Demonstration of Gravity

21 November 2002

So I woke up at 5:30 again, and it's my own fault. (Someday I'm going to have an infant I can blame all this on. Then the infant is going to grow up and nobody is going to believe me if I say my teenager is the reason I'm up before dawn. Dang.) See, Wednesday I had a half a grapefruit with my lunch.

Isn't the grapefruit diet supposed to be a classic fad diet? Didn't it get a Weird Al song all its own? How on earth are people expecting to lose weight if they eat grapefruit? Grapefruit makes me hungry. Really, really hungry. So hungry that yesterday after I got back from lunch at David's and de-kittified myself, I had (because I am so brilliant, people) the other half a grapefruit. Aaaagh. So. Hungry. Must. Eat.

So I got up at 5:30 and had myself a tortilla with Nutella. And that should hold me until 8:00 at least. Hungry.

(And speaking of kittifying, did you know that TNT evidently can't show movies that say the word "pussy" in any context? The Austin Powers line was supposed to be, "I never forget a" Hardehar. But they changed it to, "I never forget a" That's not smarmy and innuendo-ridden! It's not even worth a har! Silly people. Well, it's kind of funny in a "featherduster fairygodmother" way. And it's not like I'm an Austin Powers purist, if any such thing exists. Still, obscure and silly censorship just gets at me.)

Am I perhaps the only one with this grapefruit/hungry thing? Is it "just me?" And if so, why?

My mom and dad are in Eagan this morning. I wish I was in Eagan this morning. Well, I'd rather be in Minneapolis proper, or Maple Grove, or Columbia Heights, or something like that. But Eagan would do quite well. Then again, I don't really envy Mom her religion-running duties, so maybe it's some kind of trade-off. Maybe.

One of the books I started yesterday is a Tool Of The Man. The Chinese Communist Man, to be exact. The book is Made in China, and it has all kinds of interviews with Chinese officials, in which the author/interviewer throws them softballs. All kinds of softballs. Questions that are essentially, "Why is China wonderful and fabulous, and why is it your Party's fault?" It's faintly nauseating, but also vaguely fascinating, and there are a few things in it that are going to be good for the immigration book. (Which I worked on yesterday. Worked on three books: the immigration book, The Long Night, and the Icelandic book.)

I'm also reading The Political History of Finland, in case you were wondering. It isn't just a political history of Finland. It's the political history. I'm not finding it as charming as old Mr. Jakobson's books, but I got pretty fond of him over the course of Finland in the New Europe and Finland: Myth and Reality. It's still informative and all. It just doesn't have as much personality, at least not yet.

I've been scattered again, scattered, as you can tell by the fact that I was actively reading two books and writing three, yesterday. I felt a bit like (drum roll, please) that bit in "Real Genius" -- "You're not Mitch! Hey Laszlo, you want to see a demonstration of gravity?" I was bouncing off the mental walls. I was associating everything with something I wanted to read. Not the same something. Different somethings. I couldn't mess with the spices in the pasta sauce without thinking, "Ooh, I haven't read that in awhile!" Because basil, to my brain, is evidently equivalent to From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. You know what I always wanted as a kid? Not a pony -- my mom always made the connection between ponies and pony excrement entirely clear. No, I wanted some more of those files. What else was in those mixed-up files? I wanted to know. I still want to know. Probably not enough to write a letter the way I did to Madeleine L'Engle (and you should write to her, too, and tell her to write another Charles Wallace book, because she's not getting any younger, and I'm going to be very cranky if I have to go for the rest of my life with no new Charles Wallace book). But still. I wanted some more files.

I also think it's the hazard of being the child of Baby Boomers that I consider turning the music up too loud and dancing around the kitchen "behaving like my mom." It's not necessarily a bad thing. But it's just like my mom. She grooves. (And she really does listen to the music much louder than I do, in the car, especially. So does Timprov's mom. It's kind of funny.) Basically anything I do while cooking, my mom has probably done it, though. I also noticed the way I was standing on one foot with the other kind of on tiptoe, while I was stirring a white sauce and reading: that was Mom, through and through. It seems a bit odd -- I mean, you don't think, oh, I'll stand like this now, because that's how my mom stands. Evidently it just happens.

I did a lot of grooving yesterday, partly because of my "demonstration of gravity" mood, and partly because I informed Jenn that I would when she finished her novel, which she did. Wooooooo! Book party, book party!

You know what I like? Noodles. I really do. I was making noodles for dinner last night, and we had had noodles for dinner Monday (with radioactive cheese dust!), and we have default noodles in the fridge that have me all psyched, and then I was thinking I'd really like some Long Life up in Berkeley. I could eat noodles pretty much indefinitely, I think.

Not that you cared about my noodles. But they're good, and I like to remember little good things, little happy things, and not just focus on big good happy things.

I found more damn ants yesterday. Three different times. They were the tiny little sugar ants this time. Somehow that makes it worse. Little bugs get me a lot more than big bugs do. Some big bugs are pretty cool, but the little, swarming kind -- yarg. So. I spotted two of them on the counter before I left for David's, and I scoured the counter. Another two when I got back. On my freshly scoured counter. Yarg. And another one when I went to make dinner. Why? Where are they coming from? Doesn't it matter that I just cleaned? Please can't it matter? I know, I know, five ants is not exactly an epic of suffering and loss. But still. Yarg.

I was talking to Timprov about Midnight Sun Brain books and Long Night Brain books again, and it looks like I'll most likely be in Long Night Brain for awhile. I have some Midnight Sun Brain books to write, but not soon, I don't think. I could be wrong, though. And I was talking through this, because it's a fairly useful internal classification, and Timprov kept laughing and finally said, "What are we going to do this Long Night, Brain?" So I said, "Same thing we do every Long Night, Pinky: try to keep the Russians from taking over the world." And went on with it.

Thomas linked to this, and I am amused. It did, however, make me think, "Hey, I haven't reread that in awhile!" The Westing Game. Sigh. Boom. See what I mean? Everything is about another book I should read or reread.

Also, I like today's Lileks generally, though not in every particular. Let me explain. No, is too much. Let me sum up. To paraphrase my mother-in-law, more sex, less violence! Yeah, that'll about do it.

Also I like today's Ozy and Millie. I think after today it'll be at this location. Can't swear to it, though.

Heathah said it was okay if I put her chocolate caramel bar recipe up, so here it is.

I figured out what editors are really for, last night. Yeah, yeah, for editing, I know. But also to keep writers from being such babies. See, here's the thing. Every time I give somebody something of mine to read, I have this moment of panic: "No, wait, don't read that! Read, um, this other thing! Here! It's much better! Or, wait, no, not that, I know, I'll just finish another book, and that'll be good, and then you can read that! And I'll edit this some more! Edit! Edit!" Doesn't matter whether it's a friend, a family member, an editor, a stranger on the street, whoever -- whenever I give someone something of mine to read, I just want to wail, "No, wait!" after them. "No, wait! I'm almost done -- here, just give me another week, and I'll write something else completely!"

And editors? Editors, when things go well, buy your stuff, and yes, they edit it, you edit it with them, but then it's done. It's out there, you're through with the actual book part, buh-bye, it's all promotion from there, and while an editorial seal of approval doesn't mean that it's going to rock every reader's world forever, it takes the whine out: the story is in finished mode, and it has been deemed worthy by at least a handful of people, and it is no longer only yours. This is what I don't understand about people who want to hang on to control of their work with tooth and claw. It just seems like it's a bad thing, when the work remains solely yours and other people aren't out there scowling at it and poking at it and writing you obnoxious letters about Charles Wallace. You want to be done with it, don't you? You want to let it be a part of other people's lives. Let them fuss about it.

So with the stories that are published, I can let go. I can say, well, I don't need to muck with that any more, because [editor I trust here] has done all the mucking that needs doing, or has made me do it, or has paid some copyeditor to do it. And then if people don't like it, there is nothing more I can be expected to do. No more second-guessing. If I get the "no, wait, not that!" response, I know it's irrational then.

I know it's irrational now, but I have to squash it every time. And editors help with the squashing.

I've been telling people that I'm maybe going to the chiropractor today. Well, I'm not. I may go tomorrow before we go to Berkeley, or I may go next week. But I'm not going today, because my back hurts, but I don't really feel like going anywhere at all. I feel like staying home and hammering out three kinds of prose and not putting clothes on until after my next meal, which is probably going to be elevensies, the way I'm feeling today. (I already had a pear for second breakfast.) And there's no really compelling reason why I shouldn't just stay home in my pajamas until midday and work on books. So I'm going to.

So there's this bit of the Kalevala that I just love, I know you're all surprised, and I was working with it for The Long Night (note my suave avoidance of the term "Not The Moose Book"), and so I thought I'd share. Ilmarinen has abducted his dead wife's younger sister to take her place, since his servant slew his wife. The sister is not thrilled with this turn of events and won't behave herself, and so:
"Craftsman Ilmarinen said, reflected, spoke thus:
'Shall I now begin to sing, sing such a bride
into the forest as the forest's own or into the water as the water's own?
I will not sing her to be the forest's own; the whole forest would be depressed;
nor will I sing her to be the water's own; the fishes in the water would think it abominable.
Rather I will kill her with my blade, slay her with my sword.'
The sword understood the man's utterance, guessed the sense of the warrior's talk.
It uttered a word, spoke thus: 'I have probably not been created to kill women, to slay wretched girls.'"
And the part that kills me about this passage is one word: "probably." The sword is not sure. I love that.

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