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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

storm comin' up...

I got a late start on the day, and had fully intended to go from Dunkin Donuts to Coffeed to the library and then walk some small errands, but at about step 2 in the plan, people in Coffeed were pointing to a suddenly ominously dark gray sky. Skedaddling being the better part of valor when it comes to an impending thunder storm (especially when the windows at home are wide open), I strapped on the pack and hustled my little self on home. I got here just before the first of a series of passing squalls, so neither the computer in my backpack nor my living-room rug got soaked. Whew.

Because of the late start, I also had told myself I'd keep working until at least 6, later if possible. I was running out of focus by a little after 5, but I decided to do a sort of fun part of the project that isn't really necessary but could be great if the whole thing gets published the way I want it to. I asked Le Guin what she thought about the idea of including an artist's renditions of sort of typical Gethenian faces, as students can't seem to wrap their minds around the fact that they're human (albeit androgynous), and that they're not Caucasian. She suggested instead providing a bunch of images of people from, oh, say, Tibet, Peru, perhaps some Inuit faces--and then asking students to come up with their own idea of what Gethenians look like. So, I just spent two delightfully maddening hours trying to find images of faces that would help: the right ethnic variations and also not easily identifiable as either female or male. Finding the images was actually relatively easy; finding information about where the images originated, so--if the images section does get included--we can obtain rights to use the images was a great deal harder. (Apparently, once something has appeared on Pinterest, all information about where it originated can only be located if one is willing to sign up for Pinterest--and I'm not in the least Pinterested.)

Writing this, of course, I recall that the other images I wanted to include were images of Arctic and Antarctic landscapes--as students (well, my students anyway) have absolutely no clue what those landscapes look like. I remember one student scoffing at the idea that it could be -60F in any kind of reality, and I had to inform him that I personally  have been in -40F weather and that -60F is not at all unheard of in the polar regions. He was absolutely gobsmacked. (Isn't that a great word? I have to remember to use it more often.)

Even before I got side-tracked into images, I managed to churn through a few more chapters' worth of glossary. I very much want to finish that off this week so I can turn my attention to the theme stuff. I'm feeling nervous about that (do I remember how to write and think intelligently about themes?), but I'm sure once I get past the initial stiffness, using those mental muscles again, I'll enjoy it. I love the book after all, so writing about it should be a treat.

And may I just say that that is a worry allayed: some little part of me was worried that working on the book like this might lead to a kind of over-saturation, might make me shy away from having anything to do with it again. Quite the contrary. The more I dig, the more I love it: if anything, my love of the novel has been reawakened by this work. It's just so damned good: I can't get enough of it.

I can, however, get enough of working on it, after enough hours in one day. And that's where I am now. I have no clue what tomorrow will end up being like in terms of work, but I'm looking forward to a day actually pretty much like today. The sun's out now (just as it's about to set), but the temperature has dropped precipitously, so I'm going to get warm and get ready for dinner. Here's hoping for an earlier to bed, earlier to rise than I've been able to achieve for a while. I keep thinking about that 7 a.m. alarm come May 11, and how spoiled I've gotten by being able to sleep as much as, as long as, and whenever I want. Things to look forward to in retirement (or if I win the lottery...).

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