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Les Semaines

02.09.01

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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September is Starting Gray

Today is cloudy, the first cloudy day in a long time, in I can't remember how long. Even though we've had some days that started off cloudy, it has always burnt off and there has been sun. Hot and warm sun. I guess this new grayness means summer is over, or is thinking about being over. Damn, that must mean it's already September. And I start work again on Tuesday. I don't want to think about it. It's not that I hate my job, but that I've been there 13 years. This is too long, as the longest I'd stayed in a job before this was 14 months. And I can't leave because I don't want to give up my 25-hours-a-week 10-months-a-year deal. That would kill me or break my heart, or something, as almost for certain I'd have to give up working for Clarion West, and I would get very little writing done. So, here I am.

It doesn't help that I'm taking on a new program this year, and there will be quite some negotiation about this, and I'm already annoyed because some of it has taken place without me, when it's me that the negotiation was all about. That does not seem right. And I won't talk about some of the deal-making going on because it pisses me off too much.

I should just forget about it until Tuesday morning. No point in early angsting. However, early angsting is something I'm good at.

This has been a busy week. Lots of house painting. I put two coats on all the trim on the windows on the west side of the house, then spent too much time out in the sun holding the ladder for Jim while he caulked then put two coats on the high roofline trim and the attic vent. I really enjoy painting--it's meditative--but I hate holding the ladder as standing on that tiny step kills my back and there was so little room for the ladder between the fence and the house that I spent my time in the raspberry bushes (with spiders and biting ants). Still, it's better than Jim having to climb up that flimsy thing and work from there. *Shudder.*

Yesterday we got all busy and went to sell some cds and then some books, and then we made four batches of spiced raspberry/apricot jam. It turned out really well this time, but I'm still having trouble getting them all the jars to seal, which is kind of silly given that I seal them with paraffin, which is supposed to be simple, but somehow isn't. For me at least. I won't say anything more.

I've also worked on clearing up my study, which is of course like archeology. The bad news is that I haven't even touched the stack of papers that I made when tidying up for my mother's visit. I have cleared up some other stuff, though, and the room definitely looks tidier. Or rather, it did until a couple of hours ago, when I started strewing stuff around all over again.

On another clean-up matter, if you emailed me ages ago and I didn't respond, it was because I wanted to write you a proper email rather than just jot a quick reply and now it has been so long that I'm too embarrassed to write back. I apologize, and know that this is behaviour beyond the pale. But I couldn't stand the guilt that hung on me whenever I opened the albatross that was my email inbox. Please forgive me. Alas, this means that you probably won't hear from me now unless you email me again.

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

Listening

I've been spending a lot of time this week listening to samples of bands mentioned by this mew email list I'm frequenting about electroambientdreampop. Some of it's way too ambient for me, but I've found a couple of bands that I really, really like. One is Daughter Darling, Coppé, and especially Speaker Bite Me and their vocalist's solo project, Joni Massage. I'm trying not to get into too much trouble with the credit cards.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

I read Adèle Geras' Watching The Roses (which the library finally found since I've been 1/1 on the hold list since November--see my November 25, 2001 entry for comments on the other two in the series) while holding Jim's ladder. The other two in the series were retellings of Rapunzel and Snow White; this one is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. In it, a young girl, Alice, is having a kind of nervous breakdown where she can't bear to leave her room, sleeps all the time, and won't speak to or respond to anyone. She does, however, use an old journal of her father's to tell the story of what led up to her breakdown: a story of aunts and Ill-Wishing. A little too matter-of-fact for me, but I enjoyed it.

Jane Yolen's The Bagpiper's Ghost is another ladder-ballast novel (you know, I've been choosing them by weigh--may arms get tired), and the third in a series, Tartan Magic, of children's novels about supernatural events during a pair of twins' visit to Scotland with their family. (See my April 23, 2000 entry for comments about the first two.) In this one, Jennifer finds herself having to deal with her brother being possessed by a vengeful, unhappy ghost they find in a graveyard. Quite enjoyable.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

This week I finally finished going over the first section of the novel. Too funny, as I thought I was done with it months ago, when I handed the chapters one by one to Karen. Then I felt like I had to add something. Then something more. At the end of it, this section is two chapters longer than the version I gave Karen, and I feel much happier with it.

I have made a start on the next section. I think taking the chapters in bunches like this is giving me more perspective on them, because it wasn't until after I'd gotten to the end of the section that I realized where it's main weaknesses were, and what I hadn't accomplished in that part of the novel that I needed to. It's also interesting that the novel has these natural breaks.

The next major task is to NOT STALL OUT when I go back to work.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

May 1985

1401. The usual Sunday night check in
May 12, 1985

I hope this pattern isn't going to go on forever--sitting down and saying nothing on a Sunday night [1] and making that tide me over till the next Sunday. I hardly even spend any time trying. Or reading the right stuff. It's not that I'm reading trash, but that I'm not reading the things that are for me conducive to poetry--to poems, philosophy, plays. Novels are like candy to me and I read a lot of them. Too Many. And I could be working instead. [2]

1402. Back in Canada
May 19, 1985

Parents' wedding anniversary back in Canada. Cat stretched out on bed rumpled bed, Jim typing his new poem, windows open for air and bringing in a lot of noise--children, machines, traffic, airplanes. All this is so tiring and tempting to drift away into. And I need to write. Until it becomes second nature. Blessings and mercy and grace and praise and all the poems I haven't written this past year, and it is a year now, since I finished things for my thesis. Nothing new but a few scraps that have thus far done nothing. I have spent this year in amazement at the vast amounts of poems that are competent, clever, well-felt and expressed and all somehow inadequate. It has helped keep me from writing. A sort of amazing superego saying if you can't do better, then why. Of course, Kathie and all that shit hasn't helped [3], but I've been holding myself in, and that's only one of the reasons. The rest is fear.
     Bryer is worn out by the sun. I wonder if she remembers summer. Or even winter. She'll be as unhappy and as confused as Jeremiah when it's too cold for her to go out long. Will we still be here then? And together?

1403. So we know that it's not just us
May 12, 1985

Some we know it's not just us

Call is the black (fire) spirit that bursts
out of me when my husband touches
my breast that pushes his hand away.
That leaping thing that sputters
obscenities like a drop of water in
hot oil. As angry as that. More
like the rage that runs out of
words describing it. Limitless,
envious, that makes you a stranger.
It binds you within and without
of love. Part fear. Regardless of fear.
Part wolf and part spirit.
Part death squad just in its human
shape. Part the official knock
at the door at 4:00 am: part
the hand that knocks, and the
door, and the heart's knocking in time
with the blows. That part of the
rhythm. Especially when you
know it's next door and not you
they're after. Fear and fear of
your relief. The mad dogs run
through the streets in packs,
panting and rabid--that's you.
You in the tight closed circle
of lamplight watching behind
the curtain your breath heavier
and heavier as your blood runs
out into the city's night. [4]

1404. The golden architecture of dream
May 12, 1985

The golden architecture of dream

The sometimes closes in. That is
your lover's voice calling you, calling
from outside and you can't break through
the walls, although they're beautiful.
Portraits carved out of the best days
of your life, days in the grass
by the lakeside, deep in the forest
in the heights of a tree, days that
are your love returning. You could hold
that voice in your hands like a
stone, smooth and cool in your palm.
But what is says is your name,
and the walls are all artifice,
which renders them no less real.
The circle doesn't wide.
You wonder where you can go
from here. [5]

1405. Before you know it everything you have said is true
May 12, 1985

The above quote is from Jorie Graham

The haze that twists over the mountain
like gauze snagging on the pines thickening
in the glazed crevasses, stirring the scree
like a machine of wind. It's night
in late spring. May exactly on its way
to June. [6]
Once Christine and I buried money we'd found in Mount Douglas Park, said next time one of us was in town we'd add to it so the other would know we'd been there. Already I've forgotten the place & the amount of money there. We left china statues in the woods near my house and the next time I came they were gone and they were shaving the hills for roads. They couldn't have meant it, opening those hills like that.

It's almost dark I wish the animals would come in.

1406. End line
May 21, 1985

...and we know nothing like this will ever end.


NOTES

1. Heh. What can I say?

2. Another example of how things don't change.

3. The most painful job I have ever had in my life.

4. This one stayed remarkably as it appears here. It appeared in Canadian Literature, but not in any of my books so far.

5. Obviously "you" isn't the only one wondering where to go from there. Clearly, the author had a similar problem. This poem never went anywhere, though I tried for a long time to make it go somewhere.

6. Well, I'm really trying.

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