Monday, Monday

Kage Baker was largely indifferent to the traditional attitudes regarding the days of the work week. She did have that Melendys-Saturday thing, but that was about it. The whole TGIF, Black Monday, Hump Day cycle pretty much missed her. Sometimes it was because she was unclear as to what day of the week it was, but mostly she just didn’t care.

Having a work week at all was a hideously artificial state to Kage. She loathed it. She tried very hard to make her living in less conventional ways – mostly via art – in her 20’s, and almost succeeded. That alone should have convinced her she would eventually win one of the more exclusive lotteries in the working world, and make her living with her pen  … but almost surviving on your art really only works when you are very young. And when it’s spring and summer; that helps a lot, too. She gave in to the inevitable when she was 27, and finally took a job in the pink collar ghetto.

The photo below aptly demonstrates her enthusiasm. It was the picture for her first office ID tag. She looks like she’s just woken up to find herself in The Village …

However, Kage did recognize the necessity of keeping money coming in. For the many years she was part of the office brigade, she was a stellar worker. Never late, rarely absent, worked hard; a quiet, unassuming, committed cubicle dweller. Many employers were favourably impressed by the copious notes she kept at all her jobs, and her tidy record-keeping. And she did keep good records.

That wasn’t what she was writing, though, as she scribbled away at her desk between letters and phone calls. A lot of the Company bosses who make live miserable for the field Operatives began life as satirical  sketches by the quiet lady with the long red braid … and it was in that atmosphere where the motives of Dr. Zeus changed from altruism to  greed. Kage looked at the business world, examined it in detail, judged it like Athene Ergatis, the patron of working women: and dismissed it as an unworthy life form.  In that very different world in her head, Kage plotted out the destruction of the corporate life.

In the meantime, to survive it, she ignored it as much as she could. I was the one who set the alarm clock, started coffee, laid out the vitamins and then drove us to work – Kage had a blind faith (literally, sometimes, if she couldn’t get her eyes open) that I would deliver her to the right job. As I recall, I usually did.

This makes Kage sound rather like an undisciplined maniac who simply couldn’t cope with real life. But that’s totally untrue. She had an iron discipline and astonishing self-control; despite hating everything to do with the office life, she kept at it steadfastly, doing good jobs for her employers. She got steady raises (when anyone still gave raises); she never got fired (until everyone in the country started getting down-sized). (The first time … in the ’90’s. ). The only 2 times I remember her getting a reprimand was for wearing pink high tops and a  Hawaiian shirt to work (she loved both); and for threatening to break a fellow worker’s nose with a stapler when he would not stop yelling Cowabunga! in her ear …  and those were both in the early days. An office just wasn’t where she wanted to be or what she wanted to do, and nothing ever slowed her determination to escape.

Consequently, she had no interest in the social conventions and rounds of office life. She dutifully contributed to pot lucks and baby showers and birthday parties; she liked her co-workers. And she wrote and wrote and wrote, and submitted, and edited: and one day she suddenly had an agent and a publishing contract. And she quit (with two week’s notice, because she really was a conscientious person) and went home to do what she really wanted.

She promptly did not sell another thing for a year. But we were frugal (being poor helps one economize by habit) and she stage managed for Renaissance Faires, and we hung on. And while she sometimes had to take part-time jobs again over the years, when there were dry spells. Kage never again had to deal with the 9-5, Monday through Friday regimen she so detested. She stopped caring about Mondays, or Wednesday,s  or even Fridays – except to get us packed for a Faire if one was on.

And in 16 years she wrote the 8 books of the Company series, 2 steampunk novels, 3 fantasy novels, a children’s book, two pirate novellas, a stand-alone SF novel and dozens of short stories, novelettes, novellas … and the half-dozen embryonic stories that now live in  my head.

Imagine what she would have done if she’d escaped sooner. Imagine if she had lived.

Now, Dear Readers, I have to go arm the Ladies of Nell Gwynne with adzes, drills and other unladylike toys, and supply them with a gallon of sheep-grease.

I Am Not A Number

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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3 Responses to Monday, Monday

  1. Laura says:

    Your remembrances are beautiful. I may have to stop reading though – the teasers you so often end with are killing me! I’m desperate to know exactly what one does, if one is a Lady of Nell Gwynne’s, with a whole gallon of sheep grease.

    (Also, is it grease made of sheep? Grease used to lubricate sheep? The mind boggles!)


    • Kate says:

      Laura – sheep grease is the grease from sheep wool. It’s usually cleaned off the wool before the wool is spun for use; though sometimes it is left on to produce essentially waterproof yarn. The grease itself is produced by the sheeps’ skin. And lest you think this is disgusting – you probably know this stuff as lanolin. It’s been the basis for skin lotions for centuries, everywhere people raise sheep.

      It’s waterproof, it insulates, it lubricates, it softens, it hydrates … and it’s organic as all get out. Also, reliably in use in Victorian England. Although, for the purpose which I intend it with the Ladies, it is in use even to the modern day, lol …


      • Laura says:

        Ah, right. I’d never heard lanolin called ‘sheep grease’ before so I didn’t make the connection, but it’s an apt description.


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