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Les Semaines

01.06.03

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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Sara, Sara You're Lazy

Goes the Low song and it sticks in my head. Because Neile is lazy, too, and always has been, though I've been working hard in fits and starts because I also do that too.

It's another Sunday night and I'm not prepared to write anything in particular. I just put on Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks. Or rather, Jim just took it off my tinny little boombox and put it on his disc player. I'd been reading Mojo the one music magazine we find it worthwhile to subscribe to, and it was discussing the making of this album and I couldn't bear to hear about the songs without listening to them.

This is one of those albums where the emotional setting of the songs puts me in a melancholy, restless mood. I've loved it for years, despite not really being a fan of Dylan's earlier or later periods. This middle era of Blood on the Tracks, Desire, and Street Legal is the era when I can most get into Dylan's head. Or rather, Dylan's songs her can most get into my head, while it blocks a lot of the others. Hears them but doesn't let them into much more than the surface.

I've been wondering why I am so fervent about music and why hearing music I don't like is so painful to me. Like sitting in church is so painful to me. It has something to do with having suffered through many hours of extreme boredom, I think. I'd rather any number of horrible fates than to sit through a concert from a musician I don't particularly like. It doesn't even have to be someone I don't particularly like--if it's music that doesn't get into my head, doesn't capture my emotions or imagination it might as well be something I detest.

It's all a special conjunction of the words and the music.

Like poetry, which comes alive for me when it's a special conjunction of the words and the music of the words. And the poet's individual voice or the poet's universal voice.

It's so hard to explain and hard to pinpoint just when and why the magic works and when it misses. Which is why all my reviews--books, music, everything, feel so inarticulate to me. It so hard to explain why it starts my mind resonating with it or it doesn't.

When the green echoes or doesn't.

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

Listening

Well, Dylan. And Willow. And Katell Keineg, as sparked by listening to Tamar's excellent version of "Hestia". And Kathleen Yearwood's new one. Oh yes.

Come in she says I'll give you shelter from the storm.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Sunday night I stayed up all night to read Juliet Marillier's Son of the Shadows, the second volume in her Sevenwaters Trilogy (The first, Daughter of the Forest, is commented on here). It actually started simply because I wasn't sleepy, then my stomach was bothering me, and then I simply wanted to finish the book. By that time the sky was starting to lighten. This is the story of the daughter of the character in the first book. She finds herself kidnapped by a gang of outlaw mercenaries to heal one of their members, and while she is there she falls in love with the leader. All this is tied with prophecy about a child key to a struggle with a great mythic evil. Again their society is threatened by politics and a rejected suitor and an evil related to the evil sorceress who had enchanted the swan brothers in the first book. I found it quite enjoyable, despite it party being ruined by an online acquaintance who complained about what seemed to me nitpicky errors in the previous books (no horses in that time and place, and various words used out of time frame)--things that to me don't matter in the retelling of a fairy tale. Though this one wasn't particularly a fairy tale--just an oft-told tale.

Growing Wings by Laurel Winter is a young adult novel about a young girl who suddenly find that she is budding wings. She discovers that her mother also had them, but her grandmother had cut them off. When she and her mother go to talk to the grandmother, the mother disappears and the young girl's grandmother takes her to a place where there is a group of people with wings, or who once had them. This is one of those tales about growing up, and it should have had more of a spark, something magic about the flight, but it felt quite pedestrian the whole time.

Night Flight by Rita Murphy did have that spark. It's another slim young adult novel, but quite charming and with a sense of magic and the mysterious. In it a young girl is born into a family of women, all of whom can fly (without wings). There are all kinds of rules about what they must do and how they must behave and when they can fly. The young girl is a quiet rebel: she eats food she is not supposed to, flies when she isn't allowed, and finds out things about her family that she wasn't supposed to know. This had a gentle magic that I liked a lot.

Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris' Queen's Own Fool is a young adult historical novel about Mary Queen of Scots' fool, who really did exist. In this the fool is part of a family of minstrels and acrobats, and when by chance they perform in front of the Queen when she is queen of France, the Queen takes her as her own fool. Nicola's job is to remind her that she is mortal, and to help her through the intrigue of the court. It was a fascinating story of politics and blood and treachery, and I found the characters quite interesting, including the portrait they painted of the queen. A delightful read.

I dawdled my way through Donna Jo Napoli's Beast, not enjoying it at all but curious about it as it's a version of Beauty and the Beast telling the beginning of the story when the beast is enchanted and the adventures that befall him. It felt like a chore, because it was somehow so pedestrian fro the tale of an enchantment. But it suddenly came to life for me when Beauty arrived, and that made it all worth reading. And now I understand why the tale as it's usually told covers the part of the story. It's the part that comes alive. At least in most hands, and certainly in this version. And it was far too short, making me want to re-read Robin McKinley's Beauty (see my March 28, 1999 entry) and Rose Daughter (see my June 6, 1999 entry).

Today as I lazed about I sat and read Barbara Vine's Dark Adapted Eye. This is a kind of mystery, though like her The House of Stairs (see my February 25th entry) we know early on who the murderer is. This is told by a niece of the both the murderer and the victim when a writer comes to her wanting to write a book about the case. It is tangled in family resentments and jealousies and loves and hatreds. In the long run I liked this one rather less than The House of Stairs. I found the characters not so very sympathetic that I was drawn into the world of the tale.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Working on Bryony's Needle chapter three in the corners of moments when I have the energy to and can escape the demands of other tasks. Inward I go again, into this world I conceived of so long ago sometimes it feels as though someone else wrote all the words.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

January 1980

1080. Snowbound
January 7th 1980

Bound for snow. Bound because of snow. Christina, you're missing all the excitement here. I'm at Gillain, and I'm going to have to stay. Fun. Terminally. People coming up and down trying to get here, and me trying to get away. Neiged in, hooroo harray, calloo, callay she chortled in her joy. Had to buy a new toothbrush. It's green. [1]

1081. Missing it all
January 8th 1980

All--class, work--because of the neige. Tried to make it to class from Gillain but chickened out, got a home run, and decided to stay there [2]. Neiging down, blowing around...a little Victoria blizzard, this. I have to try to make it to class tomorrow. It should be fun. Achilles can't like this neige business at all--he hates staying inside, and the white stuff's miserable--so he skulks around the house, hoping to evil eye the snow away. Brüne adores the snow and knows that it was created just for her to play in.

1082. Snow-stress
January 9th 1980

Much like distress, only worse. Christina, I am losing myself as I did before, last year, and I am frightened. The snow gives me that familiar, trapped feeling, and I am too preoccupied with that fear to concentrate on anything else--people especially, poems especially, anything I am doing or should be. It is the great difficulty entailed in going anywhere. Buglet [3] gets about all right, but I don't, and it is all such a major undertaking. I nearly panicked this morning when I couldn't get my car out of the driveway for class. I spent my whole day lost.
     Now I sit in bed and I can hear the snow falling, and can watch my cat perform his nightly ablutions, comfortably leaning against my legs. Snow changes things utterly, changes the conditions under which we live and move. The cat watches my pen carefully and begins to purr, very loudly.

1083. Seven Robins [4]
January 10th 1980

Seven robins resting, feathers fluffed against the wind, in the budding but snow-covered dogwoods outside the kitchen windows. Some would leave, some would come, but there were always seven of them in the end. They tried to drink the snow, found it cold. Damn white stuff making the buds stop in their tracks--covering their tracks up. This stuff is psychologically damaging. I feel so restless, trapped, and lonely. The dog woke me, barking at the postman, her barking turned to a howl as she saw how high the snow is riding out house, and realized that Mom and Dad had gone out. I was terrified thinking she'd hurt herself.
     This morning was beautiful, clear with seven robins in the bare dogwood. The sky and sea a brighter but deeper blue against the snow, the sun brighter than a winter sun should be.

1084. The Rains Came
January 11th, 1980

And the snow already seems a dream to melt away. I won't be caught at Gillain, and I feel a marvellous sense of freedom. Mother and I went out three times today to celebrate--dog to bet, shopping, and to Cabaret, which the highschool put on (quote well) at the MacPherson Theatre. It is raining and winding heavily, but that is marvellous after shovelling snow. The cat still isn't too pleased, but was out for longer today. The dog is displeased, as she doesn't like the vet and if the snow had clogged up travel longer she might not have had to get there. Ah, well, the dream melts away like snow in the rain, filling with dirt and stones.

1084. More rain and hail
January 12th 1980

...which describes today most clearly and leaves little else to say. No seven robins today. Today the weather keeps changing over, cyclically as does my mood...(going nowhere). The first of a four-day (night really) stint at Gillain--which leaves me mindless, thus terrifying me Love Boat and Fantasy Island play in the background, seeping gruesomely into my consciousness--yuck! There's ice outside threatening my homeward journey, this inside, threatening my sanity as I remain here. I am reading Imagist poetry to keep things together in clarity and conciseness. Pound, H.D. (and other so-called gods of our legends). One more night slipping by without recognition.


NOTES

1. Gillain Manor, the alcoholic treatment centre I was the receptionist for, was at the top of a large hill/small mountain and snow in the Pacific Northwest is wet and slippery and dangerous on hilly roads. Of which there are many. Luckily, snow is rare here and rarely stays for long. Oh, and neige is French for snow.

2. Home was on top of Claremont ridge, so the hill danger still applied.

3. My VW beetle.

4. The poem I wrote based on this became the title poem for my first collection of poems, and can be found here.

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