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retrospective: old journal

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Where I am

March roared in like--well, like the odd change of season. We had clear cold days, so dry my skin itched, my nose dried out, and my hair stuck to my coat with static. I had to boil water in a hot pot in my office so there would be some moisture in the air. Then finally it rained and we were back to ourselves, the wet coast. Quite a relief. And the lovely smell in the air as the rain fell. Rain in spring is heaven.

When I hear about whether elsewhere I am reminded why I choose to live here. While snow is fun to play in, I hate whole winters of it (Montana, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario). I'm not fond of ice storms (Ontario). Or of dry heat (Montana) and especially I hate humid heat (Ontario). Christina talks about how she misses the sun here, but it's sunny more often than people like to say here, and while we have rain we don't get humid heat.

We get spring early. Right now some ornamental cherry trees along the street are in full and lovely bloom. Our clematis is starting to bloom, as is our candytuft. The pear tree is budding.

Sometimes I think about moving back to Canada, but the time has never been right as far as the economy goes. Jim makes so much more money than I do, and if we went back to Canada it would take a long time for his papers to comethrough so he could work there, and I would have to support him. I'm not sure what kind of job I could get there.

And of course there's the question of where to live? I'm not sure I'd like to live in an even bigger city, which means Vancouver. Victoria's a nice size and my parents are there and certainly it has the ocean and forest, but there's so little there economically and I hear through the grapevine that the writing community there isn't as open and kind as it used to be. I don't think I could stand going back to that situation.

So here we stand, at least while we're still employed. I wonder if we weren't how much Seattle would have to hold us. I certainly like living here in many ways but sometimes I feel it's not quite the place I might have dreamed of. But what place is ever a dream? For a while I wanted to live on one of the islands, but I would hate to be at the mercy of ferries again. I got quite a dislike of them (except for vacations) when living in Victoria. We like our neighbourhood, but sometimes I feel I'd like to be somewhere where I could easily walk to a grocery store. More urban.

Or less urban--near the water or near a woods. I miss the house where I grew up, which had woods behind it, and through the trees a view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and islands beyond that.

I don't know why I'm thinking about this tonight. Maybe because there was yet another accident on the corner and the city won't put in a traffic circle there. Maybe because it's spring and it's time to think of change or of dreams, or something.

In other where I am, status of Neile news, I'm still getting tired easily (how long do these viruses hold on, anyway?) but am basically feeling better. Worried about changes at the office, trying to think through changes this year for Clarion West. And wanting to get seriously back to the novel but afraid of it. That's where I always am, it seems.


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



The new Cat Power continues to have most of our attention. It really is wonderful--powerful and yet kept simple.

Right now I'm listening to kaitlyn ni donovan's dinner with bosch tape that I burned onto cd. She has an incredible clarity in her sound and even in this yearly tape was a wonderful songwriter.


last week's listening § next week's listening



Wow, what a strange book Michael Faber's Under The Skin is. It's the story of an odd misshapen women who continually cruises up and down a highway in Scotland, picking up big male hitchhikers. What she's really doing is surprising but somehow inevitable, and this is a fascinating look at a very odd but human woman in an improbable (allgorical? metaphorical?) situation. This is a science fiction novel with a mainstream sensibility. (See my February 2 entry for comments on another of his novels.)

last week's reading § next week's reading



Working on a new poem for a workshop tomorrow. Hope I'll get a draft done in time.


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Retrospective: old journal

August 1988

1542. Toronto
August 7, 1988

I am just returned from a visit to Christina in her new home, a garret I have dreamed of. Beautiful and open. She should be able to work well there, I would think.
     Went to a movie with her friend Ann, talking about the difference between eastern Europeans and Americans. Today on the train home I read a quote from Nadine Gordimer, who says in America "'nobody's at risk' except from their own demons." Elsewhere in the world demons are external and real.
     The neighbourhood Christina lives in is so beautiful--we sat on her screaming balcony [1] looking down and out at the trees around. So alive and such an oasis. The houses are beautiful, too, old brick with towers and stained glass and charming touches. And a few blocks away is Bloor Street, alive and new wave and jumping.

From into the The Creative Process:
     "...It is not the two activities which are opposed, the conscious and the unconscious, but the principles acting in them.
     "The opposition is often dramatized in objective situations, as when van Gogh agonizes in a morbid inactivity because none of the current ways of expression can give issue to the nameless life within him for which he has not yet found a path.

1543. Hot & sticky
August 11, 1988

Malamud from his Paris Review interview, read at the laundromat:
     "Some writers think language is all they need; they mistake it for subject matter. Some rely on whimsy. Some on gut feeling. Some of them don't make the effort to create a significant form..."
     First drafts are for learning what your novel or story is about. ...The first draft of a book is the most uncertain--where you need guts, the ability to accept the imperfect until it is better."
     "Very young writers who don't know themselves obviously often don't know what they have to say. Sometimes by staying with it they write themselves into a fairly rich vein."

From Robin's The Poetic Pattern:
     re: defining poetry
     "--but it has, immediately one reacts to it, identifying it as 'poetry', the effect of arousing one's sense of life in such a way that the newly revealed patterns sets in motion and re-orders all those other patterns of one's own inner jigsaw-puzzle of thought, emotion, memory and vision.
     "The subject is...a medium, and not an end."

1544. Crossing Open Ground
August 14, 1988

After several weeks of wandering in it, I just finished Lopez's Crossing Open Ground. It is a wise and human collection. The love of earth and stone, of animals and birds, of the first peoples, is obvious. It is North America he loves, what is left of it. He offers suggestions as to how to preserve what is left--small steps that might help to open people's eyes and change our destructive orientation to what goes on in what is left in the land around us and how we affect it.
     He suggests, instead of relying only on the western scientific approach (because it is incomplete) to turn to the long-term field observations of non-Western cultural traditions. He realizes that there are things that they do not take into account, but that they open up other areas of thought.
     "A second, much less practiced remedy is to cultivate within outselves a sense of mystery--to see that the possibilites for an expression of life in any environment, or in any single animal, are larger than we can predict or understand, and that this is all right. Biology should borrow here from quantum physics, which accepts the premise that, under certain circumstances, the observer can be deceived. Quantum physics, which its ambiguous particles and ten-dimensional universes, is a branch of science that has in fact returned us to a state of awe with nature, without threatening our intellectual capacity to analyze complex events."
              --from "The Passing Wisdom of Birds"



1. A balcony rather like a fire escape but there are no stairs, so if there's a fire I guess you go out there and scream.

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