Doing It Wrong or Right

Kage Baker remains one of my enduring sources of wisdom. That’s easier to do once a person is dead, of course – they stop making new mistakes, all those little errors and faux pas that dilute the accumulated intelligence of a life time.

Me, I go right on doing things like forgetting where I wake up and rolling out of my sleeping bag – only to noisily fall flat on my face because I’m actually sleeping in a tall box bed … or deciding to boil eggs in the microwave (they explode). My moments of brilliance and acuity are therefore somewhat eclipsed by those other moments; the ones where I have to call home for a ride when I run out of gas because I somehow confused the temperature dial with the gas gauge. Or cleverly get both feet in the same leg of my jeans. In the dark. Behind a locked bathroom door …

Not that Kage did not have those other moments as well. She had as many as any, and more than most – when you are both creative and absent-minded the chance of, say, a grotesque paint brush accident  increases. (Kage used to carelessly dip her brush in her Coke. And then sip from her paint water.) She pulled portable drives out of her computer without saving so often that I stuck CAUTION flags over the ports. She liked to line up all her shoes beside the bed, or down one wall of the hall, or alongside the bathtub; I cannot count the white canvas deck shoes I have fallen over.

Now, of course, these simple endearing disasters no longer happen. And to tell the truth, I do not actually miss her habit of opening the new bread, or milk or bottle of Worchestershire as soon as we got one: regardless of whether or not the old one was used up (I’m tired of the old one, she would protest. ) But despite not missing it, despite being pleased when I can throw away an empty bottle before opening a full one, I would give anything to be faced once again with 6 or 8 ends of loaves furtively stashed in the bread box …

I started today’s maunderings with the intent of segueing to a bitingly cogent analysis of how badly lots of people are behaving about the death of Osama bin Laden. No American is anything but relieved the man is gone, but most of us are nonetheless criticizing everyone else about admitting it. No matter how joyful the triumphant capering or how noble the stern regret being expressed, someone else is pointing accusingly and yelling “You’re doing it wrong!”

Kage would have looked at all this and quoted Warwick from Henry VI, Part III, as the Plantagenet princes gloat over a deceased enemy: “Aye, my lords – but he’s dead.” And followed it, like as not, with a shrug and a wry, “Ain’t my planet, monkey boys.” She despised poseurs, especially political ones.

However, once I started writing, all my crankiness was dispersed in the vast ocean of my sorrow – nothing irritates me, no one can hurt me, no disaster can grieve me as much as the absence of Kage. I miss the wise things she would have had to say during these momentous days – I miss the wise-ass things she would have said, too. Hell, I miss her reaction to the new Subway chicken salad sandwich, and whether or not the cast of Jersey Shore are actually space aliens. I miss her cursing and laughing as she would have been last night, when I woke up the house under the hypnogogic impression that a lizard was crawling around in my bed … I only got back to sleep when the little black cat checked it all out and declared it lizard-free by curling up for a bath in the middle of my bed.

The wind through my porch door is heavy with the scent of camphor and wisteria, roses and ripening mulberries, cut grass and hot wet stone. A day like this … Kage would be pinning up her hair in the 90+degree heat (Badly. Futilely. Her hair was 4 feet long.), and breaking out her silk pajama tops to replace the weight of hot cotton tee-shirts. She’d be crushing ice for Pimm’s cups right now. We’d be having Haagen Daz and Ben & Jerry for dinner …

I am going to turn off the news, with its endless loop of dead foreign princes.  Aye, my lords – but he’s dead. Time to put on Scheherazade instead.

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.

2 Responses to Doing It Wrong or Right

  1. Tom says:

    Make it the three Ravel orchestral songs, ‘Sheherezade,’ if you have them. Kage loved Ravel, as do I. IF it suits your mood.

    Even with all the noise and discord, it is still the time of camphor scents, and roses – and the horizon seems close enough to touch, and so far away that imagination has much more space in which to dance.

Leave a Reply