More thoughts on Gettysburg

They knew what they were fighting for.

It seems that the reason you walk into the hail of bullets and canister shot is for the guy next to you; it’s a combination of not being willing to lose respect in his eyes, and feeling like you owe him.   But what makes you go forward into your second battle, after you’ve been through one already?  How can you do that, when you know what it’s like?

It was a time when the notion that there were causes greater than one’s self–to preserve the Union, to free slaves, to defend one’s homeland–wasn’t absurd.

Yes, today there are still those who will risk their lives for a cause, and this is worthy of respect, however misguided–even evil–I might believe that cause to be.  But they’re increasingly rare.

Today, the passion and excitement is coming from people saying, “Why should my tax money go to support people who can’t afford food, housing, and medical care?” followed by endless and increasingly lame justifications that make this position sound moral.  That’s what we hear today: utter selfishness hidden behind a veneer of moral posturing.  It is repulsive; and more than that, it is sad.

A hundred and fifty years ago, the passion and excitement was about actual efforts to make the world better for everyone.

The era has changed.  The culture has changed.  But–

We are still human beings.  Inside of us are still those yearnings and desires that inspired the 1st Minnesota to charge, or the 20th Maine to hold.  Yes, the dominant culture now is as reactionary as the dominant culture in South Carolina was a hundred and fifty years ago.  But I believe we have it in us to fight to make things better, whatever sacrifice that entails.  I believe that we’re going to see that.  I believe we’re going to do things that those boys would be proud of.  I think the culture can change, and I think it will.

When you stand on Little Round Top, or Culp’s Hill, or by the statue erected for the First Minnesota, remember that they knew what they were fighting for.


On terrible, awful internet speak.

First of all, in case some of you were wondering, “totes” is not a word.  Well, okay, when used in the sense of, “He totes his piano over to the cliff and drops it,” then yes, it totes is.  But it should be obvs that that is not the usage I’m talking about.  I’m talking about internet speak,  I know some of you think it’s adorbs, but you’re wrong.

Now, my editor, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, hates these things (and, beeteedubs, so do I).  So please, make sure that, when tweeting, emailing, or, especially, talking to her, you never ever use them.  It would be totes wrong.



Just back from a weekend trip to Gettysburg with jenphalian, TNH, and PNH, and it was amazing and my head is still spinning.  I’ll probably do another post once I’ve processed some of it.

It started Friday night and the NHs, where we watched the movie “Gettysburg,” which remains a favorite of mine.  Saturday morning we headed for Pennsylvania.

We saw most of the battlefield.  We talked, we hung out, compared notes.  On Saturday, we did everything except the Day 2 Union Right; then went to our hotel and drank and talked and it was SO MUCH FUCKING FUN.  Yeah.  Like that.

Sunday was the last part, the museum, the gift shop, then dinner with Jen’s parents in York (much fun, good food) and now back in Jersey City and I believe I will drink now.

Seriously.  I don’t know how else to say it.  The experience of seeing the battlefield was mind-blowing; trying to imagine what it must have been like on Little Round Top, or the Peach Orchard, or Culp’s Hill.  And the four of us all sort of fed into each other.

I’ve always had a fascination for what is going on in someone’s head in a moment of danger, or crisis; that’s why I write what I do the way I do.  But there are things my imagination just won’t encompass.


Trip so far

My friend Caliann has very kindly taken the bird.  I got to hang out with Skyler and family in Austin for a couple of days, which was a delight.  Now I’m in (God help me) Jersey City with my friend Jenphalian, having a good time and trying to get over an irritating head cold.

Plan is to visit Gettysburg with TNH and PNH this weekend.  Very much looking forward to it.

It’s now less than nine months until the release of The Incrementalists by Skyler and me.  Not like I’m excited about it or anything.


On Dust and Identity

I’ve got this vacuum cleaner.  I think it’s the same kind Aaron Burr used.  It is held together by several pieces of dismantled clothes hanger and a lot of duct tape. It still works, in the sense that when I run it over the carpet it picks up stuff; the trouble is, it also spits out an amazing quantity of dust, which, of course, gets everywhere.

My housemates and I were talking about it, and how irritated we were by the dust.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day to clean up all the dust, so, what are the priorities?  For me, it’s glassware.  I mean, going to get yourself a glass of something and finding a layer of dust in the glass is, well, yech.  Another housemate pointed out that we could hardly see through the windows and ironically observed that he was getting kind of curious about what was going on outside the house.  Still another said that the dust was so thick on the books, that he couldn’t tell what the titles were.  And then, there are the problems with our computers overheating.  So, given that you can’t clean everything, what do you clean?

Another housemate pointed out that, if we pooled our resources, we could easily afford a new vacuum cleaner; one that not only didn’t spit dust, but actually drew in dust and cleaned up the air while working.

We stared at him for a moment, then called him a racist and went back to our conversation.