Monday, June 16, 2003

So I spent Father's Day with my dad and grandpa here, where I'm spending the night, in good old Kinsman, Ohio. It was a good day, all in all. My mom made us dinner and we watched Minority Report and then walked down to my grandparent's, where we chatted on the front porch, and then my grandma and I and my nephew and niece strolled around the perimeter of the old farm, pointing out old memories that only she and I could see. My nephew and niece weren't there to know what we were talking about most of the time, and yet it disturbed me that they didn't know where we buried our two family dogs, or where I used to watch ladybugs crawling up and down the trunk of this particular maple tree, or how there was a bullfrog that was under the footbridge that runs over the creek who came back every summer. Things like that. I mean, rationally I wasn't disturbed. It was more an emotional disturbance, like a map of my past had somehow disappeared because they didn't know it.

Then my mom and I drove to the cemetery to visit my other set of grandparents, her parents. We weeded around their headstone and I visited a friend's grave who had died right out of highschool. I'd dated his sister briefly, and I sometimes still worry about her, because she was the sort of girl who is so painfully intelligent and emotionally complex that I just know she carries around his death in her hands every day, something she just can't put down for a more than a few minutes. Or maybe that's just something I do, and I'm projecting that quality onto her.

Afterwards, my mom and I drove around town. I come out to visit my folks in short bursts, and rarely stay overnight any longer, but I did this time, so we had more time to do things together. My mom drove me around, pointing out houses and places, like my grandma and I had done around the farm, recollecting memories and updating me on where and what everyone in town had ended up and was doing now, good or bad, funny or tragic. My mom has the scoop when it comes to small town gossip. She wouldn't call it gossip, and in truth, she's sincere when she calls it concern. She knows something is wrong with this girl I've known since kindergarten, who is back home and living with her mother. This girl was beautiful and so shy, as long as I've known her. Now my mother says she's, um, rather large, and that she won't come out of her mother's house, and whenever anyone asks her mother how the girl is doing, the mother tenses up and says fine, or else changes the subject. I told my mother, "Well, if something is wrong, then maybe they just want to deal with it themselves, to keep it their business," and my mother said, "Well, yes, I understand that, but if there was something we could do to help." My mother, like all good country people, often speaks in the plural first person.

So we drove around like that for quite a while, and finally came home and watched Billy Eliot with my father. Jackie had been getting on me to watch that movie for a long time, and we finally watched it the other night. She said she thinks of me when she watches Billy Eliot, only replace the dancing with writing. I say, it loses all its charm once you do that, but I love the sentiment.

And here I am, up late, needing to sleep now, but my brain is still bubbling with old memories, each one coming to the surface with something new that's old. Right now I'm remembering how I came home from school for a Christmas visit--this was probably my second year of college--after I'd taken a class on the early twentieth century English novel, and told my mother I was going to "draw" a bath, and how she laughed and laughed and laughed at me until she cried. I stood in the living room and was completely clueless as to what I'd said that was so funny. But when she finally calmed down enough, she looked at me and said, "Draw?? You're going to draw yourself a bath?? You talk so strange now! It's just so, well, funny!"

Sometimes I think I need to spend more time out here.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

So, Wiscon was good, as usual. Lots of friendly faces, although I didn't get to talk to everyone as much I'd have liked to. The Ratbastards dance party on Friday night had a lot of good dancers, and the con itself had some really good panels this year. I got to be on a panel about Carol Emshwiller's fiction, which Carol herself was on, and me and Gavin Grant and John Kessel basically got to interview her for an hour and a half. Carol's a real cutie, smart and tough and spirited. I always love seeing her at Wiscon. Ursula Le Guin was at the convention this year, too, and I finally got to meet her, although briefly and unmemorably. I didn't say much, because I didn't want to be the stuttering fanboy that was waiting inside to leap out and sound like an idiot, so I just introduced myself to her when I asked if she'd sign a book for me, and she actually remembered me from the panel I'd been on about Carol.

Didn't get to talk to Tim Pratt and Heather Shaw as much as I wanted to, so I'll have to remedy that next convention with a reservation for dinner, maybe. But I did get to catch up with Susan Groppi and meet her lovely boyfriend, Matt. They go good together, and I'm really happy to see them happy together. Jackie had a good time meeting everyone. Sometimes meeting so many new people got a little overwhelming, and we'd take little breaks for coffee or a juice somewhere outside of the hotel, and be just the two of us outside of the convention, which was nice and relaxing for me too.

The Ratbastard's reading went, erm, pretty good for the most part. It was the first time I'd read at a convention. Before, I'd only read around Youngstown. So it was nice to finally read at Wiscon, my favorite con. I'll be doing more readings later this summer and early this fall, in Kentucky and Cleveland.

We went to D.C. for the a few days earlier this week, and tooled around the capitol and in Georgetown. I bought a copy of M. John Harrison's Signs of Life, which I'm excited to read. I've been reading a lot of his short fiction lately, and really love it. His prose is so fine, soft and hard at the same time. An amazing texture to it.

Jackie and I watched Happy Accidents tonight, and I really liked it. She was uncertain if she liked it for most of the movie, until the script settled into a definite way that it wants you to perceive its logic. I was happy with things up in the air, but I liked how it ended too.

Novel writing is going swell. Soon I'll be at the halfway mark, and that will make me rather happy.

For now, i'm off again. Everyone take care.