Les Semaines

February 29, 2004

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: old journal

 §

The Leaping Year

The 29th of February. And a journal-entry Sunday. This will be the only time this will happen, I'm sure. Just for the record. It's not exactly earth-shattering, but notable. And the year is really doing it's leaping thing. It's leaping past at lightning speed. Sometimes I think nightmare speed. It seems like just a moment ago it was January.

Here there are signs of spring. I went out this afternoon with just a sweater on. I carried my coat just in case I needed it but didn't. Daffodils are out on the street median. Several cherry trees have buds coming alive. Our candytuft has bits of white candy starting to show. And best of all, it's light now when I leave for work in the morning. I'm sure we have lots of stormy, rainy days ahead. I don't mind them anyway but now that it's heading to spring I mind them less and less.

What I do mind is that my head is so full of stuff it's keeping me awake at night. I spend so much time worrying about this and that and the other thing I have to remember. All stupidly because I'm unlikely to forget any of these things or not get them done. But still I'm tense about it all and have trouble unwinding. Once I'm asleep, of course, I have trouble waking up. But that's all part of my usual thing--once I'm doing something I don't want to stop. Playing, sleeping, talking to friends, even meetings...I linger in the mode for a bit before being able to shift directions.

In and out of an SF convention this weekend. I missed the day most people I knew went, going for a while Friday night and Sunday afternoon. Saturday evening we saw a friend we hadn't seen for ten years. She and Jim knew each other vaguely at Wake Forest University, when she was a freshman and he a senior. Then right when we were graduating from Montana's poetry program she started there. She moved to Seattle before we did, but then left just as we arrived. Since then we've just seen her once when we were in North Carolina when she was in South Carolina visiting family and once when she passed through Seattle. Since then, she's gotten married and now has a charming three-year-old daughter. We spent the evening talking, getting to know them, wishing there were time for a longer visit.

Coming up will be a short, quick week as on Friday we head up to Victoria for the weekend.

Busy, busy, and the year leaps on.

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

Listening

New Jorane ep, evapore. A bit of a disappointment as it's very like the last studio disc 16mm as, though it's interesting to listen to, it's very shapeless and hard to tell one piece from another, and it sounds just like the last disc. I loved vent fou which had actual songs. This one feels blurry and indistinct. I like it well enough but it just isn't compelling. Maybe that will change on repeated plays, but it didn't with 16mm. Some people can't get enough of this kind of thing, but alas I'm not one of them.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Stephen Leigh's Speaking Stones was a delightful surprise. I had no expectations, having bought it to support him because he's in the same Not-a-Webring speculative fiction writer's journal list that I'm in. It has been sitting in my to-read pile for a long time, and I really wish I'd picked it up before. It's the second in a series, but it stands alone just fine. It's about an isolated earth colony that gets stuck on a planet that at first they think has no intelligent life, but it turns out their arrival helps reawaken a race that had turned feral. Of course, the two species have territorial conflicts. Humans live in tightly bonded extended families but have undergone a seachange due to the new planet, there now is a third, intermediary sex that helps deal with genetic mutations caused by the environment (and probably also by the small human gene pool). Members of this third sex have gone native in a way, learning much from the history and religion of the native species. However, the human treat the native race much like European settlers treated the North American natives, and the conflict begins to escalate. This was an extremely enjoyable read.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Dammit, another shower idea for the novel that is going to cause me some pain. It's probably a good idea but is going to be some annoying to implement. I'm working on it. Changing the bulk of the novel to third person. Why do I do these things to myself?

Got another grant ready. This time the lottery request (meaning I have about as much chance of getting this one as winning the lottery) one to the NEA.

Saturday morning I tried an experiment with my friend Karen. I picked her up and we drove to a local coffee shop, plugged in our computers, and wrote for an hour. I didn't expect it to work. Thought I'd play with the time and waste it. Instead, I opened up the file of the poem I've been wanting to revise, and tore into it, making some pretty drastic revisions. Today I looked at it and think I did some good work. The poem still is hasn't got exactly the feel I want it to, but it's much closer. It's a poem I've been uncomfortable with for a long time, and I recently showed it to a friend and she pointed out some key problem areas for her, which helped me crack it open again.

Once I was done messing about with the poem, I opened up the first chapter of the novel and continued turning it into third person. I think my instinct here was right, and since there are opening sections in first person I still have the opportunity to get directly into my character's voice, but having the bulk of it in third person will give me a little more room. So I don't think I'm wasting time doing this.

I was, however, surprised when our hour of time was up and it was time to pack up and take Karen home and get on with my day. We're going to make this a regular thing, though it will be irregular for the next little while as we're both going out of town in March.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

Trip to Scotland with Christina, July-August 1991

Edinburgh and environs, Sunday, July 28th

Got up a little slowly today--I'd had a coughing and apparently groaning night.

Walked through the park again to take pictures, then to Holyrood Palace. Decided not to go in because they wouldn't let us through to the abbey ruins behind. Went up the hill and climbed partway, where I nursed by dizzy cold while Christina climbed farther. It was lovely, with a view of the mound and flowers. Just sat a long time.

Wandered along the Royal Mile again into a few sweater shops, then over to St. Andrews bus station and took the bus to Queensferry (much farther than we'd guessed it was--out in the country, a separate town and all, when from what we'd read it made it sound like it was in the outskirts of town). On the bus we met a couple whose great great grandfather had worked on the Firth of Forth bridge, which we saw when we got there. Walked through the town--typical British seaside type, then got the ferry (really more a tour boat) to Inchcomb.

InchcolmInchcomb Abbey.

 

The abbey was wonderful: all narrow dark stairways and corners, parts where bits of medieval flooring still existed, the dormitory, the one warming fire for the whole place. Climbed up into the bell tower--took lots of pictures. In out around.

The view from InchcolmThe view from the tower.

 

Really lovely. Green, green grass, another cell outside, trying to imagine the monks--and taking silly pictures. Looking in corners with the flashlight and finding wrappers only. The cloisters and how cold it must have been.

On the ferry on the way home we were followed by a flock of gulls and so we fed them.

Bus home, slow walk home by another bookstore and the fish and chip shop.

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