Les Semaines


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


Mother's Day

I phoned my mother briefly just to wish her a happy mother's day, and she commented that I was probably pretty lucky not to be a mother. Most days I think so, too. I mean, the cats came and slept on (Zach)/against (Sophia) me and gave me that happy warm maternal feeling and all I have to do is clean the litter box and feed them and give them attention. I never had to deal with the terrible twos (though Sophia went through a phase when she wanted to roughhouse too roughly and got cranky about it) or the traumatic teens (though Zach whines for food and when one of us is outside in the garden). I don't have to worry whether my kids will ever learn that the world doesn't owe them a living and that they need to work to support themselves and that it will be much easier for them if they have some kind of education or work training (Zach and Sophia resist entirely all my efforts to tell them they have to work for a living--they tell me they already do, purr purr). I don't have a child that won't learn how to drive because she can't stand to be corrected by her parents (though I still have to drive Zach and Sophia to all their appointments).

I do understand there are other positives to having children and I do sympathize with those who have them but the simple truth is that I haven't and am not going to have them so my thinking is all about not having them.

And no, my cats are not really my children, but they do play them on TV.

Anyway, I felt like a child this week when my dad came to visit. Well, not like a child, but I felt anew that wonderful bond with a parent. I'm a lucky person in that I enjoy my parents. I like them. And when Dad was forced to come down to visit (he wanted to get rid of an exercise bike that I said I'd take off their hands) it was quite delightful. Even if he didn't stay very long. Neither of my parents ever make me feel like a child anymore (well, okay, occasionally they do) but they do make me feel loved and supported in a way that no one can match, not even Jim.

Anyway, we had a good visit, and Dad not only brought down the exercise bike, but also two of the coolest presents ever: he had two of his 78 rpm Billie Holiday albums matted and framed for us. Now "Strange Fruit" and "I've Got a Right to Sing the Blues" are hanging above our stereo stand. I do kind of wish our turntable had 78 on it so we could occasionally take them down to play them, but that would also mean taking them out of the frame. What a cool present! Jazz, especially Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith, is something my dad and I (and Jim) particularly share in our family, so they mean a lot more than just being wonderful objects. I'll never be able to look at them without thinking of him.

I'm a lucky girl.

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Simon Wilcox's Mongrel of Love left back in my cd player this week and threatened never to climb out, but eventually Anja Garbarek's new smiling and waving arrived and I had to listen to it. This is very like parts of the other album of hers I have, Balloon Mood. It's edgy, pretty, experimental, odd, lyrical, minimalist, layered all in turns. Very difficult to describe.

On the guilty pleasure front, we were flipping channels on Friday and happened on VH1's 100 best videos countdown, and so set the vcr to tape some of them overnight, but to see what we'd get. It really was fun to see a lot of them that we remember from when MTV was young, and see others that we've always hated, and see some we had to turn the sound down to watch, and of course we simply fast-forwarded over a lot of them. Not having grown up with videos they don't seem an essential part of commercial music to us, but we do enjoy some of them. We were entertained. But thank god for fast forward, let me tell you.

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This week I read two novels on my Handspring Visor. Or at least finished reading one and read another. Yes, that's right--I read a long novel on a quite small LCD screen. It surprises me as much as it surprises you, let me tell you. It probably shouldn't have--I was the kind of kid who read the back of cereal boxes when that was all that was in front of me (hey, I learned French that way reading the bilingual packaging in Canada), and I still find myself reading anything as opposed to doing nothing. But I didn't think I'd like it quite so much. I went to a Project Gutenburg server and downloaded a few text files, and just put the first one on the Visor thinking I might look at it when I fond myself in a line up or waiting for the bus or waiting for the doctor with nothing else available.

It helped that I started with David Copperfield. I'd never read it before (there's a lot of Dickens I haven't read), and found it quite charming. It's simply the story of a young man's birth and youth in lower-upper-class 19th-century England. He's a posthumous child, and when his young mother remarries an authoritarian man whose equally authoritarian sister comes to live with them, David's life takes a clear turn for the worst. The book is basically about how he grows up, but it's full of such wonderful characters (people I've heard about for years) that some might think are stock but have a fullness of character that made them really come alive for me. Even the unctuous Uriah Heep. Since it's such a well-known novel and I've heard snippets of it over the years it was so fun to come across such things as the scenes with the carter, Barkis, who gives David a message to pass onto his old nurse, "Barkis is willing". Really, I enjoyed this through and through.

I did not, however, enjoy Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth. This is about young and beautiful Lily Bart who has a very small income but lives with a rich circle. Her only way to live the life she has been raised for is to marry well, but somehow she can't bring herself simply to marry for money one of the odious men she finds available in her crowd. Gradually she makes more and more mistakes and find herself in a difficult situations she can't get out of. Her circumstances become more constrained and her options more limited and she falls farther and farther out of favour in the world she wants to live in. She can't give it up and she ruins her chances in it by a series of desperate miscalculations. This was one of those books where I wanted to tell her to dammit just play the game or dammit drop out and learn a new way to live. She couldn't quite bring herself to play the game and she wasn't capable of learning to live a new way and so of course it was tragic. Blegh.

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Starting to ready the third chapter of Bryony's Needle for the crit group, who didn't much like the second chapter when we talked about it at this afternoon's workshop. I'm not too surprised, though, as that second chapter is problematic. At least now I can see better how to fix it, which I couldn't before the workshop. Which is after all the purpose of the workshop, eh?

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Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

December 1979

1065. Take home exam
most likely Dec. 13th
still 12:55

This is the Form of something to tinker with. On Aeschylus--What is Aegisthus's chief justification for his action? The fact that Atreus was a lousy chef. What are the three "storms" the chorus describes as concluded by Orestes' action? Thunder, wind and rain. What compromise is struck between Athena and the chorus? That they will alternate lines. See? I've got it all figured out.

1066. Ten-sixty-six

Ah yes, Old Will of un-named parentage.

1067. The Year After

Whereupon many Anglo-Saxon womenfolk were brought to bed of many children of un-named parentage. (A sort of early baby boom.)

1068. What Nancy Does Today
December 13, 1979

Well, she wakes up suffering from dysmenorrhea (her common complaint), spends the morning either sleeping, reading, or ranting and shaking on the bed in an effort to dispel the demons that clutch her abdomen [1]. By afternoon she, reasonably, tires of this, as well as of vomiting that which she has not consumed, and takes a Darvon® which brings immediate relief in the form of Blesséd® sleep. She wakes up, feeling rather jolly, more from said pill than from said relief, and lightheaded. She takes a shower, and then sticks her head under her Mom's hairdryer, whereupon a knight arrives in a white charger! Yes o yes! But no, 'tis Randy in a yellow Mustang (rented). However, we ride off into the dark and the pouring, flooding rain and wind. Riding forever...barely talking, over Prospect Lake Road --> Millstream --> Sooke. O delightful, and just what I needed. The rain is so deep here that the car drowned a few times and it was terrific. Just what I need, and presumably what Sir Nixon needed, too. (A break from Eve? Now, now Nancy). More that he just needs a lot of breaks from life. He is semi-depressed, as usual. (Hooray, it is no longer my responsibility!) ...riding through the darkness and the rain...

December 14, 1979

I at last have discovered what I am, after years of though. I am a Theist-Existentialist, if that is no contradiction in terms, or rather whether it is or is not. I believe God exists, but I believe that he made me free to choose my own paths. He has a structure for those who desire it, but I believe (have to!) that the structure is not mandatory, and that it is only for those who do not wish to take advantage of the freedom that He offers us. (Rationalizations!) I believe that we are individually responsible for our own actions. I am willing to take all the guilt. I know the laws of cause and effect, and I know the laws of randomness (my car!)[2]. I also believe, just a little, in determinism, because I know God exists. I am sure, too, that even though we are not of the world, we are in it, and have to exist within its boundaries. My philosophy which hasn't quite made itself clear to itself [3].

Minus today
December 15, 1979

I have already scratched this day off as a loss, and it has done nothing to redeem itself. I have to finish the last part of my take-home exam, got hyper last night and didn't sleep, and here I am at work. The phone doesn't wring [sic], and weekends become the low part of my life. This place scalds me when I am in this mood, this mood that I am in when I come here. At least I don't have to work Christmas, only Boxing Day Evening (I prefer to call it St. Stephen's Day.) I am almost ready, I don't know what for. I need...I need several things: grace, fortitude, industry...the conviction of my dreams and a touch of beauty, please. I need, too, a passport, I should do that. There is a lack of efficiency somewhere along the line here--a girl called, and I have no one for her to talk to, I hope she will call tomorrow. (My life.) I will probably pay for this--ranting, raving, and shot in the belly. I have this horrendous desire for something--un-named, and probably un-namable., though hopefully in existence, somewhere. I bodily and spiritually ache--intellectually and emotionally, too (how 'bout socially? Probably, just to hit everything). The cover of this book is springtime, for winter. Come spring and summer I have two winter books. There is something chronologically awry in my system. I was old when I was born and am getting younger all the time--living backwards like White's Merlin [4].


1. I had forgotten how horrible life was before anti-prostoglandins, And Advil. God bless goddess Advil.

2. Not 100% certain what I'm referring to here. Probably that several months before my car had been stolen and run into another car then a tree by someone who looked a little like Randy (but wasn't because he had a key to the car and had no reason to hotwire it--a fact which the police needed some convincing to believe).

3. Now I'm a born-again pagan. A pantheist.

4. In his version of the Arthurian tale, The Once and Future King.

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