Kage Baker really enjoyed nothing as much as writing. She found it to be a constant pleasure, a sure-fire, never-disappointing delight.
It was her refuge when the world around her grew too weary, too noisy, too hard to handle. Of course, we spent a lot of time and determination making sure the world would find it very difficult to get close enough to bother her – specifically so she wouldn’t be ambushed when she was writing. But there nothing I could do to protect her from herself.
When Kage wanted to write, her will was as iron – no, iron was Jello next to Kage’s will. However, that applied that to everything she did. Consequently, she constituted, in her single self, occasional demonstrations of the immovable object versus the irresistible force. She would want to write – but there might also be a new book; a video game or a movie that demanded she play it; a rumour of a little-remembered adobe bar on a back road somewhere between King City and Morro Bay.
The gravitational force of any of them applied the pull of a black hole to the mass of a neutron star. And what happens then? Well, no one is quite sure, as no one has yet managed to observe it. But among the possible results is that every thing involved goes sideways … that’s certainly what happened with Kage. The shortest distance between two points was anything but a straight line, with her.
When we still lived in Los Angeles, we often ended up on our way to Catalina Island when this happened. Kage would pack all her hoarded quarters, accumulated in expectation of eventually ending up in Avalon’s pin ball arcades. I’d pack whatever new books I had been saving. We kept a bank account on the island, which could not be tapped except in person, to make sure we could afford a room and some food when Kage’s will imploded and blew us into the West.
Or we’d drive away inland on some little road, seeking new Vista Points (which are everywhere) and restaurants (which, sadly, are not). Sometimes we’d drive to an exceedingly peculiar restaurant just North of Cambria, where there was a rough wooden statue in the front, that looked like an Enforcer. I’ve no idea what the place was named; we called it Budu’s Deli. The time spent coming and going would give Kage’s head time to fizzle out.
Once Kage just had to see where James Dean had died: the fabled intersection of highways 41 and 46. So early one morning we went North to Paso Robles and then turned right on 46. We drove on to the intersection with the 41, intending to hit the 5 eventually and make a Great Circle home … and it would have worked, too, had we not had the shit scared out of us in the very intersection where the unfortunately named Donald Turnipseed had hit and killed James Dean in his speeding Spider.
That’s where, just as the sun rose, a truck full of hay and pumpkins blew through the stop sign and nearly T-boned us. We braked, spun, and ended up facing back the way we’d come, screaming in harmony. The hay truck trundled on, oblivious; we returned to the safety of the coastal lands, with a brief and very necessary stop at the first Ladies’ Room we found.
But it sure did succeed in distracting Kage. Neither the urge to write nor the urge to procrastinate survived that one; we were blown sideways and almost off the face of the Earth. So we went to Morro Bay and ate fried prawns and drank beer to recuperate.
Life sure was exciting with Kage …
I am myself simultaneously bored and driven today – which I have learned is evidently a common condition among writers. Mind you, I am working. I just don’t want to be, and the back of my mind is clicking constantly through the channels of things that might be more interesting.
Yestreday I spent on The Great Kitten Hunt – which was a success, and wee Ashby will be coming home on Tuesday. But I also sent Linn The Patient Agent a copy of a new completed story. I’ve written bits and pieces on two other ideas, and I finally have an opening line for a story about twin operatives, the Esselene people, and blue squirrels.
Today, however, it is just too hot. The stories are all lying on their backs with their tongues hanging out and won’t play with me. All my new books lack fascination. There is no flash nor sizzle in the air.
That kitten cannot get here soon enough. I am certain that I will be driven inexorably to compose as soon as Ashby is climbing up my leg. Kittens stir the local milieu to unpredictable quantum foam, just like Kage did.
That’s precisely the chaos I need right now.
Here’s a toast to kitten created chaos… Na zdoróvye!
Thank you, Mark! Kittens are guaranteed stirrers-up of all sorts of randomness.
Oh, Mark, thanks for writing out that good Polish toast – I’ve wanted to see it in print for years, and keep forgetting to ask people. Now, do you happen to know the curse that sounds something like ‘szha creyvff ti lentum’?
Quantum foam occurs when it is least convenient, Kathleen. I suspect something to do with litter boxes when it appears.
I am looking forward to new words from you, in print, as well as pictures of Young Miss Ashby. Meanwhile, I am rearranging furniture and adding new speakers and a central control amplifier/receiver, as my hearing dims (dammit).
Quantum foam is neat to contemplate. And I suspect that kittens are composed, at least in part, of some of those new lighter-than-air aerogel foams now being produced experimentally. As for litter boxes – we actually had to go get a new one, certified kitten-friendly: the dishpan full of litter our older cats have used would be too high for the baby to get in – or out – of! We are hoping the Little Black Cat will reliably show her how it works. We are also hoping Harry the parrot will show her how to meow, because he does it much better than the black cat …
Sorry Tom, can’t help you with Polish curses…as I learned that as *Russian* toast from my Zedye (Grandfather) who was a Russian Jew….
After Hal Ashby? I love his films. Nothing like a new kitten. Instant fun, and love. Congrats.
Nope, Allison – La Petite Chat was named that by the Pasadena Animal Shelter, just to have something to call her. But it appealed to my nephew Mike, for some reason, so Ashby she is. Not inappropriate, as she is ember-coloured and will be joining her new big sister – who is as black as the Earl of Hell’s waistcoat. They will be our Halloween Ladies.
What blows my mind is that young Donald Turnupseed emerged from the accident that killed James Dean with only a scratched nose and then hitch-hiked home.
What are the odds that you and Kage, would have a near-calamitous encounter with a truck bearing pumpkins at the same intersection where Dean met his fate by way of Turnip/Turnupseed?
Kage skewed all odds. Always, anywhere, any odds. We used to play 11-card gin as teenagers: she never lost. I saw her deal or get dealt pat winning hands numerous times. She seldom lost at poker, too. Or dice games – any game with an element of chance, the odds went south when Kage played.
Should have gotten Dad to test his dice-rolling skills against hers. He has a talent for it too!