2003

09.28


what I'm thinking and doing

what I'm listening to

what I'm reading

what I'm writing

retrospective: old journal


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Back to Normal

All right, all right, I confess I'm feeling better now. In fact, I'm almost entirely over it. The only remnant is sudden bit of tiredness and the occasional cough. I've been taking naps after getting home from work and that has been keeping me going quite nicely. So, yes, it's time to resume life as normal. Back to work and all of that.

Speaking of work, this was orientation week, full of meetings, and hectic. It's hard to do the things that need to be done to get the Ph.D. program off the ground, the documents and forms and contact with the Graduate School and computer people and student people and all of that. The computer things are beginning to happen, but only behind the scenes--nothing is appearing publicly. Students can sign up for our classes but they don't appear on the official websites, which is very confusing for students from other departments.

The orientations were a little difficult as neither of the directors for the certificate programs were in town and I had to do both of them solo. I'm very knowledgeable about all the paperwork and such, but not the more important at orientation time, the exciting descriptions of the disciplines. I fake it by talking about some recent projects, and hope that serves to excite students enough to sign up for the mailing lists if the subject at all interests them. I had plenty of new students (and continuing students) stopping by for advising, so I guess it worked somewhat.

Still settling into my new office, too. I do like having everything closer to hand and not bashing my knee on my desk drawer all the time. Happily I was able to wedge in an extra filing cabinet that I didn't think I would be able to. There's not a quarter-inch to spare, though!

Being able to take it easy has been good for me. Not feeling pressured about writing has been gone, too. Turning down social engagements, not going out to readings or other evening events, all of that helped me relax enough to get better. I told myself that on October 1st I'd rejoin life as usual, though I'm tempted not to. I really liked not having commitments and a full schedule. Work was enough and the few errands I began to run after work.

And this weekend we did enough. Cleared out the laundry area, under the stairs and the garage, piling stuff because Jim and our neighbour across the street were doing a garbage dump run. It cleared out so much space, and we finally moved the filing cabinet Jim bought from work into the furnace room, and I dumped the things stored in the plastic bins in there and now the bins are upstairs, ready for me to dump the things falling out of my messy boxes into them. Amazing how good it feels to get things organized and tidied out. And to have the energy to do it.

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Listening

We have a new Björk live box set to enjoy.

 

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Reading

Steve Cockayne's fantasy novel Wanderers and Islanders is a very odd beast. Parts of it I really enjoyed and others I felt like I was plodding through. In it there are three characters--a young red-headed boy, an ex-military man, and a wizard whose lives are gradually being affected by some strange powers. Odd things happen to them and their lives seem both chaotic but pushed by forces beyond the natural forces of life. They are human and confused and and each of them is thrown out of their usual lives but not in a way familiar through other fantasy novels. If the book was inventive in that it was less good at helping us see the realities of day-to-day life so something seemed too abstracted to really get caught up in this. I found it interesting and disappointing at the same time.

Mai The Psychic Girl is a young adult graphic novel translated from Japanese. It's about a 14-year-old girl who has powers of telekenesis but a strange hidden group of powerful men have discovered that she has it and want to control her, and so they come after her. Thus far the novel is about how she and her father escape then, and they go to a valley where she discovers she is part of a long line of women who have had these powers and used it to protect their valley. It's an intriguing story as she's a very real young woman--both silly and mature at the same time, like all kids that age.

Alice Hoffman's Blue Diary is the painful story of an exemplary "perfect" husband, father, and smalltown citizen (a hero on the volunteer fire department, a well-beloved softball coach) who is discovered to have raped and murdered a young girl shortly before he arrived at the town and married one of the town beauties. The whole town is outraged--half of them have envied them and the other half are close friends and felt betrayed by him. His wife and son are shocked and betrayed. This was painful reading at parts. The perfection was a little too much (everyone is too beautiful and perfect) but the reality of some of the peripheral characters is charming.

 

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Writing

I got my Canada Council grant written and off into the mail, including revising some poems. I'm starting to get back to the real work.

 

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Retrospective: old journal

February 1991: Trip to England with Jim and Christina

Tuesday, February 9, 1991
Hay-on-Wye

We got up for breakfast at 8:30 in the dining room. Had toast, cereal from the double rows of boxes, and a local sausage. Then quick out to the town to begin the bookstore hunting. They're old shops, converted barns, a converted cinema, books in basements, attics, everywhere. I didn't find a Carmina Gadelica [1] (no one had ever heard of it) but I had a good time looking, tripping over the cobbles and sunken flagstones. In early afternoon we were at the castle series of bookstores (a science fiction, art, and photography one) and the woman working there recognized Christina from her previous visit and let us into the restored part of the Castle. Fun books there, and greater fun being in the castle. Christina says it's the Jacobean part. Huge fireplaces and lovely beamed entryways and arches and a cold flagstone floor. Finally we came out and recommenced wandering up and down the town (the road up by the clock, the Back Fold, etc.), doing the print shops, too. Jim got a map of Baltimore for his dad and Virginia, and I went to Cinema Books, wandered around there than back to the print shops where I thought seriously about an Eno print. We got back to the Seven Stars and I'd decided I had to have it, so went back o the Hay Prints. By that time he'd closed and I was stamping my feet in disappointment when he returned with a bag of coal and I bought my Eno fairy. She's lovely and makes me think of Mom's story. A combination of the picture and the story is what caught me about it.
Eno Fruit SaltsEno's Fruit Salts. The picture is now hanging on the wall beside me. Eno's fruit salts were still around when I was a child--I remember seeing them in our medicine chest and vaguely remember tasting them. Mom tells a story about eating a whole bottle when she was a little girl.

 

     Then we walked along by the Wye on a slippery trail with fishing jetties, and back again along a higher part, then over the stile to walk along the old town wall. Very dark by then, and we were joined by a dog. Walked all the way around the Castle (over around the stile then by city roads to complete the loop). Got food at the Spar store for dinner, watched TV (a strange didactic show about time travellers acting as mummers in 980 Wales explaining laws) and then Peter Davison in a horrible comedy about office workers.


NOTES

1. It was reprinted about 10 years ago and I finally got a copy. Robin Skelton had told me about it years before. It's a collection of chants, poems, and spells from early times, most translated from the Gaelic.

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