Les Semaines


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


Flying into midsummer

In a few short days Christina and Matt will be flying from Taiwan back to Turkey, flying from the depths of hell into the rest of their lives.

When we were talking about it on the phone Christina talked about how it was to be in her 40s, and how she feels that she now is set and ready to do the most important work of her life. How she felt it was symbolic that they are flying back to Turkey, which they love, taking jobs with great future potential, on midsummer day when they're in the midsummer of their lives.

I feel that way, too. About midsummer, and this time in my life. I'm in my proving grounds. I'm not a kid anymore--I don't have that kid energy or stupidness but have another kind of energy, another kind of stupidity that I like to call wisdom. And it's all about the balance of work and life and the things that I feel now ready to accomplish.

I'm frightened of Blood Memory coming out because of what this book means to me and what I tried to accomplish with it and the fear that I haven't accomplished what I set out to with it, and the selfish fear that it will sink into oblivion the way books do now, with so few being reviewed and sold and even making it into bookstores. I know that most of the copies I will have to hand-sell and this for a work I want desperately to speak for itself. But I'm the one who has to give it the chance to do so. Will I do enough? Do it right? Do too much?

And the novel that I have put off and put off and put off finishing--because I am ambitious for it and I didn't know how to get it from what I've got in my computer now to the work I envision in my head. I'm think I'm closer to knowing how to do that now. I hope so. I mean to be. I mean to actively learn how to approach the novel I want to write at least. Let's see if I do.

And I'm taking on a teaching project, too, making plans to start teaching thesis writing workshops in the new year for students where I work. It's not like I need One More Thing To Do in my life, but I do miss teaching, and, well, I felt it was time to get back into it. And the money can't hurt. The loss of the time I'm going to have to figure out as it happens. I hope to be finished the novel and finished revising it by then, but we'll see, and we'll see how teaching affects how much I can get done.

And I'm thinking about how to push the new cycle of poems about Scotland. How not to make them a resting place after Blood Memory, to make them kind of an implementation of Blood Memory.

But this isn't just about the individual works. It's about Work, and how I want to spend the rest of my life. Changes come with more and more difficulty as you get older and I'm trying to set up my life to be what I want it to be, to create a setting where what I want to do fits in naturally. To make space in it for everything, especially serendipitous change. The last decade of my life seems to have gone past so quickly, as though I was 30 and just looked up and I was 40, and I worry about that happening more and more quickly in the future. I don't want to suddenly look up and be 70 and feel that I'm nearly out of time on something that I really wanted to do with my life.

So as Christina and Matt fly out I hope each mile takes them closer and closer into what they want to become. It's midsummer now, and we're planting the seeds for the harvest to keep us over the long winter.

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


I rediscovered Christine Fellows and Susan Voelz while doing Ectophiles' Guide entries for them. Damn fine music, and better than I remembered, both of them, though Christine Fellows is a new discovery and Susan Voelz one from years ago. Also listening to Dudley--uneven but some great songs that remind me more of early Jane Siberry more than anything else.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville, both well-known children and young adult novelists, collaborated on Armageddon Summer, a YA novel about a teenage boy and girl who find themselves camping at the top of a mountain with a religious group waiting for the world below them to end in fire. Both of them are there because a parent is a Believer, and Marina herself Believes while Jed is skeptical, and there in the midst of all this belief and chaos they meet and fall for each other.

Ben Jeapes' His Majesty's Starship is a clever story of a starship captain who gets appointed to take the Prince of Wales to a convocation at an alien planet where human nations will vie for control of part of an alien world It's part space opera, part political manoeuverings, part alien encounter, well a mix of many things. Well done, I think, and good for anyone interested in future fiction, not just the young adults it's marketed for. It's an easy read and some adult readers might find it just a little tidy but it has enough depth and is well-written and held my interest well, though I'm not such a huge fan of space fiction. It also has some truly delightful quirky moments.

last week's reading § next week's reading


My essay/piece/article "Incense: Robin Skelton's "Burning Sticks, Mallorca" just appeared in Arc magazine's Summer 2000 issue.

Plotting and planning for future writing continues. One way of writing without writing. But still moving forward.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

February 1977


[Entry made up of mixed up song lyrics omitted.]

728. Mad Saturday night

Down Dallas Road beach late Saturday night, a gang, and i wrote a song. Non-varying song, but fun sung in accents. It was. Jumping out at people, Phil and i. Absolutely mad, sliding down in the rocks, clinging. Then skipping through the grass laughing. It was Phil (or was it?). [1]

729. The song i wrote

Climbing mountains, i'm-a climbing hills
Climbing mountains, i'm gonna get there i know i wills
Climbing mountains, i'm-a climbing rock
Climbing mountains, it's a long hard walk
Climbing mountains, i'm-a climbing stairs
and nobody knows what i'll see when i get up theres
Climbing mountains, i can see the light
Climbing mountains, and i'm never gonna leave its sight.
and the Tyrant lives forever, Plato, in glorious SIN![2]

730. Walking through Phono

Walking through Phono I can see the different stages of me. Wandering through it, i can lose myself and discover the stranger that fills in the lines of my story. Phono has become a living, breathing creature, strong than i, living harder, feeling more, a distorted shadow of me, and the me i once was.

731. Tuesday morning

Tuesday morning and boredom has enthralled me again. When boredom is the most thrilling thing that happens in a morning... it's not even 25 past 10 yet, and i haven't escaped from my psychology lab. Give me a second or two, i think i'll slip out under the door.
Tests of creativity
The brain
What brain? It slipped out under the door

732. Good morning, Rob

Good morning, Rob. Sorry i attacked you with my Tale of Woe. Actually it's a thousand miles from me. Would you stop taking notes?

No--I am in a stubborn mood today.

Be stubborn and refuse to take notes!! Don't jam out under Rankin's glassy gaze.

How did you know that was what I was doing? You must be reading my mind, instead of my notes.

Probably both, though i can't make sense of either. I'm too rowdy today (something about this class...). How can you listen?

Self-discipline, my dear, that's all. (Otherwise known as narrowing one's mind to a higher tolerance of boredom.)

You are regressing! This argument is illogical and unnecessary. You should reach for the High Forms, and stop studying the forms of Boredom!!! (I like your socks.)

One of them has a hole in it! (Like Rankin's argument.) Is it conspicuous?

No, definitely not. I just was glancing at your socks while you were involved in your fanatical notetaking and i liked the colour. The holes are not immediately apparent (like those in Rankin's argument).

I think I will join the Amalgamated Notetakers' Union, and go on strike. Would you cross the picket line? Or is all this too political for you? Solidarity forever... the union makes us strong... (Good Socialist song... I'll teach it to you sometime (after a few beers)

After many, at which point i would be unreachably asleep. Excelsior! The great and powerful Oz/Rankin has spoken. I have something for you to read.

Rankin is closing in on us. Have you noticed? Or perhaps it's just my paranoia??? I wish Jerry would quit asking questions. Did you do the underlining in this Royal Bank newsletter?

No, mon chèr papa did. Jerry's just occupying his attention so we can get on with our subversive activities.

Ah, now I see it. I didn't realize that we have a diversionary strategy, to allow for more subversive activities. We could build on this, you know. Philosophy 100 could soon be Guerilla Warfare 100! (An attractive thought to a wild-eyed radical like myself). I gather your chèr père does not like Socialists. Who did he underline this thing for?

Who knows? My father and i never meet except in the wee hours when one of us is surely asleep. (However, we do sometimes meet in front of Humphrey Bogart movies.) If you think i'm changing the subject, you're right. Anarchy for the masses!! (I'll stay in my Ivory Tower.)

Okay. You shall have to grow your hair long and change your name to Rapunzel, so I can come to the tower and visit you once in a while.

I'll send my cat down with notes saying "Help, i'm being held captive in a philosophy lecture, signed Damsel-in-Distress" like i just wrote to Bill (he wasn't impressed).

How un-chivalrous.

I've discovered why I take notes. It is out of a deep-ridden sense of guilt about wasting time, heightened by Rankin's gaze.

When are you going to teach me "Solidarity Forever"? I think i would use a few beers (then i'll throw the empty bottles at the board of Because We Care and tell them i've seduced Gary.)[3]

I am shocked. One of these nights when I'm feeling in the mood (to drink) and you are, too, let's go out for a few, and then I will teach it to you. How 'bout Friday?

Sure, except my juvee stars [4] will get us nowhere! Friday night is Seed-staff meeting. Should i tell them what i really think?

Oh, okay. Forgot about those stars. Yes, by all means tell The Seed staff what you really think. What do you really think?

Problem--must attend staff meeting (or be shot at dawn). Probably it will turn into a Nancy-roast (it has before, I war). I'll need the beer after (and probably before). I don't really think anything except Karen should practice what she preaches. (Have i outgrown The Mustard Seed??) Introspection is 90% suicide 10% Phonocide. I think i should jump (from Phono to Phono). Don't bob over the side of the carrel, it makes me giggle [5]. I hate giggling girls. (Hey, i just remembered my parents are going out Friday. Maybe i should throw a rowdy party. I haven't since grade 10).

Well, we'll do it another night. Unless, of course, you have your rowdy party. But then all I would do is come to take notes, anyway. That's my habit, my fixation. It's not anal expulsive because it's not my anal that's being expulsed--it's someone else's. Who is Karen? What does she preach?

Karen is Seed-person Paul told about incident. She preaches that if you have something against your brother/sister you take it to them first before passing it on. She just passed it on. Dilemma--i'd rather go learn "Solidarity Forever" than go to Seed meeting. But beer is fattening and puts me to sleep. Maybe i should give up and teach needlepoint at The Seed, while drinking diet pop. (I am a mess, aren't i! My brain is more fried than brain, but i'm out of my depression, i'm happy again (sorta). Thanks.

Sorry I can't resolve dilemma. The offer is open anytime--not restricted to Friday night. Anyway, I just realized I only know the chorus, and 1 line of "Solidarity Forever," unless I can find my songsheet. However, I have a vast knowledge of at least 2 other socialist songs, "I'm a Socialist and I'm All Right," and "What Shall We Do With Billy Bennett," [6] which i should be delighted to sing (after beer) anytime. Maybe you should go to the Seed meeting. They can't roast you if you're not there. Whoops, maybe they can. Dilemma remains unsolved.

Maybe not. Seed meeting will be over after 9:00 (or i'll leave). Does that sound okay? You are too nice--i worry about you. Does everyone use you like i do? Oh, and by the way, can i have a ride home tomorrow after the poetry reading (i'll try not to be late, but you'd say you didn't mind anyway). Getting any essaying done? I'll teach you some Larry Norman songs in return. How about "Blue Shoes White" or "Nothing Ever Changes"--that one goes on about Ben Hur and blue Corvettes, and Satan smoking menthol cigarettes.

Yes, 9:00 is fine. Do not worry about me, please. If this is being used I'll take it. Yes, you can have a ride home tomorrow, and no, I don't mind if you're late. (You said I would say that.) Very little essaying done, due, mostly to lack of information, and, if I were being frank, lack of motivation. Larry Norman sounds interesting. Know any places that don't ask for I.D.? (i.e., where shall we go drinking?)

Lack of motivation!!! Oh, fanatical notetaker, you've got to be kidding!!! No, i think everywhere looks for I.D. except The Churchill. Oh, for October and legality!!!! (running out of exclamation marks and Phono, though i've got another waiting at home). There's always (bad memories) Turner's field, or in desperation we could hide up in my tree. Trifle damp, though.

(It has plastic snowflakes on it, too.) Where or what is Turner's field?

That one is not my tree, it's my mother's. My tree is down in the ravine where after a few beers you couldn't find your way home. (Babes in the woods.) Turner's field is where Paul (i sure talk about him enough) and i went the 2nd to last time we drank together. It is nowhere, and nobody goes there (well, i have heard of it being used for submarine races). Did you know i'm mad (i.e. insane)? How much of it have you seen thus far?

Quite a bit. But it's harmless, I'm sure, and it keeps you interesting. Your tree and Turner's field are not (or do not sound like) places I'm used to drinking in. Neither is the Churchill for that matter. We can try other places, anyway. Does Phono like you and me to write on the backs of her/his pages? I had the impression he/she had an aversion to that!

He/she does, but i'm going to have to remove these pages anyway. (Sorry, but I must hide myself away--e.g., seducing Gary [7].) Where are you used to drinking? You're too well-adjusted, and obviously have never been a corrupted minor. We can drink at my place if nothing else turns up. (How disgusting 18 is!) Quite frankly, i never did much drinking (except about 5 times with Paul, and it never took much to put me to sleep). Always toked.

We will work it out later--I think Phono's getting tired of being a go-between for our social lives. I am not, by the way, well-adjusted. Anything but. Please don't drink enuf to fall asleep. I'm not well adjusted, and couldn't handle a sleepy, mad, minor. No, i have never been corrupting a minor 'cept when I was one. Have you? Apart from your fantasies about Gary?

Fantasies about Gary? Oh well, if you say so. Yes, i have been a corrupted minor, and still am one. That's why i'm an R.C. (Rowdy Christian). Phono's run out, so this can be the end. Maybe you'll be able to get something done now.

Okay--see you shortly!


This is the end of this book, but for the lyrics to Randy Stonehill's "Puppet Strings" and Michael & Stormy Omartians' "Add Up The Wonders". The cover was a stream with a branch of autumn leaves blurred in the foreground.

1. I don't remember the actual event, but I did write one of my first real poems about it. The actions are rather un-Phil-like, that's for certain.

2. The note is by Harold, and there's a Phono footnote: The philosopher king is 729 times happier than the tyrant. See The Republic Bk. 10.

3. I just remembered the event I was getting hassled about at The Mustard Seed! I had let one of the street kids stay with me and some friends while we were apartment-sitting.

4. Any student who was under drinking age (19) had stars marked on their student card.

5. This was after class now and we'd obviously moved to the library.

6. Bill Bennett was the (conservative for B.C.) provincial premier.

7. Obviously, I didn't end up by tearing the pages out, and still have this page with its back written on.

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