December 21, 2018

things that come in threes

Dear M.J. of Wayward Sparkles,

I have a serious problem here.  You tagged me and I promise to answer the three questions, somehow, but I don't know three people to tag who haven't already been tagged along the way, so I'm going to end up being That Person who's the gnarled branch on the tree that doesn't grow any other branches and makes the tree off-balance and misshapen so that artists look at it and keep right on walking with their easels and tote bags full of paints, looking for something better to paint.

That's what you get.

Also, I've lost sleep over this because I don't know the answers.  Could you maybe give me math problems instead?  Or Harry Potter trivia questions, or Lord of the Rings trivia.  I have a fighting chance with those.

*deep breath*

All right, Ass-Crack Sparkles *evil grin*, here goes ....

1.  If you could go back to a moment in time to re-experience it just as it was, fix something or change something, when and what would that be? It can be a time during your life or a time before you were born. It can be something personal or something like preventing Lincoln’s assassination.

This is that thing where my Fantasy Deficiency Disorder gets in the way, because I would say something like preventing Constantine from converting to Christianity, but then my brain is all, Yeah, but how do you know things wouldn't turn out even worse? and You couldn't have any influence anyway at that point in history because you'd have been a woman and thus merely decorative.  But if we're thinking Touched By An Angel-style stuff, then I'll suspend disbelief for a bit.

Yeah, Constantine would be an option, but I'm going to toss that one because we'd just find some other equally stupid religious reasons to want to blow ourselves off the planet.  I fully trust human nature in this regard.  Other contenders for prevention would be credit deregulation in the U.S., the Trail of Tears, the Irish potato blight, and the invention of pimiento cheese.  Donald Trump is a problem that we're going to have to get out of ourselves.

In my own life, I would re-experience two moments:  The day I met my wife, that spell-cast morning; and the vignette I have of my son sleeping on my shoulder, just shy of two years old, while I sat in a rocking chair, holding him and letting him sleep.  I would relive the smell of the nursery, the combination of baby powder and allergen-free detergent and my son's hair and even the hint of Diaper Genie.  I would relive the sense that I could shield him from everything bad and wrong in the whole wide world just by keeping him wrapped in my arms.

And if I was to fix or change something, my first son would have had his surgery weeks before he did, and would have lived.  This, too, is fraught, because who is to say that my second son would have then been born?  This is where not being in control of the Universe comes in handy; mind games like this can be abandoned because these aren't decisions one has to make.

Stare at the Milky Way one night soon and say "thank you" out loud for that.

2.  In a fire, what possession would you grab on your way out and why?

(This is assuming my family is out safely, including the dogs.)

I weed through the inventory ....

Not ashes, because they would return to ashes.

Not the baby book, with its saccharine references to angels ushering him away.

Not P.J.'s precious Widmanstatten meteorite cut, because it would easily survive the fire and be found again.

Not the lock of Chester's hair and his paw print, because P.J. would grab those.

Clothing can be replaced.  Pictures can be duplicated by family.  Important documents are already in a fire safe.  Most files on the NAS are also in the cloud.  The same goes for cell phones and computers.  Collectibles can be re-collected, even imported French aardvarks and hedgehog pants and Mary Engelbreit cookie jars.  Love letters are bread crumb trails to the living, breathing thing inside us.

As crazy as it sounds, I would grab the first-edition hardback of Good Omens that P.J. gave me for Christmas two years ago.  It's autographed by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, and when I touch the place where Pratchett, too, touched the page, I feel connected to someone who is dead and part of the larger World now.  It's similar to the wonder of touching a piece of meteorite, an object that did not come from this planet.  I would grab the book, because he is gone and that, that could not be replaced.

3.  Who is your favorite writer/author and why? What would you recommend others read from this author?

Hell, my last answer didn't set this up at all.

There was a time when I would have said Fannie Flagg, whose writing I love so much that I don't dare write seriously myself, because she exists.

There was a time when I would have said Douglas Adams, because he introduced me to English humor.

I'm even tempted to name Ken White over at Popehat, because he is a brilliant writer and I would have his babies and also his pony-themed posts are capable of making me laugh so hard that milk shoots out of my nose and my diaphragm hurts for a week.  He is also the inventor of the character "Mr. Feculent Q. Pus-Crust of the Society for Cornholing Unsuspecting Children".  Nose-Milk City.

But P.J. gently coaxed me until I picked up Small Gods, which isn't nearly Pratchett's best, and the tortoise flying through the air, changing forms, hooked me into a spree of reading almost everything the man wrote (I'm still working on it).  He was a beloved, delightful human being whose atheism and wit allowed him to deliver scathing social satire wrapped in accessible characters, places, and circumstances.

Then he up and died.

Fuck early-onset Alzheimer's right in the eye socket.

I finished falling in love with him anyway - or, at least, with his work, and with his authorship.  So to trace the outline of his autograph in that book with a very light touch of my finger is as close to a holy ritual as I come.

I'm giving his work to my daddy for Christmas this year.  I bought a first-generation Nook on eBay and loaded it up with Pratchett books, and if he reads nothing else - not the Watch series, nor the Witch books, nor the Industrial Revolution stories - he must read the Death books, beginning with Mort and continuing through at least to Hogfather, which is the single book I long for him to read.  It will resonate.  He will howl with laughter over and over.  This is a man who welded mobile homes during the day and then came home and watched Masterpiece Theater and old British sitcoms on PBS.  He loved Rumpole of the Bailey.  He stayed up late to catch Dr. Who in the Tom Baker days.

It's just a matter of getting him to read at all, and if you wonder where I get my stubborn streak, I'll introduce you to him.

That goes for you, too:  I would recommend Mort, Reaper Man, Soul Music, and Hogfather, after which, if you're thoroughly enjoying yourself, you can add Thief of Time for good measure.  If you don't read these, you'll never know why Duck Man has a duck on his head.*

Okay, M.J., if you have three un-tagged names, shoot them to me and I'll come up with three questions and maybe save a tree-painting artist from getting walking blisters on his ankles.

(*And if you do read these, you still won't know.  Even Death himself had to ask.)


UPDATE:  Names!  That means I have to think now.  Okay, thinkie-face on .... (a lot of time elapses, grocery list gets made, dog naps on feet and then leaves) ... right, then:

1.  What is the first thing (like an essay or creative writing piece, not tracing your alphabet) that you can remember writing?  It can be from childhood, adolescence, early adulthood; what's the earliest thing that comes to mind that you'd consider you-writing?

2.  Do certain dates (births, deaths, anniversaries of all sorts) carry great weight and significance for you, around the calendar, or do you tend to observe them as things come up at any point in time and remind you of those people and events?

3.  What did you do the first day you had your driver's license and unaccompanied access to a car, keys in hand?

Tagging Pip, Suzanne, and Lori!  Can't wait to read your thoughts.  Well, I mean, I can wait, but I don't want to.  Hurry up, damn it.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, let me give you a three names: Pip at Pip's Tips, Suzanne at Mydangblog and Lori Rose Bebko at comehellorhighwaterblog. Also, I loved your answers. I will have to read up on Pratchett.