Trucks, Bridge and Finals

Kage Baker used to say – rather sourly – “Never let anyone know you have a truck or can play bridge.”

I had a series of trucks and vans for years, and Kage and I were constantly being pressed into helping people move. Or picking up furniture and appliances. I got the larger vehicles because I frequently had to transport entire 4’x8′ sheets of plywood, or 4 dozen 2 x 4’s, or several kegs of beer – I had no real objection to also transporting couches and book cases and pinball machines and entire oaken dance floors for my friends and relations. But it made Kage nuts.

The bridge playing thing was much worse, though. Kage hated the game. But we spent years having weekly games with dear, dear friends because they were fanatics and Kage couldn’t  to be rude. Judging by the behaviour of other people who found out we could play bridge – and immediately proposed similar excesses – bridge does something to people’s brains, and they become like those ants that are infected with  parasitic fungi that make them want to spread it … and I have to admit, bridge does get tiring. There are simpler games. I still  play Hearts happily, but Kage finally refused to admit she even knew how to play Hearts, Spades, OR bridge.

But, you know? There are things to which you just have to accede, once your dearly beloveds find out you can do them. Kage agreed – she just figured that made concealing certain abilities and resources a logical choice. And she was probably right.

This is finals week in many colleges. It certainly is where my nephew Michael goes to college. It is also the last week to solve any problems a student may have let go hang, or had handed to him at the last minute by a teacher … which does happen. So I have to admit, not all the hungry demons that have been chasing Mike this week are his fault. That doesn’t make them go away, though. And they all seem to require papers written right freaking now. And Auntie is a writer …

To do the young man credit, what I have been doing is the research and necessary editing, not writing his papers for him. I’m very good at that, from years of doing the same thing for his Auntie Kage. I’m also good at keeping a flagging writer awake and productive, soothing piano-wire nerves, talking out writer’s block … lots of late night conferences at my desk, where Mike alternately lies on my bed like a murder victim and groans that it’ll never work, and then flies to his laptop to compose like a madman.

But it’s been arduous. And time consuming. Between Sunday night and early this morning, we produced 8 economics papers. The Poverty Cycle is interesting, though tragic; but Exchange Rates will make your brain implode into a gooey pink hole. This morning we also produced an historical analysis of The Sting, which revealed that my nephew has an excellent working knowledge of 20th century American history. It’s certainly better than mine was at 21; I was happily immersing myself in 16th century Europe, while he has been figuring out the Great Depression, Prohibition and the like.

He got 16th century Europe in the cradle, after all. He was raised at Faire.

Anyway: do not doubt that I am proud of him, and proud that he has slogged grimly on through a difficult end of semester. But I haven’t had the time to blog, so that’s where I have been the last several days. I am helping to produce a history teacher.

It’s more worthwhile than helping someone cart home giant rolls of toilet paper, or even a 19th century fold-away couch. (Yes, they existed. I now own it.) Mike’s brain may yet explode from all this – he’s running in the red zone, I can see it in his eyes. But I think I am also teaching him how to survive educational ambushes, and husband his energies, and meet insane deadlines.

Because, intellectually at least, I still have that handy truck.