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retrospective: old journal

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Les Semaines



Stuff. Lots of it.

Feeling oh very very very far behind with everything. Trying to play catch up and deal with various aches and pains at the same time, and feeling like I need a lot--a whole lot--of sleep. Knocking things off my list of things to do feels good, but the things to follow barge their way up the list yelling "me now me now" and I feel like I'm having to ration myself.

Here's my weekend schedule, as typed up Friday morning:

  • go home, worry about about loose car lock for which couldn't arrange schedule to get fixed for another week.
  • watch RocketMan and Chuck bring home 32" TV we're buying from Chuck's boyfriend Bob.
  • Hope RocketMan bought a TV stand and it's not TOO ugly and it fits in TV-allocated space and doesn't block heat and all and TV still fits on it. If it's ugly HOLD TONGUE.
  • Call the former cleo, ask her to come take away old 19" TV (which we also bought from Bob)
  • Fret because our CD shelves are ready but RocketMan doesn't want to pick them up until Saturday.
  • Pick up dinner somewhere because RocketMan had to go and look at TV stands.
  • Eat dinner.
  • Relax. Watch Farscape. Re-read the wonderful Lirael because we have the next book, Abhorsen in hand.
  • Sleep.
  • Next day: pick up CD shelves! Yay! Get RocketMan to screw (them into the wall).
  • Move CDs onto them. Move old bookshelves that used to hold CDs downstairs. Move stacks of books that have been just piled up all over the place into them. Maybe move around some of the associated dust, too.
  • Admire all this, then collapse (me, I hope, not the shelves).
  • Oops, at 3:00, probably in the middle of all this, I have to look at a sorority house which I hope will be perfect for us to move the Clarion West workshop and students into. Cross your fingers it will work for us and them, please.
  • Then meet with one of the CW people who just looked at the first section of my novel. Receive criticisms gracefully and with poise. Look wise. Do not despair.
  • Next day: wake up. Drink coffee. Frantically finish story crits. Do NOT take out previous day's pain on the authors. Go to crit workshop. DO NOT take out previous days' pain on the authors.
  • Come home. Panic about weekly journal not being done. Do it.
  • Sleep.
So what really happened? Well...
  • I did go home. I worried some about the car lock, but decided it was low on the worry totem pole, especially now that the appointment was made to fix it. La la la, I said to myself.
  • I did watch Jim and Chuck bring home the 32" TV we bought from Chuck's boyfriend Bob. That thing is HUGE. Going from 19" to 32" is serious.
  • Jim did not buy a TV stand. Instead, after Chuck pruned our neighbour's cherry trees, we drove him home and went to the furniture store and talked ourselves into buying a big tall, more-expensive-than-we-planned, TV stand.
  • Pick up dinner on the way home.
  • Gobbled dinner.
  • No relaxing. I forgot this one thing about much furniture. Assembly required. So frantically we tried to put the stand together before Farscape. No go. Watched Farscape in patches between that and several untimely phone calls. Got the TV stand together, but the TV on it and decided it was way too tall. Luckily, we could just easily remove the top part. We lifted the TV down, removed the part, put the TV back up. It's still huge and tall, but hot horrifically now. Strange how in the store that height seemed essential and at home it was too too TOO much. So we paid about an extra $50 for a part (swivel and all!) that will live in our basement. So it goes. Jim spent much time fiddling with wires. We heard a couple of Björk videos from our DVD collection until Jim finished fiddling and there was the picture! Played with our DVDs a little. Channel surfed. Having a bigger TV doesn't bring new and interesting shows to TV. Darn. No time to read.
  • Cleo calling delayed until Saturday.
  • Sleep.
  • Next day: Yes, Jim did pick up the cd shelves, with a neighbor to help instead of me because his car is a little bigger and could carry them both home rather than us having to go twice. The process of moving them into place (cleaning behind there, removing associated dust) and then screwing them into the wall was complex and long but it did get done. They're tall! And the do look good.
  • Alas, I didn't get to move CDs onto them, and the old bookshelves were just pushed to the side.
  • No time to admire or collapse.
  • Because, yes, in the middle of all this, I went to look at the sorority house which seems surprisingly possible, for us and for them. Some big things we need to worry about, but we shall see. This is all just possibilities right now.
  • The meeting about my novel went fine; the criticisms were reasonable and I definitely got enough positive feedback about things I was worried about to now worry about other things she brought up.
  • Came home to find out Jim had put all the cds away. I confess to feeling a pang about not have part of the ownership of this act. Ah well. so it goes. It looks nice.
  • Then we watched A Beautiful Mind on our new TV.
  • Sunday: woke up. Drank coffee. Frantically finished story crits. Did NOT take out previous day's pain on the authors (since there wasn't really any pain). Carried old shelves downstairs. Went to crit workshop. DID NOT take out previous days' pain on the authors.
  • Come home. Took nap. Read a little. Panicked about weekly journal not being done. Did it.
  • Now, the longed-for sleep.
new stuff!I dearly love a new purchase: a market for the senses. (Our new TV under the altar cloth, and our new tall(!) shelves.


Man, we do gots the stuff. We got lots of it.

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



Got a bunch of cds from Roots, a world music site, including a cd by a woman who works with Gabriel Yacoub, who is one of my favourite artists ever. It's French folk songs, in the mode of Yacoub, but far more gentle. I'm having a little trouble adjusting to its gentle nature. I speak of La Bergère's Ouvarousa.

I also got three cds by a Welsh tradiational-ish folk group called Fernhill, having heard some samples and really fallen for them. Need to do more listening to see if they live up to the samples but so far so good (the lead singer has a lovely voice). I hope they don't turn out to be too sweet in the long run.

Also got a disc by a young artist calling herself Petracovich. She does electronic pop, and so far it's pretty intriguing.

last week's listening § next week's listening



Bailed on Booker Prize Winner Yann Martel's Life of Pi, too. Sigh.

Reserving judgement on Clive Barker's children's fantasy Abarat. It's about a young girl in Minnesota who walked out onto the prairie only to meet up with strange creature and a tower and she causes an ocean to arrive and she sails away in the ocean to a strange land, full of islands (islands to each of the 24 hours of the day and a 25th-hour island just for extra) and magic and more strange creatures and she's pursued and kidnapped and all. I kind of like the characters and kind of like the imagination but it's not adding up to anything much, yet, really, and this first volume of it just kind of stops. There are lots of odd paintings in it, though, that Barker did himself. SO far intriguing enough that I'll read the next, I think.

I adored re-reading Garth Nix's Sabriel. This is a young adult fantasy novel about a girl, whose father has the magical ability to lay the Dead to rest. One day her father disappears, and despite the fact that she has been raised in an unmagical land, knows she must go into the magical land--and into the land of the Dead--to try to rescue him. A wonderful story, and just as great on the second read.

So was Lirael, which I re-read immediately thereafter. See my May 27, 2001 entry for comments on my first reading. There I complained a lot about not having the final installment of the story, but now I have Abhorsen in hand and have started reading it.

last week's reading § next week's reading



Meeting about the novel has helped me focus back on it, and back on writing. And to think about my writing. I think the short stories are a distraction for me--my natural length for fiction seems to be the novel and maybe I shouldn't let myself get distracted from that. I don't know. It's confusing. But short stories do not seem to be my forté. Novels may not be, either. I need to think on this. It has implications for the way I spend my time.

Sometimes I wonder if I should drop all this fiction work and just concentrate on the poetry. We shall see what we shall see. But you know, I'd really like ot know the answers to all this now before I do all the work. Not after, and find it it wasn't worth the effort and the angst.

last week's writing § next week's writing


Retrospective: old journal

August - September 1987

1514. August
August 16, 1987

Not dog days; we have cloud and rain. We're back from North Carolina where we visited Jim's dad and saw Mary Jo and the kids, met Jeffrey and celebrated his first birthday [1], met Judith [2] at Winston-Salem and spent the day with her there and at Pilot Mountain, and went back later with Jim's dad to see Old Salem Town. It was a very short visit--only five days, really, since two were spent in transit. It was hot there and humid, and really we spent most of our time going from air conditioner to air conditioner. Strange, detached life that, but even I was grateful to come into it from the heat of Pilot Mountain, beautiful though it was.
     Zach had one of the Emily cones down and was chasing it across the floor (we got two cones from Emily Carr's grave last May when we visited Victoria to see John). It's think it's time to wear out the cats. They've recovered their energy after the shots they got yesterday.

1515. Summer
September 20, 1987

The end of September, sunny, hot, and the clearest sky. School starts in a week. The younger ones have been in for a couple of weeks. Summer outside still, though.
Summer is outside, discarded,
yet the sun falls in everything,
equally. One the fat tomatoes
and the drying grasses, the wasp above
the wisp of a flower, the husk of the pod.
The lonely dog barks and barks to
simply be heard and the boys yell
at the football games. The laundry
dried hours ago still waits on the line
and the neighbour pulls lumber in
the upstairs window. Summer survives
all this, survives September. Lives out
the early darkness, the night chill,
the heavy moon pulling it away.
Clings, loosens its hold, comes back.
The cat chatters at a bug on the
wrong side of the window. It's
cheated her. She wants outside
in the sun, wants to chase
all the flies into the first frost.
Wants to chase the leaves that
aren't yet falling.
     Songs to survive the
          songs that survive the
               heat that revives the
                    sun and the light [3]

1516. What we throw out; what we take back
September 20, 1987

This morning an old friend called and asked if we were still together. Which made me think about it. Is it so odd? Is what keeps us together so foolish? I know what we call it, but it is made of so many different things, not the least of which is fear--it doesn't matter. We are together and not thinking of leaving, except in the usual, quick-leaving anger. So, here we are, still together in the new place [4]. Waiting for whatever change we will make together. It is become the backbone of our lives.

1517. How things change suddenly quickly
September 27, 1987

It is still summer. Or is summer again. The sun is warm, but the breeze in the front door is cool. All I want is to make the world so that I can write. Today a new poem. And in the tomorrows, others. Sweet as the bees' wax burning.

1518. A Warm October
October 1, 1987

In the mid 80s today. Warm as summer; the world has not yet given in to autumn, to the promise of deep wintering sleep.
These are words for her
her dark stark face
the moon glaring behind,
white wash in the shadows
striking the black brow
the hair silvering....
It is tonight to claim myself
despite it all--the things
which must be denied by
writing, made untrue by being
written away, though they
do make it hard to concentrate.
This must be my only confession.
Shall I make it all true?
Now focus:
A raven of a woman
dressed in black wings
stark as a face in a crowd
she stands out. Surrounded
by anything she still emerges
her pale face lifting away
from the weight of the dark
clothes she always wears.
She denies herself colour
so she may use it, herself
to overcome the whole world
--there is nothing that can
deny her--the wash of
a desert, golden and red,
sun-cleansed bones, that could
line the hills' back, the spread
of sky or an offering flower
more open than the empty eyes.
How the sun burns in all its
persuasions...all this pours
from the strong, round frame
more knowledge than it can
bear--the shadows of the
world that she lets bear
her down; the light that flows from her hands. [5]
Is this blessing enough?

the answer must always
be yes, and thanks.

Á demain.


1. Mary Jo is one of Jim's sisters. Celebrating Jeffrey's birthday was quite an accomplishment, as he was born with an incomplete esophagus and for a long time there was a question whether or not he would survive.

2. A friend we met while attending the University of Montana.

3. I used a bit of this in the poem "Out of Speech Out of Silence" in Spells for Clear Vision.

4. We had moved a couple of miles away into a mistake--a damp, moldy duplex that smelled horribly of old cigarettes. They must have really aired it out before we viewed it the first time. Ugh. That place really depressed me.

5. This became "Portrait of O'Keeffe" in Spells for Clear Vision.

last week's old journal § next week's old journal

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