March 29 2012

1. I have gotten a vast amount of stuff done so far this week.

Filed my taxes.
Sent away for my license tabs.
Made bread.
Swept the house.
Did seven loads of dishes and got the kitchen to look less like a pit.
Helped saw off tree branches.
Worked on my bike lock.
Went to the grocery store, twice.
Bought comics.

This all in addition to taking my kids to their various classes, working out, replying to email, and generally keeping myself and my kids clean and dressed and fed.

Some weeks, I really do feel on top of things.

2. I have done all of those things while NOT doing the following things.

Writing.
Some various editing related tasks.
Tai chi.
Walking my dog.
Cleaning up my desk space.
Filing my comics.
Making chili.

3. It’s all a process. I remind myself of this, day in and day out. Today I will do the editing stuff. Or Saturday. Perhaps today I will walk my hound. Perhaps today I will not work out, but will cook food for the coming week. I don’t have to accomplish everything all at once. I merely have to accomplish some of the things each day.

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March 28 2012

1. I watched the U.S. movie adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo this weekend. I quite liked it. Still can’t watch That One Scene, You Know The One I Mean, but I liked it.

I was thinking, watching the film, of a criticism I have seen of the book. (You know, I Saw It On The Internet, that ever-specific and ever-reliable source of criticism.) The gist of the criticism is that the male protagonist is an authorial wish-fulfillment, in that he brings all the girls to the yard and they all want to have sex with him.

I disagree with this criticism, but I can see how the book supports it. We see a lot of sex scenes from the guy’s point of view, and there he is with all these great women attracted to him.

Whatever you may think of this view of the book, I thought of it during the scene where Lisbeth makes her move on Blomkvist. In the film we are not listening to the inside of Mikael’s head. We are simply watching. And what I saw was a woman deciding to use this guy and his body for her own purposes. Specifically, I saw her using him to enjoy the pleasure of sex, after she had recently been raped.

In the context of the film, this is an act of agency on Lisbeth’s part. Blomkvist is pretty much incidental. Not a wish-fulfillment authorial self-insert, more of a walking sex toy.

2. I have been listening to the Sherlock Holmes movie soundtracks while I get work done. They are both good, and very, very ear-worm-y.

3. I read Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book this weekend. My kids really liked The Jungle Book, so I thought I would see if they might like this. (It being a retelling of Kipling’s classic.) The book was quite good — I think I am going to read it to the kids. But I found myself unexpectedly crying at the end.

If you know The Jungle Book, well, you know Mowgli grows up. He grows up and he leaves the jungle for the world of men. I had not expected the parental farewell at the end of The Graveyard Book to make me cry, but there you have it. I’m not a teenager anymore, looking at the world’s promise and danger with overconfident ignorance-based hope. I’m the parent now. It’s my job to prepare my kids as best I can and then send them and their hope and confidence and ignorance out there on their own.

4. I have forgotten the combination to my Kryptonite lock. Yes, the lock is locked to my bike. Yes, it is locked in such a manner as to impede all use. I am going to try to remember the combination this week, else it’s angle-grinder time.

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That there is my book

Well, it’s not my book. My saying that is more an expression of astonishment, not sole ownership. This book is the work of Lynne, me, all the contributors, the publisher, the assistant editors —

But for purposes of pure astonishment, and telling my grandmother, this here is my book.

The box arrived, I opened it, and J and I both sniffed the books. Yep. New book smell, all right. I babbled at her for a few minutes, then set out on some errands. First to the library, when I got the contact information for how to get my local library system to stock Chicks Dig Comics. Then to my local independent bookstore, where the clerk pre-ordered copies. He placed the order, then looked up at me.

“You’re from the neighborhood, right?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, “five blocks up.”

“Good,” he said. He hadn’t asked my name.

The whole exchange left me giggling, and thinking of Agnes Nutter, Witch, from the novel Good Omens. Particularly the part where her publishers can’t sell any copies of her book of prophecy, not even when they put out a nice placard reading “Local Authoress”. I walked away from the store muttering “Local Authoress” to myself.

Then I stopped by the post office, where I mailed one of my copies of Chicks Dig Comics to my grandmother.

My grandmother always said she hoped I would be a teacher or a writer. She was a teacher herself, for more decades than I know. She loved teaching, she loves learning, and she has always been proud of me. Editing a book isn’t the same as writing one, but it’s work that I’m proud of. I don’t know if my grandmother will read the book, or what she’ll make of it if she does. But that doesn’t matter. She can show it off to everyone in her facility and tell them what her grand-daughter has done.

As I type this, I am staring at a stack of fourteen copies of my book. It’s a real thing.

I like it that I make my grandmother proud.

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Somewhat true story

This is all true, mostly.

The building I work in was built in the 1960s. It was built thirty miles outside the Twin Cities, as all air traffic control centers were. (Thirty miles was deemed far enough away in the event of nuclear war. “Far enough away for what?” was always my question. But whatever thinking brought about this decision is lost to time and history.)

The town my center is in was told that the center was A Good Thing, that it would Bring Jobs. When the jobs it brought were all given to people hired from elsewhere in the country, the town was rightly miffed. “Janitor” was not the sort of job the town had held in mind.

But the town had told some untruths in turn. The prime land sold to the federal government for a song was, as it turned out, a swamp.

The facility was built there anyway. This was what had been purchased, this is where building would occur.

Every year, water was mopped and vacuumed out of the basement. The basement, it should be noted, is where the computers are housed. About ten years ago permanent pumps were installed around the foundation of the building. Vast, roaring things a dozen feet underground. These pumps operate year-round, day and night, without ceasing. The pumps keep the water of the Rambling River flood basin from the multi-million-dollar national airspace system.

These pumps feed directly into the storm sewer system, underground. The water never sees the light of day. From the storm sewer it feeds into the Rambling River, and hence onward until it eventually reaches some portion of the Mississippi, I expect. That’s where water in my neck of the woods goes.

Yet, day and night, I can hear the water gushing from the pumps into the storm sewers. I can hear it coming from all the storm sewer grates in the parking lot and surrounding the building. It’s a noise halfway between ocean waves and a firehose, echoing and constant. And it comes from the sewers.

When I walk past the storm sewers — especially at night — I think of little Georgie Denbrough from Stephen King’s novel, It. When I am feeling brave, or stubborn, I walk right in front of the dark-mouthed grates.

Most of the time, though, I walk a little distance away. And I don’t look into them. Because, really, what would I do if I saw something?

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Prior to seeing The Hunger Games

My family has plans to see Hunger Games in a couple of weeks. K wants to see it with us. We said yes, on the condition that she read the book between now and then. It’s bit of a heavy story, a bit more serious than her usual fare, and we want her to demonstrate some … commitment? I suppose? Before taking her to the film.

As for me, I have the Battle Royale dvd, which I intend to watch this weekend.

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March 22 2012

1. I have an appointment in two weeks to get my next tattoo, the one I decided would be my reward for running a mile. \o/ It’s the Vorkosigan House insignia, for what that’s worth. A maple leaf over three mountains. Likely I’ll be mistaken for Canadian. Or, worse from a local point of view, a Canadian hockey fan.

2. I found my tax-related papers. Now I just need to do my taxes.

3. I made brussel sprouts last night, at the kids’ request. I don’t know why they wanted to eat brussel sprouts, but they did. After looking at a few recipes I cobbled together something from what I had on hand. The upshot? Nothing smothered in a garlic-butter sauce can taste bad.

4. It is finally actually raining, a bit, here. I hope it pours for a couple of days. Not that I’m in favor of the annual floods, per se, but we could really use it.

5. Last night I seemed to encounter nothing on the roads but bad drivers. I’m sure that by the end of the day I was actually encountering the confirmation fallacy, but that did nothing to improve my mood. Here’s hoping today is better!

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March 21 2012

1. I have all the mixed feelings about the weather. Yesterday was the first day of spring. Here in Minnesota, that means snow piles melting slowly, and one more good blizzard on the way. Instead we had near-80-degree temps all weekend. I relish the warmth, but I am worried about drought and climate change.

2. I do not know what to think of FitBit. According to this device and it’s calculations, I am really, really sedentary. Which I knew. Yet, I need to remember that part of that sitting is air traffic control, and part is editing, and part is homeschooling my kids, and part is driving … In other words, I am not sitting around doing *nothing*, I’m just doing things not measured by this metric.

Moreover, I do hard exercise four or five days a week, and walk 3-5 miles during my work-week. Those things aren’t trivial.

3. I bought ThinkGeek’s Chocolate Zombie Bunnies for the household. Bite the head off. It’s the only way to be sure.

4. It has dawned on me that there are a LOT of movies coming out this summer that I want to see! And that “summer”, in movie-season-terms, begins, like, next week. Snow White and the Huntsman! Prometheus! Hunger Games! Avengers! Spider-Man! Dark Knight Rises! Brave!

5. I picked up a new bread machine yesterday! And by new I mean new-to-me. I think I’m the third owner, possibly the fourth. But it seems to be working so far.

6. The trampoline is still popular.

7. I need to start sorting my filing, then filing it, and in the process find the things I need to do my taxes. I’ve gotten as far as “haul the big piles of paper to the dining room table, stare at them.”

8. Some links of recent note: