What Year Is it, Anyway?

Kage Baker kept a calendar from 1968 on her wall until the day she died.

It was a calendar she especially loved (the Beatles, Yellow Submarine) and a year that had been one of her favourites. She called it the Year of the Perfect Summer, and when it ended – she just started the calendar over. From time to time, it was even accurate; in the off years, she could still point to given days and dates and remember beloved things that had occurred then, 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 years agone …

This attitude was utterly native to Kage’s personality (as far as I could ever tell). She had a very personal and cavalier attitude regarding time, and it may have been inevitable that she would end up writing time-travel stories. She claimed steadfastly that she was not making up any of the physics (or metaphysics or uberphysics or astrophysics) in her tales – she was just reporting what she experienced.  Time, averred Kage Baker, is all happening at once, all the time, everywhere. Causality is a matter of choice and habit. What you see is up to you.

It might be helpful to bear in mind that her eyes looked in two directions simultaneously. Most of the time.

I’d have given a lot to get a look at her corpus callosum.

Lately, the basal date seems to be drifting in an especially Kageian way around here. The air, the light, the weather – all much more reminiscent of our childhood (when weather in LA was much odder than usual) than it has been in 30 years. The sky is blue in the daytime right down to the horizon, and one can see more than 6 stars at night – I used to count them, and on my average teen-aged night in Hollywood there were 6 visible stars. I didn’t see the Milky Way until I was in my 20’s.

Anyway, things seem to be circling around again. There was another Royal Wedding this morning, and I think you could have substituted the sound track from Charles’ and Diana’s faerie tale nuptials with no one noticing. Everyone behaved as if a prince had never before married a commoner on world-wide telly in front of an audiance of billions, for heaven’s sake! But it’s been 30 years.

My friends at the Renaissance Faire (at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale through May 22nd) are having quarrels with the management over authenticity and tradition: should booth workers be expected to wear complete costumes? What’s the official stand on tennis shoes? Nose rings? Neon hair? This was a hot topic 10 years ago; 20 and 30 years ago, too. There were no answers then and there are apparently none now –  a talented and dedicated costumer has been fired, some fanatics will quit, some will stay and try to make the Faire as good as ever, and management will play all sides against the middle and rake in the dough.

They are counting potholes in Oakland. Again. They are fighting over water in the San Joaquin. Again. They are killing one another in South LA, East Asia, and all the fabled, minaret-crowned cities of the Levant – again, again, again.

What year is it? Damned if I know. But it doesn’t seem to be a very good one.

I’m think I’m gonna see if I can find that old 1968 calendar and hang it up again. Maybe Kage’s temporal magic will still work.

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.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to What Year Is it, Anyway?

  1. Kara says:

    My high school history teacher (gods bless that old Irishman) used to say: “times change, people don’t”


  2. Kate says:

    Blessings on your history teacher indeed, Kara. He was ever so right.


  3. Buffalo says:

    1968, if I remember correctly (and that is open to question, I’ll admit), was the last of the good years, the last of the hopeful times when we were able to talk about Loving Each Other without a nasty attack of cognitive dissonance. 1969 plunged us into the darkness: heavy drugs, violent protest and the end of the Dream. It was all inevitable, but that was the year we stepped through the portal, into the violent rage that ushered in the 70’s. If I could spend my time in any time period- any recent one, anyway- it would be the year between the Summers of 1967 and 1968. S’cuse me while I go and put on Sergeant Pepper’s….


  4. Kate says:

    See, Buffalo? Kage was right. Again. As she always said – I got the Sight, I’m psychotic.


  5. Margaret says:

    Definitely a good year. I’d be willing to have that one over again – and who knows whether I’d get good sense and do some things differently, or just say, What the hey – I’m having too much fun to think right now. (Oh wait – maybe that was what happened on the first run-through…)


  6. Kate says:

    1968 was not a year of good sense, no. Of course, that was part of its charm! Kage was 16 that year – running wild in the Hills, skate-boarding down Hollywood Boulevard (that shiny pavement with the stars is *great* for skateboards), haunting Lewin’s British Imports for UK records … living on Coca Cola, sourdough bread and Santa Rosa plums. No sense of any sort in evidence, no sirree.


    • MaggiRos says:

      In 1968, I was 17-18, the year I graduated high school. Good sense was really not evident in any way a surprisingly innocent (considering the paths I inevitably took) and unworldly young woman. Never did get the hang of a skateboard.


  7. Kate says:

    Maggie – I am sure your knees and elbows are grateful for the non-skateboarding. I still have scars. Honourable ones, though.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.