In Which a Long Weekend Segues Into a Last Semester

29 May 2006

Long weekend: Kev was staying here, and my grands and Onie were down at my folks', so we went back and forth a couple of times in between other social engagements, which were plentiful. Notably, I got to introduce Robin to the practice of licking cookie dough from the mixer beaters. He was initially skeptical ("Missa, I think you should put that in the oven"), but was soon won over.

I've been pondering long and theoretically dense journal entries, but what I'm getting on e-mail is questions about how I'm doing -- not just in terms of the food poisoning, but in general. And the answer is, well, could be worse. Could be better -- I seem to be in a long dry spell for any kind of responses from editors or agents at all, and health stuff around here has not perhaps been optimal, what with last week and all. But definitely could be worse.

The flowers at the Conservatory were even better than usual yesterday. The Sunken Garden was less formal than it usually is, and more to my taste (those two things are nearly orthogonal but not quite). The Japanese Garden had stuff in bloom, which it doesn't always. It makes me so happy to go to the Conservatory, pretty much every single time. I can't think of a time it hasn't.

I finished reading American Prometheus, a bio of J. Robert Oppenheimer, today. It was really good, but I had had kind of enough of J. Robert Oppenheimer and definitely enough Lewis Strauss when I finished it. It was very strange reading about people I'd had as gentle elder-statesman professors when they were brash young turks, and that hadn't been my intent in picking this book up at all. The world is filled with unintended consequences, I suppose, and books are no exception. Still, I had not thought of myself as two degrees of separation from J. Robert Oppenheimer; it was all a good deal closer-up than I expected.

(Having Freeman Dyson for a seminar professor for a semester was one of the really outstandingly good things that happened my last semester at Gustavus. He is a dear and wonderful man. Not that Philip and Phylis Morrison were not dear people as well, but my friend Jen ended up a lot closer with them than I did; Freeman came to my first reading, and we went through angst and squee together about meeting some of our favorite SF authors. His was very quiet, shy squee. It was still squee. When Octavia Butler died this year, I kept thinking how absolutely thrilled Freeman was to meet her and sit on a panel with her -- no less awed than I was at meeting different authors the same weekend.)

(Here's the thing about creative work: the people who do it, in my experience, tend to appreciate each other. And they tend to appreciate the stuff they can't do at least as much as the stuff they can. Also, sometimes you don't have to strike six million people as interesting because the right one or two will do quite well. There are other people whose positive reviews of my fiction would mean as much to me as Freeman's that night I read on campus when I was 20, but I'm hard pressed to think of very many people whose would mean more. (And we all know about total orderings anyway, right?) And most of that was not who he is in the history books, who he could be quoted as knowing -- it was who he is as a person.)

(Dear dear. That was digressive, I'm afraid. I was going to talk about reading the next of John MacDonald's Travis McGee books, but it's time for me to do something else now, like sleeping. Well. I'll be back again, I promise.)

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