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retrospective: old journal

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Les Semaines



What Next? Now the Car

The second icky Monday in a row (after last week's hot water heater replacement) started off quite innocently enough. When we dropped her off at the airport last week, I had told Tamar I could pick her up at the airport after work, so Jim left me his car and took mine, and because it's the best way to track people down at the airport, I took the cellphone, too.

Picking Tamar up was fairly uneventful, despite heavy traffic at the airport and having to circle around four times. We went and got lunch and I took her home. Jim was really late getting home, but I thought nothing of it, as he had planned to go to the bookstore after work and do some Christmas shopping for his family.

Finally about 6:30 I got a call from him, asking me to come and get him at our auto repair place. I leapt into the car and got him. The always-iffy clutch had caused the car die on him on the highway on the way home. He'd had to pull over, and, because the cell phone was in my possession and not his, had to wait for people passing to help him. A policeman pulled up behind him and offered to radio in for a tow truck for him. Jim asked him for a AAA truck. Well, he waited about 45 minutes (in the dark) and finally a tow truck appears. Not AAA and was going to charge $150 to tow him. He called AAA for Jim, and so Jim waited another 45 minutes for the AAA truck to arrive. And then for me to come and get him. Sigh.

So Jim suffered most, but since then I have been suffering. I can't believe what a pain in the ass it is not to have a car when you're used to having one. I hate the bus that comes closest to our house from the UW. It has uncomfortable (too high and stiff) seats, is packed, and slow, and jerky with a stupid route. It takes an hour what takes me 20 minutes in my car. By the time I get off it that bus my back is aching, and so by the time I've walked home my back is screaming.

I also hate not being able to run errands on my way home from work, and having to wait until Jim gets home in the evenings to get out and go do them, because once I'm home I like to stay home and not go out again. Wah wah wah!

I hate it, and hate that I hate it. I want to be all citygrrl and public transportation-y. I feel horrible that we have two cars in a two-person household. O, to live within walking distance of work! Or to live in a city with a subway or bus lanes or something fast. We're going to be getting a monorail and nearby even, but like so many things in this town it won't be going east-west, which is My and Jim's commute, but north-south. Sigh.

Oh, and we decided to get another cell phone. Both of our cars are getting untrustworthy and old (mine's 15, his is 13), and we're not into replacing them until we absolutely have to.

So for Christmas Jim's getting the hot water heater we had to get last week, and I got a new clutch. It's nice, though. No more funny noises, no more dragging.

But what will be next week's expense? I shudder to think, though I already have an idea. Sigh. I've got an aching tooth.


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



I haven't been listening to any one thing in particular this week, but I'm already tired of Christmas carols on the store PA systems. Yuck.


last week's listening § next week's listening



Alice Taylor's memoir, To School Through the Fields: An Irish country childhood, is almost painfully charming, and occasionally twee (the poetry, especially). Part of it is just delightful but by the end of it I was in serious sugar overdose. It is just what it says it is: a woman experiences as a child in the Irish countryside in the early 1940s.

Graham Joyce's The Facts of Life is a magic realist novel about a family, mostly of women, living in Coventry, England, during and after World War II. It's a family of odd individuals, the strangest of which is Cassie, who thought she has a good heart, is fey and irresponsibly unworldly. When she has a second child (she has previously given up a daughter) she decided she can't give up her son, and her matriarchal mother decides that they all will take turns helping Cassie look after him. The novel tells the story of young Frank's strange upbringing by his wildly different aunts, his feckless mother, and his powerful grandmother. This all is complicated by strange events and family gift. I enjoyed this thoroughly, unlike other novels I've read by this author. For me the fondness with which he treats the characters her illuminated the novel. (See my July 9, 2000 entry for comments on another novel by Graham Joyce.)


last week's reading § next week's reading



Hear a Real Audio segment of Jim reading his poetry:

Me, I spent some time tweaking a story, preparatory to getting it out in the mail again.


last week's writing § next week's writing


Retrospective: old journal

July 1991

1627. The Voice that is Calling
July 15, 1991

for Robin Skelton

Where are the spirits of the Druids
now? They enchanted each other
with rods made of brass,
metamorphosed one another
into lumps of stone and oak.
Their spirits are wafted through
the air, and the man or beast
they meet is smitten, while their bodies
are still under enchantment. There was a stone
a Innis-na-Gere, where light and round
it something would shine in the dark
The man who owed farmer decided to blast it
from his fields & found at its centre
this form like a man, with head
& legs and arms.
I held such a stone it
once in my hand: it wasn't not stone
nor marble, nor flint, and hand
human shape. [1]

1628. The Tree in the World
July 19, 1991

Here it is, the easy American metaphor.
The sharp, simple, (twisted) equivalency,
the words meaning death. Let me explain:
outside my window, where I sit
looking out on the world, is a tree,
yes, leaves that catch and bend light
their shadowed, secret unders, the mystery
of the autumnal transformations
--and even more, a cherry tree. So--
the facts of the case are it belongs
to the neighbour (there, I'm exonerated)
and last autumn shortly after it turned,
much before the brunt of winter hit it,
the neighbour came with a saw and
lopped it, unevenly, awkwardly. This
was no pruning but an attack. I feared
at first he meant to leave only a stump
But there are still many unsymmetrical
branches eccentrically offering their leaves
to the light, and in the spring it sacrificed
blossoms to the season. This tree is a part
of the human family. Think of it as the poor,
attacked by the wealthy, those with money
enough to be landlords, who say nuke the
Iraqis, I only rented to her because she
was from a rich family and I don't believe she's allergic
to the formaldehyde in the new carpets,
man. The tree cut barbarically, the blossoms,
the new leaves, its awkward inelegance,
its lumpish dance in the wind. But this
morning a cherry, just right in my reach.
I picked it, dear listener,
and my lord it was sweet. [2]


1. This poem, heavily revised, appeared in a tribute for Robin and later in Blood Memory as "Alban Eilir: A Calling On Song".

2. This one, too, was drastically revised before it appeared in Blood Memory.

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