little weirdnesses

I

It is unavoidable. I have been meme-tagged by La Gringa. I would curse her to the heavens, but since I believe she is one of my degrees of connection to China Mieville, whom I have never met yet love and adore beyond all reason, I shall merely smile indulgently in her evil, evil direction.

The Rules: The topic is five weird habits; we poor bastards who get tagged are obligated to write an entry about our five weirdest habits. Then, we must choose the next five people to be tagged and link to their web journals. We must also leave a comment in their blog or journal that lets these folks know that they have been tagged.

Okay. So:

1. I read like a fiend. Personally, I see nothing odd about this, yet became aware long ago that in a society such as this one, obsessive reading marks you out as a freak. For about fifteen minutes in junior high I tried to conceal my freak status — “Oh, I don’t like to read much,” I said airily (I actually said this! I said this!) to a small pert person who was befriending me — but at some point I figured hell, let the freak flag fly. I once told a female acquaintance that I’d rather read than have sex. (Or hurry up the sex so I could get to the reading. Or something.) The woman in question naturally assumed that either I didn’t like sex, or I’d never had good sex. This is not the case.

2. I was blessed with strong healthy teeth and am cavity-free, which means I can go for extremely long periods without visiting the dentist (this is not the weird habit. The weird habit is forthcoming). During one such visit, the dentist informed me that I clench and grind my teeth. “I do not,” I said. “You do,” he said. “You have the textbook mouth of a teeth-grinder.” “Interesting,” I said. “How long have I been doing this?” I thought maybe he’d say a few years; maybe it was somewhat rave-related. “At least ten years,” he said, and pointed out my overly developed mandible muscles (which I had assumed to be good bone structure. Who knew). For days after that, I would catch myself clenching my teeth at odd moments throughout the day, and I would think Damn, he was right, and then determine not to do this.
Not long thereafter, a friend asked me, “Are you chewing the insides of your cheeks?”
“What?”
“You are! I’ve been noticing this about you! You’ve started chewing the insides of your cheeks!” She added, thoughtfully, “My mother used to do that. You’re the only other person I’ve ever seen to do that. Like a cow chewing her cud. It’s very weird.”
I went back to teeth-clenching. (Actually, I suspect I alternate.)

3. A college roommate of mine would complain that when I sprawled on the couch reading, I would rub my sock feet together “like a cat”. This creeped her out. I still do this.

4. I experience bizarre tabloid fixations that have little rhyme or reason. I could care less about Brad/Angelina/Jen, but any magazine cover that features Britney Spears and the grotesquely fascinating downward spiral she’s embarked on (a.k.a. Kevin Federline) is a gleeful and automatic buy. Like any good pseudo-intellectual I attempt to justify this. For example: because I made my own strange romantic choices in my own reckless youth, yadda yadda, yet was lucky enough to emerge from those choices unscathed — ie: not hitched, not pregnant — and much, much wiser about What I Actually Wanted and Who With — now I look at young Brit and see, for all her pop star fame and glory, What Could Have Been, although my own taste wasn’t for hillbillies but narcissistic artistic/academic types who insisted on expressing every single thought and feeling they had, every second that they had them. But screw the armchair self-analysis. I think I’m just amazed by the set of circumstances that brought Popozao into being.

5. When I was in my late teens and twenties, I planned and fantasized about having exactly the kind of life I’ve living now, a dream-life for so many reasons (knock wood, knock wood), and I am so grateful and, frankly, a bit puzzled and bewildered that so much good fortune has been mine (knock wood, knock wood); and yet now I often fantasize about the life I had back in my late teens and twenties: broke, provincial, often lonely, yet exploding with freedom and potential. Perhaps this isn’t weird, but ironic. Or merely the nature of things.

I’ll play out the rest of the Rules tomorrow. I grow weary.

II

Also wanted to say that the YA novel is done and off and I’ve been working on the BLOODANGEL sequel and it is going so smoothly and delightfully I find myself a bit unnerved. Surely it can’t last? At some point I’ll start banging my head against the computer screen until blood stains the cracked and splintered glass, like I always do with first drafts?

Except this is such a different experience — the first draft is all about building the storyworld and discovering your characters (as well as the story), but in this case I already know the storyworld (or at least the bulk of it; part of the aim of this book is to flesh out that world more fully and in richer detail, to build on what has come before), and I already know the characters. It’s great, returning to these characters. Suddenly I ‘get’ why so many writers do this.

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