Rocket Ride

9 December 2002

When I get to Omaha, I want Yorkshire pudding. This is kind of strange, as I was never all that fond of pot roast (cooked carrots = no thank you), but I miss the Yorkshire pudding like mad. The guys don't much care for pot roast, either, so it would be wasteful for me to make all of it just for the gravy for Yorkshire pudding, which I might have to eat all by myself, because I'm not sure either of them has ever had Yorkshire pudding, so they might not like it. (Though I don't know why they wouldn't. It's good.) And anyway, it's kind of nice to have at least a couple of things that I don't make on my own, things I can only have at Mom's house or Grandma's house.

Yesterday, my mom's purse was stolen. Someone smashed her car window in the church parking lot and stole her purse out from under her coat. Left the coats and the Christmas stuff. Just took her purse. So the housekey I've had since seventh grade is useless now, because they need to get the locks rekeyed. She has to get new credit cards and new checks and a new purse and a new sense of security because some jackass broke into her car and stole her stuff. The sick thing is, that's a church that's pretty good at putting their money where their collective mouth is. If the person who stole her stuff had walked into the church office instead and said, "Hey, I don't have any money, I don't have a job, and I really need help," or whatever the problem was, addiction or whatever troubles, these are the sort of people who would have had a whole list of stuff they could do and people they could call. But instead, smash, grab. Merry Christmas.

On the brighter side, we had good dinner with Amber last night -- I made chili and cornbread, and she brought salad and Hello Dolly Bars, and she even left the coconut out of half of them, because I am spoiled. And we finished the red wine! So there will be no vinegar in my fridge when we return in January. Rah. Also, my tear duct has clearly improved since yesterday, although I'm going to continue wearing my glasses. And drinking lots of fluids, since that's pretty much my first solution to anything wrong with any part of my body. Which is totally my mom's fault. Her cure for any cold or flu is to spend fully half of the hours one is sick in the bathroom, and the other half drinking more water and tea and juice so that one can immediately head back to the bathroom. I think if she'd thought of it, she'd have made me take my juice with me into the bathroom so that the connection was optimized. Maybe she did think of it, though, and refrained. I don't know.

It's been a good morning, too, eating oatmeal pancakes and singing and hippie-dancing around the kitchen with Timprov to that Liz Phair album, which is still on, and to which I'm still singing. And the newspaper has the best quote I've ever heard from the current President: "People say the voice of the President is the most easily recognized voice in America. Well, I'm not going to make that claim in the presence of James Earl Jones."

And I got a lot of work done on the Chinese book yesterday. The point of this project wasn't to trace the concept of Asian-Americanness as it gained acceptance, but it's hard to avoid seeing it when you study Chinese-Americans since 1965. The term came up in the late 60s, with a "Yellow is Beautiful" movement. Before that, there was a lot of deliberate disassociation among the groups. Chinese and Korean folks sometimes wore badges during the Second World War, proclaiming their non-Japanese status or even telling passersby that the wearer of the badge hated Japanese people even more than the (presumably white) observer. And you still see some resistance from the more recent immigrants -- very few Chinese people who've been here for less than 5 years can see why on earth they'd want to lump themselves in a group with Japanese, Koreans, Cambodians, whoever. Other than that, though, it's kind of a tidy parabola of acceptance of the term.

The Wen Ho Lee story made me furious all over again, though, and I know that part of it is that he reminds me of one of my professors from grad school, and part of it isn't that personal, it's just that what the government did to him was wrong. And stupid: how many Taiwanese people are interested in supporting the mainland Chinese government? Honestly. So that got my blood pressure up to almost normal levels. Also, it's frustrating to quote people when they've had such wretched verb choice. I just want to edit them. But if they're saying something I need to quote, I can't do that. Sigh. Ah well. Injustice and poor writing, that's what'll get me steamed.

I skimmed William Wong's Yellow Journalist -- last of the books I'll read for this project, I think -- and found that it's sometimes a really bad idea for a journalist to compile his essays and columns into a book. In this case, it pointed out that he had kind of one-note essays, and that he can't write endings to save his soul. And I appreciate the difficulty of endings, but sheesh, highlighting that flaw was not a good thing. So I started reading Daniel Pinkwater's The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, which Just a little skewed. A good break from working on the book, though.

And I'm still rolling my eyes at one of my trips to Kinko's. It was when I was finishing my ASF grant application, and I needed that photocopied (because they needed something like 15 copies of it -- and they were charging an application fee -- yuck!), and I had some of the Chinese research stuff with me to copy as well. The clerk said she hoped I didn't want her to copy any of that, because they weren't allowed to copy copyrighted materials, since it might help copyright violation. I said, "Well, I own the copyright on the stuff you're copying there, so I hope that's not a problem. If it is, I can go to --" No, she said, it wasn't a problem at all. Evidently 10 scattered pages out of a 400-page book are not fair use. This is particularly amusing/annoying since the reason I was photocopying those pages is so that my editor could check the quotes I had pulled and verify their accuracy without having to track down all the books himself. If I had intended to plagiarize the material, I would have avoided sending evidence of it to my editor. Copyright silliness abounds.

I got further ahead on the book yesterday, anyway, and we'll see what today brings. Finishing it in time to hang out with people, spend time with Timprov before he goes, and oh, by the way, get more work done on other projects, that would be good. Because I have more than a few of them to do right now.

There's this story my family loves to tell, about when I was little and they took me to Disneyland. I think I was about 4, but they can correct me if I've got that wrong. Anyway, we went to Tomorrowland, and they had this rocket ride, where your rocket went around and around in a circle and you got to move the joystick up and down to make the rocket go up or down. And I was gleefully moving the joystick so that we were going up and down and up and down, as fast as the ride would go. Grandpa was riding with me, getting a little green from all the up-and-down-and-'round and he said, "Rissy, maybe I could try the joystick now?" And I gave him a quelling look and said, "Grandpa, I'm in control here."

I feel kind of like that this last week. Up and down and 'round, and, Grandpa, I'm in control here.

I hope.

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