December Resolutions

3 December 2002

"Marissa!" you say sternly. "What are you doing up at 5:30?" Well, there's a perfectly good explanation for it: there's a time rift in my bed. I woke up thoroughly, put my glasses on, and squinted at the clock at 5:18. I thought, ah, I'll lie here for awhile, snuggle up to the sleeping Mark, see if I can go back to sleep. So I did. For 45 minutes, at least, I swear. Put my glasses back on. It was 5:25.

That, to me, is a sign. It's a sign that the temporal rift is messing with me and I really need to get up. And feed myself and all. So I did.

"Don't you still have company sleeping on your living room floor?" Well, yes. This is why I'm typing as quietly as I can, in the almost-dark. I needed food and water, though, and Dan slept through Timprov's return from the Blues Traveler concert the other night without waking. So I think it's okay.

The World Builders got rejected last night, but I'm really pretty okay with that. I like this book, and I'm sanguine about its prospects elsewhere eventually, so, you know, I'll deal. And one of the things I like about sending books out is that then someone has to read them. At least the first few pages. Muwahaha. It's their job.

I did a good bit of work on the new Chinese immigration book, and I feel pretty good about that, too. I have a lot of the reference material sitting on the kitchen table, so I can start in on that any time I want to, and the light from the kitchen should be enough to let me read it. And, of course, the sun will come up eventually. Also I got confirmation from Jim (my editor) that China's one-child policy and its enforcement are not off-limits for this book; he feels that the target age group is old enough to handle it. Which is good; it's very, very important to immigration, and I would feel a little funny about not including it. In the last book, for fourth through sixth graders, I managed to say that Chinese women were deported for supposedly being prostitutes by stating, delicately, that they were accused of "having low morals." And I figured the kids could go to their parent or teacher and ask, and their parent or teacher could decide how much the kid was ready to hear. But this seemed different somehow, for older kids and all, and I'm glad Jim thinks so, too. I'm also glad of the joy of e-mail, that allows me to ask him for free and find out what he thinks before I write that section.

As I was working yesterday, every once in awhile I would remind myself: this is what I do. I write books for a living. People will for-sure publish this one. It's what I do.

That's so neat. It's one of my favorite realizations, and I seem to be dense enough to get to have it over and over again. What a bonus.

Mark and Dan arrived back from Napa with several bottles of wine and a bottle of eggplant sauce, which we will try with pasta. They seemed to be in good moods, and so were Timprov and I, and we all went out for Mexican food and mix-in ice cream, and it was good. And the Trader Joe's near the mix-in place had strawberry fruit leather, so that also was good.

The plans for today: Mark's going into work. I'm going to work on the Chinese book, read a little, get cleaned up, and so on. Then Daniel and I are going to go over to Palo Alto to meet Mark for lunch. (Clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls!) I will take Dan around the Stanford campus, and we'll bring stuff to entertain ourselves so that we can just park ourselves on a bench or in a café somewhere (the Prolific Oven would be a good choice, but there are others) until Mark is done with work. Then we'll come home and I'll make what I thought I'd make last night: company chicken and roasted asparagus. We will hang out. Then Dan will go to the airport for his extremely late flight. I will continue to work on the Chinese book.

We're getting plans together to see people before we leave for the Midwestern Tour. So far I or we have plans to see Zed, David, and Amber, and plans to make plans with Evan. Any other plans? We'll see. I fear that we missed Alec, as I believe he was leaving to drive up to Portland yesterday. Sad. But, you know, I'm much less whiny about it than I would be if we were staying here long-term.

Anyway. Otherwise, my agenda for the rest of the month, besides spending time with people, is pretty extensive.

I will finish the Chinese book. Ideally, that would be by next Wednesday or so, but I'm not betting the farm on it.

I will finish sending out Christmas cards. I could actually take some of these on the plane with me and still have time for them to arrive before Christmas, but I'd prefer to either have less weight/space taken up in my backpack or to take it up with something more interesting. I'll also need to ship Aunt Dor's Christmas present, plus the Christmas presents for anyone else we probably won't see and for whom we aren't ordering online. (Timprov and I are planning a Christmas shopping run on Wednesday up in Berkeley.) I'll buy more stamps when I ship things.

I'll handle all the bills and silly little things (checking the Visa statement, balancing the checkbook, that sort of thing) before we go. This includes finding out how to handle the stupid new system for water and trash: now instead of having a bill to send in separately, we receive a billing statement from the water and trash people, which we are to add on to our rent check monthly. Which is fine, unless we're going out of town and would be leaving a check for the rent, and don't know how much the water/trash/etc. add-on would be. Mark will be returning on the 1st, but I really don't want him to have to deal with that after a day of travel, so I'm going to ask the apartment people and see how they think it should go.

I'll make dental and medical appointments for after the first of the year, again before we leave. This involves finding a dentist, among other things. It's not urgent for any particular reason, but we have dental insurance, and we really should use it so that it doesn't get to be urgent.

I'll print out the outline and the prose I have for Dwarf's Blood Mead to take on the plane, plus anything that needs revising. I realized yesterday that my daydreams involve revising now. None of them involve editors calling or writing to tell me how deathless my prose is, how every word except maybe the "quite" on page 53 absolutely must stay, and how they will personally flog the typesetting folks if anything goes even slightly awry with my beautiful, beautiful words. No. I think of phrases like "I think it would really make the [book|story] stronger if you...." Is that pitiful of me, that I fantasize about things that are a lot of work? I trust work, is the thing. I'm suspicious of non-work, which in some circumstances is a bad trait, and I'm trying to make it better, but nonetheless, there it is, and when it relates to, well, work, it seems not so bad. So. I'll get at least a couple of chapters done on Dwarf's Blood Mead this month. I'll also work on the Not The Moose before I go, but as I theorized before, it's not going to be done enough to take with and edit on the plane, so I'm going to bring the outline and the notes and maybe do a scene or two while I'm gone, and otherwise not work on it much in the second half of the month. (I'm pretty okay with this, actually. I just want it to be a good book. I don't have to have it done immediately. Although if it's not done by the time we move....)

I will also start on the dragon story to submit to Raechel in February. "Big Sister." It will be fun, and also short. Since Raechel doesn't accept things that aren't short.

I will keep doing yoga so that my back doesn't get scrinchy. Or doesn't get scrinchier. It's already pretty scrinchy. (Don't ask me what scrinchy is. It can only be demonstrated in person.) Also I will keep doing some of the funny Zed stretches. Same reason.

I will eat the most of the rest of the Trader Joe's dark chocolate-covered raspberry sticks. What? They're good. But I won't smack Mark's hand away if he goes for one. Or Timprov's. Etc.

I will make pepparkakor with my mom and put bits of frosting on the pepparkakor and generally have a happy pepparkakor time. We will also go to Spirit World and eat chicken salad. Also we will drink Bailey's and cocoa. Also I will finish buying presents, wrap the presents, unwrap the presents, exclaim over the presents, and write thank-you notes for the presents.

I will sing a lot of Christmas carols and go to church several times and avoid the Christmas program at our current church as if it had buboes swelling before my very eyes.

I'll update my freewrite/starter/title file and print off the new stuff to take with. I may organize the short stories that go in the episodic novel and/or will go in it once they're done. I figured out yesterday, with my usual stroke of belated brilliance, that episodic novels mean ready-made chapters with -- are you ready for this? -- chapter titles. Man. Am I getting swanky or what?

I will finish the library books and return them to the library. I already finished Celestial Matters yesterday, and I really had a hard time with the way he was setting up Aristotelian physics and Taoist magic to be a wave-particle duality thing. I needed to see a lot more math to be convinced that would work at all. Or at least a lot more detail on the science. But a lot more detail on the science, catch-22, would have bogged down the book. So basically it didn't work for me. I'm still slogging through The Boxer Rebellion a bit at a time, and I think my problem is that the white people are just not that interesting to me in this bit of history. I want to hear details and more details about the red lantern girls and the boxers and the people who sort of sympathized with them but not entirely...all of that. I don't so much care which days they thought the troops would arrive. Although Lou Hoover looks pretty cool with her big ol' cannon.

I'm sure there are many, many other things I will do -- grocery shopping tomorrow, for example. But I think that's enough for now, given that this is just my December agenda. This is why I've always thought New Year's resolutions were overrated, I think, or maybe just one of the reasons why: December resolutions are so much more challenging.

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