23 November 2002

Most of my work yesterday consisted of scribbling notes. If one can scribble by typing. Otherwise, half scribbling notes and half...scrabbling them? I don't know. I scribbled many good things. I didn't work on much, though. A few lines here and there, pick pick pick pick. And a big ol' mongo compendium of Icelandic sagas at The Other Change, but I haven't read it yet, and buying it just does not count as work.

So, basically, I goofed off a lot yesterday. Dr. Bill has a broken ankle, or else he'd be in Nepal, so I suppose I'm guiltily glad about the broken ankle. Since he isn't suffering too much from it, he says. We've got appointments for Monday morning, me and Timprov. So with our responsible errand for the day put off to Monday, we went up to Berkeley and split happy noodles and potstickers at Long Life. Yum. Then we went to The Other Change, as I said, and talked to The Nice Mean Man for long enough that Timprov started getting itchy to buy more books. So we got out of there before he could be hypnotized by the books, and we went into Comic Relief and talked to Alec for awhile and expressed our hope that we'll see him before he moves away to Portland. He expressed his hope of same. We'll see how his schedule goes. Also we admired his coat. It's probably the best coat I've seen since Ben's. It was also soft. I would have just stood there and petted it if, you know, we hadn't been in his place of employment, or if it hadn't been Alec, or something. Very pettable coat.

When we got to Yali's, it was a little after one, and we were supposed to meet Daniel and Wendy there at two, but Daniel and Wendy were already there. So no work for me! All goofing off, all afternoon! (I'm not very good at goofing off usually, so I just went with it.) Good coffee and conversation at Yali's, good gelato and conversation at Mondo Gelato. We neglected to find out whether Wendy and Daniel have both read and own the Westmark books, but that's all right. They have to agree to see us again: they lent us some of their books.

Daniel had a webpage suggestion that I may try for awhile, to see how it goes. I was badgering him and Wendy to tell me what I should read, because I do this with people who read a lot whenever I get the chance. Doesn't have to be in any particular category -- I will take recommendations of any length and any genre. I will also take requests, as in "will you read this, I don't know that it's great, but it's interesting, and I want someone to talk about it with?" So I said that I'd gotten some recommendations from you guys, you journal-reading peoples, and had been reading through some of those. Well, Daniel thinks I should put up a page of recommended books I've read and how I liked them, with a mail link so that you can e-mail me with further recommendations. So I'm going to try that and see how it goes. It's going to be totally bare-bones right now, because I don't want to go back through my "books read" list and figure out who recommended what that I read. But I'll add to it as I finish stuff, and you all know I read fast, right? Well, you should.

I didn't read a lot yesterday, so I didn't finish either Dragonwings or The Political History of Finland. I have to say I'm a bit disappointed with Dragonwings so far, and I hope the author picks it up a bit. The didacticism of it is getting at me. It's particularly annoying right now because I'm writing a textbook on Chinese immigration, so I can tell you which parts of the thing are totally textbook. Because I'm writing similar passages myself, or have written them in my previous textbook on Chinese immigration. But the didacticism also crosses over into the moral lessons we are to learn. It's a very consistently preachy book, and the voice is totally inconsistent and bothersome -- the kid narrator is constantly giving us lectures on Chinese history and culture, and there have been several places where he's known things that I didn't think he'd know, not just in terms of history but also in terms of plot points, which new characters were whom. It seems like in story terms, Yep wants to use Moon Shadow to be the outsider and the insider for the same culture, in logistical rather than in emotional ways. I feel like he's using his narrator constantly.

Also the kid's name is Moon Shadow. Which gets the old Cat Stevens tune in my head. I don't own any Cat Stevens. Can't put "Moon Shadow" or a near cousin of it in my CD player to drive it out again. So I'm wandering around mumble-singing, "If I ever lose my mouth, all my teeth, north and south...." Maybe "(An Afternoon's) Debauchery" will be genre-close and tune-far enough that I can use that to get it out. Hmm. Worth a try.

Tomorrow morning Mark and I are going to a Palestrina mass up in Berkeley. Timprov isn't sure if he's going, and he's not even sure he wants Mark and me to go. "I've heard those Palestrinians have all kinds of problems with politics and violence," he says.

Liz was writing about decorating a Victorian/Goth room, and it sounded interesting. Not "interesting, I'd like to do that, too!" More, "interesting, I'd like a tour when she's done." Because one of the words I associate with Victorian decorating is "busy," and it does sound like Liz's plan needs a lot of stuff to it. Right now I have visions of painting rooms in crisp colors and settling the books in comfortably and hanging a few paintings, a few prints, a few photos. I have visions of being able to have something besides mini-blinds all over the place. I want to have rooms in colors that will not make us want to go screeching out the window in a real January, because I want us to have a real January. And colors in January, in a real January, are really important. I think this is why I want blues in my kitchen. Good strong blues.

I've been thinking a lot about how I want things to be, not the big scale stuff, because that's out of my control. But the colors of the kitchen. The type of Christmas tree (small, artificial, and understated). Whether we should bind our periodicals or try to shelve them without binding. Things like that. I have these ideas, too, of how it should be, leading up to Christmas, what our worries should be. Our worries should be people driving in the snow, and whether Mark will be able to get any shopping done before the last minute with finals to grade and all and grades to turn in. Who's making what kind of cookies, whether there'll be enough lefse for everyone who wants lefse. Whether there's anyone who's been forgotten and needs an invite to Christmas dinner. Whether everyone will be able to just relax and get along and enjoy the time together.

Instead, my Christmas worries are more basic. When will I finish this book? When will Mom get back from Texas (and what the heck is she doing in Texas)? How much time does that leave, and how much will have to be after the first of the year? What time can I spend where, how should we go, how much more would it cost if I spent a few days on a layover in Minneapolis instead of a few hours, how much will it cost to begin with? Where can I make pepparkakor: is there time here? Is there time in Omaha? Do I want to take some of my Omaha-time with making pepparkakor? When will everybody else get to Omaha? Who'll be getting to Omaha at all? Does Mark get enough time in Milwaukee? Does Mark get enough time to work on his thesis? Does Mark get enough time to work at Kealia? Has Mark left enough vacation time for professorial interviews in the spring? Is there any way we can beg, borrow, or steal five minutes more for Mark to sit down and breathe? Where are the godfathers going to be anyway, and when, and where are Aunt Dor and Uncle Rudy going to be anyway, and when, and is there anything that can be rearranged about that? Are we going to see Stan and Judy after Thanksgiving? Are we going to see X between Thanksgiving and Christmas, where the variable X stands for...oh, everybody, really?

I don't have any illusions that there will be no worries next year. I just prefer those worries to these. I'm working towards those worries.

Ah well. I feel nasty today (don't worry, it's guaranteed to be temporary -- I'm just terminally female, is all), so I'm going to try to take it easy, albeit with less goofing off than yesterday. There are plenty of things I can do that qualify as "taking it easy" and will still get stuff done. Off the list and so on. Rah.

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