Monday, December 27, 2010

!!!surprise x-mas post!!! Everything INTERN Needs to Know About Manuscript Repair She Learned From Fixing Her Spaceship

Greetings, erstwhile readers! Over the course of the past six months, INTERN has found her thoughts straying to you time and again, wondering how you're doing and how your dear manuscripts are getting along. Now, in this warm and fuzzy season of well-wishery, INTERN is breaking her vow of bloggerly silence to indulge herself in a brief hello.

As some of you may know, INTERN and Techie Boyfriend have been living in a spaceship they bought for $750. For most of the past month, INTERN and Techie Boyfriend have been completely swallowed up in engine repair as they desperately strove to make it to Techie Boyfriend's family homestead in California in time for Christmas. Over the course of those alternatingly tense and joyful hours spent under the hood of the spaceship, or lying underneath the spaceship while Techie Boyfriend dropped various tools on INTERN's face, INTERN realized that engine repair is basically the same as manuscript repair, except greasier and with a greater chance of getting blinded by terrifying chemicals.

INTERN would therefore like to share with you some quick insights, now that she has abandoned writing for auto shop. Here they are:

Everything INTERN Needs to Know About Manuscript Repair She Learned From Fixing Her Spaceship

1. It helps to have a beta driver.

Because there is a good chance that you, on your own, are completely delusional:

Techie Boyfriend: Whoa. Why is the spaceship shuddering like that when you start it?
INTERN: (gripping the wheel and grinning broadly) Hmm? It’s not shuddering.
Techie Boyfriend: What’s that black smoke coming out of the engine?
INTERN: (gazing vacantly straight ahead) There’s no black smoke.
Spaceship: (spitting balls of fire) Frak-bleargh-akakakakakakkkk
Techie Boyfriend: Oh my god. Pull over. We’re about to blow up.
INTERN: (turning to Techie Boyfriend and snarling viciously) WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE SO GODDAMN NITPICKY ABOUT EVERYTHING???

2. There are parts of your engine held together with zip ties that really ought not to be held together with zip ties.

This might explain why that gas station attendant who walked by when you were checking your oil the other day begged you with tears in his eyes not to attempt to drive your van any further.

3. The functionality of your engine is not “subjective”. It is not “different for everybody”. Either your engine runs or it doesn’t. Either it degenerates into a smoking wreck in an east Texas rest area or it doesn’t. Either it is purring along nicely at 60 mph or it is sitting on the side of the highway with the four-way flashers blinking.

If you are still not sure which camp your engine falls into, just ask any objective bystander for a speedy clarification.

4. You cannot step into the same engine twice.

This is an ancient saying attributed to Heraclitus. What Heraclitus means is that, every time you pull the head cover off to adjust the clearances on the valves just one last time before driving your van off into the sunset, you will discover that the engine you thought you’d been working on for the past infinity days has been replaced by a completely different engine with a completely new set of completely impossible-to-solve new problems.

5. If you take apart your engine, you will find that some idiot stripped a bolt in the intake manifold, figured it “wouldn’t matter that much”, and created a horrible coolant leak that will now take you twenty hours to repair.

That idiot was probably you.

6. No engine part is an island.

That means you can’t replace the bejongler without realizing that the wokkapiggery and the bauschnauserum also need replacing. You will also realize with horror that the Imminent Death Cable is frayed to a half-millimeter in thickness, the Brake Pads of the Apocalypse are fossilized, and some young punk scratched your new gradient-fractal paint job with a key. The scary problem you initially set out to fix is actually trivial in comparison to the howling ruination that is the rest of your engine. Have fun with that, Chip.

7. Other people will try to distract you from completing your engine repair job.

Like the upstanding citizens of the Bryan, TX neighborhood association who give you 24 hours to clear your eyesore of a vehicle out of your friend’s driveway when the engine is already completely disassembled in the garage. And, um, the Arizona police.

But whatever happens (or whoever comes glaring), you must prevail over these minor distractions and get the job done, because at the end of your day you believe in your engine even if nobody else does, and you are determined to make it run. And screw Bryan, TX anyway.

8. There’s no shame in calling in some expert assistance if you get stuck.

Like your uncle’s cousin’s friend’s neighbor’s socially awkward but mechanically-minded teenaged son, who will help you diagnose that strange ticking sound in exchange for frightening amounts of Mountain Dew.

9. Your engine does not work through a mysterious and incomprehensible combination of wizardry and leprechauns.

In fact, your engine works through a rational and really quite accessible process of mundlefrommery, sparklemangery, and dequarkification. Like, RTFM.

10. If you keep at it long enough and don’t give up, your engine will slowly start to reveal its secrets.

You will start to realize that bolts that were impossible to unbolt two days ago now come off and on with ease. Wires that seemed to go nowhere yesterday now clip neatly in their sockets. Oil that was dripping all over your face yesterday is now staying obediently inside the proper receptacle. The mechanic’s flight suit that looked ridiculous on you last week is now looking authentically filthy, giving you reassuring amounts of cred when you’re waiting in line at Napa Auto Parts. You will start to realize that maybe this engine repair thing is possible after all.

11. No engine repair experience is ever wasted.

Because even if, God forbid, you end up hauling your spaceship to the junkyard, you will have learned so much, gotten your clothes so greasy, and tested your relationship with your beta driver to such an extreme level that you will approach your next engine repair job with that much more wisdom, insight, patience, and, um, possibly dread. You will be a stronger person. A more knowledgeable person. Perhaps a person who now requires a few years of mental and/or physical and/or marital therapy to work through all the issues that came up over the course of the Engine Repair Experience. But all in all, a person who is now better quipped than ever before to work with whatever engines the future holds.


That is all. Just in case anyone is fretting, INTERN and Techie Boyfriend made it to California in time for Christmas despite approximately twelve hundred engine-related disasters, and an exhausted INTERN spent the holiday lying on the couch like a sultan while Techie Boyfriend's many relatives fed her cookies and piled lots and lots of novels on the floor for her to read. What happiness!

INTERN misses you all and wishes you all ten thousand delights. May you all gallop into the new year with glee in your eyes and inspiration at your fingertips. Thank you for allowing INTERN the indulgence of this yuletide post. Godspeed!