Not right away, but tomorrow around this time, actually. It’s just that I have a strong feeling there won’t be time to write a post again before then.
I come back having got nothing written, but trying to convince myself that in a trip of more than 24 hours there will be time to write (we’re overnighting on the first layover. Thank heaven we secured in-airport rooms. I’m too old to sleep as I have, sitting up in a corner of the airport, really.) And then from there we have 17 hours (with layovers) home.
There might be at that. I’m going to try very hard to do so.
I found out — somehow — a lot of things about myself and how things work here — I guess some stuff is so deeply set that it takes almost 25 years to see clearly.
Anyway, I’m integrating that knowledge and it is not a bad thing. Perhaps I now understand more about why I had to live. At least this trip left me no doubts that I HAD to leave. I can’t imagine continuing to exist here, which is weird. But I think I was always cross purposes here.
Anyway, part of the reason I didn’t write is that I can’t think of words in English (or Portuguese) while I’m talking in both languages more or less constantly. It’s like a traffic jam in my brain and both languages get the wrong stuff written/said. I also occasionally speak the wrong language to the wrong person.
My bookshelf in my childhood room — never most of my books, anyway — is verry weird. Some of this stuff is incontrovertibly mine: a lot of Agatha Christie tpbs (That I have a vague memory I never returned to a friend after borrowing around the time she got married and went out of the country, anyway). Pearl S. Buck. Camus from my pertencious phase. Books I abandonned in various trips. Like, I have two Orson Scott Cards that I don’t remember reading, but I DO KNOW I went through a Card phase shortly after Robert was born. I also have a couple of Patricia Wentworths in English, which I have no memory of leaving behind, at least not on purpose. I have two Raymond Chandlers in Portuguese that I don’t remember ever reading, and one of those bubblegum mysteries I’m fairly sure I brought over, but don’t remember reading or abandoning.
There is some stuff here that is almost certainly my parents’: a lot of devotional books, moslty.
I have clue zero which of us had a Morris West in Portuguese, and it’s entirely possible I read it because someone gave it to me.
Weirdest is to find I had: Men and the world of tomorrow by Pro. A. M. Low, in Portuguese. I have no memory of it. I have a book called A Boy From Georgia I also don’t remember reading. No, the other Georgia. Thank heavens not about Stalin, though. Then there is the book in Spanish with chosen readings in English. I was never at home in Spanish enough to read in it, and I can’t figure out how that even got on my bookshelf.
Not a surprise, but also forgotten and certainly mine because they’re in English, is a series of novels and non-fiction books about the founding of the US. I didn’t remember buying them or reading them. Walter Lord’s Dawn’s Early Light and Nathan Shachner’s Thomas Jefferson look worthy of re-reading, only I’m not taking them back becaus eof the weight. Perhaps they are on kindle?
All this is amusing because recently a fan asked what of me was uniquely Portuguese and how Portugal had shaped my writing….
And I don’t know. It amuses me greatly that someone, unawares, would try to piece my influences from this shelf, where my mom seems to shove books she finds around the house and THINKS are mine. Unless I’ve suffered some great break in memory these (Agatha Christie excepted) weren’t even re-reads of mine, but if read all the way through were read once and discarded.
In a way this dovetails — I think — with what happened with Portuguese culture. I mean, I read it — mostly — I still do, in terms of knowing a street is not exactly safe or that the man wandering aimlessly down this suburban street might be casing the joint. I simply was never plugged in enough to “get” it at a bone deep level.
Much of what I read (not reflected in this bookcase) was British or — mostly — from the US. Even in translation, before I learned the language, most of my ideas came from the anglosphere. There was a rightness about it, a way they fit my brain that made them less work, more effortless.
Then there was the process of acculturation and also of trying to understand how the American public would see my work (I still fail at that, at times, but no more than most writers. For my money a degree in literature did more damage to that than the foreign upbringing.)
If there was some uniquely Portuguese remnant, it disappeared in the avalanche.
There are thing in which I will always be different. One of them is the understanding of what a really deep past means. This is not only because I grew up in Portugal, though it’s part of it, but because I read a lot of history. I thought about it and thought it would shape mostly historical particularly historical fantasy. But I don’t think that’s true. I think it shapes my science fiction too, in that it tends not to be as neat, clean and logical as Americans make it, when they project things forward. Because I know most really old cultures are mostly built on their own ruins. Because I know what collapse and rebuild and re-collapse means. Because…. Because history is complicated and I grew up surrounded by it.
I also wonder if that is why I’m less fascinated with fantasy of the heroic type as most Americans.
Anyway, there are other things I want to write about, one of them being the dog that didn’t bark in the night: For the first time since Reagan’s day, it’s hard to obtain dollars in this country and any dollars that appear are vacuumed off the market. Do they expect the dollar to appreciate more? Are they afraid of a local collapse? I don’t know, but it’s curious and not something I’d heard about ANYWHERE.
Also the same weirdness I’d noticed there, which is that as the birthrate falls, and even as population falls, people leave the countryside depopulated and crowd into the big cities. Which, as my brother put it, “Is exactly the opposite of what Clifford Simak expected in City.”
What can I say? Making predictions is difficult, particularly about the future. But when something behaves in an aberrant fashion, men and women of curiosity want to poke around and find out why. Out of what the heck, if nothing else. I think we tend to follow our dogma or what we are sure is what’s coming a lot, instead of following our curiosity. Which of course, is how a lot of people on the left ended up starring in incredibly amusing crying videos election night 2016.
Other things have happened since I left, including the loss of Uncle Timmy, the founder of Liberty con and an all around wonderful man. We’ve been afraid he was headed that way, of course, but I’d hoped to see him one more time. I can’t do him justice on this pokey connection and in the middle of packing, so that will wait till I get home.
Because of the protracted travel back (continued fall out of the screw up with Norwegian airlines, which ALSO will get its day in the… not exactly sun) is that we only arrive LATE on the 15th instead of late on the 14th. Which in turn means that I won’t be fully on till midday on the 16th or so. Abide in patience. In two nights I get to sleep in my own bed. I’m assured the cats are well and the house is as I left it. (Unfortunately no fairies cleaned up in our absence.)
I will be back. Keep things from collapsing till I am. I won’t feel quite all right till I’m somewhere I can drive home if all else fails. And I’ll try to update you then.