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 don't handle stress well. I'm a procrastinator by nature, but stress paralyzes me. It doesn't help that I've been sick off an on the last couple of weeks, but now I feel totally under the gun as far as stress goes.

Shall I enumerate the pains? I know your immediate response to that was probably a resounding "no!", but hell, whose journal is this anyway? And besides, this really is what was on my mind for most of this week.

On the job front:

  • A visiting lecturer for an endowment we hope to fundraise for (organizing the event, and entertainment, and promotion)
  • Admissions for the next academic year
  • An editing/desktop publishing project I've promised I will finally finish and start the next volume of
  • The Alarming Mystery Stack of accumulated "inbox" type-paper I need to sort through
Clarion West stuff:
  • The other administrator has some personal things she needs to focus on right now so I'll be mostly on my own for admissions decisions (though I am not one of the readers thank heavens, I just get to compile the responses and contact the students)
  • Telling students they're admitted; telling others they are not (today I had to tell two students who needed to know early that the chances of them being invited to join the class were very slim--I much prefer the acceptances!)
  • Need to get the packets we send students reviewed and updated and ready to mail out to invited students
  • Various other administratrivia to deal with, the office to visit to process applications twice a week, mailing stuff, writing letters, phoning people (always a difficulty for me)
Writing stuff:
  • Still working on that same darn long poem; I mean, I haven't been writing on it steadily, but it's slow going when I do work on it
  • I promised I'd get a chapter of my young adult novel ready for our fiction crit group; my deadline is Wednesday
  • The crit group agreed to try writing brief April Fools pieces, which I've been having trouble even remembering
  • Gypsy Davey's lack of progress still haunts me
Promotional stuff:
  • I've been putting off sending a promotional mailing about my book and I really should just do it
  • I need to complete arrangements for the reading tour in Canada next fall
  • I have forms to fill out so I can get some money from the grant I received last fall--it's just paperwork but I need to do it
Other stuff:
  • The house is a mess
  • My office is a nastily disorganized mess (having it tidy and organized would help me get some of this stuff done more quickly)
  • I have to do our taxes!
  • I've got Ectophiles' Guide stuff to do backing up
  • My email inbox is over 200 messages again
  • Dorothy of Love Curiosity Freckles, and Doubt was visiting with us on a hiatus on her way to Oxford, and while she's an easy houseguest, I was busier hanging out than accomplishing anything (of course it was fun meeting her in person at last!)
  • We have another houseguest coming next weekend, and I know it will be great to see him and we'll have fun, it still means next weekend isn't going to be a major accomplishment weekend
  • Three friends have sent me their new poetry books that I haven't managed to write messages to thank them for and tell them how much I've enjoyed them (argh!)
  • Went to a neighbourhood party this afternoon and was reminded of how much trouble I have speaking to people I don't know well, and I didn't go to another party I should have.
That's all I can think of right now other than the usual day-to-day stuff and things that I've put off so long that it's embarrassing. You know, looking at this actually gives a pretty good portrait of my life, except:
  • Jim could use a little time and attention, love and affection; he's been a saint through all my illnesses and busyness
  • Zach wants another long stretch of lap time
  • Sophia would like another mouse tossed now please
  • and my ankle is still swollen enough that I'm still wrapping it during the day with an elastic bandage and trying to keep it elevated as much as possible (not much)
  • Sigh
I hope next week to report on some accomplishments. I hope. See my blurb in The Phonosnout below about how I needed self-discipline. Um, I still do.

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


New First of June album, which is even more interesting and creative than their first. They still sound overall quite Tori-Amos-with-a-band, but boy their pop/rock songwriting is intriguing and so is the production (self-produced and still good!) I really need to get their page up in the Guide.

Got an extremely interesting, almost Mimi-like album by Annette Farrington, who used to be in the band Opium Den. This is experimental odd and yet catchy poprock.

Still listening to Eliza Carthy, also, and the new Kristin Hersh album, which is of course great, and Jim is listening to the new Low album, which I actually like more that most of their recent ones.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Kage Baker's The Graveyard Game is the fourth in her books about The Company. This takes place over a span of years, while Lewis and Joseph, both immortal cyborgs, look for Mendoza, who is also one. They find traces of her, and the mystery grows about her and about the strangely familiar human she met up with twice in her life. I found this quite disappointing, and it followed the lines of her previous books (see my , with which each one seem to be more awkwardly, inconclusively plotted. This one really felt like it simply stopped rather than ended, and I was left hanging. (See my August 29, 1999 entry for comments on Sky Coyote, the second in the series and my March 19, 2000 entry for comments on Mendoza in Hollywood.)

Georgette Heyer's A Civil Contract is a very Jane Austen-like Regency (of course, it's Heyer) story of a contracted marriage between one of the gentry and the daughter of a rather rough-around-the-edges wealthy merchant. Lord Lynley (I think that was his name, the book went back to the library yesterday morning) has of course fallen in love with the beautiful daughter of another nobleman but his wastrel father has left his family deeply in debt and so her father, who also needs his daughter to marry into money, will not allow them to marry, and in order not to lose his family seat and send his family into poverty Lynley agrees to marry a plump and plain heiress. This really was quite a delightful story and while it was not the greatest literature I have ever read, it really did give me that Jane Austen flavour and Heyer knows the Regency period inside out, so the historic details were quite fascinating.

Dorothy was going through our bookshelves looking for things she wanted to read and pulled out Sherri S. Tepper's Marianne, The Magus and the Manticore, and when I was unable to move because of cat landing on lap, she handed it to me. Of course once I had started it I couldn't stop. This is the first of a series of three lovely, charming, imaginative novels. I loved re-reading this one!

last week's reading § next week's reading


Well, I've been looking at the first chapter of Bryony's Needle, starting to get it ready to turn into our writing group. Starting. Eek.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

October 1979

1028. Scratch
October 3, 1979, 2:00 am

The first thing you notice is the ring of stones by the lakeshore

you and I run down to the lake
with a bucket, scooping up part of the path
of the setting sun and return with the bucket
to our cabin, the light from the waters
keeps us warm all winter. [1]

1029. Robin's notes for self-analysis of work
Sept. '79

  1. Themes
  2. Structures--Nature; variety
  3. Personal Landscape
  4. Diction; language
  5. imagery--sense perception--visual?
  6. Symbolism--central meanings; systems
  7. Where next
  8. Aims & intentions
Task: poem intended to be read aloud
intelligible enough
lucid, direct
avoidance of banal
mouth music, but not only

1030. Let's do something creative here
Oct. 7/79

Like finish to the end of this page, na no [2] what with. Here today the sun is out, and the air is crisp (bright sky, bright sky) after the dense morning fog (fun to drive through). Keep carrying on through the day, waiting for waiting. Never to awake. This is good, this day, and I'm sitting here still waiting. Thank you & good afternoon.

Oct. 7/79

Yes, what we always need. I need self-discipline to do the things that I need to do--a familiar plaint. Time and energy and space, and the sky, the sky. The wind that has an edge to it. Crawling up the back of the mountain. There is no attention paid to anything --> I don't even know what I am writing. I am writing only that which is not worth reading--that only I know. Strange this weekend, seeing friends, opening lines of communication again. Being understood (a comforting feeling). This is the weather and the time for understanding (J'ai besoin d'argent and du temps. [3]) There is so much that I would wish to be able to do (but which I can't.) I must write an epistlatory poem for Robin for Wednesday. This frightens me in that I doubt that I will be able to do any kind of good job on it. ("Dear friend, this is the end...".) Not well, unwell, sick, ill...onandon. And it's Mr. Dog's bill [4], wandering around the circle, leash trailing behind... My mind is full of junque, Brenda & Christina tell me last night over Chinee Fooh [5]. All sorts of tall stories--wanderings, bit of dust and lint and such. Old cobwebs. Dreams and dimes. Paraphrase--([Omitted paraphrase of a song of Larry Norman's about how having friends helps...]) I would fill my life completely with poems, I can't think of a better life. I don't know why I bother with this writing --> except for the value of the exercise.

1032. New Pen Play
October 13/79

New fountain pen Linda gave me for my twenty-first birthday. Maybe it will teach me how to make my own writing, to write the way that will identify me. Wilfred Mennell said that writing with a fountain pen is pretentious--so here I am practicing my pretension.
     Today Gillain is on the mountain, not that it isn't on other days, just that today the clouds were low, and the mountain was enveloped in it. Lately it has been very foggy.
     My epistlatory poem was to Christina [6]. I hope she got it. I hope both she & Brenda write soon. I hope.
     Is this my writing?
     [Backhand:] Is this? I can't seem to write backhand with a fountain pen, it just doesn't seem to work.
     So I write this strange forehand.
     I'm sleepy. Only a half an hour left of this fog at Gillain in the cloud on the maintain.
     In a cloud the only direction is sleep.
     Harold does not like my prose poem, River. (May the river drown him.)
     Yes there are things in my life that are real, and yes I waste time, and write letters, and don't work enough or at the right time, or anything.
     Yes, for some ("unknown") reason I play female games, and desire masculine company,and o hell.


1. This poem became the latter part of "The End of the Long Season" published in the magazine WOT and in Seven Robins.

2. "na no" is a baby-Catriona-ism for "I don't know".

3. = "I need money and time.

4. One of my weird twistings. There was a skit on Saturday Night Live about Mr. Bill, the plasticine character who always got hurt, and one time he had a dog, and Mr. Bill's dog became Mr. Dog's bill.... Some of that junque my mind is full of.

5. Chinese food.

6. "Dear Christina" was also published in Seven Robins.

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