On being uptight

If you are the sort of person who prides yourself on not being uptight then it’s a shock to realize the ways you’ve totally got a stick up your butt and in fact, are completely insane. For me it was just a few years ago when I realized that certain unreasonable things drove me up the wall.

Pre-expedition dawdling

One was planning to go somewhere on a big trip like to the beach or out shopping or to an event with other people and them not being ready, dawdling, not having gas in the car, suddenly deciding it was a great time to clip their toenails, etc. That makes me insane! Be ready! Lay everything out beforehand! I am like a general of an army for a week beforehand thinking of all the small things that must be accomplished to lay the ground for an expedition to the beach. 10am the morning of the beach trip is not the time to check your oil, buy sun screen, stop to pick up a sandwich, etc etc OMG! There should be no fuss! No! Fussing! Now, I try to endure with patience and be adaptable if there is an oversight but if I can see that dawdling and faffing is the order of the day, I have to re-imagine everything properly in my head in order to stay sane. (“Sane”.)

Expedition mealtime “surprise”

Another one is eating food in museums and amusement parks. If you are only going to be in a museum for like 2 hours why are you spending 45 minutes of that in a claustrophobic loud horrible plastic generic cafetorium eating a 12 dollar wilty lettuced sandwich? Fuck me! Eat beforehand! You know you have to eat, plan for it! Eat some crackers from your backpack, drink from the water fountain, and suck it up till you get home. It is not so much about the money or being thrifty. It’s that it’s a totally crappy atmosphere. I have geared up my finest receptor and sensory and analysis modules to have an Experience, my input dials are maxed out, and now I’m in a Denny’s. Aaaaaaaa!

The Balance of the Universe, in my mouth

Another — you see what I mean, I find as I get older there are either more and more of these uptightnesses, or I’m more self-aware — is about the way of eating food. This one is probably very common on iamneurotic.com. I sort of mentally portion out my food so it is balanced all around and I like it to come out even. Yes! Neurotic! The other day, Rook brought a sandwich at work, with the extra pickle I asked for (yay) and … It’s so hard to explain. It was a lovely sandwich that I had increased the pleasure of by having looked forward to it all morning. As if from my little officey world of withered grey cubicles I had pinned all my shining hopes on this delicious Sandwich With Pickle. The pickle was in 2 halves. Of course, half the pickle for one half of the sandwich and the other half for the other. RIGHT??? Well just as I came to the end of the first half Rook casually picked up the pickle and went to take a giant 6-foot-tall-guy-bite out of it. I squawked like a motherfucking cockatoo. Hello, this is a man who can put his entire fist into his mouth. PUT DOWN THAT PICKLE.

The next second I fell over myself trying to assess whether it was his lovely expectation that that was his pickle and plus trying to suppress any selfishness and at least allot him half if not handing over the whole thing. (While still internally shrieking OMG if you wanted one, why didn’t you get your own!) And re-imagining my sandwich trying to still see it as glorious rather than a sad tarnished wistful wrong-ish half-sandwich-without-its-rightful-flavor.

As I thought over my own uptightness and yet, adaptability and willingness to hand over MY HALF OF MY FOOD, I realized the key to my being able to adapt like a normal human being is in imagining-out. If I can pause for a moment and imagine out the alternate future to the one I had already prepared myself for, then I’m all good and right with the world again and can be a gracious person. If not, then I’m stuck in being a surly petty bitch. So for example on going to the beach if I see that things aren’t happening as I wished then I make a new plan to go outside and mess around in the garden (the key thing here is avoiding the deadly feeling of waiting for other people.)

I told my sister Minnie the pickle story to make her laugh because she’s exactly the same way. If she had olives, she would have an unconscious awareness of portioning out the olive to sandwich consumption ratio and I would never presume to perturb that balance in mid sandwich. Am I right??? This is possibly part of our crucial sister telepathy (which has decreased as we get older but is still there.) Doubly so, perhaps, for bacon and pancakes. There is a special circle of hell for bacon-stealers.

These things are the minor things; the actual ways I’m actually uptight I can’t tell you because I’m too freaked out by them to talk about them, like phobias. Before any talking about it happens, denial hits and I veer off onto some other subject for the sake of self-preservation.

The thing about this way of thinking is that normally it works very well. I keenly enjoy the pleasures of the imaginary becoming real and I have a great time and am full of enthusiasms, major and minor.

Camille, with a gun, in pants!

Every time something exploded or there was a cliché in Quantum of Solace I punched Rook excitedly. He is now black and blue all up one arm. Yay, it was fantastic! Things were totally on fire and going very fast and there was broken glass everywhere and there were lots of guns! That makes it the best movie ever, just like XXX and The Killer and Bullet to the Head and, apparently, the new Vin Diesel movie which from the previews looks like heaven. NOT as heavenly as the Star Trek movie preview though. Holy crap! They seriously aimed that trashtasticness straight into my soul! You didn’t know I had a soul? Well I do, and it has Spock and Kirk in it looking like they’re going to kiss while their spaceship explodes.

Back to Quantum of Solace. The highlight of the whole fucking movie was PANTS. Camille is always whipping a gun or a knife out of somewhere when she’s wearing like 6 inches of fabric. And then finally in the ending scene she is wearing pants and has a big old gun. Thank you god and whatever movie director was like “yanno what it is fucking stupid these tough secret agent movie chicks are always in high heels and an evening gown in the middle of an airplane crash, how about we give her 5 minutes to prepare for going out to shoot this guy in the head on her secret mission and let her put on a pair of fucking pants. Tough ones with pockets in.” THANK YOU.

I will leave the intelligent critiques for later. For now it is all burbling and dreamy looks. Oh, but I did feel that though camera cutting from thing to thing in the action scenes was distracting and annoying, it was not ineptness or cheating but was meant on purpose to disrupt the linear narrative of violence. IN other words it was important that the violence be confusingly nonlinear so you don’t know what what hit what or where that grappling hook came from or where the crane is swinging to on the scaffolding, because it’s important that you be very unsure *what caused what*.

Getting rid of some books, part 2

Another small round of decluttering. I spent most of the day in bed reading 5 Miss Marple novels. They are so classist and racist and sexist and full of horrible gender stereotypes but they are oddly satisfying because there are so many active women characters in them who are smart, powerful, shrewd, or who have other positive qualities – usually, they pass the Bechdel test very well. I kind of enjoy the classist bits because they make particular attitudes about class very clear – as in girls’ series books.

– The Mirror Crack’d. The neurotic American film star at the top of the stairs whose baby was born “mentally defective” and was put away in a home. Ugh! Makes one appreciate how times have changed. Sly blackmailing secretary with a nasal atomizer. Scatterbrained, gardening Mrs. Bantry whose house it use to be. Arty photographer girl from London. Busybody self centered organizing woman who does a ton of charity work (victim). Stupid parlormaid (victim) though not actually a parlormaid, is temporary help from, uh, the village. Or something.

– A Carribean Mystery. Miss Marple on some tropical island. Casual racism. Nice young couple who own a hotel. Stuffy old bore who tells stories of shooting lions in Africa, and murders (victim). Black parlormaid (victim) blackmailer. Cantankerous semi-paralyzed old man, Mr. Raffiel, who is insanely rich and who teams up with Miss Marple. His snoopy male secretary/valet/masseur. His widowed assistant/nurse/attendant.

– Nemesis. Sequel to Caribbean Mystery. Mr. Raffiel leaves a mysterious mystery to Miss Marple. Gardening tour. Middle aged ladies (I liked them.) Three sisters who live in a decaying old house. Many interesting references to a bad girl from the village who has been running around with boys since she was 12 (victim). Pure schoolgirl with heart of gold from days of yore (victim). Saintly, powerful headmistress of a school (victim). Miss Marple seems quite old in this book and it is suggested she might die in the next year or so.

– What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw. Miss Marple’s friend witnesses a murder on a passing train. Good character of the insanely competent university educated woman, Lucy Eyelesbarrow, who chooses to be an incredibly high paid domestic servant instead of academia, in order to have an independent life. Big family. Cantankerous old Mr. Crackenthorpe and his various children who want to inherit his cash and estate.

– The Body in the Library. Mrs. Bantry, much younger and still living in her enormous estate which was later bought by the neurotic film star in Mirror Crack’d. Arty, scandalous film people. A hotel in a nearby village or town where idle people seem to come and stay for an entire season, dancing, playing bridge, taking tennis lessons, and being secretly scandalous. Hotels seem to routinely keep a staff of “hosts” who mix with the guests and play up to them (as in Caribbean Mystery)

Why am I poisoning my mind with this crap! I have so many nice books to read!

Other books on the way out:

* Our National Parks vol. 1 and 2 (from the 50s, with cool illustrations)
* Several other very old guidebooks to parks and regions and beaches
* Sew Simply, Sew Perfect (for its 1960s-ness and basic concepts)
* Comparative Mythology by Puhvel (textbook?)
* How the Irish Saved Civilization
* The Voice of the Whirlwind: The Book of Job (???)
* The New Golden Bough
* Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga
* The Book of the Dead – dover thrift of the Wallis Budge version. Tempted to keep this one.

Getting rid of books, fiction, A-C

The books in my own library function as my external memory. I’m going through some of the fiction bookshelves in my office to get rid of some books. So that I remember what I’ve read, and where I could find certain information or stories again, I’ll record what’s going out the door. (And if you want any of these books, ping me to come pick them up. Otherwise – donation.)

Frozen Future A prophetic report from Antarctica. Ed. by Richard S. Lewis and Philp M. Smith. 1973. A very cool book with lots of charts and diagrams. I like knowing what people thought was going to be the future in 1973. This was part of my 1999 inhalation of everything about Antarctica, just before Rook went to work at the South Pole for 6 weeks.

The Speedwell Voyage: A true story of survival at Sea in the Bestselling Tradition of The Endurance. Piracy & mutiny in the 18th century. Kenneth Poolman. Okay, but not great. Too far removed from the source. Why not just re-read Hakluyt again if you’re going to go there.

The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition. Caroline Alexander. Coffee table book. Again… go to the source.

Nisa: Life and Words of a !Kung Woman. Marjorie Shostak. Interesting but sometimes I want to slap the anthropologist. Nisa is cool.

Travels in West Africa. Mary Kingsley. Fabulous, but falling apart and missing some pages. I will tear some more out and save them for envelope art and throw away the rest. I especially remember the scenes where Kingsley is lost in a mangrove swamp.

The Book of Weird. Why do I even have this?

Paula, and Stories of Eva Luna. Isabel Allende. I so don’t need this. Allende bugs the ever living crap out of me. I kept House of the Spirits just to critique the hell out of it.

Ranger’s Apprentice. John Flanagan Utterly unmemorable YA fantasy book. Why do I have it?

Dragon Keeper. Carole Wilkinson. YA book set in China. Passing this one on to Moomin. I think someone sent it to me for review. Read it, can’t remember it… I think it was okay…

A whole bunch of Kushiel books. Jacqueline Carey. Might have re-read them once over while sick. Could get from library so easily. Worth keeping? What do you think? In 10 years, or 20, will I still be able to find a copy? I think so.

Xenocide. Orson Scott Card. Advance uncorrected proof.. Going, going, gone.

Agatha Christie. 4 huge hardback collections of mysteries and short stories. Mostly Miss Marple. Others too. Okay, these are around so that when I have a cold, I can tear through them. Again, couldn’t I just send someone to the library to fill me up with junk reading? Yet, these are relatively compact. I’m torn. Miss Marple Meets Murder. Miss Marple Complete Short Stories. Five Complete Miss Marple Novels. Then another book with 5 Tommy/Tuppence novels.

John Dickson Carr. hardback “Three Detective Novels.” See above.

Wit’s End. karen joy fowler. Liked it, not necessarily going to re-read it.

Territory. Emma Bull.. Ditto.

Nancy’s Mysterious Letter. This one sucked!

Jennie: The Life of Lady Randolph Churchill. Volume 2. Great, but why do I have two copies of volume 2 and NO VOLUME ONE?

The Fortunate Fall. Raphael Carter Fabulous. Duplicate copy!

The Collected Stories, Isaac Babel I remember these with affection but have not touched the book for 15 years… Out it goes, if I want to read Babel again, will go to library.

Lynn V. Andrews. Jaguar Woman. sacred journey blah blah. Don’t remember it. Why do I have it? Not the sort of book I would even bother to read. At least not since I was about 13 years old. Book 3 of a trilogy I don’t think I’ve read.

MLA handbook 3rd edition good riddance

Bruce Chatwin. In Patagonia Duplicate copy of a rather loathsome book. It’s so loathesome that I’m keeping copy 1.

La última niebla. La amortajada. María Luisa Bombal. Good stories but likely I am not going to translate them. I will stick with poetry. Someone out there wants this book. Will donate to library…

El Aleph. Borges. Duplicate. In spanish

The Fall of the Towers. Samuel R. Delany. Duplicate copy. paperback.

Sundiver. Startide Rising. David Brin. I so don’t need this on my shelf. Left over from high school.

Oroonoko. Aphra Behn.. Duplicate copy!

Phantom Islands of the Atlantic Okay but just not worth keeping on the shelf. Better idea than execution.