Prepared

Snowing hard this morning. The Prince went off to school with his Yule gloves, the scarf I knitted him, his down jacket–I could barely see his eyes peering out between scarf and hood. “I’m PREPARED,” he announced, before clattering out the door.

Odd Trundles moaned, groaned, and otherwise bitched until I dragged him (and B) out for a walk. And, again, he shook his delicate paws all the way and moaned at me. Clearly, as the goddess of everything as far as his wee canine self is concerned, I deliberately made it snow in order to inconvenience him and soak his nails. B, of course, was THRILLED with the falling white stuff and singing hosannas of praise, since clearly as the goddess of everything as far as her wee canine self is concerned, I deliberately made it snow to give her something to sniff at and play in.

It’s rough being a goddess.

I dreamed last night that I was twelve, Fezzik (Andre the Giant, natch) was my foster father, and I found out I could call shoggoths from the sea and obliterate the evil people using said shoggoths for their own nefarious purposes. Woke up wondering if the shoggoths would get indigestion from evil people, then fell back asleep and dreamed they carried me away to a city just thrust up from under the waves, and my biggest worry was convincing the big gelatinous blobs to bring me fruit or flotsam involving preserved limes so I didn’t get scurvy. Apparently reading all that Lovecraft did something to my subconscious, but on time-delay.

I finished Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives yesterday while waiting to pick up the Princess at the train station (thank goodness she was safely home before this weather moved in) and was furious at the betrayal of Cesárea and of Lupe. I shouldn’t be surprised; machismo authors transacting through the bodies of woman (oh, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick made it articulate for me) is nothing new at all. Still, there are some parts of that book–like Quim’s long discussion of the literature of desperation–that have burrowed in and will stay with me for a while.

*time passes*

I must look like death warmed over, because when the neighbor texted to ask if I wanted anything from the store and I went over to drop off some cash, said neighbor opened the door and said, “Silly girl…are you still sick?” Thankfully I did NOT breathe on/infect my neighbors. Normally I would have scolded them for thinking of traveling in this weather, since I’ve got the all-wheel drive, but the roads are pretty clear and I’m in no condition to go anywhere. I’ll be huddling next to the heater for a while.

I had somewhere I was going with this post, but it’s flown right out the window. Time to put some laundry in and take some decongestants.

*wanders away*

Ice Day, and Books

Last night’s snow is falling in melting clumps off branches and roof edges. I dragged both dogs out for Odd Trundles’s walkies, and wrestled with B’s bouncing glee at the white stuff and Odd’s “EW NO MY PAWS, MY DEWICATE PAWS! *snortwhistle*” Halfway through I started coughing and couldn’t stop, so it’s probably best I didn’t roll out of bed and into my running clothes.

*sigh*

I’m torn between taking today off for a holiday or just getting work done since I’m going to be stuck in a chair for most of the day anyway. I suppose I could settle on the couch and finish Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives; I knocked off a good chunk of it yesterday afternoon when the weather started turning filthy and I was filling tissues as fast as I could get them out of the box. Bolaño’s one of those authors who will induce a fever if you doesn’t already have one; I remember reading 2666 and feeling like the world was about to slip away on a greased plate, my forehead damp and my eyes gleaming. It’s the same sort of feeling I get from Murakami at his best, I remember 1Q84 and Hard-Boiled Wonderland both induced it, and Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, too. Algernon Blackwood’s short stories sometimes give one, and Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

Of course, there are some books one should never read while fevered. And some that one wants to read only when one is feeling a little unmoored. Kind of like Jandek‘s music is horrid the first time you hear it, then it grows on you and you end up craving it in certain conditions, scratching an itch until it bleeds. A painful relief.

*looks back over post* I suppose I’m not quite “well” yet. The sun has come out and is gilding every icy edge and corner; the dripdrops of melt are gold-tinged. The air is full of falling jewels, as if there’s damn Tolkien elves about. (At least it’s not chicken feathers, as Mia Sara once remembered about the filming of Legend.) A clear sky means a cold sky in February, so ice will no doubt make things iffy for traveling later, but for right now…well, a warm shower and some decongestant, since the cough has moved into my chest. Then, fever or no, it’s time for some work. If I don’t write today I’ll start to itch under my skin, and that’s unbearable.

If I can’t run, I must work, though of course both would be best. In any case, Odd, worn out by his morning walk, is snoring contentedly in his Fancy Dog Bed, and Miss B is likewise snoring in my office doorway. They’ll wake when I move.

Maybe I’ll just stay where I am for a while…

Up Early

What is as wonderful as a dog, I ask you? Faithful, energetic, stenchful, forgiving–and of course, utterly unconcerned with such things as human manners, having their own. Not to mention gloriously happy with the smallest of joys, and full of zen-like commitment to the Now.

I rolled out of bed somewhat early this morning–part of my ongoing struggle to shake off leftover holiday depression and the resonating pain of a dead book. Lying abed playing Hay Day and obsessively checking social media does not get the words written, and it does not help. It’s warm and safe, yes, and it’s what I would prefer…but no, not helpful. The dogs are largely content with it, insofar as their bladders will allow, but they’re also excited to get up and begin a new day full of fun things and smells.

So it was brekkie for the beasts, brekkie for myself, then Odd Trundles moaning and groaning because he wanted a second breakfast. What he got instead was a walk, which displeased him mightily. He expressed his bafflement by wrapping the leash around my legs and demanding much coaxing. About halfway through a military jet roared overhead. Normally such things are to be ignored, though Miss B hates any kind of loud noise, but this time both dogs wished for me to reassure them that the growling thing in the sky would be held back by my godlike beneficence from devouring them. I coaxed, I reassured, I patted, I demanded, and we got almost to the bottom of the hill, and back up again just as it started to rain.

Then of course there was standing by the back door waiting for both of them to finish any necessary unloading spurred by the activity. Brought inside, both dogs decided the walk had not been enough exercise, despite dragging themselves exhaustedly through it, and proceeded to tear around my office yelling at each other. The growling! The nipping! The dominance mounting! It was a goddamn carnival. And of course they didn’t decide to go tearing through the house, or even down the hall, or into the Little Prince’s room directly across the hall.

No, it had to be my office.

Once they had sorted that out, there was a long session of Odd attempting to roll onto his back. Now, he is a corkscrewed, unwieldy sort, and if he ever makes it all the way onto his back he is unable to properly breathe, so there is much gulping, snorting, wriggling, and many choking noises worthy of the apogee of a particularly slasher flick. Needless to say, Miss B is convinced Odd needs supervision during this gymnastic attempt, and darts in and out nosing at him, play-bowing, barking encouragement, and just generally being an extremely loud and ineffective impediment to Odd’s goal.

Then, of course, as I was attempting to open a few browser tabs and pursue a chain of thought despite all the sonic waves assaulting my ears, they both decided I needed to adjudicate the Who Is The Best Dog face-off.

This is why I cannot have more than two dogs at a time. I only have two hands, and in order to fairly distribute skritches and encouragement I must use them both in equal measure if not equal pressure. (It’s also part of the reason I stopped at two children; one for each hand is quite enough.)

With that done, both hounds staggered away. Miss B trotted down the hall to perform one of her usual circuits–hall, living room, dining room, kitchen, hall again while nosing at bedroom doors, just to check that everything is behaving properly and staying in its proper place. Odd, of course, collapsed precisely in the middle of the office floor. Not on his fancy-schmancy dog bed, of course, No, he’s spread his toys in an arc from the bed to the heater, and settled among them to create a barrier to my leaving. He is sprawled in a puddle, taking up as much space as possible…and now, snoring with abandon. Said snoring is so familiar as to almost be silence, and a blessed relief.

And I, having arisen early like an adult, am now exhausted by the morning’s frolics, and wish only to go back to bed.

*headdesk*

Morning Melange

Cow mouth 1
© Lisavan | Dreamstime Stock Photos
I’ve been obsessively playing Hay Day lately. It’s a very gentle game, full of feeding animals and making things. It’s a nice change from the outside world’s screaming. Of course it’s one of those freemium games, which is annoying, but since I tend to play for a few months then leave a game fallow (pun intended) for longer, I can’t complain. Much.

There’s another round of bigots and sexist crapheads trying to pull the old “but art should be apolitical” canard. *sigh* Art is made by people and is the product of choices. People and their choices are political, because politics affects what choices people have. I cannot believe this simple and elementary truth is invisible; those who want “apolitical” art just want art that agrees with the benefit they believe they get from a status quo they see as under threat. Nothing more, nothing less.

Odd Trundles has taken to dragging every toy he can find to the office dog bed, piling them, then settling atop them like Smaug on his treasure. This would be fine (although it looks damn uncomfortable) if the pile didn’t tend to settle and move just when he has reached maximum nap, startling him awake. And when Odd is startled awake, he gets loud. The frantic “oh my GOD something MOVED” borking is then echoed by Miss B, who answers from whatever part of the house she is investigating or herding, and she scrabbles into the office at full speed, baying “I’LL GET IT, I’LL HEEEEEERD IT!”

This would be mildly amusing if not for the sheer volume sending my blood pressure skyrocketing and adrenaline pouring through me. Never a dull moment around here, folks. Never, ever.

I’ve also been reading Lovecraft lately. He was racist as fuck and in many cases not a very good writer. Plenty of his work has been referenced elsewhere, so it’s like reading the Bible despite all the rape and murder and nastiness, or Shakespeare despite all the misogyny, in order to better follow the references and threads through other works. I won’t deny that every once in a while I get the urge to read something, and it won’t pass until I’ve scratched the itch bloody, like a mosquito bite. (I’m terrible with those.) Cycling through obsessions feeds the mill inside my head, and what comes out is story-powder, or something.

What Lovecraft was very good at was giving just enough information to let the reader scare themselves most effectively. Kind of like how Pennywise was terrifying until the kids found out IT was just a giant spider, or Black Phillip/the Devil in Witch manages to terrify and entice with a spur, a heel, a whisper, and the flip of a cloak. I tend to err on the side of letting the reader’s imagination fill things in, and to doubly err on the side of trusting the reader to connect dots and infer from context.

This sometimes drives my editors up the wall. One of the major struggles in edit letters is where they think I’m relying too much on the reader’s ability to connect things in context. Since the story and connections are so clear inside my head, what’s blindingly obvious to me needs a little help to become obvious for readers. This is one of the many ways a good editor saves one’s bacon.

*looks over this post* Goodness, this is a melange, isn’t it. I contain multitudes this morning. Time for more tea, or maybe a bit of yoga to get the blood flowing. I am cold and sluggish, and even the adrenaline from Odd’s treasure-mound shifts and concomitant noise isn’t keeping me at a high enough pitch.

Over and out.

The Hundred Days

Last night I finished The Hundred Days: Napoleon’s Last Campaign from eye-witness accounts. It was, of course, weighted heavily towards the British and German; if you want the Hundred Days told from the French point of view you should look elsewhere. That said, Brett-James picked a good cross-section, and let them speak for themselves.

I realized near the end that I was putting off finishing the book, because I didn’t want to hear a nasty version of Napoleon’s surrender. I mean, the man was a friction’ misogynist–his Code is laughably woman-hating in parts–and yet I can’t help but admire his military record and his sheer bloody-mindedness. If he hadn’t invaded Russia like an idiot…well, but he did. In retrospect, “invading Russia” is probably Fate’s way of disposing of European autocrats who can’t be taken down by any other means.

However, I needn’t have worried, because that particular historical bit was handled very deftly. The British were not gracious in victory. (I mean, I can hardly blame them, but still.) And it says something for the Corsican that they feared him so much–and France loved his success so well–that they immured him on that awful island.

The other thing that struck me was the descriptions of the carnage at Waterloo. I suppose the horrors of modern warfare have numbed me, for I felt saddest for the horses. Nevertheless, war is a colossal fucking waste. The amount of care and energy that goes into creating a single human, or a single horse, gone in a flash or with protracted suffering. I am left with Sarah Connor’s “all you create is death, and destruction” speech in Terminator 2–the one her son chided her for, which makes me angry every time I watch it.

I’m currently interspersing Marcel Schwob short stories with Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, and enjoying the latter the most. Tanith Lee did everything Schwob did, only better.

But that’s (say it with me) another blog post.

Past High School

It’s just not a proper holiday until a group of the Princess’s friends stays overnight, giggling in the kitchen and baking sugar-laden treats. Girls who made it through high school together, now young women–if course, the only ones who still come by are the ones who have left high school firmly behind. So few people actually make that decision, it’s good to see a high proportion of the Princess’s chosen companions have.

Speaking of people who never evolved past high school…well, a particular hatemonger is suing the publisher who (unwisely) paid him a very large advance for his screed, then decided they couldn’t publish it after a (politically) conservative editor–I mention the politics for obvious reasons–had to go through and actually read the damn thing. The best thing about this is the editor’s comments in Track Changes.

And people wonder why editors drink. *shakes head*

Anyway, the idiot hatemonger is now suing the unwise publisher, and a consequence of this is the entire manuscript plus comments is a public court exhibit now. Publishing Twitter is munching popcorn and watching the flames. The only thing marring this delicious serving of cold karma is the fact that for what the unwise publisher paid (and forfeited) in advance, they could have given advances for ten real books. (At LEAST ten.) I know better than to think a giant corporation has learned its lesson, and am sad for the books we won’t get to read because an entitled, hate-filled jackass hovered up resources that could have gotten them published.

And now I’m out the door for a run. I’m almost at the point where I don’t want 2017 to end, because last time I was looking forward to the ending of a year (2016) the one following it turned out to be an even worse shitshow.

Over and out.

Hilaire, Unhilarious

I took a break from Upham to start Hilaire Belloc‘s The French Revolution. He blames Carnot for everything, really, and as a Frenchman I suppose he has the right. But his comments on Marat give me a great deal of thought.

“He was often right when he denounced a political intriguer: he often would have sacrificed a victim not unjustly condemned, he often discovered an agent partially responsible, and even the violent solutions that he suggested were not always impracticable. But it was the prime error of his tortured mind that beyond victims, and sudden violent clutches at the success of democracy, there was nothing else he could conceive. He was incapable of allowing for imperfections, for stupidities, for the misapprehension of mind by mind, for the mere action of time, and for all that renders human life infinitely complex and infinitely adjustable.”

Excerpt From: Hilaire Belloc. “The French Revolution”.

His two short portraits of Marat and Robespierre are bookends of a sort; they present personalities immediately recognizable in the age of social media as well. Plus ça change, and all that.

Belloc was a Catholic apologist, an anti-Semite, didn’t believe in evolution, and probably would be a Gamergater if alive today, so if you want to read, be warned. I find him funny, but it’s the raging bigots who have a gift for comedy you have to watch out for. That aside, I’m always game for French Revolution histories, and he’s witty enough in places to be a smooth read. When I finish it I’ll go back to Upham; it’s not quite a palate cleanser so much as a different taste to provide complexity.