Saturday, August 13

random check-in

Wow, it’s been a while.

I’ve been a bit confounded by Mom lately, just making sure everything is up to date, chasing clarity and clarification. Truth is she’s doing okay right now. She’s settled since the last couple symptomatic episodes and we’re basking in the eye of the storm for the moment.

Also I was, I think, desperately missing the manuscript. I spent some down time, while I was waiting for beta advice to come in, working on a synopsis (I may actually hate them, synopses, for all the magic they take out of a story), starting the second volume of the saga, but they felt like cheating, like I was being unfaithful. Or maybe it just felt like hubris, as if I was presuming too much. Finishing the first one, making it as shiny (or gritty, as the case may be) as I can has become (appropriately?) a holy grail of sorts.

Anyway, I got the beta critiques back last weekend and started on revisions, possibly the final round before I actually consider it ready for agents to look at, and the clouds broke as I began. You’d think I’d learn.

About Mom, one of the things that got me down was the thought that diagnosis of degenerative dementia, probably like any degenerative disease diagnosis, is essentially a call to start grieving now. It’s a time bomb with no counter – it’s just going to go off, a bit at a time, until the final big boom. And there’s not much you can do about it. We can only work hard to try to stay in the moment. And sometimes, often even, that works, mostly when we’re together and laughing and talking. But there are the quiet times and, in the silence, sometimes, the idea of a clock ticking down feels a bit overwhelming.

It’s all the journey though, right? Good goes with bad, darkness with light, the bitter makes the sweet taste better.

I was thinking about how it’s our cultural nature to make things as difficult as possible. We create our society based on the square, fighting nature. We make things straight and hard, all roads and stairs and sidewalks, doors and walls and ceilings. Even when we absolutely have to bend to accommodate nature, the goal is still to minimize the incline, reduce the curves as much as possible, tame the topography.

And then I thought about hiking, being out past the manicured paths. Out there you follow the line that makes the most sense, often following in the footsteps of animals. The lines aren’t straight, nothing is manufactured – it’s organic, and logical in a way that only the wild can be. Intuitive.

And hey, when you find a pause on the path, whatever the reason, the view tends to be fucking awesome. Double rainbow awesome.

P.S. Don’t you love how rioters in the UK are either all stupid, selfish looters and hooligans, OR all politically marginalized and disenfranchised citizens expressing legitimate rage? Why don’t they use AND in that equation? How can they not use it? How stupid does one have to be to not see that there’s legitimate rage AND selfish violence in the dynamic? And why is the UK so goddamed different than Egypt or Tunisia where the frustration was lauded?

P.P.S. I’m reading Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad this week. And loving it. It’s as brilliant as a Pullitzer winner should be. I read Neil Gaman’s American Gods last week (AG was on recommendation from Judy Clement Wall – how did I miss that one?) and loved it too. It’s been a helluva good book month so far.