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Les Semaines

02.02.24

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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Tempus Fugit

Monday was a holiday. Sometimes these holidays just seem like a big gift, you know? A day when I should be at work but am not and am healthy (well, almost) for a change. But I frittered it. Alas. And by Thursday, when Jim pointed out that Monday had been a holiday, I couldn't even remember that it had been. The rest of the week was so busy that Monday seemed weeks ago. Now even Thursday seems weeks ago.

I'm finally starting to get my energy back after the cold but it's still in my head. I'm sending it an eviction notice. I'm going to break up with it, give it back its class ring and send it on its way. At least that's the plan.

So it's Sunday and the week is a blur, having spun past me so quickly I barely managed to take note of it. And so I sit here on the edge of my office chair with Sophia behind me, kicking me so I will budge a little and give her more of the chair. No luck there, Sophie. (Kick kick twitch.) I was here first. She used to sit behind me like this when she was really little and didn't take up so much of the chair. Now when she does it, I end up sitting so far forward that my butt goes numb. Does Sophia care? No, not at all. (Kick.)

The week was full of little errands and chores. Packing up the boxes that I've been meaning to get off in the mail. Going to the Clarion West office to check manuscripts in. Taking all that stuff to the post office. Grocery shopping, once with Jim on Monday night as our usual schedule, one forgotten-item pickup, also usual, but also took a trip with a couple of friends, Dixielynn and Nutmeg, to a food import place tucked right behind the INS center which I remember visiting when I had to get a permit to go out of the U.S. for a year while Jim was getting his librarian degree in Ontario. What a sad and desperate place it seemed. And how fortunate and guilty I felt there. Sigh.

And we have another reason to feel fortunate and guilty this week: Jim is still employed. Which is great. My part-time salary could cover our mortgage but nothing else. Lots of our friends are unemployed and it's scary. But Jim is still employed. Yay. But now he has to do two full-time jobs--his own and another person's--so they can lay that other person off. So not only does he feel survivor's guilt because a friend with whom he has shared office space for many years is laid off but even worse he has to learn her job before she goes and do a job which he's not interested in at all and is overqualified for. But at least he still has a job. He feels terrible, and I feel sad. Of course, I still don't know and won't for a while what cuts are going to happen at the university. All I know is that they're going to be big. Here's a time that I wish really would fly.

It's funny because just two years ago Seattle was abuzz with dot com fever and friends were getting hired for jobs that they could feel guilty about how much salary they were pulling in for only working 80-hour weeks. What a turnaround!

(Sophia turned around at that. Was she reading over my shoulder?)

So I got a little sidetracked. The food import place had wonderful cheeses and spices and teas and Ribena concentrate and the all-important plain chocolate hobnobs. Yum! We got caught in a Seattle traffic jam--the Ballard Bridge was closed and we had to make our way over to the Fremont Bridge to get across to the north part of town, and the Bridge opened at least twice while we were there to let boats through, so it took forever, but it was a Good Thing because at least if we were trapped in traffic we were trapped together and had much amusing talk.

Then I went home and Tamar brought over lunch from Scooters and we saw around and talked for a couple of hours and then checked out a disc sale at which Jim and I bought nothing--but only because I have recently bought so many discs online.

And today I went to part of a convention. I was supposed to go yesterday but just felt too tired and congested again. I went this afternoon and helped out with an auction to benefit Clarion West scholarships. It was fun.

Then came home and wanted a nap. I guess I'm only starting to get my energy back.

(One last kick from Sophia, before I upload and leave the chair all to her very own self.)

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Listening

A new obsession: Rachel Smith. She seems like a kind of combination of Tamara Williamson of solo work and the band Mrs Torrence, Rebecca Moore, and When I Was A Boy-era Jane Siberry and maybe a touch of Karen Peris from Innocence Mission says Jim. I've been playing and playing and playing her disc, the clearing. It's sweet and a touch experimental and full of interesting lyrics and tunes and ways of putting songs together. I'm especially in utter love with the most Jane Siberry-like song, "the waves" and the tango, "juanita" but the whole disc is a delight. I just hope Jim doesn't get sick of it too soon before I do. At least I hoped that but now he puts it on more often than I do. Ha!

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Mark Chadbourn's Always Forever is the final volume in his The Age of Misrule trilogy (see my October 15, 2000 and February 25, 2001 entries for my comments on the previous volumes). This is the story of what happens in a near-future England when suddenly the Celtic gods reappear--the "good" and shining ones and the evil ones, neither of which have much use for humans. It's a dark tale on the edge of horror. I can't say too much about the plot for this one without spoiling the previous volumes, so I won't say anything other than that this is a fitting conclusion to an interesting series. I like the character's and how they grew and changes, especially. Definitely worth tracking down if you like this sort of thing at all, or think you might.

Margot Livesey's Eva Moves the Furniture is a literary ghost story about a young girl, born in Scotland in the 1920s, whose mother dies at her birth and who, from the time she's a child, has two ghostly companions who seem to manipulate events in her life. As she grows up she grows fond of them but also annoyed by them. I enjoyed this but ultimately found it a little drifty.

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Writing

Wrote a grant application or rather revised an old one to fit a new circumstance and got it out in the mail before the deadline. Good job, Neile!

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Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

October 1981

[In which graduate school has started, I have new friends and loves, and life is rich. Funny how not too much of it appears here. I was too busy living it, I think. ]

1254. Nothing                            October 9, 1981

Tonight I am walking around writing a poem that won't write itself--at least I feel like I might write a poem and have done nothing. I want to work myself into it--into something concrete that this mood might accomplish. Lies and magic (as I said to Greg [1] today) are what I need to start.
This is just a little magic
a few lies to lead you...
The web-strand from leaf to tree
strand leads to centre
no spider, but this web
caught on my hand.

Web between tree and house
between me and where
I'm going, growing
in the mist

like the fine reticle
of a telescope, it
pinpoints the space
between us

must be careful
not to disturb this that
time builds between us,
not to tear it off
with our moving hands. [2]

1255. From the Edge                            October 10, 1981

All the distance spreads before me:
time and the falling from here,
air burning my face,
my hair tangling in the
broken gravel travelling w/ me
I can say I fell
that's why I'm rolling
or I jumped, spilled myself
from the edge I stand on
shaking from the edge of this:
tumbling from the edge of this
cliff I stand on.

1256. Dreaming of an end                            October 13, 1981

Strange dream night before last about flying--I was supposed to be babysitting a prof.'s children, but they were still around (meaning prof & wife) so I left. Then a break in the dream then I was flying--not high off the ground like I do when I am glorying in it, but with my feet up, awkwardly legs in front, until I ran into a slim man in front of me on the sidewalk, who I'm not certain was Jim (maybe), but I remember feeling a mixture of relief and regret to stop flying--shit, I just realized how obvious the interpretation o this dream is after recent events. Click. Aha. Writing it down does help. [3]

1257. Poem for Greg                           

The river thrusting headfirst / though
into the night somewhere the valley, but not
to the sea, / or the river
not moving / dreaming /
in the light from the / clouded
moon / is just a little magic, a few lies a little magic, a
few lies to / teach you
where this / valley city is. /
Remember that the wind /
is from / the east, and that
it / doesn't / carry the far
scent of / the / sea, but only the
brittle / air / from the mountains
splintering/ in your lungs.
This river's shape / splinters
into nothing, / nowhere but
the invisible / edge of the
valley, tracing/ the boundaries
you never see. [4]

1258. Mental photograph                           

...it's bothered me to write it down:

him sitting in that chair
in that shirt, drinking
from my favourite cup. [5]

1259. Web (workings)                            October 19, 1981

No spider, just
these fine and particular
wires pulling between

house and tree,
eaves and branch
of a tree with old

apples softening on
the high branches
and the steadfast house

and back again
always building to
the centre, the fine

reticle of a telescope
pinpointing
the space between

yet drawing them
together. (We) must
be careful

to not to move
in the wind and
destroy

this that time builds
between us.

1260. Another night                            October 22, 1981

w/out sleep, it's 3:45 and I'm still disastrously awake and not tired, thinking of the poems I should have written when they meant something to me--like the previous thing which means nothing to me now (I wonder if it will become another discard, or if I'll ever do anything with it.)
     God, these nights when I can't think or write break me. Sleep is a delicate web I keep breaking (harking back to an old image). And here I am in the night writing to myself, trying to drain it off (the energy), to relax and rest. I write to write myself into writing something to make these hours worthwhile. What matters is not to waste the time when I don't sleep. A poem; I should at least write a poem for my waiting, but I feel there's nothing to say. I would like to sleep and dream.
     Say: there's a train pulling through the night & I walked by the river today. Damn this restlessness if it's going to be useless.


NOTES

1. Greg was a new pal. He's since won plenty of writing awards. We're not in touch.

2. My god, what are these foul bits of verse I was writing then? None of these went anywhere. Just like last week.

3. And that, dear reader, is that last flying dream that I ever remember. Also, reader, I married him.

4. An attempt to orient myself in Missoula. Yes, another poem that never went anywhere.

5. I know I meant to remember which particular him this is about, but I don't. Such is time, and the romantic confusions of that particular time of my life. Heh.

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