A friend of mine was asking why I haven’t ranted on Facebook for a while, so I thought I’d better catch everybody up on the last weeks or so of my fascinating life. Well, I was doing quite a bit of revision on Symbiosis, the breathlessly awaited sequel to Symbiont, so that kept me off the interwebs for a while. Then I did get back online and ranted on Facebook and got blocked for 24 hrs for using the n-word, I mean the real n-word with both "g"s and everything, in a totally non-degrading, not-calling-anybody-names way--I was just pointing out that the far right is using Muslim as the new code word for n!gg$r (only I used the actual vowels). Some prissy little wiener probably got his delicate panties in a twist and complained. Geez, it if was good enough for Mark Twain...Okay, yes, I know Mark Twain was writing in a different time, and the word wasn’t offensive, yadda yadda. But my point was that it is offensive that the M-word is being used to whip people up into the same foaming frenzy of hatred represented by the N-word. Only you can say the M-word without getting lynched or kicked off Facebook for 24 hrs. I’m not feeling ill-used about that, by the way. It was an interesting social experiment. Yes, that’s right; you’re all my little guinea-pigs. Get over it.
So I did a bunch more revision, and had a stomach bug, and then there were a bunch of books on fascism that I had to read because nobody on the internet really seems to be totally clear on what fascism is, then I got distracted with some books on atheism, then as long as I was feeling crappy, I actually read some fiction—I mean real reading with sitting down and holding a book which I normally only do with non-fiction—then I got over the bug, and there was some more tree-cutting-downing and gardening and fence-building.
While working in the garden, I'm reading (listening to) It Couldn't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis who apparently didn't like Upton Sinclair very much. The political shenanigans in the story are virtually identical to our current political climate—up to and including the Teaparty. History just rewrites itself over and over and over. Right now, I have to go read approximately 10 books on social psychology by Erich Fromm because a friend of a Facebook friend mentioned something called "Group Narcissism" which brought me to a book by EF, then I had to download everything else he ever wrote.
Now, see, this is making me nervous because all the marketing gurus say that your blog is your opportunity to intro-duce yourself to your readers (both of them) and let them get to know you. Now you probably think I am the kind of person who goes around using the n-word then compounds the sin by reading intellectual stuff so that I can be all elitist and try to run the world and oppress all you perfectly nice people who just want to read some nice, escapist science-fiction. Well, I promise I have no desire to oppress you—seriously, have you seen my to-do list? When would I have time?
Nor have I ever before written the n-word or spoken it except one time when I was trying to call my cat either a “niggle-head” or a “booger-head” and they got tangled up in my mouth and came out halfway in between. Fortunately there was nobody around but the cat, and he wasn’t black, so my mortification went un-witnessed. Unless the cat ratted me out.
But the point is that now you probably think my books are all political and confrontational and intellectual. Is it possible that I’m...I don't know...literary? Not according to my grad school thesis adviser, Ursula Hegi (name-drop). She thought I was disgustingly "escapist." Can you hear the upturned nose, bless her heart? (Ursula Hegi is very talented and prize-winning and Oprah-worthy and everything like that, but don’t worry, she’s not an elitist and doesn’t want to oppress anybody. Not even people who for god only knows what inexplicable reason want to write fluffy science-fiction and fantasy).
You can probably tell I have been hearing a lot on the internet about how all "you intellectual elitists" think you're all so much better than us regular folks.
Isaac Asimov talks about a strain of anti-intellectualism running through American culture which regards the good-old common sense of the people as being more valid than the studied observations of some intellectual elitist who "read a few books and bought a piece of paper and thinks he's so much better than the rest of us."
Which is interesting. What's wrong with wanting to read about economics and medicine and quantum physics? How does that mean that someone wants to oppress you? And if someone has studied something diligently for decades, wouldn't you want to go to them to learn what they have learned? Do you feel oppressed by them? If so, why not read something about those things yourself? You'll finish the book and realize that you have no desire to oppress anybody.
But I don't think I write anything remotely intellectual, much less literary. I like adventures with heroic heroes and villainous-but-somehow-sympathetic villains with plenty of spaceships, aliens, tentacles, ichor and one or two tasteful love scenes. So it's totally safe to read Strangers or Symbiont (or any of the fluffy Regency romances, but be kind, I wrote them 15 yrs ago). Except, of course, that every story needs tension. Uh-oh. I think I just figured out where the mouthy, confrontational, intellectual bit comes into it. Damn, yeah, every story I write works on that tension between the bucolic and the militant. Freak me out! That’s some serious cognitive dissonance there.
In fact, Strangers was heavily influenced by living on Vashon Island--mostly rural but within easy driving distance of a major city--and the whole story is pulled like taffy between pastoral tranquility and the necessity of technology.
Maybe some of that tension is the bipolar disorder. Ya get a little manic and start to feel at odds with yourself. You start to crave intellectual stimulation and physical action and creativity and chickens and you get an overwhelming urge to can something: cherries, green beans, marbles—you don’t care (I guess a supply of marbles is handy if you’re prone to lose them at intervals…ha ha, that’s a bipolar joke, get it?).
I'm sorry, I'm still revising Symbiosis and trying to finish Red Queen Does Something Vaguely Eldritch or Possibly Squamous on Fridays during word sprints with @FridayNightWrites.
And that, for those who asked, is what I’ve been up to. Hope you’ve been having fun, too.
McNugget fils aka Prettyboy. He's half the size of Eustace, but that doesn't deter him from trying to get his wives back. Poor cuckolded fellow.
Here's Tweedle-Dum. I was taking the picture over my shoulder. I'm just glad it isn't blurry. He's smaller and has a longer, more elegant neck than the white geese. He was too rough with them when they were little, but he would bed down every night outside their pen until they were big enough to move in with him. Now everybody is pals.
This is what I do when I'm not writing. The tomatoes were not thriving in the greenhouse where they didn't get quite enough light, so I cut down some of the prickly, non-native holly trees and made a thingamajig in the sunniest part of the yard which happened to be in the chicken yard, so I had to keep stopping and chasing the chickens out because they were trying to eat the plants as fast as I got them hung up. I finished by stringing bird net to keep the birds out. Imagine how frantic they will be when (if) I actually set some tomatoes!
Tweety-Bird the Red Russet turkey has decided to be a girl. I had words with her, but she is adamant. I did kinda want a tom, but she will lay beautiful eggs.
This is Poof, the friendliest of my youngest batch of chicks. She runs right up to me and pecks my toes which she believes to be fat pink grubs. She lets me pick her up and cuddle her and will perch on my shoulder for a few minutes before flying down and going after those fat pink grubs again.
When our upstairs renters moved out, they found that their new neighbors objected to being awakened at 4 am by their rooster Eustace. So I am boarding him. Isn't he a beauty? My own two roosters, the McNuggets pere et fils, were being overly amorous with the hens and rubbing their backs raw--don't ask, it's a chicken thing. So I locked up the McNuggets and turned Eustace out with my hens. He's older than the McNuggets and misses his own wives, so he isn't as...excitable. My ladies may have a chance to grow some feathers on their backs. We had a few dustups when one of the McNuggets broke out of their pen and went at it with Eustace. The geese honk like the crowd watching the lions eat the Christians at the Roman coliseum, and the three ganders try to break up the fight by grabbing the roosters by the feathers and dragging them apart.
Here, I am trying to write while the five white geese hang around my feet, nibbling my clothes and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Occasionally, they steal my shoes, haul them off the play with them then poop all over them. They regard me as Food Lady and love me accordingly. They are extremely plump and probably delicious, but I will never know. They are quite good about being scooped up and cuddled like plush toys, and they like sitting on my lap and having their chins rubbed. Now that they are each individually big enough to beat up my older grey goose, Tweedle-Dum, he has been integrated into their flock along with his bosom friend, Duck. The flock likes to go out and eat the slightly greener grass along the side of the road. I have given up trying to stop them and instead follow them out twice a day with a long stick to gently herd them back from the pavement when cars pass. I lean on my stick reading my kindle and pretending I don't notice when traffic slows to a near standstill behind me.