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Les Semaines

02.10.06

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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Into Autumn

Here we are, it's October. Which used to be my favourite month and autumn my favourite season, until, well, I don't know. Now spring is my favourite season, so October isn't really my favourite month anymore. Maybe now that I'm older I dread winter too much. And each winter seems longer, so my love of October has been tainted by dislike of winter.

The weather has been up and down. We've have a couple very autumnal days and I finally had to give up and start wearing socks again and put away my sandals, though today was sunny and warm again. I got up at nine, but after I ate breakfast I fell asleep on the chesterfield in the sun. Me and the cats, sounds asleep. Till noon. I'm a little embarrassed.

So I got my story finished before our workshop's deadline. Just by a couple of hours, but still I turned it in before the deadline Friday night. Since then I've been kind of relaxing. It has been such a hectic time since I went back to work between finishing/writing the poetry manuscript, doing the Canada Council grant, and then this story. And to top it off, this was the first week of classes, and so work was incredibly busy, especially in the early part of the week. Monday I worked three hours overtime (not hard when you only work five hours a day, but still).

A co-worker and I took one of those hours later in the week and went out for a quiet lunch, which was wonderful--I really enjoy her company and we needed the quiet time and talked very little about work--but since then my stomach has been in rough shape. That's three days now, so I think it has to have been food poisoning. I need to be really careful what I eat right now or I have stomach problems again, and it's so annoying, especially as my favourite apples in the world are in season, Honey Crisps. I bought a dozen and a half, because there's only one store that I know of that carries them and they usually sell out really quickly. I'm sure if I go back next week they won't have any left (I've already haunted the store weekly waiting for them to come in). Anyway, I really really want to eat one of those apples, but I think my stomach won't like it. Damn.

Warning: long boring rant about work ahead. You might want to skip the next three paragraphs.

In other news at work, I took on the advising for a new certificate program in real estate, so now I'm working with three programs. This may be temporary or may not. I'm happy to add it, in that I would prefer to be doing more student advising and I've made clear to the people running it that I don't have time to help them with administration. The bad news is that it is causing extremely bad feelings with the director of one of the other programs I've been working for. I utterly disagree with her reasons for being upset, and so it has caused a lot of friction between us. This has been unpleasant. And she wants me to do more program administration for her program.

I'm glad that they seem to understand that I can't do administration for yet a third program. I know that I simply can't handle doing any more--that kind of work makes my head hurt and I can only keep enough brain space for juggling two sets of that kind of thing, budgets and negotiating and all, I mean. But I'm happy to help guide more students through the complications of doing a degree and a certificate program on top of that. There shouldn't be a big learning curve at all. I hope.

Overall, I really would like to get out of the administration side and into advising more. I'm burned out on administration after having so many years of directors who haven't been able to put much time and attention into the programs for various reasons, mostly to do with other commitments. I'm only paid as an office worker and I've been doing assistant director type work for years. I don't want to get a promotion to assistant director as I don't want even more administrative work heaped on me. I also don't want to leave the union, especially with huge budget cuts going to happen next year. It's going to be really nasty, with possibilities of programs, maybe even colleges being cut. I'm trying not to get nervous.

In good employment news, though, after several years--too many years--of uncertainty about the company Jim works for, they got bought out yet again, but this time by a company that actually does aerospace work and understands what they're doing. They don't have plans to move the company or anything, so it looks like things will be stable for him for the first time in years. This is a huge relief, as it feels like it has been going on forever. And not only that, but they get to call themselves a rocket company again, so Jim is again officially a rocket man. Check out http://www.rocket.com. I bet they are so glad they hung onto the rocket.com domain name!

Well, happy autumn. May the leaves be bright and beautiful.

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

Listening

I bought a new copy of Suddenly, Tammy's 1993 debut album, because I thought ours was lost (really, I had just loaned it to Tamar) but having it back me play obsess with it all over again. It's such a tilty lively wonderful off-beat album. I love this!

Jim has been obsessing a little on Peter Gabriel's new album, Up, which I bought last week. I think it's his best in a long, long time, and I'm not even talking about the fact that it's his first in a long time--it's my favourite since his third. I haven't bothered with most of them since then.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Sean Russell's The Isle of Battle is the second in his Swan's War series (see my April 8, 2001 entry for the first). Alas, I think this is going to be a long series, because really not all that much happens in this one. Lots of pursuit, some sorcery, some damage, one biggish battle, some treachery. Okay, maybe a lot happened, but there still seemed to be a huge part of the book focused on a journey which had it been shorter would have had a great deal more impact. And it might help to focus on a few fewer characters, too. A little less on numbers of incidents and characters would help remind the reader what this is all about. Still, I mostly enjoyed this. The characters and situations are interesting, and this is certainly a superior example of the medieval-setting fantasy epic.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

I finished my first short story in a long, long time. Have I even written a new short story since beginning this journal? I know I've done serious revisions of several, but I don't think I've written a new one. Hmm. I just checked, and I wrote two stories in 1999, but I don't think any new ones since. Anyway, this is my first brand new short story in this millennium. I feel like I've learned a lot. Right now I really like the story, but we'll see how it goes over in crit group next weekend.

And I have an idea and a couple of sentences for another new short story.

And one of my ambitions for the next week is to get some poems out to the annual CBC contest. Usually I don't have enough eligible work that hangs together (they want a good-sized group of poems, none of which can have been previously published), but with the work I did on re/inventory I not only have enough poems, but they hang together! Whoo hoo! Luckily, they extended the deadline to the end of this month. I also would like to get a couple of other poetry submissions out into the mail, which will probably entail some revisions of some of the Scotland poems.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

December 1985 - January 1986

1432. Allowing the Bad
December 17, 1985

Why I don't know what has fallen:
the cat's back hides it from me.
She has run from her sleeping place
to catch it and waits there,
having caught it or not. And
licks her leg, settles and sleeps there.
The rooms are quiet--inside the only
sound is the thick popping of the gas heat, [1]
my pen rasping against the paper.
Even the traffic outside is quiet
and my husband sleeps. Or begins
to. Strange dreams. What comes out
is out and something enters in.
What a miracle each day becomes
when the sun rises after us. Like
a hiker belatedly reaching the crest of the pass
and rising beyond us, a true ascension.

Find this here. This.

Travelling down by the shores
of Amado, he finds a bottle
note, it says: Find this here.
This. [2]

Mom's card with the seven robins on it.
Bryer stretches and my eyes are beginning
to need to close, but I won't let them. Yet.

Bryer's returned.

1433. Passage
December 17, 1985

A simple journey from coast to coast
in the year's rain and fog carrying the islands
off into another, protected world. It isn't
night that makes it seem like this;
night in winter, in the gentle
climate shadowed by ranges.

I picture myself there on the island
mist settling on my clothes and hair,
the trees curling in around me. Cedar,
arbutus, hemlock, the island trees in
this night. I watch the ship's lights
pass in the distance, trees breaking

its message into code. This story
leads nowhere. I can't see myself
from the island or the ship. I don't
meet myself there. I'm simply there,
twice at once and I turn to you,
saying This is more than enough.
This is plenty. [3]

1434. Fire and Hemlock
December 18, 1985

Reading it [4] again and it is wonderful the second time and rich. I want to be able to cast that kind of spell with Bryony's Needle. I want to write it
     Tangled and captivating.
     Linda Gregg's Alma [5] today, too.
     Read it.

1435. Statement of Faith
December 18, 1985

I am learning to believe in the unexpected
like my friend whose landlady's name was
Aphrodite and who almost ran away with
a tinker because he was one. I believe
the words my husband stumbles over in his sleep
because I can barely make them out
and they must be true. Last night I
dreamt of finding myself in islands
of mist, and today the fog has descended,
thickly, over this town, stirred by the mountains.
I don't want to wish for anything
dangerous now. It's almost the dark
of the year and because we say it, it's true.
We say this will be a bad winter
so its anger is a just retribution.
We say we love so that we will. We
have done nothing to deserve this. My body
can barely hold itself in. [6]

1436. Hiding it Deep
December 18, 1985

So you don't know. Jeremiah sleeps on the chair like a child. If I touch him, he'll wake so quickly he'll forget he was asleep. I could make him jump, but I won't. I should be writing a poem, but at least I'm writing. I'm trying, growing back into myself because it's necessary. Hiding it deep and letting it go. Discovering myself again in this particular pen on these pages. These days close to Christmas. Wish I knew more about the incorporated pagan ceremonies.

1437. Utah Dream
December 20, 1985

Woke up this morning from a dream of going back to school and picking up course schedules. We were living on someone's porch and looking for a better place (for cats?) and walked through the city. There, in the middle/edge of it was a rustic cabin that one of the local writers had lived in (an article with a photograph had appeared in the paper) and we walked up to it. Apparently the writer had left and some grad journalism students were taking care of it until they could find someone to rent it, so we looked the place over and took it. [7]

1438. What's Bred in the Bone
January 21, 1986

re: astrology "...it's a way of channelling intuitions and things that can't be reached by the broad, floodlit paths of science. You can't nail it down, but I don't think that's a good enough reason for brushing it aside. You can't talk to the Mothers by getting them on the phone, you know. They have an unlisted number. Yes, I take it seriously."
     "...the underworld, the dream world, what Goethe called the realm of the mothers. ...But the Mothers are truer to what they really are. The Mothers are the creators, the matrixes of all human experience."
     "That's the world of art, surely."
     "More than that. Art may be a symptom, a perceptible form, of what the Mothers are. ..."


NOTES

1. Ah, I can hear that furnace now...it was a great apartment. And cheap!

2. Nothing came of the first exercise but the second part landed in the title poem of Spells for Clear Vision.

3. The last two lines also wound up in that poem.

4. By Diana Wynne Jones. Still one of my favourite novels.

5. A poetry collection. While I like this one, I far prefer Too Bright to See and Chosen by The Lion.

6. Parts of this are in "Spells for Clear Vision", too.

7. At one point Jim and I applied for a doctoral program at the U of Utah.

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