious sometimes forgets is that I offered very similar sensible grown-up rationales at the time. And was still made to do the damn worksheets.)

But the frequency of this type of nightmare lately seems pretty obvious. My subconscious just needs it to sink in that I won't be dragged kicking and screaming back to California.

This weekend is the anniversary of Paul Wellstone's death, and the paper has been running stuff all week, articles that seem reasonable and sensible and proportionate to me. I heard a bit of grumping on the day of his death that they were "going to turn him into Saint Wellstone." I don't think that's happened, but I also think he was a great Minnesotan, and he had qualities that were worthy of mourning by the people he served, then and now. I agreed heartily with Wellstone on some points and disagreed just as heartily on others, but I would be overcome with relief to see someone like him on the political scene again. I would weep for joy to have a Paul Wellstone running for president, whether I voted for that person or not, because he knew how to take positions, dig in, and fight for them. I had the sense that while he was plenty interested in political power, he was interested in using it for values and goals he supported, not just for the sake of having power. You can respect someone like that. You can deal with someone like that. You can consider whether you agree with their goals and values and vote accordingly, not slide over their platform wondering how many nanoseconds after the election it'll change.

We're famous here for Minnesota Nice. What's not so famous is Minnesota Honest, but we've got that, too. It's not the same thing as prying or being tactless or telling people your entire life story on a moment's whim. But Wellstone had it, that Minnesota Honest that can't smell a turd and call it perfume, and I'd like to see more of it in national politics. And fewer perfumed turds. (Yeah, I'm feeling particularly delicate today. I'm a pretty fragile flower.)

And the anniversary is reminding me of how it was last year, how Timprov and I went to Perkins and sat and talked to each other and to the other people there while they lowered the flag. How it was to be an exile at home then. How good it is not to have to leave here again in another day or another week, not to have to go back.

Ah well. Today is cool but not crisp -- it's days like today that make people specify, because it's cool and wilted. It's just started raining now, in the evening, but it's been making faces like it was going to all day. It's been a quietish day. I can add it all up to make a day, but I've been feeling like creamed crap on crackers. You know all those times I said I was having a rough period? I lied. This is a rough period. The cramping, the achiness, the nausea. Wheee. It's better than it was this morning. My accomplishments before 10:30 this morning: 1) drinking one glass of milk; 2) retaining milk in stomach for normal processing time. I have since eaten (a bowl of Grape Nuts, a bowl of double mushroom chili, a pear, a handful of almonds, and a few bites of Chunky Monkey, for the terminally curious) and am doing much better.

Timprov and I talked through some of the stuff on the Not The Moose that's giving me trouble. Celia's livejournal entry got me poking at the NTMB from an angle I hadn't been thinking about in those terms. Unfortunately, it was kind of a depressing angle. But once I got past that, it was a fruitful way to go: how are the characters not abject failures for the outcome of this novel? That is, how was their set of actions the best they could do under the circumstances? I know people don't always do their best in real life, but I think it's fairly important that these characters are not just phoning it in but are really wrestling with stuff and are in tough circumstances with no good way out. Things look a little clearer in that light, I think, and Timprov was also able to help me see what Sohvi Vääräniemi was up to. I've been reacting to Sohvi the way my viewpoint characters would, and while that has its advantages, I do think I need to know what she's up to in at least a general form, even if they don't. And now I do know, and what's eating at her and why she's always running off and why she's so cranky, and it fits in beautifully historically. I love it when they do that, plot points, character development, and historical trends all coming together neatly.

Also, when I was telling Timprov the "successful endings" for each of the characters, he stared at me and said, "Are these people Finnish?" Because it sounded like such a Finnish view of a hero's end, evidently. Which is good; if I'd wanted this to be the New World book, I could have just set it here with characters from here. That'll be the next one. In this series, I mean. Partially set here, American protagonists. Northern American, though, and they may end up wandering around Canada as well, because they have to go where the Finns settled. Or it seems like they will.

And my mother's best deliberately-bad Scarlet O'Hara in my head says, "I won't think about that today, I'll think about that tomorra." Yep. Tomorra is another day.

Tomorra, in fact, is another day on which I won't be updating the journal. No particular reason except that I don't feel fabulous and have a lot to do, and this entry nearly got forgotten when I went to curl up with Sorcery and Cecelia. I need to do other stuff. I'll "see" you all on e-mail or on Monday.

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