Fire at Midnight

2 January 2002

I have returned from the land of ice and snow. I SAID, the land of ice and SNOW. Ahem. The land...oh, never mind.

I had one expectation of Milwaukee, and one expectation only. I expected snow. Surely the lake effect would come through for us. But it did not. We had had a white Christmas in Omaha, though, so I was mollified. I suppose.

Hey, for a big surprise, fill in the blank here. I am a) sick; b) working very productively; c) pretty happy with my life; or d) all of the above. As is unfortunately typical, the answer is d). For Christmas Sarah gave me White As Snow (Tanith Lee's Snow White/Persephone book -- which we also gave Sarah, without knowing it -- it was pretty good, but I have a hard time caring about characters who don't care about themselves); a Christmas not-a-moose with matching mug; and her cold. Ah well. Two out of three, you know.

Aside from the cold and the lack of snow, it was a good trip. The moose stuff was a theme this year. I think that's pretty cool, that I can get Christmas presents based on what book I'm writing. I'm pretty happy with that. I may be the only person you know who owns neon moose socks. The really happy thing is that everybody understands that I am not now a Moose Collector, that next year I will be working on a different book, so book-appropriate gifts will be something different. This is the first book for which this has happened, and I like it. I wasn't actually writing a book last Christmas. I was between books. I got the inspiration that turned a couple pages of prose into Reprogramming while I was in Milwaukee at New Year's last year. I had already finished The Grey Road. The year before that, I was working on Fortress, but it was my first book. I was still a physicist. It was different then. Now, this is what I do. It's enough a part of what I do that it's a part of my Christmases.


Pictures will be forthcoming when I get them off of Mark's laptop. There are lots.

I'm afraid I'm a little out of the habit of this, but does that make me less ramblesome? It does not. You will deal, I am sure. Mark said, "Okay, now it feels like Christmas is over." But it isn't! It's not over until the 6th. It hasn't felt like that to me for years, though -- in college, Christmas ended when I went back for J-term. There was nothing Christmasy about J-term. It was just Minnesota January: relentlessly grey, endlessly grey, cold, cold, cold. And alive. And grey and cold. And now, we've been traveling for Christmas and New Year's. Perhaps I can stretch it out to twelve days when Christmas is at my house. I hope so. One-day holidays are for pikers.

So the big news of the holiday was that Sarah and Jeff got engaged. Congratulations unto them! Sarah asked me to stand up for her, and I said yes. Pictures of the initial wedding dress hunt forthcoming along with all of the other pictures.

I reread all of the Chronicles of Prydain and half of the Dark is Rising sequence. Two books that make for a very good Christmas: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Dark is Rising. (See why one-day holidays are for pikers? You gotta have time to read the right books.) The Prydain ones are good, too, although I wish I'd had room in the suitcases for the Westmark books and the Vesper Holly books as well. I don't know what Mom will manage to ship. Maybe those, or maybe she'll bring them later, or I'll get them next time.

Hey! Kari made me a basket! You'll get to see the basket. It's a darn cool basket. Without even knowing that was the special present she had for me, or that she had made it for herself, Mom spontaneously admired said basket. I would, too, if I was more effusive. I'm just astonished and pleased by this: she made me a basket. Top to bottom and the stain, too. And I'd have liked the basket anyway. Kind of the same reaction I had to the wine glasses Mary Anne did for our birthday: you made me what? That's so cool.

I used to make stuff. Now I just make journal covers and bread and cookies and stuff. Oh, and books. Which is better than making book -- at least more legal.

I often say that I don't make New Year's resolutions, or rather that I make lots of them. I made one in September, for example, to remember to use waxed paper more often when I put stuff in the microwave. Every day starts a new year. Why wait? But I do have one this year: not to take on so much stuff. I have books to write, stories to write, essays to write, articles to write, anthologies to edit, people to love, weddings to attend, cons to attend, visitors to welcome, visits to short, I've got plenty o' stuff. So I resolve to think long and hard before coming up with more stuff.

This doesn't apply to new story ideas, of course. I started two new stories while I was gone and worked at bits of others. But the Not The Moose Book felt really good, so that's what I worked on. Quite happily. I even have a handful of mediocre titles I could give it, should a better one not come along before I finish it. I came home to five stories I need to send back out. I also had a piece of unbelievable luck with a short story -- I'm not going to publicly say what it is until/unless it's for sure. (If you want to know, e-mail me. That's "private." This is "public." I already told Karina and David and everyone I saw at Christmas.) But even if it only goes this far, it's one of those things that doesn't really happen, you just daydream that it will.

I've been flitting around singing "Fire at Midnight" and other homecoming songs. I don't flit so good when I have to keep blowing my nose, but who does? The sentiment is the same.

So anyway...well, I got pictures, and they're going to take me awhile to get cropped and chosen and so on. I have stories to market. I have work to type. I have stories to read for WIHA. I have bills to pay, laundry to wash, books to unpack, new CDs to listen to (such a burden!). And there's a chapbook around here of which I have heard rumors, but which I have not yet been able to find...even with the gourmet pizza dinner we plan, there is much to do. But first I have to blow my nose.

It's still good to be home.

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