In Which Retrospect Abounds

23 November 2003

I didn't mean to skip yesterday's entry. The entry was half-written, but then it was time to go see Stella and Roo, and that was the end of my computer time for the day, except for a few really quick e-mails to Mark and one to Karina. We had a very good time at Maria's Café with Stella and Roo, and the pancakes were tasty (and huge -- I ordered a single one as a kind of snack, and I brought home leftovers). And Roo seems to have decided he's fairly comfy with us, perching on Timprov's and my laps and telling us some things, a good many of which I did not understand, and all of those fun toddler things. He had pushed an empty spoon at me, so I mimed chomping and swallowing, mmmm, good. This is apparently very entertaining, so half of the stuff I told Stella conversationally had chomping noises in the middle. Maria's itself was not at all what I expected. I expected it to be some kind of coffeehouse. It was a Colombian restaurant. (And maybe Stella told me this and I was just rattled and not paying attention.) This is not a bad thing, particularly as they have things like arroz con pollo on the menu. We're going to go back and see if it's any good, and then we'll have one more lure to get Amber moved back here. (Amber is a sucker for the arroz.)

We stopped through Uncle Hugo's after that and met the "new" clerk there, Jamie. I have no idea how new he is, having been gone for, you know, awhile. But Timprov says their clerk turnover is insanely low for a bookstore. Turns out Jamie knows at least a few people we know, having been in their Clarion. We came up with Trent at the time as someone we would both know, and I think Celia as well, now that I had the time to poke at Clarion lists this morning.

By then, it was snowing.

We picked up C.J. and went to First Course for lunch. I had a salad and a fruit nest. The fruit nest was very weird. Tasty, but weird. And after that, we went downtown to wander, and it was not thrilling but nice. They were putting the holiday display up in the IDS when we were there, and we wandered through the skyways. "Minneapolis is the city of the fuuuuture," I said happily of the skyways, and C.J. said, "I thought it was the city of the winter." Details. I like the skyways. I got a couple of frivolous things for presents and noted the existence of at least one very interesting place for stocking stuffers and one for Scott and Michelle's wedding present.

I had hoped to prevail upon someone to take me to "The Philadelphia Story," but the snow was wet and slick, and Timprov and I were both feeling pretty crappy by the time we got back here for dinner. So instead we extended C.J.'s Mel Brooks education with "Blazing Saddles" and "History of the World Part I."

I have no idea how today is going to go. I have nasty cramps again, and I don't know when Timprov will awaken or how he'll feel or what I'll get done or what I'll do in lieu of getting things done. I didn't write any fiction yesterday, or do anything that could be construed as work, unless preheating the oven for the pizza counts. (I did not even put the pizza in, take it out, slice it, bring it to the table, or set the table. Lazy me.)

I finished my articles Friday as planned, so I have a few formatting things to zip through this morning, and then I'm done with this batch of work. Wooo! Unless, of course, I end up having to do big rewriting or editing on them. I shouldn't have to, I don't think, but I never want to rule out the possibility. Being convinced of one's own work's perfection seems unprofessional to me.

Anyway, I picked at a short story Friday night and finished reading Fitcher's Brides and watched "Young Frankenstein" with C.J. and Timprov. Ceej hadn't seen it. He also hasn't seen "Gattaca" or several others of our favorites, so we have an agenda for when it's cold and snowy and wandering around out and about seems like a bad idea.

Anyway, Fitcher's Brides got better towards the end, but was still not...I don't want to say not my cup of tea, because I think a fantasy novel about a nineteenth century utopian or Apocalyptic religious community could very much be my cup of tea. It was just this particular incarnation.

Still no rejections or acceptances or anything yesterday or Friday. Bleh. Ridiculous.

Ahh, Celia did some retrospectives of her own after reading mine. But she went back further than I did. Hmm. I think I can go back further, too, in a general Thanksgivingy way before the journal record starts.

Twenty years ago, I was a kindergartener, and we were coming up here for Thanksgiving at the G-people's in Brooklyn Park, only we didn't refer to my grands as "the G-people yet," because we didn't yet have Booboo who got all excited at mentions of "Grandma and Grandpa." We had Benner, who was bigger than Boo by a good bit, and danced and whined when we got to the turn for their house. He would sit on a pillow in the car, sometimes on Mom's lap, and he would kind of knead the pillow in his excitement to get to Grandma and Grandpa's. And if he missed the pillow and jabbed Mom, he was too excited to notice. She was not, but she wasn't really upset with him, either. We would sing in the car, and on the way back we played Christmas carols.

Fifteen years ago...pretty much the same deal, only with a different puppy. That was the calm before the storm, that year: at Thanksgiving, I could still wear children's clothes; by Easter, I was very nearly full-sized. Six inches in six months. Wheee. If you can grow some other way, I'd advise it. That was a physically rough year. And my teacher was a harridan who hated all children but the aggressively average ones, and I was too much the Good Kid to be much but bewildered at her behavior.

Twelve years ago, I was thirteen, and I got so sick at Thanksgiving that my mom found me lying semi-conscious on the kitchen floor (at Grandma's, of course), having crawled up the stairs when drinking out of the laundry sink proved insufficient. I stayed sick until Christmas Eve. I made up that month's worth of schoolwork in two days, and thank God for that illness, because it made it very, very clear how wretched things were at school and paved the way for getting me out of high school in three years.

Ten years ago I was fifteen, dating a jerk, writing a book, trying to survive high school without going mad. Success...moderate, I guess.

And then the journals start.

22 November 1997: "Last night I had my Armageddon dream again, only this time it was one of those dreams where the beginning was me waking up in the nightgown I was actually wearing." At the end of this dream, my friends and I found shelter at the Barnes and Noble in Mankato after being chased by infantry across the snowy blank fields between St. Pete and Mankato.

20 November 1998: "What's really important this afternoon is that I got to hold MacKenzie Ann Roberts, four weeks old, and tiny, and precious. Chris and Daphne's daughter. She had pink bunnies on her fleece suit, big, baby-blue-green eyes, still red-faced and a little wrinkly. And this little person is theirs, Chris and Daph's. They can look at her and see themselves, and see each other, and even that doesn't encapsulate all of it because there's still what's just her to be reckoned with." On the twenty-second, I was writing about grudges, but they were other people's grudges and I don't have permission to share them on the internet.

22 November 1999: "Last night I dreamed that someone had dropped an atomic bomb on Alaska." Err. Apparently this is a very apocalyptic time of year for my dreams. "Repeat after myself: the world can turn without me, it does not need my help." Useful advice, there. And I was working on the draft of Fortress of Thorns in longhand in my journal, and also: "[friend] responded to my Grey Place story [a prequel short to the other place series, now mostly worked into Fortress] today and made me sad: most of the stuff he disliked was done on purpose! He thought it cheapened the Dream King to be a young nurse -- apparently it's not a grand enough profession?" I still am a little upset by that response, actually. The glory my characters get in the other place series is not for being grandiose and powerful, even when they are grandiose and powerful. It's for doing what needs doing when it needs doing. And a good nurse does that, in abundance.

22 November 2000: "We've had a pretty good day today -- took Kev all over, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Ocean [the restaurant, not the body of water], and the bookstore district. (I'm still not sure what was in my lunch at Ocean -- rock cod I know, but I suspect at least two other sea creatures of involvement.)" And 23 November 2000: "Ben makes a damn good turkey. Last night I dreamed a cable-car full of poodles." And if that's not apocalyptic...poor poodles. Kevin was out for Thanksgiving staying with us, and Rachel and Ben stayed with Evan but ate the big holiday dinner with us. I had told Rachel, "Well, I don't do turkey, so if we have turkey, you're going to have to make it." She said, "Great! Ben's been wanting to try doing a turkey." It all turned out all right -- as turkeys go, Ben's was indeed excellent -- but I have learned better and will now just tell guests not to expect turkey rather than giving them the option. My grandmother, for example, would happily dive in and make the turkey, I think. But I am making lasagna instead.

22 November 2001, it was Thanksgiving, and my grandpa did not have cancer. And today it's not Thanksgiving, but I'm still thankful, because my grandpa still does not have cancer, nor does he have anything else horrible. I also came up with two story ideas I've written and like, and a story idea and a poem idea I haven't gotten to yet. And on the 23rd, I was in rant mode both online and on paper: "Some people have dubbed this Buy Nothing Day, trying to minimize consumerism. Bah. Mark went to the grocery store, and I am utterly unrepentant. We consume milk. I have no intention of eating my cereal dry because somebody gets shirty about consumption. Why stop buying stuff that doesn't make sense for just one day? Why stop buying stuff that does make sense at all?"

22 November 2002, I did the chapter outline for Dwarf's Blood Mead. Maybe that's a good sign. I know I don't get to do The Mark of the Sea Serpent next, but it's been teasing at my brain. Maybe if I did an outline, it would let me be. Hah. That may be flirting with too much danger. From the paper journal, there's a recommendation list from Wendy and Daniel, and I remember sitting in Mondo Gelato while they told it to me. And I was working on a Man Who Learned Better plot I haven't finished yet. And no, it's not because I've learned better.

I was supposed to start feeling better by now, just so you know. Not by anyone else's schedule. Just by my own. I feel I should do some of the shoveling. I don't know that that will happen. Sigh.

What E. Bear said in her livejournal is good stuff, but the bit I needed to hear, despite not being a "new kid," was this: "6) Realize that it's not about publishing a particular story or novel, but just about improving all your skills." Well, yeah. I know that. I do. But sometimes I need the reminder.

It's a very strange state of mind right now. All kinds of things can drag me up out of it, but my default state is pretty discouraged and down. And since there are so many things that pull me up from that, or have been in the past few days, it feels somehow different. Like I don't get to lay claim to being sad or in a bad mood if I'm not in constant misery or something? I don't know. But I'm flailing. And it has seemed like a good thing to come up with the distractions, the coffee, the fruit nest, the skyways, the silly movies. That may be, or it may be that I just need to hang on tight to the people I love and sit through this or work through it. Maybe I just need to drink more water and take deep breaths. I don't know. In some ways this feels external, but I know that reactions to external events vary so much with internal state that I'm not really sure what I'm doing or should be doing, internally. Well. We'll get there.

Back to Novel Gazing.

And the main page.

Or the last entry.

Or the next one.

Or even send me email.