what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout
This is one of those busy weeks where I still manage to waste a lot of time and where I get all dreamy and unfocused and keep coming back to myself and wonder just where the hell I've been and where all the hours have gone. I can always account for them if I think hard enough but it's not very satisfying to realize it's Sunday night already and where am I that I wasn't last week? How much father along have I come with anything in my life?
This wondering is probably all part of being--yes, I must face it--middle aged. Life isn't as dramatic as I used to like it. I don't suffer those huge ups and downs but I'm still as dreamy as ever I was. My mind is busy creating its own worlds without me, sometimes. Sometimes with me when I'm writing.
I often wonder how much of our worlds we create; how much is determined by all kinds of outside factors.
I wonder where I would be if I hadn't met Jim, or if our relationship hadn't worked out and if I'd wound up not breaking up with a previous boyfriend or taken any one of those dozens of turns life could have taken.
Meeting Jim was such a close thing. He actually had planned to go to a different grad school. Only because someone he went to school with decided to go to the school he'd chosen (and he wanted to avoid him) did he end up by going to Montana. I went because Robin Skelton thought that Richard Hugo would be an interesting poet for me to work with. I remember when we first talked about me going to graduate school. A group of us had gone to see a show in the gallery at the University Center at UVic. We were standing in the area outside talking about what we might like to do when we'd finished. I talked about wanting to go to graduate school, but I didn't think there was a place in Canada I wanted to go to when Robin suggested Montana. Montana was the only place I applied--I could easily have been turned down, and then where would I be? I think if I'd realized that David Wagoner was teaching at the University of Washington I might have wound up here--or maybe not as I probably did know that and probably had it in my head that Seattle was too big or too expensive or something. Montana did have the added advantage of being a cheap place to live at the time.
So I did meet Jim and after a slow bumpy start we were a couple and decided we wanted to stay together, which meant getting married because my student visa would run out and unless we were married I couldn't be in the U.S. and Jim couldn't be in Canada.
We did live in Canada for a year while Jim got his Masters of Library and Information Science. I wonder what would have happened if we'd decided to try getting a job in Ontario, where the school was. Or since we knew we wanted to get back out west, if Jim had had the interview at Simon Fraser University and been offered that job before the one he was offered here in Seattle, which moved us back south of the border. I know for a certainty that Jim would have probably two books published by now--the market in Canada is just so much better for individual books--no one expects anyone to write in formulas or schools the way they seem to here in the States.
And what if we'd had children? I thought about that today when Jim and I were sitting on the loveseat reading the last of the Sunday paper. Maddy was on my lap and Zach was on the seatback behind Jim and there we were, a family loveseat. I feel at times like that as those I'm on a ship sailing out into the world and we're together. It reminds me of a dream I once had when we were living in Missoula when the bomb (The bomb, you know) had gone off. We were standing in the yard at my parents' old house and we saw a huge pink mushroom cloud rise. Well, that's it, we thought, and went inside. My parents were upstairs in their bed, waiting. Jim and I and all our cats, past and present, were on my bed downstairs, all together. It was scary but also reassuring. I woke up with that horrible painful feeling of profound loss that I mostly only get in dreams now. And for the first and only time, the cat we had then, Jeremiah, crawled into my arms and slept there. To reassure me.
So where am I? Well I'm here. I'm here. And Jim and Maddy and Zach and I are sailing off on the loveseat into the rest of our lives. Ta ta for now.
last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing
I forgot to mention last week that we forced ourselves to stay out late to go and hear Kaitlyn Ni Donovan play at the Croc, a club downtown. I hate club shows (standing for late late hours in smoky dark bars) but for a few artists I will make the effort. Kaitlyn Ni Donovan is definitely one of those. She was wonderful. She has a lovely voice and writes wonderful songs. Her album, Songs for "Three days" is one of my favourites from last year. Anyway, it was worth suffering to hear her!
I'm still focusing on First of June's Creepy Crawly Things--I'm at the stage with it where lines pop into my head at odd moments. Yesterday I kept singing "the atom bomb may melt my bones/ but sticks and stones are sticks and stones" and "I've got something to say/should've gotten out right from the get go" (which is playing as I type these words). Their web site is http://www.clones.ca/~foj and they have samples there which I recommend you try downloading to see if this intrigues you as much as it does me.
last week's listening § next week's listening
Kate Elliott's Prince of Dogs is the second book in the Crown of Stars series, another big fat fantasy epic series. I'm really enjoying this one. Sure it hits a lot of the expected tropes (nobodies discovering they have powers and/or royal connections, battles) but the characters are real enough that they are intriguing, and the plot also gives some of the viewpoint of one of the "bad guys" which is fairly unusual and interesting, and it's an alien culture. The magic is magical rather than being a technology of magic where you do X and Y happens (though there's some of that, too.) Anyway, I look forward to more of these. There's only one more published, and the author just finished the fourth volume, so it won't be published for a while. I have some waiting to do, but at least this volume gave a sense of semi-closure--to this phase at least.
Michaela Roessner's The Stars Compel was somehow more earthbound that The Stars Dispose, which I'd read on the plane on the way to Turkey. This is the further adventures of the young cook from the first book (Warning: these are probably minor SPOILERS for the first novel), who is now Caterina di Medici's cook and he is part of her attempts to break free of her uncle, the Pope Clement's plans to marry her off to a younger son of the French king. A lot of the tension of these attempts were spoiled by me knowing enough history to know what her actual future was (see, no spoilers, really, unless you're reading deeply in). The book is still as amusing mostly, and definitely well-written and I loved the integration of the menu items into the plot, but somehow the sense of risk and danger just didn't click quite right and the book felt as though it needed to be tightened up a notch to just be a little more involving. Maybe it was partly because the main character seemed more of a pawn that exactly active in the battles. Still, an entertaining and interesting look at a period of history that isn't often brought alive in novels.
I'm also in the thick of reading through/critting a friend's mystery novel, and quite enjoying it, though I'm not a huge mystery fan (yeah, I know, I feel compelled to mention this every time I read a mystery). Of course, it's set in Turkey, so I'm loving recognizing bits of it, and it's a good read in any case.
last week's reading § next week's reading
I've been focusing (well, as focused as I ever am) on grantwriting. One more application out the door and another very close to being ready.
Also had a call from my publisher, and it seems that things are going ahead with plans to have the book ready in May. Woo!
last week's writing § next week's writing
About the Phonosnout
573. Morning (again)
It's morning, and i sit and watch everyone pass by in the halls (going where?). I flunked 10 lines of imagery on an apple . (Je me flunk, tu te flunk...) and i'm waiting for French (and boredom) to being.
574. Closed down for the night
Time to close down for the night, even though it's only just noon. To help me grow. Pack it up, pack it in (check it out!). Creative writing tutorial, listening (one ear then the other). I'm only asking out. The Apple Garbage poem just self-destructed, and laughed, i burned it (yeh?) I don't understand I only know that closing down for the night leave no alternative.
575. Time? Is there...
Time? Is there... Well, whatever. I don't know how to say anything anymore, and my words are tangled in black branches, raving like Absolom (between sky and water). My words have drowned, and i am following after. I don't know. The only thing I know is that i don't know (much like Socrates' wisdom) and His Love is so close that i am ducking and so far away i yearn.
576. Much like French review grammar
Much like French review grammar, i run through the pages of what i learned before. But there is a difference--(that is, between now and before). Before i just played it by ear. Played with and arranged it. Now i am learning the rules and they confuse me, and leave me wordless. 
577. Even now
Even now i lose the attention of my public. Whatever happened to the old Phono? (standing on his nose with his toots in the air [rest of paraphrase of original poem omitted]). Phono is overwurdened by un-woes and not-cairs. So hard. So easy to just stop trying (Phono stop trying? Heaven forfend!)
578. I just don't understand it
[Quote from Elton John about headlines saying the singer is still alive when he thought he was dead omitted.] That's my problem you see. The entire hassle in a few lines. I keep looking at Phono, or just at myself (equals "my watch") and it keeps telling me my self is still alive. I just don't understand it because my self was supposed to have died a year and half ago . Wherever i look i keep finding it. It will not die. I keep trying, crying, dying. But never dead. Keep trying, i've got the best help that could be.
Lately, more than ever before, i've had to question my faith. To debate about the existence of God. My questions, their questions are not undermining my belief, however. (Getting stronger as I lean on the Rock?) I have to be careful that I don't begin to argue for argument's sake. Be sure i'm showing Christ.
580. Lately (cont'd)
Lately, too, He's been showing more more and more of Himself. (Or maybe I've been looking for a change). Finding real blessing. Like Gerry Gail last night. She phoned me and just asked me to come over to tea, then that changed to dinner. I felt i should go (and forgot about essays). We talked a bit, and she made dinner, then we went downstairs. Talked a bit more, then she said she had something to tell me (She's my sister!) Wow, what an incredible blessing! (I do believe in miracles...).
1. This is by a friend named Susan who went to the same high school I did but I got to know her better at university. Obviously, she was another Christian.
2. Our writing workshop instructor, Charles Lillard, tired of us biting off more than we could chew, assigned us to write 10 lines physically describing an apple. We all still got philosophical.
3. This is bad--I couldn't remember if I was quoting a poem of my own about Absolom or if I was quoting someone else. Then I looked it up--it was a prose poem I wrote. It's really awful.
4. I suspect I was talking about French and creative writing, here.
5. When I "officially" became a Christian.
6. Meaning she had become a Christian.
last week's Phonosnout § next week's Phonosnout
Last Week § Les Semaines index § Next Week
Email comments, questions, and complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org § Neile's main page
2923 people have wandered through this week with me