Month: December 2002 Page 1 of 3


Ray can climb on top of the toilet now. And, using a chair, gain the tabletop.

Frutration. I’ve been frustrated lately, and it’s getting to the point where I’m getting cynical. Again. Cynicism is when you lose trust in the whole world, right? I spent a lot of today talking to Joe’s mom (out from Davenport, IA, to attend a Broncos game Joe won in a contest at work). It was good. She hasn’t written anybody off.

I’m to the point where I’m feeling like I could start writing people off. I hate it.

So I feel better today, but it’s still hard. OK, world, when are you going to screw me over again?

Santa Claus. Maybe this is just too much sugar-coated goodwill for you. What are you, some kind of Nazi?

I was six or seven when I found out that Santa Claus wasn’t “real.” Two bullies a grad older than me spent a day tracking down little kids and mocking them for believing in such a big, fat lie. Of course, I knew that anything that came out of their mouths wasn’t to be trusted, but I began to suspect that Father Christmas wasn’t quite what my parents told me. Nevertheless, I never bitched about it. Neither did my younger brother–to this day, I don’t know for sure whether he believes in Santa Clause, and he’s twenty-six. We both faithfully filled out our Christmas lists and unwrapped the presents we received on Christmas morning with glee, until we were “too old for it.” It wasn’t that we were worried that we wouldn’t get as many presents–well, ok. We were kids. We worried a little bit. But it was pretty obvious that Santa Claus used the same wrapping paper as we did, that we never sent our Christmas lists to the North Pole, and that the guy that showed up to pass out candy and gifts at my grandparents’ house every year looked a lot like my Uncle Dave. I think we understood, even as little kids, that Santa Claus isn’t for children. I mean, you can give exactly the same number of present to your kids whether you tell them they’re from Mom and Dad or from some guy in a red suit that hangs out at the mall when he’s not at the North Pole. Why for the parents? Santa Claus is every generous thing in a parent’s heart. The gifts that Santa brings don’t need to be paid back in gratitude. Santa doesn’t bring socks and underwear. Santa brings stuff that your parents won’t let you have for no good reason (Santa brought me, every year, an extra-large jar of olives. And I could eat ’em until I was sick). And no matter how bad you are, Santa doesn’t really leave coal in your stocking, because he knows that all kids are good at heart, no matter how much your parents yelled at you today. My parents got to play pretend one (two, if you count Easter) days a year.

How could I spoil that?

Early Christmas present. I took a look at the pile of presents on the table (ostensibly out of reach) for our daughter, and said, Oh, the hell with it. We unwrapped this toddler’s computer game and loaded it up: almost everything is set up so you can make something happen just by banging on the keys.

At first she was hesitant. This is the same keyboard you’ve been forbidding for the last six months, mama. So we moved the keyboard to a little table near the floor and gave her one of the banana chairs to sit on. Ah! You mean you want me to bang on that keyboard!

It’s neat to watch her and neat to play with her.

In other news: Still no go on the crayons, but pencils and pens have been identified as tools with which to make marks on stuff. Par for the course, she correctly identified a pair of scissors as the most dangerous object in the room this morning, grabbed them off the table (with a clever little jump so she could reach), and ran. Aaaack!

Review: The Paths of the Dead, by Stephen Brust.

No spoilers, but…you might want to think twice before proceeding.

The Paths of the Dead is the first volume of the book The Viscount of Adrilankha–i.e., the first third or so of a novel. It is not, in any way, designed to stand on its own. You will be left hanging for…well, I hope not for another four years or so, but there you go. This is the LOTR or The Phantom Menace. The beginning of the book moves slowly, the narrative equivalent of a voice-over narrator summing up What Happened Before Now, and the main section of the book teases more for the future than it pays off in the present–all these interesting characters miss meeting each other by that much. This isn’t the book for a reader new to Brust to start on.

Nevertheless, can you wait until the next two come out before you start this one?

Many little hints are revealed, and especially amusing is the acknowledgements for the book, which include the website Cracks and Shards. According to the website, the acknowledgement gives the wrong address; the one above works just fine.

Plotting. When you read a scene in which someone is describing something that happened somewhere else, what you’re reading is twice the work of your regular, it’s-happening-right-now scene. You have to plot out the events that happened elsewhere, you have to plot out the here-and-now. Both sets of events must happen in your head as if they’d really happened. The characters must live.

It’s a pain in the ass, but it saves leading into the other scene and following out of it. Also, it helps conceal information that should not yet be revealed. In addition, the storyteller can lie much more easily than the writer can lay the scene flat-out and still deceive the reader.

One of the things that’s making plotting on this damn story bearable is the fact that I have characters who lie.

Gifts? Lee’s mom sent us a box of stuff. I guess…I was a little embarrassed. It’s not that my family doesn’t give gifts, it’s just not so enthusiastic.

Ray can climb up on chairs now, so keeping her away from the packages is a little hard.

Ray. Ray’s tummy has graduated. She’s moved from milk-based with food to food-based with milk now.

Good thing she’s not picky.

Car Notes. So after all that with the IA DMV, we’re not getting the car we were looking at. Following a couple of suspicious conversations with the seller and the financer, we decided to call it off.

Sales price: changed from 7900 to 8900 to 7995.

Loan amount: changed from 500 to 7500 to 5795.

Trade-in value: changed for 2K for Beretta to 2K for Beretta and Chevy Truck.

Rates: stink, but there’s our credit for you.

Mo/Pmt: changed from 200-230 to 320 to 335.

Final conversation with salesman: “You have to understand where I’m coming from here.”

No, guy, we don’t. Your numbers keep changing, they never match anything you’ve said on a previous day, and your explanations don’t get any better. You could be bending over backward for us, but unless you can convince us to trust you…fuck off.


Simultaneously, Joe’s car died, so the guys drove down to the carlot on Saturday night, picked up the truck, and left the guy a note.

There you go.

Kitties! Check out the kittencam at the BBC.

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