Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wetitude, Part II

Playing on the iPod: "This Moment Now" by 2002
Meters swum today: 2000
Kilometers swum in July, Swim for Distance Month: 18.9 km or 11.74 miles

Nope, I didn't hit the century mark yet. Very close though. Maybe tomorrow.

Swimming pools, on the whole, are not great places for enlightenment. Well, I suppose enlightenment in the Buddhist sense can strike basically anywhere, any time, but great ideas should pick better times to hit you than in the middle of a 400 pull descending. Why? Well, because when you gasp in delight, you're likely to inhale a mouthful of water, come up coughing, and maybe lose a hand paddle flappin' around tryin' to get stable again. It's always the left hand paddle, too. Dunno what it is with that. Kind of like I always get water in my right ear and not my left ear. What? Huh? Come again?

This is all the fault of an airplane book called The Wheel of Darkness, by Douglas Preston and somebody-or-other Child. What, you may ask, is an airplane book? Well, it's a book that you pick up right before you get on an airplane, when you realize much to your dismay and chagrin that you didn't bring anything decent to read. (I dunno about you, but to me, getting on an airplane without a good book is like crossing the Gobi Desert without a water bottle.) A true airplane book stands out from other fiction of its class in that you can leave it on the airplane half finished and never miss it. It's either that bad, that poorly written, or that uninteresting. In this case, all three.

In case you're not familiar with these guys, they apparently write books about a repressed FBI agent named Pendergast that gets involved in lots of investigations of weird arcane artifacts and folklore from places most Americans don't visit. In this case, Tibet. The artifact in question is an evil scroll that, when you look at it, kills all of your interest in your fellow beings and strips you of your moral sense. Kind of the anti-enlightenment, I guess; instead of realizing all beings are one, you decide that you're the only being that matters. There's a lot of Buddhist subreferences, which was why I picked it up in the first place. But don't be fooled. This book has as much to do with Buddhism as weird arcane artifacts and ancient folklore have to do with the everyday goings-on of the FBI. In short, it's the perfect airplane book, right down to the bad dialogue and forgettability. And there's all this plot about a luxury ocean liner and a frustrated captain and, I dunno, crashing on the rocks and killing four thousand people or something, but by the time we got that far I no longer cared. Hate to tell you this, but ol' Pendergast wasn't much fun even before he dealt with the evil scroll.

Getting back to this morning, though, I now have somewhat of a handle on where I get my ideas. I think they're amalgams of things I run across during the day and they just fall together in my head in such a way that I can Make It Work, People. In this case, the airplane book, two nine-volt batteries, something that Nicholas said in Mindbender and the basic interconnectedness of everything all fell together (in the middle of a 400 pull descending) and I suddenly knew why Roland was the way Roland was. What happened to Roland, that is, to make him Roland.

Backing up a sec: Who the hell is Roland. Roland is my bad guy. Well, kind of. He's not a nice guy, that's for sure, and he does some really nasty things, but once in a while I get the feeling he might actually be the only one in my group of characters that has any kind of grasp of what's going on. He might even be the hero. Anyway, nobody likes him except me, and I'm crazy about him, but that's mainly because Roland does whatever Roland decides Roland needs to do, and to hell with everybody else. For somebody who's so caught up in What Everyone Will Think Of Me most of the time, this is just unbelievably cool. But, something had to have happened to Roland to make Roland Roland, and that's been bothering me for the whole last book and a half. Then, today, this morning, I finally figured it out.

I called Joan on the phone from my car at the swimming pool's parking lot and asked her if she had a minute. She said, "Jen, I'm standing on the front porch with my keys in my hand about to leave for work. What is it?" I told her I had to tell her something before my brain exploded. Ever patient, she stood there on the front porch and listened to me rant about the evil scroll, the nine-volt batteries, something Nicholas said and the basic interconnectedness of everything. Joan is such a sport, she didn't even say, "So Roland looked at the evil scroll?" Well, no. Not exactly. But the evil scroll was an important part of the whole falling-together-of-things. Anyway, Joan's ability to let me rant and even say "Oh, cool" occasionally is just one more testament to her absolute goddesshood. Anybody who would put up with me is inherently a supreme being.

Anyway, I think I can finish the book now. It's about time, hey?

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