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Les Semaines

00.08.20

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

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Crap Crap Crap

Happy crap:

  • watching the kitten tear around in a wild mood

  • holding her even when she bites my nose (yes, my dear sweet little kitten is an evil biter and we have had to have some serious talks about it though mostly she's gentle about it)

  • singing her silly songs with her name in them

  • having to move forward on my computer chair so she can sit behind me on it (squirmy little napper she is, too)

  • this week I managed to get a partial first draft of a long poem and an entire first draft of a short poem

  • getting a phone call from Christina who was in Stonehaven, Scotland, where we'd been together back in '91, and she and Matt had just gone to visit Dunnottar Castle, one of the most picturesque castles in Scotland (they filmed parts of the Hamlet that Mel Gibson was in there)

  • the first rain for weeks and weeks--a real downpour (and it took me a little bit to remember that when it rains I might want to wear real shoes and a jacket when I go outside)

  • the rain stopped and the sun came back out

  • eating blueberries and tomatoes right out of our garden

Sad crap:

  • a friend in the middle of horrible relationship and not able to see her way out

  • the thought of September 1st when I have to go back to work--the temperature in the evenings now drops dramatically and the breezes are much cooler, so it feels like fall

  • the novel is moving rather slowly and creakily right now

  • so many things to do that I get distracted all the time and don't finish anything

  • and so I need to start cleaning and organizing my study so the mess doesn't trip me up all winter

  • I went through the box of Blood Memory that I got from my publisher, and many of the books are blotchy and the spines rubbed. I can getnly erase some of the rubbing on the spines, but can't do anything about the ugly blotches. Wah! I'll have to send them back to him or to the printer.

Life crap:

  • On Friday Jim was on his way bringing our friend Chuck friend home with him when a white panel truck decided to turn in front of him without enough time to do so. Jim tried to avoid it, got clipped on the side right by him (it tore up the side view mirror and put a deep scratch between his window and the windshield), and ran into a car parked on the side of the road. The white truck sped up to get the hell out of there. The car Jim hit seemed to have no real damage--he hit its tailer hitch, but because our Honda has a low, sloping front the hood got badly dented and the radiator cracked. So now we have to deal with insurance companies and our car is out of commission for the foreseeable future. Luckily, Jim can use mine while I'm off work but it means I'm grounded. We have really bad karma--twice we've been hit by uninsured drivers (one was terribly drunk at the time) and now a hit and run. I can only hope that the karmic boomerang gets him. And I like to think that statistically we've had our accident and so we don't need to have another one (meaning more or worse). Ever, I hope.

  • At the time my car was out being detailed as my little Chevy Sprint (3 whole cylinders!) had a leak part of the winter that's mostly fixed now and haven't taken care of the interior or exterior properly in ages. It looks great now--even the moss that was growing on it is gone. And now Jim gets it.

  • My mom left on Monday morning, and it took me a little while to remember how I run my life without her here. The house seemed really empty. It's not as though we had long talks or did a lot of thins or anything, just we're really good company together. She's like the most wonderful kind of friend who understands when you want to talk and want not to (though don't try to talk to her late at night--funny how she's such a morning person and I'm such a night person).

  • On Saturday we ran a ton of errands using our remaining car (I'll be carless now when Jim goes to work until the Honda is repaired) and then came home to make six batches of spiced apricot/raspberry jam. We bought the apricots, but the raspberries were all from our garden. We give most of these out at Christmas.

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

Listening

At last! Some serious listening pleasure time! I dunno, I've been too distracted and busy until recently, which is weird for me. Anyway, a couple of artists have sent in discs for The Ectophiles' Guide that really grew on me in the short time I had them. I've been basking in the Basque albums (they have a website with links to samples and all) and the Ectophiles' Guide will shortly have an entry for them). Their music is rather dreamy and minimalist but also rich because of the wonderful vocal work by their singer and the bass work. It's almost ambient but far more attentive listening than most ambient music. Anyway,I ordered my own copies of these and have been enjoying them both at times when I wanted background music and when I was ready to really listen. It's funny, I had downloaded some samples and wasn't too impressed until I had a chance to listen to the albums--they caught my ear immediately.

I also really liked an album called The Galerkin Method by a group of that name. Unfortunately they don't have a website yet (and it will be a bit before their Ectophiles' Guide entry is up). Their sound is really unusual. A little like Big Hat with Land of the Blind's eastern flair. Experimental, strange, individual rock and quite easy to listen to and delightful.

I also went on a Susan James binge and was surprised to find her website absent without leave. I hope she hasn't disappeared--her singing and songwriting and stunning guitar work is just too brilliant for that.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Martha Wells' Wheel of the Infinite is one of those rare books that feels wholly original from the start. Not that there aren't familiar elements, but that they're handled in unique ways, taken from different angles, so the book feels both grounded and yet new,and certainly immediate. The story beings with a woman, Maskelle, who is or perhaps was the Voice of one of the gods, the Adversary, making her way with an acting troupe to the main city. But along the way she finds a man besieged at a river inn and decides to rescue him. He appoints himself her bodyguard, and so they enter the city, just as the temple begins a ritual that directs the shape of their world, and all is not well...

This week I also read a biography, Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild by David Stenn. She was the "It" girl in the 20s, the epitome of the risqué flapper. I found her life fascinating--born in poverty and abuse to a couple who did not want to and probably shouldn't have become parents, she made her way--very young--to Hollywood in the silent picture era and within a couple of years was Hollywood's biggest star. But even there she was a social outcast because she just didn't care or "get" social customs. And she was young--her whole career was pretty much over by the time she was 25. She wasn't given good material to act in, but people loved her anyway, and the studios pretty much drove her to exhaustion. We've seen a couple of her films recently and she was utterly dynamic in front of a camera--it's fascinating to watch. I wonder what might have become of her in another time? As it was, the rest of her life was apparently a struggle with mental illness.

Katharine Weber's The Music Lesson is another one of those novels that the instant I started reading it the voice convinced me that I was in good hands. The novel is the journal of a woman, a researcher in art history, who has been caught up in an attempt by a faction of Irish nationalists to hold a Vermeer, belonging to the Queen of England, for ransom. The story of her seduction by a distant cousin to the cause dominates the story. It is carefully, lyrically written, and we come to see the speaker's world much as she does, and to understand her thinking well. A lovely novel.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

What the hell am I going to do? I seem best able to write at night after Jim has gone to bed. I can't seem to focus right during the day. And I have to go back to work starting September first, which means getting up at 6:10, which precludes staying up until 2:00 am writing.

This means it will be time to learn some discipline and make myself write during the afternoons and evenings.

The novel has been going slowly this last week because it's just at one of those points where I have to be really careful unless I want to take a wrong turn. I write a paragraph or two and sit back and decide if I'm going the right direction. That means that I haven't managed to produce too many pages this week. I hope I can speed up. If I don't manage to finish the first draft by September 1st, I'm going to spend the Labour Day weekend writing as elaborate an outline for whatever I don't get finished as possible.

Hold me to this.

I also wrote a short poem about Traich Gheiraha Beach on the Isle of Lewis in The Hebrides (amazingly tropical-looking beach in the chilly grey north) and a partial draft of a long poem about Auchindrain, a reconstructed village on the west coast of Scotland. These are the first poems for the grant I received recently. This was all prompted by the fact that I had a poetry workshop to go to--funny how that acts as a spur for me to write. Yes, I love deadlines, or at least I love using them to defeat my chronic laziness and procrastination.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

April 1977

812. Night before first exam

Night before first exam, and i haven't done much studying. Rob keeps hoping i'll spend time studying, but i can't and won't. Oh help. Lord. Help me concentrate and do well. I need good marks. Can't afford anything lower than a B minus 'cause of my ambitions for social work [1]. Ambitions? Me? I am a non-competitive person. But i have things i'd like to do. One of them is to go to The Seed and spend some time there again. I haven't been able to for so long, both because of school pressures and spiritual and mental pressures.

813. Pain

Yesterday Rob and i had a Big Important Talk. Now i feel like the carpet's been pulled out from under me. I'm punishing him for it, and that's not fair, and i'm punishing myself for it, and for phoning Paul the night before. I'm hating myself again. Playing games with me and whoever talks to me. O help. I don't want the rest of this spring to be like last fall, but it's going that way. I don't need months of depress bu it's going that way and i was just getting to feel human and happy again. O, for a magic morning.

814. Don't want to fall

I can't stand the idea of falling into a dead, dry, sick, and mewling Phono again, or a dead, dry, sick, and mewling me. I don't want to fall, but i'm standing on a quickly crumbling edge. It is not helping me have any sense of security. I don't want to whimper, but I will when the edge finally falls, and i land at the Bottom.

815. Can never leave

[Long quote from The Eagles' "Hotel California" omitted.] I'm in my own kind of Hotel California, and i keep checking out, but each time i have found that i can never leave. What's wrong with me?

816. Fast and slow pens

Hay, Phono, i've got Rob's pen now. It's slow. Mine's fast so i gave it to him hoping he'd get more done on his essay.

817. (Crap) Litterature

Reading scape (crap) litterature again. I guess in preparation for writing it. Oh dear.
Oh.
dear.
I'm falling
asleep
reading (crap.)

818. Oh Phono

How can i bear this? Going back over Philosophy. I can't stand it, my mind if being raked over the coals, and it's screaming. Dragging through Philosophy one more time. One more trip through Descartes and Berkeley (the silly old things). I wonder if i'll ever get over this, i wonder if i'll ever be sure that anything really exists again. Why should i worry? the exam does not exist either. (I wish.)

819. Yawn

It's warm in here, and i'm sleepy (as always). I'd open the window, but the breeze is too cold. So, i just sit here, and the heat warms me sleepy. That's all. (Sitting in the front seat of Rob's car, waiting for him.)

820. Phonology

Someone walked past with a book on Phonology, or at least that's what it looked like. I wonder if Phono and i are getting that famous. At least Phono is, if he/she is becoming a science. How fascinating. Creating is a wonderful thing but a hard master. I'm falling. [2]


NOTES

1. Needed a B average to get into the social work program. My ambitions died shortly in the next year as I took my first social work class and detested it.

2. Another booklet ends here.

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