Les Semaines


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


Gimp Week

If I have ever felt like a gimp before, well, this week has topped it all.

It all started with me dislocating my jaw last weekend. It just seemed to get stiffer and stiffer. I first noticed on Friday that I couldn't open my mouth very widely; then on Saturday and Sunday it steadily got worse and not only could I not open it but I couldn't close it, either. That made going out to dinner on Saturday and then to the writing workshop Sunday rather entertaining.

I didn't do anything about it because I already had a dental appointment on Monday. When I got there, the dentist got angry with me for not phoning her over the weekend. Well, it had truly not occurred to me that I could or should do that. I only thought of going to the hospital clinic, and it just didn't seem worth that annoyance to me. I would probably have to be dying to feel something was worth that. But anyway...it was actually starting to feel a little better by Monday, and the dentist massaged it back into place and sent me home telling me to take ibuprofen.

It started to feel better quickly and I got more movement back very soon; in fact, it's almost back to normal now, just a little tender when I yawn.

But on Tuesday it was still quite swollen, and as the jaw is so close to the ear, I was feeling a little dizzy because of it. So, the inevitable happened. I was hurrying on my way down the stairs out of the Clarion West office, and misjudged a step and fell, giving my ankle a good twist.

I didn't go to the hospital clinic for that, either. I could tell it was just a wrench, probably a minor strain, so I wrapped it, rested it, and hobbled around looking like an idjit for the rest of the week. It's still a little swollen and I have some lovely purple bruising to show off.

Then of course I got a cold. Sniff, cough, sneeze. Then horrible menstrual cramps.

So, I'm a stiff-jawed, hobbling, sniffy, coughy, crampy girl.

Ibuprofen is my best friend.

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


I've been really obsessing with Eliza Carthy's Angels and Cigarettes, which I've had for several months, but she's going to be playing here shortly which reminded me to put it in the player yet again and that reminded me of what a wonderful, different album it is. She's caught some intersection of folk and pop that rarely gets touched, and has added some very contemporary electronics on top of that.

We have the new Kristin Hersh album, Sunny Border Blue, and it seems pretty delightful, too.

I've also listened to the live First of June album several times, too.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Betsy Tobin's Bone House is a kind of murder mystery set in an Elizabethan village. The main character works as a companion to the elderly lady of the local lord, and for much of her life she has admired a foreign woman who arrived in the town and became the local well-loved whore with a heart of gold whom everyone, male and female, is drawn to. Then she is murdered. I found this an odd book. Worth reading, but there were so many little things that bothered me about it. First off, the voice didn't feel particularly of that time, and was rather long-winded, literary and eloquent for the daughter of the local midwife who had been taught to read.She also had a great deal of freedom for someone in a hierarchical society: freedom to leave her job and no one be particularly bothered about it and freedom to roam. I didn't get any other particular feel of time or place, either. I also didn't quite believe the character of the woman who died. For me this was definitely a not-quite-imagined novel.

The third in George R.R. Martin's ongoing A Song of Ice and Fire series is A Storm of Swords, and indeed it is. In this the political complications continue, the battles continue, the murders and treachery continue, and everyone continues to suffer. Really, it does feel like that. This is a medieval war fantasy with everyone battling it out for the crown while evil forces from the icy and fiery gods invade. The story flows well, despite the fact that each chapter focuses on a different characters, usually in a very different physical location from the previous chapter (though in this book for the first time we have a couple of adjacent chapters). What is captivating is how interesting these character are. But personally I'm finding all the suffering is just getting to be a little too much. When I find myself wishing a character would just be killed to end it, something's going a little wrong. But I'm still deeply engaged in the story, despite my reservations. How annoying. (See my January 31, 1999 entry for comments on the first in the series, A Game of Thrones and my February 14 and 21st entries for comments on A Clash of Kings.)

Dia Calhoun's Aria of the Sea is a young adult novel about Cerinthe, a young girl who has given up being a healer after she can't save her mother's life, and she has come to the city to be admitted to a dance school. Though at first she thinks she hasn't been admitted, it turns out she has, though she has made an enemy of the best dancer in her level, and they will have to vie for top place in the class while Cerinthe learn more about herself and want she wants. This is another novel like the one I previously read of Dia Calhoun's (see my February 25 entry for comments about Firegold) where the story idea isn't particularly original and on first glance the novel seems to be simply a classic learning-who-I-am tale but it's enlivened by the richness of the characterization and depiction of the world. I quite enjoyed this.

last week's reading § next week's reading


Well, I didn't get a Canada Council grant this year. Sigh. I wonder if I ever will get one of the big ones. I've had two smaller ones but can't seem to break through this particular wall. It's a little depressing.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

September 1979

1024. Labour Day
September 3, 1979

And here I am labouring. The wind and fall are here, but the rain has temporarily stopped. The kid

[End of entry.]

1025. Classes have begun
September 15/79

and I am dry. I can't write, or do anything but marvel at good poetry (and sneer at bad). The weather has turned to a touch of summer again--heat and sun. The rain has ceased, but the wind may still be here. re: Classed--C.W. 309--short fiction structure thereof. May be interesting, if Valgardson's ego does not continue to fill the room. He holds my attention, anyway. Good stories, interesting things to learn. C.W. 401--poetry workshop. Same group (diminished) as last year. There are several people in the class whose poetry I just don't want to bother with again. Robin will be having us do interesting things, so hopefully it will be bearable. Eng. 393--Myth and literature--Elektra (Electra) interesting, interesting subject and prof if only we do not crawl through the plays emphasizing obvious points, as we did last class. I want it to be bearable. C.W. 390--My Directed Studies on Prose Poetry. O, I am nowhere yet at all. Not enough reading, and everything is a haze (or a maze). I have to do so much work so much doing, so I will get somewhere and have something to grab hold of. I am frightened by this course, and by my incapacity to work w/out structure.

1026. Now
September 16/79

At the ends of the cliff
We call to the silence that there is no end to
Such in gasps of air that
is gray and shining metallic
in the morning.
The cliff pulls at our feet
and the waves below undermine us
with no noise
as if we had a choice.

If the light were different,
or if the day older
there would be something more imperative
than our voices
but the sun merely reflects
us in the thick waves of the clouds
We call and call
our voices hoarse and torn

There is no wind
there is this silence
that doesn't belong in this morning
as between our feet and voices
we try to carry something more
bright than language,

First drafts are embarrassing. [1]

1027. Working
September 25, 1979

Working on "Cassandra" & Das Englische Prosagedict getting nowhere and somewhere, maybe by crawling. There is an incredible sense of pressure of time against all I must do. I am beginning so slowly, and am coming u so hard against voids and brick walls. The haze between prose poetry and fable--the line where the line doesn't exist. Blood is being sweated here, and I am working--what a mess. What a fate. I have my car. I have my cat. I have other silly possessions and a mind that holds too little, while I am forced to stuff it with so much junk. There is too much more, and for some reason I feel as though I am running out of time and place. I have many strange electric machines that probably do much more than I think that they do. What am I using language to express? I have taken too much too seriously, and enough not serious enough. This is why I am running out
     There is some secret to do with the way I print, or write. The changes I mean, and the fact that I have no signature of meaning--forehand, backhand--scrawl & write, how formless am I? I seem to fall naturally to this, and yet self-consciously write in other ways.
     This journal is too empty.


1. As a point of interest, here is what that draft became. Here is "Edge" as published in Seven Robins:


Between gasps of metallic air
we call to the roaming whitecaps
of the strait. The waves below
undermine us, pull at our feet,
as though we are rooted here.

The sun reflects us
in the thick waves of cloud,
we call and call,
our voices hoarse, torn, their
sound thinning, gull's cries.

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