Kage Baker, like all writers, was often asked where she got her ideas. Had she been sure of their provenance, I suspect she’d have lied – they were her ideas, after all. Instead, like several other science fiction writers, she told inquirers that she got them from a PO box in New Jersey, to which she regularly sent self-addressed stamped return envelopes.
I think she got that idea from Roger Zelazny.
The moving finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a line, Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it. — Omar Khayyam.
The above stanza from the Rubaiyat is a pertinent example – while nothing ever comes back around precisely the same way, everything is remembered. All and any days can be be recalled and celebrated (or rued, as the fit takes you). Nothing is lost, anything can be memorialized; but in the long run, none of that is up to you or me. Time keeps everything, and nothing we do can change that.
Approaching, as I am, the Large Life Marker of open heart surgery, I am paying attention to what the recent days mean or will mean to me. St. Patrick’s is coming, of course – I shall spend that day sleeping determinedly, I suspect, only roused to sit up and try to remind my body that it has functions to resume … I never actually enjoy the strain of coaxing my aging flesh to remember to cycle waste and process nutrients after surgery – but it is much preferable to the alternative. The most I have to look forward to is seeing Kimberly, and pressing the button on my morphine pump. Those are both pretty cool, though.
Kimberly will only be allowed to see me for 10 minutes a day, at least until I am moved out of Cardiac ICU and into a more ordinary room. I mean to cherish those 10 minutes. The rest of the time I shall spend happily blurred out, until I can get my eyes to focus on my Kindle tablet.
And in the meantime: tomorrow is the Day the Buzzards Return to Hinkley, Ohio! Every March 15th, they return to mate, nest and lovingly feed bits of dead dog to their fuzzy little offspring. Baby buzzards are cute; like many baby birds, they have white bunny suits of fluff before they fledge.Kimberly and I have celebrated this for years. I need a stuffed baby buzzard …
Also on the topic of really specific memorialization, today is PI Day! March 14th; or, 3.14. Having no especial fondness for mathematics, in my household we celebrate this date with actual, tangible PIE. In this specific case, we have blueberry, lemon meringue and classic custard on hand for our family delectation. The blueberry is calling my name tonight … especially with several weeks of TOTALLY BORING FOOD waiting for me in hospital. No sugar, no caffeine, no salt, no fat, no carbohydrates. I think I get beige protein spun out of liver.
Yestreday, I spent several hours at Glendale Memorial doing pre-registration things. This will spare me doing it on Monday at 5:30 in the morning. It took 3 hours of repeating my DOB and the spelling of my name – which is a tough one for most people, I must admit – but it seemed to stymie everyone even while reading it off my ID bracelet. I have become exotic in my old age. I think its the multi-syllabic nature of my name, and the plethora of digraphs and diphthongs it possesses. Especially since in both my first and last names, the digraphs are followed by alveolar lateral approximates, and then by the inevitable diphthongs …
But I babble. Or I will. This should be interesting, as waking from anesthesia usually leaves me with perfectly astonishing hallucinations. Kimberly always tells the recovery room staff to just assume that no matter how lucid I sound or how readily I agree with their instructions, I don’t mean it. Nor will I remember anything they tell me. They need to just save all their instructions for her, because I will be amiably convinced I am on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise with an aquarium bolted onto my head …
And this leads us back, in a cheerily circular fashion, to where do a writer’s ideas come from? Because every insane factoid, injudicious memorial and cock-eyed holiday yields them, actually. The trick is not to find out the secret P.O. Box in New Jersey (although the efficacy of it cannot be denied), but to pay attention to all the bizarre and charming things that happen to you along the way. Like the buzzards. And pie. And parts of speech.
Or, as my dear friend Tom Westlake said, when asked where he got his ideas, replied: “What doesn’t give you ideas?”
Right on, Tom. Right the hell on. And not a single line of it all will be unwritten.