September 16th, 2008

Whale fluke

Be Not Nobody

I've had this habit for too long: defining myself by what I am not.

I clearly remember the moment I finally really articulated this to myself, and that moment was TEN YEARS AGO. It was, in fact, during the long conversation with my cousin Amy "Maximy" Walsh when she came out to me, back in Thanskgiving weekend '98. Which is an amusing story in its own right, but not a story for now. I think I was reacting to one of my favorite people in the world (then and now) saying "I am this." I realized there were plenty of times when I'd essentially said "I am not this." Random examples, small and big: I am not a gamer; I am not a social conservative; I am not a tofu eater; I am not gay or bisexual (though I will admit to having a bit of a man-crush on Jason Lee); I am not a computer programmer; hell, I am not a squirrel. See how this tendency can get ridiculous? It's actually spectacularly easy to define yourself by what you're not. Figuring out yourself: that's the trick. (It's one reason for psychologists, because you can't always figure out yourself on your own.)

If I'm still having this issue ten years later, then it's been a tough habit to break, you think?

I've seen Babylon 5. (In fact, I'd watched the very last episode the day before Thanksgiving '98, right before the whole Amy-coming-out-to-me thing.) One of the big freakin' points of that story is that when you ask and answer the questions "Who are you?" and "What do you want?," they need to be asked and answered in that order. Truly knowing who you are changes the answer to what you want. Londo answered those questions in the wrong order, and brought disaster on his whole empire. Other characters, like Sheridan and G'Kar, asked them in the right order. This didn't prevent problems (it didn't prevent Sheridan from dying that first time, for instance), but they were on a clearer path. They were doing what they knew they needed to do, based on what they knew about themselves.

I'm searching for the clearer path. And trying to identify and get around my own personal stumbling blocks on that path.

The issue's in the forefront of my mind again because of the job hunt. Deciding what work I want certainly involves a lot of eliminating of options -- I'm never going to be a doctor, for instance, or a pilot, or a lumberjack (and that's OK) -- but beyond temp jobs, where I'm more likely to take whatever I can find (and I try my best to do that), I want to be searching for a job based on the idea I want to do this. Which I've done before, like when I hunted down and got newspaper work back in 1997. I covered much of Oregon in that quest, and found the Hermiston Herald job, work I was glad to do, work which suited me.

I'm feeling my way back to that. Family and friends have given me great advice on what work to seek, based on what they know about me, and they aren't as hung up on the "what doesn't Chris want to do" thing because, well, they aren't Chris. I'll be looking online and in the paper for what jobs are out there, and they are out there, even in the lousy economy.

Meanwhile, temp work will likely happen again -- I've moved mattresses, installed furnishings in apartments, filed, made office labels, stuffed envelopes, answered phones, directed traffic in a parking lot, moved books in warehouses, and all sorts of miscellaneous work -- because I can do many things for a little bit, for a little pay.

I'll figure this out. At least I'll figure this out better.

Being for the benefit of copperwise on her birthday

Something a little different, in tribute to copperwise:

It shouldn’t be called a birthday. It should be called a Life Day.

A birthday already implies a celebration of that life. A birthday should – and can – celebrate that more boldly. Life should be celebrated 365 or 366 times a year. No, revised: maybe one should celebrate life more than once a day. Celebration, or at least commemoration, should keep happening. Because life – and, in ’Wise’s case, a good life – keeps occurring.

Each day really brings some anniversary of some milestone. This day x years ago: you mastered a skill you can no longer remember having to learn. That day y years ago: you lovingly kissed the closest person in your life for the 1,000th time. Still another day z years ago: a friend of yours thought of you without you knowing it and thought I’m glad I know her.

Other anniversaries of milestones have taken place, some silently, some loudly: your first really successful telling of a joke. Your first sale of an article. The writing of your first poem that made (or would later make) a stranger cry. The first spark of a new friendship. The first spark of a new love. Your first mind-blowing Thai food. Your finding anew the confidence to (as the slogan says) dance like no one is watching. And, as many of us mark, the first time you breathed air.

The milestones of life keep happening. Life itself keeps happening.

Happy birthday, Mia. Keep learning, loving, and laughing. Keep celebrating. And keep making life worth celebrating.
Blow My Mind

Anything that happens, happens...including A SIXTH HITCHHIKER'S BOOK?

The author of the Artemis Fowl series will write a sixth Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy novel.

I...I have NO idea what to make of this.

More info from the article: the book will be called And Another Thing... and will come out next year (maybe to tie into the 30th anniversary -- wow, 30th -- of the first Hitchhiker's novel). Adams's widow Jane Belson hand-picked Artemis Fowl creator Eoin Colfer for the book. And it will NOT pretend to be ghost-written; Colfer's name will be on the cover.

I'm torn. This has to tread such a delicate path not to be a complete and utter disaster. So much would have to go right for this not to seem like a pure money grab. And I've yet to read any Colfer, so I can't yet evaluate if I believe he's up to the challenge of making enough things go right.

But here's a reason I'm trying to trust Belson on this: as Nick Webb recounted in his official Adams biography Wish You Were Here, when Adams was struggling to write Mostly Harmless during one of the worst years of his life (seriously), she told him that it was OK if he abandoned writing that book, if it was too hard for his state of mental health. He argued that he'd been paid a lot of money for the book; she said they could afford to pay it all back. That doesn't seem like the actions of a money-grabber.

I still don't really know what to make of this.

Did Douglas Adams ever seriously consider ideas for a sixth Hitchhiker's? I'd heard rumors, and he'd said that a sixth book could be a good idea, but there's nothing I'd want to repeat in case I heard wrong rumors (or simply made something up; I'm not sure I'd be sure at this point, seven years after Adams's death). I do know he said once that he had almost brought back Marvin the Paranoid Android in Mostly Harmless, the last HHGG book he finished. Marvin was dead by that point, but his time-traveling in earlier books (time-traveling that made him several times older than the universe) could be used to explain a reappearance. But there's, um, the bigger issue of not only the main characters but every possible alternate-universe version of each of the main characters dying at the end of Mostly Harmless, in what I once called "the Alien3 ending." (I'd heard a rumor of how he'd address that, but again, rumor.)

Douglas Adams is very important to me. So's his work: it's a HUGE influence on my mindset. Because of Adams, I found Neil Gaiman, through his Hitchhiker's companion book Don't Panic; through Gaiman I eventually got to know the work of Caitlin R. Kiernan; and through that I got to know the work of Poppy Z. Brite. Hell, I could trace my involvement on LiveJournal, and a bunch of my friendships and acquaintance-relationships, from that string of influences. (And this is a series it took me three tries to get into back in grade school. Really. What if I hadn't tried again?)

Maybe a portion of the proceeds of And Another Thing... should go to environmental charities, since Douglas Adams was so involved in environmental protection.

I still still don't know what to make of this.