Les Semaines

March 7, 2004

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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Tourist in Your Own Home Town

Again, I've combined two weeks, this time because of the trip home and a little minor virus-fighting.

Going home to Victoria this past weekend was, as always, strange. Strange that it had been two years since we were back there. Strange that it had changed so much. Strange that it had changed so little. Strange that I have changed so much and so little. Seeing my parents is always delightful, and I love going to visit them. I was sleepy the whole weekend but other than that I had a good time. It was so good to see our friend John, who has just moved back to Victoria. They live just a couple of blocks from each other, in a wonderful part of Victoria near where the Clipper comes in and in easy walking distance of downtown, and just a block from the water. Really, it's almost perfect.

The weird part was going to a dinner and then to a reading with John. It reminded me so much of when I was a UVic as a writing student and how I never quite felt part of the in crowd. There was a large dinner where we didn't really know too many people and only a couple of them were particularly friendly (two of them were delightful and it was good to see Patricia again). The reading was long, with a half hour (supposed to be half that length) break in the middle. By the time it was over I felt quite dead.

The reading had even been on campus, which is recognizable as the place I went to school 24 years ago only in fits and starts. The place we were was new, but a typical "nice" university room (actually, the University of Washington has few of those overall).

It was just odd.

But being there reminded me of how much I really would like to live somewhere within walking distance of the water, or a park or a something. I sometimes think of moving back to Victoria, but I don't know what we'd do to earn a living. I want to buy one of the pseudo-Victoria houses built next to my parents. Make tea for them, and pop by. Then go home and write. Maybe I should start buying lottery tickets.

Home again, to meetings and a virus that keeps popping in an out. Tuesday I felt sick enough to stay home. Or rather, I felt sick early in the morning, then felt better enough to get dressed and go to work, and I was only there for a half hour before I felt so horrible I went home again. And I felt fine then, quite good actually, until late Friday morning when it struck again. It was gone by Saturday morning. Very strange.

Saturday was busy: my writing session with Karen in the morning, which was productive. Then I went to the library and grocery store and filled Jim's car up (was shocked at the total--almost $20!--but when I tore off the receipt I got part of the previous purchaser's, and his had been $48, so I felt much better.

Anyway, home to eat a little lunch then out again to a local bookstore where I met up with a member of the online women's poetry group I joined a few months ago. We had a wonderful talk--she's quite delightful and energetic. I lost track of time talking to her and had to fly home to clean the house, as Karen and Barry came over for dinner and a movie. Which was wonderful, but the dinner and the company. We really, really enjoy spending time with them.

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

Listening

I've been listening to Turkish traditional folk singer Zara to put together a sketchy Ectophiles' Guide entry for her. She has a dark deep voice and the songs sound very Turkish to me. Very enjoyable as a change of pace.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Christopher Paolini's Eragon is getting a lot of press because the author was 15 when he wrote the book, and first his parents published the book by their own press before it got picked up by Knopf. It's a surprisingly mature book, and it's imaginative, though it does have a few unfortunately obvious echoes (Eragon and Aragorn, for example). Still, I found it an enjoyable read. If this kind of book (a young boy gets chosen by a dragon and has a wicked king and his evil minions to fight) is your pleasure, I recommend it.

Patricia A. McKillip's Alphabet of Thorn is lovely, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and as always, McKillip's prose is a delight. This is the story of a young translator in a library and the young magician who gives her a book no one lese can translate, and of a young queen who has just inherited a kingdom and the ancient sorceress who is afraid that the kingdom's delicate political balance will crumble. Something in this book has the feel--the character of the translator--of Sheri S. Tepper's lovely Marianne series. Highly recommended. (See my June 25, 2000, January 27, 2002 February 16 and August 17, 2003 entries for comments on other novels by McKillip.)

Diane Duane's Wizard's Holiday is the next installment in her ongoing young adult Young Wizards series. I'm starting to get a little less impressed with them. In this one Nita and Kit go to an island paradise planet for a young wizard's exchange, while Dairine and her father host three young wizard's from other distant planets. telling too much more would mean spoilers, but the reason I was disappointed in it was that the problem with the island paradise was of course the most obvious while, while the problem Dairine and her new friends had to solve felt abstract and arbitrary. While I like the characters, it just all feels so distant I don't care so very much. The series may have just lost its freshness for me. Some cool things still, though. I like the hints that Kit's dog, Ponch, is about to do some startling things. I was hoping he might do them in this book. (See my August 19, 2001 and February 9, 2003 for entries on other books in this series.)

There doesn't seem to be any sign that Marilyn Bowering's Cat's Pilgrimage is going to be published in the U.S., which is a sad thing, because this is a wonderful book which needs to find its audience. The reviews that I've seen of it haven't been great, which is sad because I loved every bit of this. It's a dark story of an extremely contemporary teenager from a small town on Vancouver Island, who runs away from her mother and her boyfriend to find her father in the countryside in England. In the meantime her father has discovered that his horrible stepbrother has managed to leave dark powers behind him. There are also three wise guardian animals, the keepers of three magical stones. It is a story of human decisions, actions and inaction and the consequences of both. I love the interaction of the human and contemporary with the mythic here. How messy and true everyone's lives seemed. Highly, highly recommended.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Yes, I'm working on changing the novel, gradually getting more ideas and becoming more unstuck with it. I actually have some enthusiasm and excitement about working on it again, rather than the feeling that I'd rather be doing just about anything else.

Also working on research for the Scotland poems. I do this a lot, but rarely mention it. It helps, too, that I'm gong through the journal of my first trip to Scotland in my retrospective journal section, at least when I'm updating that.

The Saturday morning coffee shop writing sessions are going quite well.

Rejections, though. Didn't get any poems accepted in an anthology, and got turned down again for the big Canada Council grant. Sigh. Trying not to be sad about this.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

Alas, this is on hiatus while I catch up with myself again. Sorry to keep stopping and starting on this.

last week's old journal § next week's old journal

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2222 people have wandered through this week with me