And Then Some

3 December 2001

December 1, Morning. I don't know when you'll read this, or where. Our Very Best Pals, Excite @ Home, have closed down parts of their internet service. DNS, for example. We still officially have connectivity. It just won't get us to anywhere for which we don't know the IP address. Soon, I expect, the little green light on our cable box will go out, and we'll be dialing up to Stanford until AT&T @ Home gives us a call to get us transferred over to their network. Or until we manage to get DSL installed, but they'll have a pretty big backlog, one would imagine.

As if this needed to be a more fabulous weekend.

I've been talking to some of you about Mark's preparations to apply for a professorship. That's not going to happen this year. I really don't feel like I can say a lot about the circumstances on a public website, but suffice it to say that External Forces brought this decision upon him. As I explained to Mark last night, I'm not upset with him or disappointed with him. But I am upset and disappointed.

The bottom line is, I don't want to be here. I know the Bay Area is not a godforsaken hellhole, although I called it that in my mind a few times last night. It has lots of good people, places, and things. But if you're one of them, please don't ask me to be happy now. I'm sorry, but that's too much to ask. I don't belong here. I don't want to be here. I think I'm being fair. I've tried to explore and enjoy the Bay Area. I know a lot of good things around here. They are not, however, the good things I want. Do you see what I mean here? There are plenty of good things about Hawaii, too, but not the ones I want. Plenty of good things about parts of Australia or parts of Ireland or what have you. But they aren't my good things. They're the kind of good things you visit. Well, this is my third year of visiting them, and there's going to be a fourth, and I'm sorry, but I wish it was all over with. I am an exile, and I hate it.

It's made worse by the External Forces making the decision. If Mark hadn't been able to find a good job in the Midwest, that would have been one thing. (I'm assuming that if he applied to enough places, he'd get a job. This may be arrogant, but come on, the man is brilliant. Wayne State College in Nebraska and other such places would not be able to believe their good fortune to have him. So the question is whether he'd get a job that he was satisfied with. The decision, in that case, would be his.) But this is External Forces saying to me, "No, you have to live out here in exile another year. All of the things you want, in the long-term, get pushed back another year. Go be happy later. Not now."

That's not fair, I know. I won't spend the entire year unhappy because of this. Not constantly. It's going to be a factor, though. It's going to affect things for me.

I keep thinking, "Look on the bright side!" There is nothing after that sentence in my head. I'm just supposed to look there. I'm supposed to come up with a list of people I might get to see more of. Things we might get around to doing. I don't think that's right. I don't think it's time for that. I think it's time to let myself be upset and disappointed and not squash it down. This is serious.

I'm going to just keep this file and add to it later. I don't know what that'll mean. If it gets too huge, I'll split it off into a couple of entries before posting it on my eventual website. Otherwise, it'll just be a long Morphism. And there's reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last? Well, yeah. Just not as many reasons as I thought.

I still won't be listening to "Recovering the Satellites" much this weekend.

So if you don't know where this page is, e-mail me and ask, okay? (Yes, I'm kidding you.) It's very strange not having permanent connectivity. I got used to it at Gustavus my senior year, and there are little things that pop up -- for example, Timprov wanted to get a feel for where on Shattuck St. a theatre was. I was going to just go to The Other Change of Hobbit's site and compare the numbers, when I remembered that I couldn't just do that. There's still a lot of stuff we wonder about, but if it's accessible, we try to access it. Only now we can't, not so much, not so reflexively. Ah well.

I'm sending out Christmas cards. Not this very minute, obviously. But soon. I'm not sending them to everyone. In fact, I'm not sending them to most people. If you send me one, you'll get one in return. And the relatives all get them. Otherwise, well, sorry. If you're not sending them out, I'm not, either.

That sounds awfully grinchy and not very much in the holiday spirit. I'm afraid that's where I am today. I'm not in a happy cheery mood, about Christmas or much of anything else, and I have limited ability to pretend that I am just now. Perhaps it'll get better later, but zero-sum holidays are not particularly good sources of optimism.

Timprov thinks it's quite important for me to Have Fun today. So I'm going to try.

Evening. We went out this afternoon and got Blizzards, and on the way we saw a bumper sticker that read "I [heart] Intercourse." Well, that's rather straightforward, isn't it? Sometimes the direct approach is best....

I'm reading Strong Poison and working on the random project that might be any length at all. (Well, so that's a bit of an exaggeration; it's not going to be a vignette, or even a short story.) And Mark is watching horrid movies ("The Island of Dr. Moreau," which was not at all saved by Val Kilmer, and "The Rocketeer"). I don't know what the rest of the weekend will bring. We're going to try another new church tomorrow morning, and the folks at Mark's work will be going to the Harry Potter movie, so off we go with them, Mark and me. After that...well, we'll go to Ken's party on Saturday....

December 2, Morning. It's raining in earnest again, and I hope it keeps going. I miss thunderstorms and genuine rain. The kind of drizzle we get here is just disheartening. It's an Eeyore sort of rain -- oh, well, no matter, I suppose I'll rain a bit....

The paper claims we should be restored to service on Tuesday at the earliest, Saturday at the latest. I don't know if I believe the latest idea, but there's not much to be done about it now. I'm doing better with the idea of staying here (once we have connectivity again!). When I was eleven and we moved to Kansas, my mom kept reminding me that wherever the three of us could be together, that was home, and I know that's true. (On the other hand, to be fair, we cheered every time we crossed the Nebraska border, and when we got things arranged to move back to Nebraska again, we were "going home.")

Mark has turned off Erdos (his computer), and now we don't have white noise cushioning us, and the police have been pulling people over and hollering at them at an alarming rate this morning. Also, I've moved on to The Documents in the Case, which -- oh, horrors -- is an epistolary novel. Epistolary. Gick. I haven't minded so much when previous Lord Peter books featured letters as a component of the whole, but I've generally liked the letter sections least. And now this. I have left very severe instructions with my loved ones about what is to be done with me if I ever express an intention to write such a thing. If even Steven Brust can't do it entirely to my satisfaction.... But The Documents in the Case is next in the series. So I soldier on. Unfortunately, neither Lord Peter nor Harriet Vane has turned up so far. I started reading it right away because I wanted to see Harriet Vane in action rather than cooped up in jail.

It's almost enough to drive one back to The World of Jeeves for a bit, just for a break.

I keep saying I'm going to be done with Reprogramming edits for awhile soon. But evidently I keep lying. I'm sorry. This is one of the supposed advantages of getting a book ready and sending it out -- only I only had to get the first "three chapters" ready, and I've barely tinkered with them at all. The rest of the book, however, has had some severe tinkerage. No news there, at any rate, nor on the agent front, nor on much of anything, really. I'm just dying to be rejected some more. I've started to miss it. Although I could be accepted some more; I could live with that, too.

Later. I must confess that we watched a movie with Der Bingle in it this afternoon. (This construction annoys Mark marginally less as a reference to Mr. Crosby than Der Bingen does. It's reflex at this point.) But despite the garishly bright post-war colors, it And it reminded me of Kari, which is good in itself.

The commercial combination amused me, though. Columbine thought it was bad to advertise nasty shape cookies during old Christmas specials? How many people who watch "White Christmas" need a bail bond company, or are interested in Dianetics? I would imagine rather few.

The church we tried this morning may be one we'd be willing to try again. Not an immediate good fit, but not a bad one. There were a few things in their bulletin that made me nervous around the edges, but none of them were definitively bad -- I'd just want to see what tack they were taking. And the director of music, not the organist, controlled the tempo of the hymns. Which was all for the best. Sometimes, "Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel" sounds like "If you feel like it, come Emmanuel, maybe in six months or so." But today it was, "Emmanuel, get your butt right over here." Trust me. This is an improvement. And the lady behind me sung like my aunt Doris. Hmm. I think that's pretty much a toss-up, actually, as to whether it was positive or negative.

Perhaps I'm just fond of these people for giving us pens. We used to tease Pastor Larry that the other church we'd considered going to had sent us a magnet, and we were going to see if we could get him in a bidding war, maybe a potholder or so. I never considered pens. I should have.

George Harrison is dead. I think he made a better Wilbury than a Beatle. In his obits, people called him The Quiet Beatle. Um, well, as far as I could tell, he was The Beatle Who Took Himself Too Seriously. But there's no such thing as The Wilbury Who Took Himself Too Seriously. If they had a motto as a group, it would have been, "Ah, what the hell." Much better.

December 3. Morning. I love living in this century. I really do. (By century, I mean the last hundred years, not the Twenty-First Century.) I've been editing my BEC article for SH, and it just keeps hitting me how fast all of this stuff is. In the 1920s, they had nothing that would have allowed for Bose-Einstein Condensates. You name a lab technology that's necessary, and they did not have it. Okay, they had quadrupole magnets. But their cryonics were almost non-existent. They had no lasers, much less tunable diode lasers, much less tunable diode lasers that can be controlled precisely enough to keep slowing atoms down as the average temperature goes down. Just nothing. And ol' Bose, he sat down and said, "Hey, I bet if people came up with a way to do this stuff, it would act like this." And it was really cool, so people did come up with a way to do this stuff, and 75 years later, BECs. And then, not only did people figure out ways to do it, but they did so in such a way that most people don't know that the laser wasn't invented at all until 1960. It's just a laser. It's a science thing. Been around forever, right? Yeah, sure, just like the eternal transistor.

I love this century. People have died for horrible reasons, in staggering numbers, yes. There have been stupid, stupid mistakes and deliberately evil choices that caused more pain and misery than we can really wrap our brains around. But in this century, when some crazy Indian geek and his crazy German-American immigrant geek friend get together and say, "Hey, I bet if we could just solve these HUGE INSURMOUNTABLE PROBLEMS, we could have something really cool," somebody solves them. That Bose and Einstein could work together on anything at all is historically, well, new. We forget how new lasers are, but it's also easy to forget that two hundred years ago, it was hard for even French and English geniuses to work together with a wee little Channel between them. Is that progress? Yes. Yes, it is. It doesn't have to fix all of our problems to count as progress. It just has to get to work on some of them.

Later, but not much. Whoa. Whoa. Woohoo! The Mark has done it! AT&T hadn't called us to hold our hands on it yet, but the light went on, on the cable box, I mean, and so the Mark started doing his Linux geek dance around the computer (mostly it was his fingers that did the dance part), and now we have connectivity. Hooray! I love me some geek.

But, of course, no AT&T e-mail or webspace. This is Okay. Because -- as you now know if you're reading this -- I have bought me a domain name, so that I don't have to deal with redirecting when things go kerplooey. (Or, I suppose, kerplunk. I hope my mom is getting to watch her Mousey Show this year.)

So. If you read this, and you would like to be on my e-mail list that I use to send people notices when Stuff Happens, let me know. E-mail's at the bottom of the page. I sent e-mails to people who might not want them, in this case, just because I thought, well, they read my journal sometimes....

Anyway. Yes. Back and glad of it, in much, much less time than I anticipated. So I'll be seeing you. In the meantime, Mark and I are going to the Harry Potter movie with his work friends, so it should be a nice time, and I'll either be happy with the movie or have many things to pick at. And everybody knows I love picking at movies (well, you know now), so all is well.

Back to Morphism.

And the main page.

Or the last entry.

Or the next one.

Or even send me email.