July 7, 1998
A long while ago, I got to talk with J.A. Jance while the two of us were making dozens of pumpkin pies with about a dozen teenagers running around us helping. The time to talk wasn't all that much, but it was kinda fun. Jance wrote all these murder mystery novels that were pretty straightforward in that the bad guys always got caught and the good guy always won, and the problem was always solved. Not great literature by Jance's standards, but what she could write. She never really had pretensions that they were anything more.
But there was a time when a man came up during a signing and said that he'd bought a pile of Jance books when his mother was dying of cancer in the hospital. That he'd read through a number of them when all he could do was wait, and that the books had provided relief, even entertainment and some time where he could just stop worrying, stop hurting, and be in these solid books that made more sense than his life at that time. They were a safe read because of their very structure.
It gave Jance another viewpoint on what it meant to be an author. That it didn't have to mean working out great works of Literature that might be remembered through all time, but just something that could entertain, distract someone for just a while... when they needed it. Something that's important for me to figure out so that I'm not so afraid of writing crap that I don't write anything at all.
I read two romances last night. Just fun things that were filled with good humor, fairly good writing, and really interesting characterization. It didn't have much angst, there was just enough ambiguity and mis-communication to make things interesting in plausible ways and they were fun and got me away for a while. Okay, until about 2 a.m.. Made me wonder what it would be like to write SF romance. Yeesh. The second one was a time travel one that worked out pretty keenly, all in all, and did the classical good SF thing where the characters' personalities had more to do with the plot and how the plot went than the technology alone.
Giggly fun is never bad.
Turns out that by talking with Lee, John's opened up the possibility that I'll deacon two weeks in a row, and maybe speak to the suicide concerns in a Deacon's sharing this coming Sunday and with a shift off with seven deacons, I may get the rest of the summer off from deaconing, which would be very sweet. And for a good reason.
So that seems a Thing that I can do.
Sometimes I remember that alienation is simply a state of mind. At others, I forget. There's only one human being I've ever felt completely and utterly intuitively in connection with, completely, from top to toe, darkness to light, breath to breath, touch to emotion and that was Markleford. Of course that connection broke down when the relationship needed harder communication than simply intuition. When we had to talk, we hadn't built all the overt communication skills and it all collapsed. So much for just intuition.
John's and my overt communication skills are darned good. My only problem is getting to actually figure out what it is that I need to say. But when we talk, it usually gets to some kind of understanding. There isn't that non-verbal, intuitive connection, but there is a lot of other connections, of mind, of thought, of words, and I know that with John that I can say anything and we'll get to a meaning somehow, to something that's learning about each other and of each other and that he'll pretty much never take offense. Even when I do.
So the long-term connections with John are just so much more there for me, and he knows all my goods and bads and all my messed up bits as well as my connected bits, and it works darned well at all conscious levels. I don't feel like an alien around him.
Then again, most of the people that I've built a one-on-one relationship don't make me feel alien, either. Regis, Carl, Gretchen, Charlie, Trip, Bryant and Raven are all good examples of that. As are, actually, John's parents. There's something about them that makes it easy to feel like they really are interested.
There hasn't been a human being I've really gotten to know who isn't a complex interweaving of contradictions, capabilities, beliefs, and thoughts. Who isn't fascinating in detail, in individuality. When generalized, groupized, everyone becomes boring, bland, but when pulled from the herd, each person can be so amazing. It was Alan who wrote me to say that, really, the only way to live is with curiosity. He's right in many ways, and it's how I've always tried to live. Curiosity about everyone and everything.
It's interesting to look into his life, see what comes alive for him, in him, with him. The textures of his writing are vivid they can nearly be tasted.
Spent most of yesterday evening doing small things. John had the dinner with Lee, so I got to make my own dinner, and I'd wanted to do an experiment with the food processor after the pie dough had turned out so well, so I poured a cup of flour into the tiny thing, added 1/3 cup of boiling water with 1 Tbs of cold water in it to the bowl. Processed it until it balled into dough and then immediately pulled it out. It was just enough for one flat bread... so I rolled it out long and rectangle, spread canola oil on it, and then sprinkled chopped green onions and salt on the smooth surface. Rolled it up jelly-roll style and then took the jelly roll, coiled it upon itself and made a ball out of it, which I then rolled into a thick circle. So the oil and the green onions made many many layers of dough through the bread. Pan fried the round and it came out crisp around the edges and sides, soft in the center, and fragrant with onion and many, many layered by the oil.
Scallion pancakes, I think some restaurants call 'em, but mom always used green onions, so I did. I just ate the round of bread for dinner. Fezzik watching me with dark eyes. He got some, too. Of course.
Then the two of us went for a walk in the slanting, early evening sunshine. It was so bright out and hot in the sunshine, so Fezzik was panting thoroughly early on. The walk was the longer loop, and rather than going through the Yuppy Development, we went along the dirt road that borders one side, where there's a wild pasture that doesn't mind a bit of fertilization every once in a while. The walk was easy and fun. My knee wasn't acting up at all, and so I strode long strides, trying to keep the pace up to get my twenty minutes of exercise. Fezzik got tired pretty quick and by the time we were going back towards the house, he was slowing down a lot. So I slowed down to stay with him and took the time to smell the summer sweetness of the day.
A tiny breeze stroked my damp skin, ruffling Fezzik's light black fur. The blackberry blossoms were out, delicately scented and pure white. Huckleberries were ripe and red and some had already fallen and crushed in the sunshine they were redolent of citrus berry scents. My jeans are still way too big for me, nice to feel 'em so baggy, in some ways. What was best, though was just feeling the easy swing and set of my right leg. Knowing that the knee was straightening enough with each step to lock it out and set the bones straight when the weight hit was so very, very nice. And that it was easy enough, loose enough to swing forwards easily with each step was keen too. No more limping for me, when I can help it.
After the walk, I also turned all the root beer. Checked all the caps to make sure that nothing was leaking, and then shook down the yeast from above the liquid level and set all the crates so that the bottles would be on their bases rather than on their sides. A few more days before it gets nicely carbonated, but they seem to be doing well, the yeast is growing happily.
Of course, the only problem with getting to sleep at 2am is waking up.
It was so hard to do. But I was wise the night before and clearly and completely communicated to John that I was not going to ride my bike to work in the morning. There was no way on or off earth I was getting up early enough to do that and get home before the Deacons' First meeting of the church year, and that was easily that.
John did weasel a promise from me that we'd do it Wednesday, though, so well, that's the plan, anyway.
Hansen's makes this 'energy' drink that's kinda like Mountain Dew on an herbal kick and it does really well in waking me up easily, without caffeine and without messing with my innards. Hrm. I think that yesterday I mentioned that my body has this natural way of getting my weight down? Basically, I think I have some food allergies that I don't know about, as in it's not an easy "When I eat this, it happens," it's likely a combination of things that actually do it. They completely mess with my digestive system to the extent that I don't really seem to digest anything for a while. This brings my weight down at random periods.
It happened far less when I was playing soccer, though, so it may be something about regular, hard, impact intensive exercise, or something. As I'm still exercising regularly, just not nearly that hard.
Anyway. Tired. Bleary, and kinda, well, okay, you probably guessed as much from the meandering of the entry, kinda unfocussed today, so far.
Had a nice long letter from Raven, which was thoughtful and useful and interesting and made me feel a lot less unconnected to him than I'd been convincing myself I was. So that was very good.