The eating-with-your-fingers-gracefully thing is interesting. I'd be tempted to say it's just practice, given that everyone I grew up with ate gracefully with their fingers. But I know some white people now who eat regularly with their fingers, and still do so in a way that makes me cringe a bit. Then again, I know others who do just fine. I'd guess that it's instinctive for some people, and trainable for others. I don't remember my mom really indoctrinating me in graceful form, but it might have happened when I was too young to remember. She did spend years trying to get me to not lick my fingers afterwards. I have to admit, that didn't look so classy, but sometimes you just couldn't let that last bit of gravy go...it would have been a crime, really.
So far, a pleasant morning. I woke up around 7:30, which is good -- I'd been getting up around 9ish the last few days, which is really too late. What with journal and e-mail checking, I wasn't starting work until 10, and given that by 1 or so I usually feel impatient and restless, ready to go for a walk, that was only three hours of effective work time. Not good. We'll see if today goes better. I do feel better -- not that I felt so bad yesterday, but I did have a fever of about a hundred and two. I didn't even realize it. I had gone to bed around 10, but couldn't sleep. Stared at the ceiling and vaguely plotted a story for an hour or so. Got up for a glass of water -- Kevin was on the phone. Sat in the living room and plotted some more. Around 11:30 he got off the phone and came and sat down next me; he put his hand on my bare leg and then said I was really warm. I felt fine, really -- maybe a bit hectic in my brain, but physically fine. He made me stick a thermometer in my mouth, and sure enough, I had a fever. He didn't, though he actually did feel sick. Anyway, I'm fine now; the thermometer claims I'm back to normal. Whatever normal is...
I did some minor revisions on the cooking essay this morning, and it's better, but I'm still not really happy with it. It has two problems that I can see -- it's kind of rambly, and I repeat myself sometimes; it also doesn't push as hard at the issues as it could. Don't really know excatly where I would push at this issues, though -- part of the problem with this piece (and actually, with "Silence and the Word", now that I think about it), is that it's not always clear to me where the arguments should go. I have a much better sense of story structure than I do of essay structure -- one could argue that I should just stick to stories, but in a lot of ways, essays are much easier, and they often pay pretty well, and I suspect I'm just going to keep plugging away at them. I'd kind of like to take an essay-writing class, but I don't know that I've ever seen one. The essay is a neglected art form in this country.
I kind of want to write a story today, but there's some other work I really ought to do. I think I'll try to throw myself on the other work, and if that fails miserably, then I'll attempt the story. I'm not sure the story has really percolated enough in my head -- I have the two characters, and the mode of narration (alternating close third person, I think, starting with his viewpoint), and most of the plot. What I don't really have is a good sense of the surroundings, of their backgrounds, of who these people are and what made them that way. That's one reason why it's been easier writing the stories set in this Sri Lankan cycle; I have a lot of that background info in my head now (although sometimes even I get characters confused). I'm going to see whether these people might possibly be Sri Lankan, somehow part of this extended family. That might help. This may just be a separate thing, though -- I'm trying to write this for Marcy's Ripe Fruit anthology, erotica about women over 50. Given that I'm not-quite 30 myself, I'm not sure how well I'll do, but I'll give it a shot. If some of you are women over 50, maybe you could read it and let me know if I got anything wrong?