Les Semaines


what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout



I used to read about a dozen books at a time, reading a chapter from each. That got old after a while. Now I try to focus. (Ha!) At least I thought I did until on a bulletin board we were talking about our reading habits. I did the following enumeration. A little alarming.

  • I usually have several fiction magazines sitting around these days. They're bathroom reading. They tend to stack up, as I'm not a bathroom loiterer.
  • I have some poetry books sitting around. They're study reading. Also read in the study: email, the SFF-Net bulletin board, a couple of web journals, a few Usenet groups occasionally (rec.arts.sf.composition in particular).
  • I read the same book at bedtime and while I'm exercising on my Nordic Trak. Almost always a novel. These are what I report on in the reading section of the journal.
  • And I have a collection of essays or some nonfiction or the Smithsonian magazine sitting in the living room that I pick up at odd times.
  • I read/mostly glance over the daily newspaper at the dining room table.
  • I read ancient New Yorkers on the bus on the way home from work.
  • And I have friends' manuscripts in piles in the living room and study to read and critique.
  • At work I read the University of Washington bulletin board in odd moments between projects.
  • And if none of those are in front of me at the time I'll read any old damn thing: the cereal box, ads on the side of a bus, people'st-shirts, you name it.
No wonder I never get any writing done.

I think this is a serious addiction. I'd rather read than do almost anything. Part of the reason I write is that some of the books I want to read haven't been written yet.

I'm feeling way better. My energy is almost back to normal, which is a very good thing as I have a lot of deadlines coming up and lots of extra work to get done. The dean search committee I've been part of is starting to make some serious decisions as we narrow down the field, so I've been studying lots of curricula vitae, and wishing more people wrote cover letters that really explained why they were applying for this position. I was surprised at the number of people who didn't send any cover letter at all.

I've also got a couple of grant deadlines and such coming up. Sometimes I feel as though I'm wasting my time applying for these things, but I've been lucky often enough to make it worthwhile. I mostly think. And having a month or two of guilt-free writing time is heaven. So my study is a mess.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing


Did I forget to mention Christine Fellows last week? I have her debut disc, 2 little birds, and it's brilliant, haunting, all those wonderful things. Kind of like Cat Power or Kristin Hersh with a touch of Veda Hille. Very indie feeling. It's a tad uneven, but when it's good, it's great, and this is extremely promising.

I've also got one of the mp3.com DAMS (she doesn't have anything else solo available) of a woman called April Lisa. Very odd and enjoyable. And First of June is a band from Ottawa. I've ordered their disc from them, but in the meantime have a demo DAM which I like a lot. Jim says it sounds like Tori Amos and I guess I hear that, but it seems like all too easy a comparison, and there's more going on here than that.

Several other new discoveries I'm letting gel a little, and I'm continuing my adventures in mp3 sample land.

last week's listening § next week's listening


William Mayne's Gideon Ahoy is a childrens'/young adult novel about a young girl who lives in a contemporary small city in England. Her father is away at sea, and so she helps her mother cope with her elder brother, who is deaf and brain-damaged from an illness at birth, and her younger twin siblings. When her brother gets a job on a canal boat, the whole family's life begins to change. As one of William Mayne's more realistic books I didn't love this as much as say It or Earthfasts or Cradlefasts or A Game of Dark or Cuddy (wow, I didn't realize I had so many favourites by Mayne that I could think of off the top of my head), but as always the characters and their voices are delightful and so is his use of language and the way he protrays this odd and loving family.

Ellen Howard's The Gate in the Wall, another childrens'/young adult novel, is set in England during the Industrial Revolution, and a young millworker, late for and shut out of her job, finds herself going through a door in a wall and discovering that a canal lies just outside the mill. She finds herself working on one of the canalboats, hauling good across the land. While in many ways this read like an excuse to portray a little bit of the canal boatworkers' lives, it was well-constructed and the the main character's discovery of the new world she finds herself in is nice. I would say this is a good quick read, but not exceptional.

I'm partway through Timothy Findley's Pilgrim. Damn he's a fine writer. More on that once I've finished it.

last week's reading § next week's reading


I've been concentrating on poetry this week, and I'm hoping to have whipped enough of my Scottish poems into shape to put together a chapbook for a Tuesday deadline. Will I make this deadline? You know, I'm not sure it even matters so very much to me anymore; I'm just delighted to have gotten so many of these poems on the go, rolling, taking shape. I'm taking tomorrow off work to see if I can make it. Give me a deadline to work toward and I do much better. Really I probably should try one of those novel dares. But they terrify me.

Gave a 3-minute reading (1 poem) as part of a neighbourhood arts thing at a theatre in downtown Seattle. It was fun, and the audience was very responsive. I don't always mention giving readings here. I don't know why, as I love doing them and definitely consider them a major part of my writing life.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

October 1976

541. Thanksgiving[1]

Type out essay, type notes of psychology, must study, mid-term Wednesday, French sentences, then to Paul's for dinner again. Then to cancelled bible study to listen to tape, home, talk, talk, talk, with Chris[tina].[2] Collapse late at night.

542. The Tuesday after

It's the Tuesday after all this, and i woke up feeling like i'd been run over by a tractor (how dare it run me over?). Picked up Paul, dropped Chris[tina] off at school, got gas for car, dropped Paul off at work, to UVic, parked car, travelled, found chair, momentarily collapsed, to psychology lab for memory test with no memory, to philosophy to have the remains of my brains fried. (The tractor's backing up to try it again.) Paul's coming for dinner tonight. Going out to a play.[3]

543. Does a human being have a function?

Good question--the darkness has no answer. (The Light does.) And all roads lead on back to you [entry dissolves into quote from a Christian rock song I can't remember well enough to pull up the title and artist of.]

544. How?

How could i ever have listened to the darkness and let it drag me so far away from the path i should be walking? I fall so far away form the love, begin to walk in shadows, falling so lost. No matter where i turn i see His face, His grace. He's ready to help me back up and dust me off, all roads lead on back to Him. I wasnt to don't want to escape. Like a child running from love, hiding in pain, huddling in the shadows. Here comes the Son.

545. Gotta get away ("Evacuation Day")

[Whole entry consists of quotes from Randy Matthews' song about The Rapture, "Evacuation Day".]

546. In Your hands

There's so much today i'm just going to have to put it in His hands. I can't try to carry everything again because i always mess thigns up. Paul might be leaving for two and a half years. If things work out really badly, he'll leave six months early, then he'll be gone three years. I guess that will be the end of anything between us, except, at this point if he gave me any reason to hope, it'd wait. In His hands. Not mine.

547. Didn't really ask

[Quotes from Jethro Tull's "Baker Street Muse" omitted.][4] Didn't ask, my desire remained unvoiced. I didn't even show you what i wanted. I don't know what's happening and my desire is half erased and half the last thing i'd ever want. Something i'd never want. (Yet i want it? More like i want part of it, not another most necessarily part of it.) Decisions, but not mine. [Quote from Crosby Stills and Nash's "Fly Away" song omitted.]

548. Soon will be never

Soon will be never, so plans and no hopes, jsut dying. Will it be pain? Maybe, maybe not. A big change, or none and a goodbye. Could change my forever. Could forever my change. Wait and discover, not knowing unplanned. Time will not hcange, i will not profit, only lost and become someone else.

549. Will

Will it be harder to go it i haven't ever tried, not knowing any worse than knowing, no difference, no pain. Make an escape worse than facing traying to hide in what i'm hdiing from. It will never find me in itself.

550. Wrote a poem

I wrote a poem to Jared (of Jared, of someone else). I wonder if he'll ever red it. If he does i wonder if he'll understand that it's not about him. All the time it's really abouve someone else, but he doesn't understand, and perhaps Jared would/will, so i wrote the poem to Jared.[5]


1. For the benefit of my American readers, Canadian Thanksgiving is held on the second Monday in October, the same day as Columbus Day in the U.S.

2. Christina and I still have no trouble talk talk talking, even these many year later. Oh, and all this Chris[tina] stuff is that I knew her as Chris then, but she goes by Christina now. Suits her better.

3. Does this sound like we've broken up? No wonder I was confused.

4. Interesting how I could quote that and sappy Christian rock so close to each other.

5. Jared was a name I thought about for a future or past child. I suspect the poem was really about Paul. I vaguely remember it. I took it to my creative writing workshop and it didn't go over very well, as I was still struggling with learning that poetry wasn't teenage angst with linebreaks.

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