January 27, 2009: Losing My Wallet And My Mind (In No Particular Order). A Solidarity Sick Day.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of flipping open your wallet to pay for something only to discover an empty space in the slip customarily occupied by your credit card. “Terror” isn’t really the right word for it. It’s more, I think, a feeling of deep foreboding roughly akin to the sensation serial killer victims must experience when the police call back to inform them that the harassing phone calls are coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE! You think to yourself “Now this shouldn’t be.”, at first calmly checking the different sections of your wallet once, twice, three times, then growing more panicked as you rifle through your pockets and scan the surrounding floor on the off-chance it fell out while you were actually looking for it. Your mind races, stumbling over possible scenarios and suspects: a waiter, the plumber, that cashier at Safeway who, in retrospect, seemed unusually chatty that morning. Had she been the decoy, distracting you with conversation about her golden retriever’s aversion to snow while her accomplice (The bag boy. Who else?!) lifted your VISA? Were they now, somewhere in Seattle, debauching themselves on Pike’s Market fish burgers and those eggnog lattes you can only get at Christmas unless you’re someone special and/or have the money to pay for a special order? Your first instinct is to call VISA and cancel your card. No, scratch that. Your first instinct is to go through your wallet and pockets once again in the blind hope that it will magically reappear like some long lost son returning home after a year spent following The Grateful Dead on tour to be welcomed back with full forgiveness, a sense of general relief , and an avowal to never let him out of your sight again. Your SECOND instinct is to call VISA and cancel your card. But that’s trumped by your third instinct which is to think back to the last place you used your credit card and perhaps assume you left it there AND that someone was kind enough to set it aside for you.
The last place I’d used my VISA was at the Italian Kitchen on 4th last night. If I’d left it anywhere, it would have been there. Now, on the surface, the whole incident may seem to be my fault given that I was the one who lost the credit card but I feel the need to point out that I was the one who wanted to stay home and have grilled chicken breasts for dinner. I hopped into my car and motored over to The Italian Kitchen and informed the host what had happened. He asked me for my name, then went to the till and pulled out a stack of cards three inches deep. He riffed through them, found my card and then, after checking my I.D., handed it over. Much relieved, I left the restaurant, thankful for catastrophe avoided and promising myself that I would never be so absent-minded again.
At which point I arrived at my car and realized I’d forgotten to put money in the meter.
Well, I was planning to go into the office today and help with breaking of Carl’s new story (Honest!) but Paul phoned me up early this morning to let me know he was feeling under the weather and wouldn’t be heading in. Our of solidarity with my sick writing/producing partner, I opted to stay home as well. And good thing I did as I spent a good part of the day working on my Stargate Universe script, revising what I head and then forging ahead. It’s coming along nicely and I’m almost in the home stretch. Act four is feeling a little thin but I’m sure that once I’m done, it’ll be wonderfully robust. Otherwise, I’ll simply have to request the actors speeeeaaaak veeeeerrry sloooooowlyyyyy oooooon theeeeee daaaaaaaay. If all goes well, I hope to have a first draft out by early next week – at which point I’ll be able to finally shift gears back to my super, secret project.
To those who’ve started to weigh in with their thoughts on City of Saints and Madmen –
Sparrow_hawk writes: “The Transformation of Martin Lake” was a strange and wonderful story of an artist and may be my favorite.”
Answer: It was a World Fantasy Award winner and holds the most unsettling scene I’ve read in recent memory. The protagonist, having accepted a mysterious invitation to a masquerade, arrives at 45 Archmont Lane and is escorted into a study where he awaits his host. As he takes in his surroundings, he becomes aware of a tapping sound that he immediately realizes is emanating from the table in front of him. Amused by what he assumes to be “a splendid disguise for the masquerade“, he taps back. He receives two taps in response, responds in kind, is answered by three more taps, and, again, he rejoins. Then –
“A frenzied rapping and smashing erupted from the table. Lake sucked in his breath and pulled his fist back abruptly. A frisson of dread traveled up his spine. It had just occurred to him that the playful game might not be a playful game after all. The black table, on which he had laid his invitation, was not actually a table but an unadorned coffin from which someone desperately wanted to get out!” (City of Saints and Madmen, “The Transformation of Martin Lake”).
Sparrow_hawk writes: “But much of the time that I was reading I had the nagging feeling that there was some inside joke to which I was not privy; a joke that, if I could only discover it, would open up the world of Ambergris to me and let me fully enjoy it. I kept reading, always hoping that the next story would let me put it all in perspective. But, alas, it was not to be and I remained merely an outsider looking in on a bizarre world I couldn’t really understand.”
Answer: I would argue that, despite learning much about Ambergris over the course of this book, what we do learn leads us to posit many questions that remain unanswered. The chiefest for me being “What DID happen to the city’s inhabitants who vanished during The Silence?”. I’m curious but the fact that it, like several other questions, remains unanswered makes the circumstances surrounding the incident all the more haunting. I guess what I’m saying is that often, what is left unsaid is far more powerful.
Iamza writes: “I am dying to know if anyone solved the number puzzle towards the latter half of the novel.”
Answer: Good question. I’ll send it Jeff’s way. I believe the solution to the puzzle was available on the publisher’s website at one point.
Anyone with questions for author Jeff Vandermeer has until tomorow to get them in!
Well, whenever I’m feeling a little down, I just make a trip to my local bookstore for a quick pick-me-up. In the short term, my mood significantly improves. In the long term, however, I face the prospect of an increasingly unmanageable To-Read pile (pictured).
Today’s video: Lulu celebrates the recent snowfall by harassing the shit out of Bubba.