Les Semaines

October 10, 2004

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

 §

46

Another year older. Friday I turned 46. How is the view from here? Familiar. Time still speeds by faster and faster. I read a theory somewhere that the reason time seems faster when you're older is that there's so much of it behind you. Which makes a weird kind of sense even though it doesn't feel terribly explanatory. All I know is that it goes faster and faster and I can't keep up.

I do feel like I'm making progress--the kind of progress I should have made twenty years ago. Like getting more disciplined about writing. Like making a continual effort not to let things get out of hand in my study and at the office. Of course it's hard to see how that goes until I get caught up and find the bottoms of all those mysterious piles of paper.

It was a little surprising--yesterday I took a few things out of one of those stacks and looked at them, and found a little bag of stocking stuffers I'd picked up when I was in Montreal in 2001. That was an--um--alarming indication of just how bad my chaos is.

Jim bought me a bookcase for my study for my birthday (which meant us drving down to Ikea again this week--twice in one week is twice too much) so that I could replace the little two-shelfer in the corner with the books stacked high atop it. Now I have six shelves and they're pretty darn full. It's so nice to have them all reachable: my Scotland, folklore, Celtic, witches and magic and medieval and Middle Ages reference books, all at hand. And my dalek tucked in there to yell "terminate!" whenever I push his speaker button.

For my birthday itself Devin and Tamar came over for dinner. Devin brought the sugar gliders (I made her go back home to get them, mean me); Tamar brought ribs and all from the OK Corral. Zac came over later and we watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind which Tamar had got me for my birthday, and we ate the lemon poppyseed cheesecake Jim had made.

If you want to look back, here's where I turned 41, 42, 43, 44, and 45.

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

Listening

A new Gabriel Yacoub. It's a two-disc live compilation, and it's wonderful. There's something magical in his music for me, whether he's singing traditional folk, his own contemporary folk, or his more experimental pop.

Also, went to a lovely early music concert with Karen and Barry: Emma Kirkby with Fretwerk. We have several CDs by Emma Kirkby and several by Fretwerk, but this is the first I've heard them together and it was lovely. They did a collection of pieces by Byrd: some funny, some stately, some yearning, and all gorgeous interweavings of music lines. So, so beautiful.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Believe the hype. Susannah Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is probably the closest thing to an adult Harry Potter we're likely to see. More like a cross between Jane Austen and Harry Potter. It's a great deal of fun, and I have vivid pictures of various characters (and their personalities) in my head. That's lovely, and unusual for me. This is the story of the only two practicing magicians remaining. There has been a great waning of English magic (and of connection with the world of faery) over the last few centuries (there had been a Golden Age when English magicians had faery servants and did powerful works of magic), and now there is Mr Norrell, who is buying and hoarding all the useful magical publications. Finally he decides he must emerge from his Yorkshire retreat and promote a careful version of English magic. Then Jonathan Strange arrives on the scene, a wealthy young man with a natural, magical talent. First he becomes Mr Norrell's apprentice, then when that becomes too chafing a role, his antagonist.

Stewart O'Nan's The Night Country is a ghost story about a traffic accident where three high school kids are killed, a fourth is severely brain damaged, and a fifth survives. A sixth survivor, whose life is falling apart, is one of the town's policemen. It's coming up on Hallowe'en night, a year to the night of the accident, and the dead kids are observing what the living are doing and haunting them as best they can. An interesting story with intriguing characters, but I never got truly absorbed in it, mostly because I was anticipating the withheld information about the accident. When this withheld information turned out to be exactly what I had first suspected (but dismissed because it was too easy), I was disappointed, and couldn't figure out why the author withheld the information so long. Any one of the speaking characters could have let it slip at any time--it wasn't that none of them knew, simply that none of them said it directly. Then I was annoyed because I felt manipulated by the author. I hate it when it's so obvious. And the stupid thing is that the story would still have worked if he hadn't withheld. In the end, despite the novel's strength, this made me feel like I'd wasted my time reading this; that I'd been played a cheap trick.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Rather a frustrating writing week, just because of time constraints and weariness, though ending with a good session on Saturday. I'm still working on strengthening the major subplot thread.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

This will return soon. Still working out the bugs with the new scanner/printer. Now at least I have it connected.

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

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