Les Semaines

February 19, 2005

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


Playing Catch Up

Some days are too event-filled. This week my some day was Thursday. In it:
  • I took Devin to have two wisdom teeth pulled
  • Mom went to the specialist to have confirmed that yes she does need to have her knee replaced
  • Jim's dad went to emergency with numbness on 1 side of his body
Other highlights from this week include:
  • a trip to Costco with Jim and Tamar to celebrate Valentine's Day (or not)
  • a dental visit for filling reshaping
  • a student review meeting that was missing an essential person
  • Alvin, one of my favourites of Devin's sugar gliders had to go to the emergency vet to get four stitches to keep the fur around her neck together after getting caught up in the string from a terry cloth towel (needless to say, no more terry cloth towels in the glider cage)
I feel like I've been trying to playing catch up forever. Racing against the clock to get things done at work and at home. I feel buried in Too Much To Do (when do I not?). At least this week I did accomplish some things. Still, things have been tougher than they needed to be. I've been worried about my mom, who is staying in Alberta with my sister to work out all this knee replacement stuff. Then belatedly we find out we should have been worrying about Jim's dad, too.

I know that one of the things I should be doing is prioritizing and just not doing so much, but again, there isn't anything I want to get rid of. Except the stress of it all. And someone to deal with some of this paperwork for me would be great. And to take the car in for various repairs. I need a wife.


Chronicles of Sloth: Episode 14

  • Email inbox down to 279 messages (from 302 last week, from 380 when I started tracking this, but still way up from my 231 low in late November)
  • New novel stands at 43,783 (up from 41,998) words
  • Emailed out two copies of my story "Ars Poetica" to foreign reprint markets
  • One more medical appointment for me to arrange (the tits-in-a-wringer one -- wonder why I keep putting it off, hmmm)
  • Clarion West applications up to date
  • Artist Trust grant application due February 24
  • NEA grant application due March 1
  • Need to sort through poems to decide on final ones for upcoming possible CD (and need to arrange to finish recording)
  • Succubus booklet to design & lay out for the Feminist Caucus of the League of Canadian Poets
  • Canadian taxes (due April 30 but have to do before U.S.) and U.S. Taxes (due April 15)
  • Arranged the 2 large stacks of CDs to ready for review
  • CD pileup ignored this week (keep/toss/add to ectoguide)
  • Tape collection diminished by 1 since last week
  • 2.5 friend's novels still waiting to be read & critiqued
  • Get framed picture of me & Jim & send to Jim's Dad
last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing


I've been listening to Regina Spektor concerts tonight.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Elizabeth Aston's Mr. Darcy's Daughters is another continuation of Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Here Elizabeth and Darcy have accepted a diplomatic post to Constantinople, leaving their five strong-willed daughters in the care of the Fitzwilliams and the Gardiners (the younger songs remain at Pembroke). The focus here is on Camilla, the second eldest, who seems very much a duplicate of her mother. Her older sister is beautiful but unlike her aunt Jane, Letitia is a prig and a worrier. The twins are both stunningly beautiful and as flighty and self-focused as their Aunt Lydia. The youngest, Alethea, still in the schoolroom, is a musical protegée and a little too intelligent for her years. How Camilla deals with her sisters and her own romantic life is an entertaining story that holds its own with its source material.

Along the same lines is Pamela Aidan's These Three Remain (the final one of her Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy), which tells the story of the last third of Pride and Prejudice from Darcy's point of view. I think the author did a fine job of this, and I found it quite convincing and matched with my view of the original novel. Interesting how I cared for this book less where it added to an adventure created in the middle volume which isn't at all part of the original story. Still highly enjoyable for Pride and Prejudice fans.

I also re-read Sense and Sensibility, which I enjoyed a lot, though I do prefer Pride and Prejudice. I realized that one of the things I find less satisfying about Sense and Sensibility is that the ending is summarized a little and we don't get to see so much of it happening as we do earlier parts of the novel.

last week's reading § next week's reading


Progress continues on the novel. My Thursday timed session was interrupted by taking Devin to the dental surgeon to have her wisdom teeth removed, but I took my laptop with me, both there and to the pharmacy to pick up her drugs. There I was wearing an unfortunately slippery dress, trying my best to type. Still, I got 700 words done in that session. Saturdays coffee-shop session was messed up by first discovering that there was no place to sit in our habitual coffee shop, then we went to another and ended up by talking for about a half hour, then got ready to start writing and right beside us a band starting setting up. We ended up returning to the original coffee shop and writing for two productive hours. It took us a while to get there, though.

As an experiment this week, I sent out my one lengthy previously published short story to two foreign markets to see if they're interested in translating and/or reprinting it. I think it would be fun to see my words in a foreign language.

Slow work on a new poem. And good news that while I didn't find the computer file for the lost poem, I found my original sketchy notes for it, so it's not 100% lost and gone.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

1630. Still bright leaves

November 10, 1991

Still bright leaves on the dogwoods, and the cherry has hardly started to turn at all.

I'm feeling overwhelmed by all of the books, all of thee writers, everywhere, words on paper, writing publishing, and those not making it, and me making it only part-way. Airs & Graces [an early version of Spells for Clear Vision] and Bryony's Needle [my first young adult fantasy novel, still incompletely revised and unpublished] out since June with no words. I'm scared to ask, but it's time to. Long past time.

Why so many writers?

The guy across the street, with the window of his study open, typing away. And me with no time to push my new novel open. All the things I want to do and here I have a Sunday and Monday to do them, to get started at least.

What is the new technique that fits me, that isn't the same old tune again. What can make the words cut into the paper, sharpen their claws, their teeth so they will tear into the flesh alive? All the old choices won't do. I need to find it. The old curses. The words you say "go back, go back." Leaves.

None of this will help me write the words about The Tomb of the Eagles that I need to set down.

None of this.

1631. Tomb of the Eagles [first draft]

Left-handed like me
a young girl made this pot,
decorated its edges
with her thumbnail,
the etch etch etch
of her left hand on the edge
of the red clay, later
shattered and burnt
placed in the mound
with her grandparents'
bones, and maybe her own,
who knows. This knife
may be hers as well,
this little knife, stone
and sharp, that fits
in my fingers like a bone.
And then the skull,
misshapen by the straps'
weight, the weight of fuel,
food, child, and the teeth
flattened by years of
chewing perhaps hides.
I imagine this all fits
together. A life of hard
work for food, but no one
there died by violence
so maybe survival was
enough violence for them all.
I want this all to be
the same girl. Her thumbprint
on the clay, the knife, her skull
the Morgan Simison holds
her palm and fingers rounding the shapes
the dents the plans of this
girl's life as she rubs the skull
5,000 years old, as she loves
the stone we can guess of these folk
what mattered to them,
the shape of their lands
why they buried the bones
of the sea-eagles with those
of their dead. I want to shape
with my mouth her name
and Morgan Simison's, whatever
words they had for food
for birth and the ragged sea
below the cliffs of the tomb,
whatever words she would use
for the way my thumb fits
in the prints of her own.

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