Glacial Wanderings

19 November 2002

Two years ago at Christmas, Mark bought me a "dog a day" calendar, so that I'd have a dog to look at every day until we can have a dog to look at every day. (So I'd have a dog to look at every day. Riiiiight.) That calendar featured many, many dressed up dogs. We were horrified and disgusted, because you just knew that those poor dogs did not want to have halos taped to their heads or whatever. You could tell how miserable they were from the pictures -- their dogly expressions were the same as little kids faced with a bowl of dandelion and nettle soup: "Ma, do I have to?" So he bought a different brand of "dog a day" calendar this year, and it's much better. No stupid costumes, not even on holidays. Some of the dogs are shown chewing on balls and sticks and rawhide and other things like that. They picked happy, dogly dogs. The only complaint I have is that they have fun little dog-owner facts to the side of the picture. Today's page shows a happy springer spaniel sitting among some fallen leaves, and the side says simply, "Potatoes cause gas in dogs." And it just makes me look at the springer spaniel in a whole different way. Ack.

It's still much better than a pilgrim costume for the poor beast, though.

So I talked on the phone a good bit yesterday. Marylyn called in the morning to say hi. Evidently that was all she wanted to say, so we said hi, and I gave her a quick recap ("everybody here has lots of work to do"), and then she was done. Okay then! I'm supposed to call her about Christmas, which I will do one way or another, once we know anything. Then C.J. called before supper, partly to wonder if I'd be free to talk after supper (or, more importantly, after he was done playing volleyball), so we talked both before and after supper, until I decided that he needed to go to bed before he became inaudible. (He's like my dad that way: if he doesn't feel good or gets tired, the volume just creeps down and down and down.) I needed some phone contact with home, I think. It was good.

I'm wondering: is there a vegetarian look? Or a vegetarian uniform? Or something one does to indicate that one is a vegetarian? Because when Mark and I went out for Chinese food yesterday, the waiter looked at me, right off the bat, and said, "You want vegetarian food?" in that half-question intonation, as if which vegetarian entree was the only question left. I didn't, I wanted kung pao scallops, but it made me wonder what I had done/looked like to make him assume. We've been there before, but I've only ordered vegetarian once, and I don't think I'd seen that waiter before. (It wasn't Eddie, the owner, though, which is good, because Eddie sometimes tries to bully me.)

Mark took the defunct monitor out of the living room and up to the recycling place yesterday, yay! So it was like getting part of our living room back. It cost us money, but I kept repeating, "The environment is worth the $10." Also it's illegal to dump the silly things. At least it's gone. Yay. We can sit in that armchair again.

There are still some things on the "to do" list about which I despair. "Take sax in for pads," for example -- I doubt that we're going to find the time/money/inclination to do this in California. Mark hasn't been playing regularly, and I don't think he'll have the time to play regularly until after we've left. So I don't think that'll get removed from the "to do" list any time soon -- but there it stays. I'm going to remove "fix monitor cable" right this very instant, actually -- it's been on the list since we moved here (here = California, not here = Hayward), and we've fiddled with it, and it's just not worth it. A new monitor for Christmas, that's the ticket. I've talked to the folks about it, even. I still might end up with socks and books and a geeky baby-T, but the monitor is probably pretty important. And Fry's has them for fairly cheap, off and on. So. We'll watch the sales. But the "to do" list looks kind of lonely without the big, bright green "fix monitor cable."

Sadly, the phrase "big bright green" was immediately followed by "pleasure machine!" in my brain. So now I have to put that album on. The musical part of my brain has been pretty demanding lately, you may have noticed. It's not just for your benefit. It's like that all the time.

It's funny: I'm getting "found" in this book. I can see what I need to do to finish it. I can see the end from here. I no longer feel like I'm melting a glacier. I feel as though I've gotten scrambled up on the top, and now I'm hiking on a glacier. And I can see the edge of it from here. I feel almost more daunted than when I was wandering around with ice higher than my head. But it's also exhilarating. Even though I'm familiar with the concept of a crevasse.

I have all these notes on it now. I've finally typed the last of the stuff that was written longhand in my journal, and I'm still not sure what to do about that in the days to come. I think I'll just go with whatever I feel like in the moment, but I have the feeling that I'll do more longhand stuff simply because The Changing Face of America: The Chinese Americans is going to be a lot of directly on-computer work. So it'll be good to change work positions if I can. (And it's much easier to shift around and change work positions when I'm writing longhand.)

I'm trying to decide whether it'd be worth it to try taking BART to the library today. It's half a mile from the station to the library according to the trip planner, so if I don't get too zany with the books, it should be okay in that regard. (Big if.) I'm just trying to figure out whether I have other errands to run down in Fremont that would warrant taking the car. I think I'd like to have a trial run going to the library from BART in case Mark's office finally gets itself moved (yes, I try to include some humor in the journal sometimes) and the location isn't public-transit-friendly for him. On the other hand, there's no point in lacking fruit leather if taking the car could get me fruit leather. Hmm. The library doesn't open until 1:00 anyway, so I have plenty of time to decide. (Stupid library hours anyway.)

I really like going to the library before 3:00, because then the toddler crowd is out in force. And there are the cutest interactions with little people insisting on, "One more book, Mama" and "Won't you please read to me now?" I like it when toddlers are firm and opinionated about books. (And yes, you are allowed to quote that back on me when I have a toddler who wants to read Space Moose with me for the three hundredth time.)

I should really finish Space Moose at some point. I'm fond of it. Well, it's on the list. Along with everything else I should finish at some point. I have these urges to work on various projects -- the Icelandic YA novel, the first book of Timprov's and my collaborative SF trilogy, a bunch of short stories, the neuropsych start-up company novel -- but they're muted, compared to my usual urges in those directions. Mostly I just really do want to work on the Not The Moose and finish it. Which is good, because there's plenty of work yet to do on it.

I'm well into the stage where I can't judge what will have to be done with it when it's done. Now is the time to just keep pounding out prose, scene after scene, and make sure that I take notes and check things when I think to. It's just time to push this through to the end. I may find I've written long for once. I may find I've written short as always, and that really frightens me, because if I have, then I'm probably forced to split it into more than one book. And I know where to split it, it'd be all right, but...scary stuff. Not time to think about the scary stuff. Just time to write.

I finished Spirits of the Ordinary yesterday and started reading Finland: Myth and Reality. I will tell you, there is entirely too much reality per unit myth in this book. But there are such charming points in Finnish history that I get all excited when I see them coming. It's like my favorite scenes in a movie: ooh, ooh, now Paasikivi's going to lay down the law to Stalin, hee hee! And now Kekkonen's going to jump in: "Stalin as host spoke of the compromise reached in the talks. 'What compromise?' interrupted one of the Finns. 'The treaty was dictated by Paasikivi.' After a moment of stunned silence, Stalin burst out laughing. The Finn who spoke was Urho Kekkonen, the man who a few years later was to succeed Paasikivi as president." Yep. Hee. I just love this stuff. The Winter War stuff is amazing, but the Cold War is even better.

I was going to say I'm so lucky to get to write a book about Cold War Finland. Then I remembered that luck has very little to do with it. Well. I'm happy with me, then, for thinking of it. Go, subconscious, go.

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