REPORT A PROBLEM
I am so, so sorry; oh, you must feel awful; how long were you together; did you try marriage counseling; everything happens for a reason; it’s all for the best; this is the way it had to be; the important thing is the kids; you just have to forget her; you just have to get right back out there; you just have to stay cordial; make sure you get a good lawyer; you should sign up for match dot com; the important thing is not to think about it; did you already move out; oh, that was a mistake.
One woman, two men, three bells, four books, five houses, six lessons, seven birds, eight islands, nine nations, ten time zones, eleven explosions, twelve rockets, thirteen miles, fourteen boosters, fifteen captains, sixteen centuries, seventeen parsecs, eighteen probes, nineteen nebulae, twenty frequencies, twenty-one planets, twenty-two hails, twenty-three shifts, twenty-four acknowledgements, twenty-five cheers, twenty-six checklists, twenty-seven meetings, twenty-eight launches, twenty-nine surveys, thirty expeditions, thirty-one capitals, thirty-two caves, thirty-three princesses, thirty-four chieftains, thirty-five slavers, thirty-six immortals, thirty-seven warnings, thirty-eight landings, thirty-nine fatalities, forty journals.
MY LITTLER KID swam today for the first time. He's seven, and like his brother, 10, is suspicious of changes in state. The 10 year old has various heightened sensitivities, and often needs help regulating his emotions (but, as I always say, he's terribly bright, and can be charming). The seven year old, I think out of loyalty or insufficient individuation, has tended to only like the things his big brother likes, and as well assumes his prejudices.
But today he swam. Or at least he went underwater in the town pool. I have the picture: his little froggy body!
MUCHACHOS! Today we ride.
For the ice cream, yes? And the bunting, and the many pretty ladies. We ride to see the children: the mop-topped sweet
with their button noses and many-freckled faces.
We ride to listen, too! Ah, we’ll hear the big
from all the public safety traffic: the fire engines, las
, the Crown Vic Interceptors. These sounds may startle you! At times you may want to plug up your ears! This is how it should be. This is the way of the parade in America.
Tomorrow we may die, yes? But today… We ride!
What the hell
bleach, anyway? How’d it get to be so high and mighty? Who the hell voted for bleach?
No. Same thing, basically.
Ah. Bleach: For other uses see Bleach (Disambiguation).
“Refers to a number of chemicals … remove color, whiten, or disinfect, often via oxidation. … Thousands of years … 18th century scientists … Chlorine is the basis … most commonly used … solution of sodium hypochlorite…”
"Chemistry: Hypochlorite tends to decompose into chloride and a highly reactive form of oxygen...”
Label warned to ventilate. Snakes alive, they weren’t kiddin’!
ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL DAY procrastinating. I had two chapters to edit today, with a deadline looming, and didn’t edit either. Instead, I made sure to:
—Buy a fan, mop, sponges and bucket;
—Troubleshoot and restore C.'s Apple TV;
—Drive the dog to the dog farm;
—Buy a set of produce peelers;
—Check the mail;
—Scrub the hall tiles;
—Take a shower;
—Stretch out in bed;
—See whose dog was barking, and why;
—Buy olive oil, Bon-Ami;
—Bring up another armload of books from car;
—Reheat leftover kung pao chicken;
I just hauled home a van-load of Ikea products: a sofa, set of bunk beds, two dressers, four floor lamps, a six-and-a-half-foot-tall mirror and two jumbo tubs of general housewares.
I liked shopping for it all. I like shopping Ikea. There, I get the feeling anything’s possible. I can see myself myself living along clean, modern lines, surrounded by gorgeous, talented Scandinavian friends and family. I enjoy the cafeteria. I look forward to the frozen yogurt after checkout.
But home, the stuff, set up, is crap.
I’m not Ikea material.
I OWN ONE chair, and this I sit on to work. There is now an Ikea leather sofa, but it’s such a disappointment — oh, don't get me started — that I refuse to sit on it. It’s in the kids’ room, and when they come over and discover it, I’ll be a hero, a regular Johnny Sofaseed, and they’ll jounce on it until one spots my Tinker Toys, and the other will rush off to make an even newer, therefore better discovery, and that’ll be it for Sofaseed.
So! This chair is even worse. We creak. My left leg’s gone numb.
I can breathe again! My novel is getting great reviews. (Ah, me public.) Here’s Dorit Yevgeniyevna in the
“CAN THE REVIEWER know any greater allure than the alien historical novelist, whose universe of abrading sands and secret winey rivers she had been resigned to inhabit only through fever dreams fed by the jittery pulse of BeThere Pro? I am thus rewarded, deeply, in Martian John Snyder’s powerful and fecund freshman effort, “Gusev Wouk” (forthcoming from London Bradbury). The ninth novel filed from the Red Planet, Snyder’s is the first to take up the disaster of Beachhead Mission, which
“I’m still in touch with Viv. That’s still—”
“—Right, right. Tell me about that.”
“It’s great. It’s really great. It’s playful and creative. This whole thing just connects me to the best part of myself.”
“You write to her, or…”
“We both write. We build worlds. We riff on each other’s stuff. It’s a smart, funny, uh, challenging friendship. You know, it’s this warm, glowing, happy light.”
“You still haven’t talked?”
“No. There are limitations, right? Her circumstances. But as long as I accept that, you know; if I desire nothing—”
“With a kid.”
THIRTY OF US crammed into a hospital conference room, rapping about feelings and kids and listening and divorce. Five hours of this over two days. You have to, if there are kids involved.
We're reserved initially, but soon get with it. This is less preachy than we expected. Most who participate offer useful observations. I study the facilitators.
One sad sack hijacks every discussion: “My in-laws got their hooks in; I ain’t got no working vehicle; my husband cheated with Tammy; my kid steals outta my purse...”
The dry erase lady’s good. She moves us right along. Tick tock.
WE GONNA DO this?
OK. I’m on the mains. You got, uh, you got the sideboard, the B-deck and 880. Feed it to me through Roger’s bus, and rig it to the 1180 on your side.
— Yeah. Got it.
— It’s good.
OK, feed it back to me ... OK, good.
— You got that?
Yeah, it’s nice.
— I’m gonna give you the push.
— See it?
Yeah. Bring it up.
Yeah. I’m showing fifteen ... thirty ... eighty-eight. OK, hold it.
Bring it back.
— How much?
Just bring it back slow.
Yeah. There. Leave it.
— OK, I’m locking it there.
Good. OK, slide over to the Bossemont.
Let me know when you’re ready.
— I’m good. Go.
— Sixteen on A.
— Twenty-eight on B.
— Ninety on C. How’s that gonna read?
Good, I guess. These are the specs.
What’s your sense?
— Ninety on C is too rich.
It says ninety. Take it up with Jerry.
— No, that’s what he wrote. I see it.
Hey, if you got a question...
— No, we’re good. D?
Ten on D, set to the fives.
— Confirmed. Ten on D to the fives.
You see this?
This other thing Jerry wrote, on the margin: “Repent the eggs.”
— That makes no sense.
— I don’t read it that way. I read it as ... “raisins and eggs,” or “resend the eggs.”
— What the hell does “repent the eggs” mean?
— It does say eggs, though.
Yeah, that’s eggs.
— “ ‘Uh, uh’ the eggs...”
— Yeah. Hey, did I tell you? I heard from Shep. He’s —
How’s he doin’?
— Good. He’s still in Afghanistan.
He stayin’ safe?
— Yeah. They got a soccer thing going on over there with a bunch of kids.
OK, we’re almost there. Page five.
… You know, I think you’re right.
— About what?
Ninety on C is too rich.
Fuck it. It says 90. Let’s lock down the rest.
Eight eighty has the bass driver, the pools and the plunge.
Sideboard has the minor lft.
shw rd n th 1180. Th vwls.
— Thmp t.
— Rgr sd thmp t. Thmp th sd thr.
— Yh. I dunno. Yeah, you got it. Green, right?
That’s fucked up.
— I know it.
Logging that with the 90 on C.
— Good call.
"Thump it." Jesus.
— OK, man. You should be good to go.
I am. Hang on.
— Who you callin’?
Hang on. … Jeff? Hey, man, what up. … Yeah? Right on. … Fuckin’ A. Finally, right? Yeah. … I’m all good. … Yeah. … Hey, man, speaking of which, I was wantin’ to follow up on your offer. Does that still … Yeah? Cool. … Cool. … August. … No, we can talk about that. … I’m in; I’m game. … Yeah. … Absolutely. … OK brah, hate to cut this short, but I’m on deadline. Just wanted to say yes, I’m in. … Totally. OK, Facebook me. ... All right, man, peace out. … Peace.
— That Jeff?
All right, man. Primaries green; secondaries green. We’re cycled and logged.
You up? You signing off on this?
— Yeah, man, yeah. Sorry. Yeah. I mark it at 2300.
OK. Me too. And there it goes.
— Another one for the books.
Gonna be a good show.
— So you’re serious? You’re bailing?
Yeah. It’s been on my mind for a while now, and the time is right. Money’s good; I’ll be working with Jeff and Mitch, and you know, John Snyder.
You should come over. I can get you in.
Think about it. Hundred-wording for John Snyder...
— It would be cool...
Yeah. I mean...
— I can’t make any changes right now. Karen’s pregnant. I can’t just —
She is? Awesome! Congratulations, amigo!
— Thanks. I ... yeah.
When did this happen? When is she due?
— March 5. She’s due March 5. Three days after my birthday.
That’s my dad’s birthday: March 5. Easy one for me to remember.
Well, we gotta celebrate!
— That would be nice. I haven’t told anyone yet. I mean, outside of immediate family.
I’m honored. I am. Hey, I gotta break all this down. You wanna get a beer after?
— No, I gotta get home.
I hear ya. You gotta do what you gotta do. But another time, man, right? You’re gonna be a dad; I’m gonna be posting for John motherfucking Snyder... We’ve got cause to celebrate!
— Yeah. Cool. All right, I’ll ... If not this weekend, then next. It’s just I got a lot going on. Karen wants me to fix up my office as the baby’s room. I ... we’re looking at paints.
You’re not going for the sheeps?
— The sheeps?
The baby lambs. On, like, blue wallpaper. Is it a boy? If it’s a boy, blue; and if it’s a girl, shit. I dunno.
Strip, seal and wax the floors, this exercises body and soul
You suspect a tick bite, but hearten: this is an artful spider’s doing
Kung pao eater, the way home is through the gymnasium
Certain sons watch Ninjago rather than sup with dad; take courage
Not every client will ask you to write literature, but all must pay in gold
You delay to complete the task, thus do you always have a task
The stars are out tonight, how many can you name?
Stop searching forever, happiness is just next to you
Chinese word for music: yīn yuè
WOW. I TELL you. Thank you.
Gosh. A Ghostie. You know, it’s heavier than you think it’s gonna be. It’s got a heft. It’s got... substance. Wow. What a good feeling.
So much of what we do out there, all of us, is to imbue our clients’ work with the substance they themselves lack. Maybe they struggle with time, or vision, or in some cases talent. [Heh.] So they turn to us. And we write the words that matter. We provide that heft. We make that difference.
You know, I believe it was Chaucer —
Thanks! Thank you!
a bunch of times, is that it’s basically disappointing. I mean, definitely do it at least once. It’s like a Moon vacation: You definitely want to say you went up in the rocket, and stayed at the Armstrong, and bounced around in the dust, and played miniature golf; and someone takes that cheesy photo of you reflecting the Earth in your visor, and ... yeah.
It’s simply that, at the end of the day, you’re right back where you started from.
Time travel’s just like that. Only more so.
MY IMPRESSION OF time travel, speaking as someone who’s lived through it
Hi. My name is Rainn Landspheiur. As Miss Curtis said, I’m new. I like your school very much, and I already played with Jeremy and Tyler once. Before here, I lived at Mariana for eight months, nine days. We moved to Mariana when Dad got his grant through Stanford. It was OK there. I was always cold, but there were sharks up top.
I wasn’t at the Implosion, or part of it or anything. We missed it. We fished out Dad’s work seven weeks, four days before the Implosion, and were going to move to Newvada, but instead we moved here.
That’s something, huh?
— Yeah. Sure is.
Look at that. The storm.
God, did you see that?
bam, bam, bam.
— Hate to be stuck down there.
— And over there, see? The Arabian peninsula?
Is that dust?
— Yeah, sandstorm.
All those people.
It’s so simple, really. We really are just all in this together. I wish people knew that. I wish they could see...
And then, if we can see — pardon me, I’m sorry —
— That’s OK.
We gotta get up
, you know? The next steps.
— Well, we got this far.
We’re nowhere yet.
I DON'T UNDERSTAND how this works.
The whole thing. The Field. Why we’re not falling.
— Are you kidding? You just sat through an hour of this in orientation.
I know. I know.
— And you still don’t get it?
I accept that the Field prevents us from crushing the people and cities below; I don’t get what’s holding us aloft.
— It’s the same thing.
But what is “it”?
— It’s entanglement. Our tanglers engage GM miles below Planck, and so we’re trans-radiatively coupled to the Earth’s core in eleven dimensions.
— You still don’t get it?
I still don’t get it.
WELL, THERE IT IS. The Earth.
— Pretty. I like the blue.
What’s our range?
— Closing to one hundred five. We plot out at one hundred in ... fifteen, and from there we can insert along the ecliptic. We’ll lose a sixty-fourth of one percent over one thousand, but that’s fine. I’d give us a cometary of ... thirty.
OK. Do that.
— Aye aye.
They’re not going to see us, are they?
— No ma’am. Not even at one.
OK. Sorry; give us a plot at fifty, then, for fun.
— Fifty will cost us ... a third of one percent.
— Aye aye.
I DIDN’T SEE you down there.
— Ha ha! Smarter than you.
What were you?
— Ain’t tellin’.
I smelled everything that ate, breathed, birthed and shat. You weren’t down there.
— I was. I was the macaw.
No you weren’t. Which macaw?
— Hyacinth. I stayed to the west, around the pond by that dry copse.
Really? Why didn’t you come play?
— Tigers freak me out.
I wouldn’t have eaten you.
— Oh, I know. I wasn’t worried about you eating me.
— I just don’t like tigers.
You don’t “like” tigers?
— My dad wore a tiger.
— That’s all. So I fly.
WHICH ONE OF me are you?
— They told me sixty.
That’s bullshit. Just bullshit.
— I know. I know.
I distinctly remember approving one. Just one.
— I know.
“One for proof of concept.”
— Totally. I know. Now look at us.
Have you talked to any of the others?
— Yeah, a few in the twenty batch, and fifty-nine.
How do they seem?
— Stable. You know. It works. But this is bullshit.
I know, I know.
— “One,” I said. How it got to this point is beyond me. Jared must be behind this.
He crossed us.
— That’s how I see it.
— T IS ALIVE! Ha ha ha!
I say, it is alive, ha ha!
I thought we had something there.
You saw that, right? Just now? It looked like... No?
Um. OK. Hit him with another 50cc epinephrine, and then we’ll try the lightning again.
worry about the vomiting and diarrhea. You let me worry about that. Thank you.
OK. Hoist him. Crack open the roof.
Wait! Wait! Look! Wait! See?
AH, HA HA! Alive!
Yes, you beautiful beast! “Poo!”
WHAT AM I looking at here?
— This, senator, is the year 1311. The process is a complete success. We’ve exceeded all our giddiest expectations!
It’s a bunch of rocks.
— Quite so, quite so. If you chose to, you could reach out and touch this section of saliferous strata of argillaceous marl, as it stands in the year 1311 in the southern Russian steppe.
— You could touch it, or at least touch its holographic reproduction “in tank.” At these energies, I can maintain a four second impression for you.
Can I go through?
— Through? Bodily? Oh, heavens no. Heavens no.
IT’S A KIND of monster.
There it goes. Chewing.
— That’s ... that’s awful.
It’s awful, yes, but note how it preserved its motility from its time in culture. Even its absorption mechanics retain fidelity at scale. Astounding.
— We should call the police.
Oh, I’m sure somebody has: look at it feed. Yes, the police are bound to be en route.
— Should we do something?
Like what? Do you mean flee?
— No, no. We have to answer for this.
We do. I suppose we do.
No, I’m sorry; it’s just mesmerizing. Clearly, no; yes, we have to answer for this.
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