(Last modified 2 November 1996.)

Wanderjahr: Week 11

Locations: Somerville, Boston, Cambridge
Dates: 10/27/96 - 11/2/96

Sunday and Monday I did very little -- paid some bills, replied to some email, caught up on the travelogue here, watched too much TV, chatted about Unitarian Universalist pagans, skimmed parts of a new translation of the Pentateuch, finally read the final third of Frank Miller's Ronin comic book miniseries...

Tuesday I headed into downtown Boston for lunch with Susan. Bright warm sunshine (though not as warm for its brightness as it would've been in CA; it's fall/winter light, with a slightly different quality I can't quite define). We ate at Small Planet in downtown Boston. Wandered through FAO Schwarz for a while after that, then back to Steve & Bhadrika's to hang out until it was time for poker. Also finally got to see the headquarters of the company formerly known as Netmarket.

Wednesday, I sorted my trip photos by subject, on the theory that folks might be more interested in seeing 'em if it didn't involve wading through a bunch of photos of unknown people. Still haven't scanned any in for online viewing, though. That evening, had dinner with Beth at Borgo in Somerville (good Japanese and Thai food but high prices) and talked with her while she did her laundry.

Thursday, had lunch with Beth and her co-worker Mark at Soleil ("peasant foods from sunny lands," or is that "pleasant foods"?) in Harvard Square. Fun. Another place with a strange and broad mix of ethnic cuisines, but it seems to do them all well. Afterward, got copies from Beth of photos of a Yosemite trip we took a couple years back, then spent a couple hours browsing at Bob Slate Stationer on Church Street. Bought a replacement blank-book journal (my first travel journal, given to me by my father early this year, is almost full), and a set of 1997 calendar pages for my calendar book, and some nice paper and envelopes to send papermail to certain people I've been lax about writing. Then back to Somerville to hang out with Steve and Bhadrika and play with Jazz and Wolf for a while. Spent some time handing out candy to trick-or-treaters (who seemed to come in three varieties: teenagers, infants, and the adults accompanying the infants, who sometimes did everything from holding the bag to saying "trick-or-treat" to standing in front of the kids. Bhadrika pointed out that adults can get more candy by dragging small children around with them).

Practiced reading John Sayles' "The Halfway Diner" aloud in preparation for story reading. Zoned in the living room for a while, half-watching various TV (including part of Rocky Horror). It's very easy to just let time drift by around here... Worked on a screenplay outline some, then talked with Carrie 'til 3 am, then called Arthur in CA (gotta love that 3-hour time difference from this end, much as it annoys me from the other end) to discuss ballot issues for my absentee voting. Got to sleep around 4.

On Friday I got up very late, and spent the afternoon hanging around the house, chatting, and watching TV. I've been watching way too much TV this trip. On the plus side, various shows are way better than I'd previously believed (or else my standards have dropped considerably); on the minus side, that leads me to watch things I really have no interest in, on the "it might be good" theory. Gotta remember not to fall for that. Babylon 5 is still the only show I particularly want to watch regularly, despite seeing recent episodes of X Files, ER, Seinfeld, Law and Order, and Grace Under Fire.

In the evening I bought some refreshments for story reading and headed over to Michael's. Fran & Ed and Diana were the only other guests who showed up, so we didn't do much reading; but I liked what was read, and we had the usual sorts of cool and far-ranging conversations in the interstices.

Other general items this week: spent some time working on wordplay column, but still not satisfied with tone. Spent some time working on fiction and screenplays, but not nearly enough as always. Made various plans to meet people at various times, flaked on calling several people to confirm those plans. Did some reading on the T, did a fair amount of walking from place to place (which is most of the exercise I get these days), spent a little time watching leaves and people. Spent too much time feeling off-balance and out of sorts, but also had times of warm happiness (especially in the sunlight) and comfortable happiness in conversations with friends.

Saturday I visited Walden Pond with Deb. Way cool. I'd like to go back when it's a little warmer and with a little more daylight remaining. Talked with Deb and Charles for a while afterward, then went to have dinner and conversation with David VS. Eventually back to Somerville, to read until it was Sunday.


Movies, Books, etc.

A Fisherman of the Inland Sea, Ursula K. LeGuin
An odd collection: two silly joke stories, two that seem to be pet-peeve diatribes, a sad short-short workshop story, and three stories exploring "churten" (instantaneous matter transmission) and narration in LeGuin's Hainish universe. A not entirely successful collection, I'd say, especially when measured against her earlier collections; but "The Shobies' Story" can still make me cry, and a couple of these are far deeper and richer than most sf.
Independence Day
Much more fun than I expected, if you can ignore impossibilities, plotholes, and general silliness. Worth seeing (on a big screen, of course) at a discount, and if you don't take it seriously.

Jed Hartman <logos@kith.org>