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Les Semaines

01.10.07

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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Emotional Weather Watch: Scattered Anxiety

So I'm tired of living in interesting times. Tired of waking to shocking things on the news, events that flavour the whole day with news-watching anxiety. I hope, against vain hope, that there is no "collateral damage" in these current attacks, or America's moral advantage will be immediately lost. Anyway, enough said. There will be websites full of preachings about current events and this doesn't need to be one, no matter who much time I spend paying attention to them.

So, another week. This was the first week of classes, the second busiest week of my work year. And, I quickly found out the reason I was feeling so odd and cranky on last Sunday--I was getting the flu. I didn't really come down with it until Tuesday, but had a very sick and sleepy day that day. By Wednesday I was well enough to go back to work and though I wasn't 100% I actually did quite well, and even had times where I felt energetic (please don't be shocked) that is, in between bouts of illness. Funny thing, the flu. As it was the first week of classes I didn't want to take any more time off, but it was surprisingly quiet overall. Where are all those students and does this mean that all their problems are going to show up later to kick me in the derrière some other time? I fear so. All these problems will probably all surface while I'm away on my reading tour. By the way, I updated my News page with my Ontario reading tour schedule. If you're in the area and interested, please check it out.

So I've been busy doing things like making and mailing postcards announcing the reading tour. Trying to get things from work to print out on my colour printer (because I have one at home and we have one at work somewhere but not easily accessible by me and I needed it quickly). Scrambling to catch up with my email backlog and keep up with it as it comes in. Not wanting to think about how much I have to get done before I leave for the tour and about the tour itself. Argh.

Last night Tamar came over for dinner and Jim barbecued hamburgers for the last time this year. The season truly is over (it's rain and wind season now). Then because Jim had to go out to a new issue launch party for the magazine he volunteers as book review editor for, Tamar and I watched a movie we knew Jim didn't want to see (Finding Forrester) but alas he came home in time to watch the last quarter of it and to make sarcastic remarks anyway. We should have started running the movie earlier but I was having computer trouble and got obsessed over it until Tamar suggested a fix, which worked. Yay Tamar, my hero. Anyway, we enjoyed the movie all right.

And I'm having weird dreams. Last night I dreamt that Jim and I and a friend of ours whom we rarely ever see were shooting up heroin. I mean, how bizarre, especially as I've always been terrified of strong drugs, even prescribed ones and even in my wild youth never took anything stronger than hash, and haven't done anything like that in many, many years. We were quite matter-of-fact about it, and I even remember what it felt like in my dream, and remembered thinking, "Oh, now I understand what Chris [street kid I used to work with in my teens who told me about his experiences with heroin] was talking about. How do you interpret a dream like that? Me, I put it all down to anxiety. Or maybe the desire to escape it. Anyway, I hope I don't have any more dreams like that because it made me wake up anxious, and then of course Jim turns on the radio and I hear the news today, Oh boy.

So, Sunday. Right now Sophia is asleep behind me on our North American road atlas, open to the map of Ontario. Her butt is right over Lake Huron, so look out there for blizzards of tortie-and-white cat hair. Just a weather watch warning for those of you in the area.

I'm going to go to sleep now and wake up 43.

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Listening

We're still loving loving loving our improved stereo equipment, and Bjork's Vespertine.

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Reading

Caroline Stevermer's When the King Comes Home has been getting less than enthusiastic reviews, as far as I can tell, and I'm not sure why. It's set in a European Renaissance world, and is the story of a young, feisty girl who gets accepted as an apprentice to an artist. After a conflict with another apprentice, she runs away home, but along the way she sees the ancient king Julian beside the river--the king of myth, of whom the people say "When the king comes home, the river will be of milk"--and finds herself returning to the city with him. But it's not him, and there's a plot afoot against her kingdom. I found this a delightful novel, for the characters, the setting, and the plot, which was unshapely, rather like real life. I suppose it could be criticized for that or perhaps for feeling a little unbalanced because of the amount of time lovingly spent on her apprenticeship, or perhaps because there doesn't always seem a reason for her to be at the centre of the action. But I really liked this--I was caught up in the world and the tale.

Rumer Godden's Kingfishers Catch Fire is a wonderful tale of an English woman taking her two children to live in Kashmir, shortly before Independence. She's romantic and a little feckless, wilfull, and blinds herself to the subtleties of her surrounding and the politics of the small village she lives in, in a way that eventually causes her danger--she finds glass in her food, and her daughter disappers. Like all of Rumer Godden's novels I've read so far (China Court is commented on July 15th, In This House of Brede August 5th, and Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy September 30), this was a delight in terms of the loving attention Godden pays to the subtleties of human interactions, awareness, character, and setting. What a delight!

Well, now I'm up to date with Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan series, having just finished Komarr and A Civil Contract. In these, Miles discovers politic plots and falls in love with a woman who at last may be his match. Like the rest these were fun, quick reads. Good entertainment. (Other volumes commented on in my July 15, August 19, and August 26, September 16th and September 23 entries).

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Writing

This isn't my news, but I can't resist reporting it here: Jim received a Washington State Arts Commission/Artist Trust fellowship. Not a grant, but more like an award for the work he has done so far and the promise of good work in the future. Whoo!

As for my own writing, between work and the flu I didn't work on any fiction; however, I have started a new poem about the west coasts of Scotland and BC/Washington State.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

May - June 1980

1159. Holding nothing                         May 24, 1980

Again I have been sliding away. Weeks escape me so easily I feel that I am missing the best of it all. I am not living, I am only floating, letting it all slip out from under me. Trying to hold it is like trying to grab a handful of water. Five days have gone withot my even noticing; I only feel the slight dampness of my hand.
     It's evening, and a whole day has gone and I haven't moved myself or accomplished anythign--except getting myself to work, which is a nothing. I am not here, and not anyway. I am still in the midst of Lessing, having strange and lonely dreams that feel so very sad. I wake up and I feel sad, and don't know how to shake it, or understand it. I don't understand why I am so nothing right now, or why nothing is so me. But I do--it's because I am so lazy and have no time to myself and have done nothing. I need to be really alone for a while and work and remember what it's like to live alone. To know myself, and to know myself physically--know how I move, how much my body hates this lazy state its in, and how much my mind does the same. It's a deprivation, and I hope myself here like a jailor.

1160. Yesterday's Rain                         May 27th 1980

It has its importance in that it was busy washing the volcanic ash away.When I got up in the morning yesterday there was just a very fine layer of the ash on my car, and while I was at work the rain began pouring, and by the time I got back to my car the ash was gone but the rain wasn't. Today I get up and the rain is even thicker and there's fog and this whole peninsula is in a cloud. Didn't the rain do a good enough job yesterday? It amazes me that this is May; I cannot believe that we are almost into summer. Here on the coast it rains continually, while in other places there is drought. Things are always unbalanced it seems. We would like to hope that they would no longer be, but are not able to.

1161. To start a month                         June 1st 1980

as I somehow should writing with writing and discipline and remembering who and what I am. Lessing, in her preface to The Golden Notebook says: "Perhaps giving oneself a tight structure, making limitations for oneself, squeezes out new substance where you least expect it." Well, this is it, in that something must be done and prefereably before I have wasted any more time. It's all very well and good to wander on, wasting time and feeling bad about losing oneself, but I have finally decided to pull myself out the other side instead of waiting for life to pull me out of it. Passivity is wasteful. (Life is not meant to be slid through, how could I let myself fall to where I have fallen?) The worst is that I think I'm fine and I am fine if fine is enough, but it shouldn't be. The time is for moving and not for sleeping. Sleeping is for those who wish not to wake, and all of life is waking, moving, walking over the hills above the cemetary. And it is swimming rather than floating (never learn to swim, it only prolongs the drowning).

1162. Losing June                         June 14th 1980

Well, I am losing this month as I did last month--drifting on for a long time, wasting time, making a lost memory of June. I am not unhappy, though the weather can't make up its mind whether to be gray or sunny--there is always wind, and always I want to follow it, somewhere.
     I haven't been writing, only my one, poor, volcano poem [1] has appeared since I completed my manuscript, but I have another poem coming, about the eagles I have seen partly, about time and memory also, and about it all [2]. The wind is rising but goes nowhere yet (like me). I wish that I could get away again--after my trip to Seattle to see Lani and Steve an Lori et al. I have permanently itchy feet. I hate to sit still and wait for free time, I want to be free to wander at will over the hills--yet when I am free, I don't do it, I sit or do home things, not much of anything and Ild like to go away again, or have time and inclination to read and most of all to write. John Barton's book was accepted by Sono Nis, which makes me happy and envious and tired because of all the work I have yet to do, and all the rejection slips I have encountered and all the distances I have yet to travel. Of it all [entry ends].

NOTES

1. Happily, this has hasn't survived.

2. "Three By Eagles" in Seven Robins.

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