16 May 2001

It's a lovely morning out, and I'm going to Berkeley in the afternoon to see Avi and possibly Karen and the Tot. We will all have a very nice time, I feel sure of it. Me and BART and coffee and cool grown-ups and a smart-cute baby. What a good afternoon plan.

Yesterday I found exactly nothing about Finland when I went bookstoring with David. Ah, says a voice from the peanut gallery, at least you didn't spend a lot of money! Well. I wouldn't be hasty in jumping to that conclusion. I am not allowed to go to any more used bookstores for awhile now. I'm actually not allowed to buy anything but consumables and Mark's birthday presents now.

He is absolutely untormentable. I have no idea how to handle this. What's the fun if he won't be all squirmy and wanting to know what he's getting for his birthday? He acts like a grown-up about it: happy and grateful for his birthday presents at the time he gets them. Birthdays aren't about being grown-ups! Birthdays are wiggly curious wonderful occasions for Princess Time. And I can see why Mark wouldn't be so good at Princess Time, but wow. And Timprov hasn't even used all of his birthday days yet. They are Birthday Amateurs. I'm working on it. I really am.

I can picture myself at 80, poking around my birthday presents with a curious gleam in my eye, perhaps shaking one or two of them, and my mother hobbling up to me to admonish, "It's not your birthday yet!"

Anyway, so I had fun and carrot ginger soup with David yesterday afternoon and an utterly uneventful BART ride home. And I was quite grateful for an uneventful BART ride. Lowered standards for BART. Ah well.

Last Wednesday I made a lovely discovery: pistachios! How is it that I never discovered these things before? My dad buys them all the time, but they have shells, so I put them into the category of "messy stuff Daddy eats" and ignored them. Foolish child that I was! They're so good! I had some more yesterday, and wow! I'm going to have another one this morning!

Okay, so I eat them in units of one. Mark and Timprov may be Birthday Amateurs, but I am definitely a Snacking Amateur. I admit it.

But dang, they're good.

Pistachios are evidently the official snack food of Mark's company. (Wanna be their office manager? We've been offering the job to everybody.) So that's where I was when I discovered them. I also finally met Mark's boss/thesis advisor. And he asked me a difficult question: "So is one of them [the books I've finished or am working on] going to be the Great American Novel?" Now, the way he said it made it clear that he was not just being snide to the SF hack. He was making conversation. But what's the right answer to that question?

a) Yes. I am pretentious.

b) No. I have no faith in my work.

I settled on, "No, they'll be interesting to read, which is more important anyway." But I feel like there ought to be a better answer.

Do other nationalities do this? Is Karina supposed to write the Great Canadian Novel? How about the Brits, are they supposed to write the Great British Novel? Or has somebody already done that, and if so -- my Lord, who? Or is this just an American obsession?

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