Kage Baker loved Fridays. Even after leaving school, even after escaping the back office Pink Collar Ghetto to work at her writing at home, she treasured the observance of the weekend.
She used to set the alarm clock to go off even on Saturday morning, just so she could slap it quiet and go back to sleep.
It might well be the only day of the week of which she was sure – you do lose track, working at home – but sooner or later during the day, she’d notice. And then it was Strike the bell, watchman! The sun’s over the yardarm, the rum locker’s open, it’s grog for all hands and time to read out the Articles of War for the pious! And assorted other misrepresented maritime activities.
When it was Faire season, during our youth and middle age, Friday was when we took off for our weekends in the 16th or 19th centuries; we spent the week unpacking clothes, washing clothes, packing clothes again – then on Friday, it was off on the open road with a vehicle full of beer and props and weird sandwiches for dinner. The weekend party began when we turned out of the driveway and headed off to time travel, and ended sometime after midnight 3 days later.
Outside the season, Friday was as opposite to the creative rough life as Kage could make it. We went out to restaurants: real ones, with cloth napkins and waiters who wore aprons wrapped round themselves like kimonos; three forks at table, separate glasses for wine and water, sea salt and coloured pepper.
She drank cocktails so classical she usually had to teach the bartender how to make them, things like Ramos Gin Fizz and Kir Royale. Planter’s Punch and Singapore Slings are no longer made automatically; Kage taught bartenders across the continent how to make a proper Sidecar, and knew how to specify which number Pimm’s cup she wanted. She liked liqueurs like maraschino and falernum; even though she had to make falernum herself, when it became impossible to find any imports. And she drank absinthe before it was legal or distilled again in the US, even though she had to build her own absinthe kit in order to do it right.
I still have the kit, of course. It’s walnut and brass, lined with (what else?) emerald green velvet covering carefully shaped spaces that Kage carved out herself to hold glasses and spoons. It’s filled with all the doohickies and gewgaws Kage collected in order to partake of wormwood and decadence in proper style. I take it to Dickens Fair, when I make it up there; there is a select circle of people who like to lie around the Parlour late in the day and be languid and wicked. (Or really, really tired tired … they look cool while they do it, which is what matters.) That kit is the quintessential Friday kit; it holds all the best things that Kage loved about the weekend – performance and luxury and exotica, with a broad hint of elegant sin …
These days, I rarely know what day of the week it is; my desk calendar shows 2 days at once, so I am always in some doubt as to which of those 2 is Today. And now I know why Kage clung so determinedly to the concept of Friday, and the weekend: you need that contrast to really appreciate either side of the divide. It’s a good way to fight depression and ennui – otherwise, you take the chance of slipping into the Slough of Despond and just floating around aimlessly with jellyfish made from fruit no one likes.
That’s a boneless Fate. And I’ve been fighting it for the last 3 years, not with complete success – but not with total defeat, either. I figured all this crap with my eyes would have to be a Last Stand for me, a place where I had to settle my feet and prepare to stand my ground. All metaphors aside, unless I could find a way to work despite this latest absurd calamity, all my efforts of the last 6 years were going to vanish like spare socks left behind on a Friday night bug-out.
That’s how I’ve taken it, Dear Readers. I’ve found ways to combat the light that dazzles me, and yet get enough by which to see the damned keyboard. I’m rationing my computer time and doing the writing first – so when my eyes give out, I can still have gotten something done beside lolling around between Scientific American and fark.com. In the interests of not doubling the traffic accident rate in Los Angeles, I’m not driving – and it’s amazing how much more time you have when you’re not running off to check out the goodies at World Market and Michael’s!
The biggest help has been Kimberly, of course. She made my eye patches, and she makes it possible for you, Dear Readers, to read what I manage to write. She’s a wonderful editor. And she can spell. You have no idea the horrors from which she is saving you all …
Kimberly keeps me moored properly in time, too, so I can enjoy Friday again. And now, Dear Readers – I think it’s time for a drink!