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retrospective: old journal

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The Change That Wasn't

You know, every once in a while it's a good idea to google your name, AKA ego-surf. How else would I know that I'm being quoted in lesson plans "Neile Graham explains that...". *Shudder*. I also found out something important for work (a connection to the program not made) that I was able to have fixed. So ego surfing is good! I should have done it on work time!

This exercise also has pointed out to me how very, very bad an email correspondent I've been. I am trying to be better! Believe me! And I'm better than I have been in the past.

A busy week, with a poetry workshop, a fiction workshop, a Clarion West committee meeting, work, life, art. I talked to Christina who is on her way to the Aegean Sea. I read and emailed and wrote and listed a bunch of things for sale on half.com and amazon.com and sold a few of them. I played with Sophia and her peacock feather (her favourite toy) and have her a box to play with and a paper bag. We had a wonderful dinner at Tamar's that she cooked and I actually baked a dessert for the meal. And we got take out for dinner Friday night at our favourite local Thai restaurant. I had a minor touch of flu but so minor that I didn't miss any work or other events--I just had pink cheeks because of a touch of fever.

So, the big news for me is that I didn't cut my hair. I've been thinking of it for months and had finally decided to, even looked up the locks of love site to donate my hair to them as my plan was to do that and then to start immediately growing it out again. I planned to have a Before and After picture here and everything--but it's all still Before. And will remain Before for the foreseeable future, as Jim gradually grew more upset at the very idea. So now we have a deal--he has to brush my hair for me at least three times a week. We'll see how long that lasts. I'll let you know when the hair gets cut.

It's just that I'm a little bored with having my hair long, with it always looking like it needs brushing, and with it getting caught in things. Yesterday it got caught painfully in the car's seat belt as I was getting into the car. And at night when he changes position Zach walks on it and pulls it. It also gets bad knots. And it takes forever to dry.

And I'm just ready for a change.

But not yet, I guess.


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We got Richard Thompson's 1000 Years of Popular Music and have really been enjoying that and got the new June Tabor so traditional folk and folkrock. Right now we're playing a Richard Thompson concert disc and we're at "Shoot out the Lights". Great stuff. Back to 1000 Years of Popular Music: you haven't lived until you've heard Richard Thompson sing "Oops, I Did It Again". I had no idea it was actually a decent song.


last week's listening § next week's listening



Justina Robson's Natural History is the third novel of hers I've read (see my August 22, 1999 and October 14, 2001 entries for comments on her previous novels) and this is an even bigger novel--a space opera about the fate of the far human future, and the dimensions of time, space, and the universe. It begins when a half-technological human (they call these the Forged and these creatures range from planet terraformers to birds messengers) who is a space probe is dying, disabled by space debris when she find a non-human artifact. It seems like a simple crystal, but to her shock she discovers seems to have limitless power--it takes her immediately back to the solar system by her mere wish to be back there. Highly politicized, she decides this "Stuff" can be the source of the Forged liberation from the rest of the human race, and the planet near where she found it can be their refuge and the beginning of their own section of the galaxy. This is a complex, intriguing novel that only got better for me as I read it. Recommended.

Alice Hoffman's Second Nature is another odd novel. I always have mixed feelings about her novels. There's something about them that I love--magical things--but they always leave me feeling dissatisfied, that there's something just missing for me about what she does. This is the unlikely story of a divorced woman who rescues and helps cure a man who was in a plane wreck at three years old and who was brought up by wolves. And then they fall in love. All this complicated by her estranged husband, her teenage son and his first true love, her brother's problem (her brother just happens to be the wild man's psychiatrist), and a series of at first animal then human deaths. I think my problem here is where the unlikely parts happen they don't feel like magic to, just sloppy writing, so I don't trust the actual magic. I don't know. People keep recommending them to me, so I keep trying them. (See my September 28th entry for another Alice Hoffman entry)


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A new poem! I can't remember when I last wrote a new poem. And one I'm really quite happy with.

The novel revision progression slowed a little, due to a couple of days when I focused my attention on the poem, but they did continue once I stopped being obsessed by the poem.

I'm pleased. I'd recently been worrying about how little attention I've been paying to reading or writing poetry and started re-reading some favourite poetry books and joined an email list that focuses on women and poetry. Not that I need yet another email list, but I do need to be reminded of how much poetry matters to me, and it's time to be exposed to new poets and ideas about poetry.


last week's writing § next week's writing


Retrospective: old journal

February 1991: Trip to England with Jim and Christina

Saturday, February 13, 1991

Got up in time for breakfast, but moving slowly.
     First we went to Leighton House--gorgeous Persian, Arabic, Greek, and Egyptian, surround by tiles--an amazing blue, iridescent and magic. Fascinating tiled room with a fountain. Different designs everywhere you looked, some repeated, but mostly totally different in the arches of the window seats, the floor, the walls up to a high dome ceiling with stained glass--really lovely. Paintings throughout the rest of the house--w wonderful Morgan La Fay by Burner-Jones, some sketches by Leighton himself. The Center room at the top of the stairs was the silkroom and had recently been restored, wit ha wonderful wooden balcony (couldn't get in that) that overhung the tiled room--beautiful dark wood carvings.
     Walked around Kensington a little afterwards looking fo socks for Jim (successful). Stopped off at Harrods--huge and fun, got tea for Brenda an no one had ever heard of Sarah's game [1]. Then a long, long ride on the rube to the end of the Victoria line at Walthamstow and a dithery walk to the William Morris museum.
     It was a little disappointing, especially in light of the Leighton House, but it was wonderful to see real pieces of the wallpaper and the fabrics and the furniture designed by the company. A lot of things by his crowd.
     From there we went, appropriately, to Hammersmith [2]. Found the Lyric Theatre, picked up our tickets, and found a wonderful Bistro for a "blow out" meal. Christina and Jim had pasta--cream & mushroom, garlic & clam--I had a delicious lamb medallions with veg.
     "The Merchant of Venice" started at 7:30. We were fairly high up (no leg room, very hot) but could see well. It was a strange production, with Nazi references (overplayed) and over-dramatic music between scene changes, set in the 20s, but had good moments--Portia & Shylock, especially. The rest of the acting was nothing very special--Antonio was bad, parts overly comic.
     Toward the end when everyone was showing up at Portia's (that's how it seemed). Someone refers to hearing someone coming and there's a car horn, Stephano appeared in a motoring costume (duster and goggles) and I gave a snort of laughter (not one else in the audience did) whereafter Christina and I shook with laughter (Jim a little, too) for a good five minutes. So incongruous and silly. Portia in silver lamé It was like that--overly comic bits (the dark prince) and overly heavy (zeig heil chorus just at the end of Shylock's defeat). Shakespeare shone through it, despite the costumes and that incongruity or perhaps because of it--the text seemed somehow divorced from what was to be seen on stage.
     Home, very thirsty, smelly shoes all around, crashed to bed.


1. These were all commissions I was fulfilling for friends

2. Appropriately, because Morris had a strong connection with Hammersmith.

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