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Les Semaines

02.01.20

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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Back to Normal

So the year hasn't kept up its frenetic pace of incredibly wonderful announcements. Dammit. I was thinking that we had such a terrific one so early in the year a pattern was set and that each week something new and wonderful would become apparent to us. Maybe we've been setting our sights too high?

In any case, this was just a normal week. We both worked Monday to Friday. The only unusual thing about work was that late Sunday night I got a phone call that my carpool partner (I have this very odd system of three days a week driving almost halfway to meet my carpool partner, riding the rest of the way into work with her, then after work taking the bus back to my car, and the other two days a week I start two hours later and so drive myself in all the way) had been called out of town and so wouldn't be there to carpool. So I drove myself in Monday morning. And then on Friday I totally slept through my alarm and was woken up by her phoning me from our meeting place--was I annoyed with myself! And glad that she'd recently got a cell phone. Anyway, so I ended up by driving myself in four out of the five work days. Big deal, right? This is how typical a week my work week was.

A couple of application packages came in for Clarion West, so on my way home from work I went the exact opposite direction to the office to pile up the updated application acknowledgement letters and log in the first two.

And what else was atypical. Hmm. We got take out for dinner two nights in a row. That's a little unusual, but we did have the usual back-and-forth indecision about what to get and where to get it from. Sigh. (We wound up with gyros the first night and Chinese the second because they would deliver.)

We've been spending lots of time on our computers. Usual. Though Jim has been spending a lot of time getting things ready for his upcoming book, which isn't usual and has been fun and exciting.

I've been having trouble getting to sleep at night so have been reading late, stumbling through the mornings at work, getting home and falling asleep for a couple of hours, perpetuating the pattern. I only sit down to do a little something--read the stories for the fiction critique group or read the mail, or just take a break from sitting at the computer all the time. And I find my eyes closing. Maybe it's because I usually turn the heating pad on behind my back and pull the down throw over my lap and one cat or the other will land on there and inject sleep drugs into me. That's it--blame the cats.

This is totally another topic, but this week I was reminded of how when we were kids we were let run around in the patch of woods behind our suburban houses. It was probably a only a few acres, just a few blocks thick. We had forts and made up long adventure stories to play out together--we'd be pirates or princesses or dragon-slayers or secret agents--and had a great time. This was from when I was 4 on up. We were perfectly safe, but we were always way out of sight of our parents.

From the age of 8 or so my friends and I would all walk ourselves home from school, using paths that went through brushy, wooded areas. I remember stopping on the way to school to pick up lizards (who sometimes lost their tails) and garter snakes. When I changed schools we had an even longer walk home that we took through people's yards and several trails through dark ravines. We loved it. The biggest danger seemed to be the bigger kids.

I'll bet there aren't many kids who get that kind of freedom anymore except perhaps those who live way out in the country. Certainly not any suburban kids like us. It really was a different world in many ways. I'm not sure that bad things happened any less often but certainly people didn't talk about them and no one was so constantly aware of the dangers that might have been out there.

Or so I thought: I don't know what to believe anymore. I do find it hard to think that people are worse and I do know for certain that there were things we just didn't talk about (except for being wary about the flasher--I do remember Mom talking about one when I was about 11 or so). So is it just awareness that has changed and made us all so nervous? Has the level of danger changed?

I think I would be a different person if I hadn't spent so much time playing in the woods as a child. I'm very much an indoor person now, but the woods defined me, and that's certainly where my first book of poems came from. It's part of the foundation of who I am.

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

Listening

Jim has been obsessing with Sully's new album, Bright Lights, which I also like quite a bit. It's electronica with vocals--veering more toward the pop/trip hop than the Cocteau Twins Gothic side of things. Melodic, pop hooks, soft female vox with a slightly young-sounding voice, but not an overly baby voice.

We're also still playing Gabriel Yacoub's :yacoub: frequently.

They're both the kind of discs that suit nearly any mood.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

After seeing The Fellowship of the Rings movie twice, I picked up our copy of The Hobbit to look something up, and before I knew it I was 50 pages in. So I re-read it for the first time in many years. As you almost certainly know, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit is a stand-alone story that takes place before The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In it, Bilbo Baggins is swept off by the Wizard Gandalf into an adventure where he is hired as a burglar by a troop of dwarves who want to wrest their mountain and their treasure from the dragon, Smaug. Bilbo is uncertain he wants to leave the comfort of his home and his life, but off he goes, into the alarming world. A delightful novel, but not all lightness.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

I'm not really writing or revising right now, but I did have my fiction workshop on Sunday (today) so I was critiquing this week. That's part of writing, right? I have to say again how much I like this critique group. It's a group of people all of whom are both strong writers and sharp critiquers. I feel like I'm getting a lot out of it even (especially?) when none of my own work is up for critique. Which makes me think that I need to get working on something to hand into them month after next. Of course, I'm torn about what to work on, because I really want to finish the novel but my brain doesn't seem to be in the right place or I'm not ready yet or something, and I don't want to be distracted by anything else, and I'd like to get one of the stories that this group has critiqued revised and out in the mail.

So what it boils down to is that I really need to get down to work.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

April - May 1981

1229. Moving into John's [1]                            April 23, 1981

The calender always reads
November. This is my first night
alone in your apartment,
and it's April. The mice
in the walls scratch
to break through. [2]

The night noises here
are more than unfamiliar.
I had to send a friend ahead
to exorcise from these rooms
the poltergeist you left
behind. [3]

In the bedroom
the dusty sound
of your clock, the time
dissolving, reforming. [4, 5]

1230. Hard white dream                            May 1, 1981

Another strange dream, about seeing Christina and she was living in Vancouver, and I was taking the bus to see her. It was (strange detail) also taking the similar (but more distant) route of another bus, and the girl next to me asked if she had to transfer to get to Sooke; the driver said no [6]. I knew to get off at 13th and Arbutus and walk four blocks, but they were not city blocks and by the time I got near the end I was wondering if I had come the right way. On either side of the road were white fields and the road was a hard white, powdery old shale--sharp and hard to walk on. Ahead was a ridge, very steep, that two cards slid down, and I had to try hard to get footing to climb up. At the top I saw Christina and behind her the sea (vineyards down to the sea? I am uncertain). She had come to get me. She lived in a type of commune where there was touching and nakedness but it was not sexual. There were rival types of groups, particularly a group of girls, and Christina's group was led by a girl whose name I have forgotten. They had interesting myths about the sea and storms, which remind me of my boat dreams which I had a few weeks ago. I had not intended to stay with the group, but had a kind of initiation anyway.

1231. Circle                            May 3, 1981

Tonight for the first time articulated to Harold and Diane. This is a very hazy geography defined in impure terms: A life is a circle, inside it the finite, the self, outside it the infinite. The border is not a heavy border, and that inside reflects and is in the same way a mirror and a smaller version and a distorted image of that outside. Ideas of revelations of interior things have connotations for exterior things and very versa. There is a different kind of relation between things inside and outside, and understanding affects each other.
     Among this tangle I learn things inside out, and outside in. All knowledge is reflected, distorted, various images affected by mirror linings of past, present, future.
     The life of earth is cyclical, and all events of parts of the cycle affect the cycle farther on. So with life affecting the future. Lives stop and begin again.
     I have those who will help me to see and to understand and to acknowledge, and i know there are bigger cycles, always.

1232. Poems about Leaving                            May 4, 1981

Poems about leaving, and heaving left and having held on to the place you will never return to (because there are no returns, Odysseus never came back to what he left). I am leaving, and this apartment is a jumping-off place [7].
     I am tempted to tear this page out of the book because there is nothing there, and I am not here and cannot write. I cannot even read. Some strange things here--the silhouette of the cat at the bathroom window, the mice in the cupboards, the ? that sat in the wicker chair last night, inarticulate or at least I couldn't hear it. Things disappearing, moving...turning into poems about leaving. --the intelligent poem I've been meaning to write.
     Refrain--what will be the refrain of the next poem I will write (why can't I even read poems right now?)

1233. Healing                            May 8, 1981

Now I don't remember writing this previous entry, it seems foreign. I am admiring the rhythm of my days here, the cleaning, the reading, the peace and time. I sleep, and it feels healing as though this is that sort of time, and when I am well again, I can return to my normal life. I suppose it's so, and I ma resting from the wounds the chaos made in me.

1234. Leaving the Rain                            May 24, 1981

The animals and I come
in from the rain; the dog
and I have been walking
while the cat has been
hunting the mouse he just
carried that I threw down
into the woods, where the rain
will do what rain does here.
I've just returned from my
first visit to my future home, [8]
and it's far past the coastal
rain. I've come back from
a friend's home where I've
been plagued with mice
everywhere in the cupboards
in the books--he's going
to give them a poison that
dehydrates them in the walls,
so they don't smell as they rot.
Warming the pot for tea
I sneeze twice. My mother
says one's a wish, two's a kiss
three's a disappointment.
Mother I haven't been kissed
in months, and I suppose
that's why I'm leaving. [9]


NOTES

1. This is the same John [Barton] that I did the reading tour with back in November.

2. There were mice in his apartment.

3. There was also a ghost--I don't think it was a poltergeist, though. Its presence were so clear it scared me--I distinctly remember the sound of it first sitting in then getting up from John's wicker chair--the sound of someone getting in and out of those chairs is pretty distinctive and much louder than the noises they might occasionally make with no particular reason.

4. He had a strange digital clock where the numbers did seem to dissolve and re-form.

5. This piece of writing never did go anywhere or do anything. A good memory, though.

6. Sooke is on Vancouver Island. Just to be confusing, the city of Vancouver is not on Vancouver Island but is on the mainland. So a bus that would go to both places is, needless to say, unlikely.

7. I had applied to do my MFA at the University of Montana. It didn't really occur to me that I wouldn't get in. Luckily, I did.

8. I took a trip to Missoula with my friend, Brenda, just to check it out and to meet Dick Hugo, who was the reason I was going there. It was an interesting trip. Coming from the we[s]t coast, Missoula seemed odd and dry and small.

9. Well, living in Missoula did change that. It's where I met Jim.

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