Les Semaines

October 21, 2007

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

 §

Still Some Busy

So we came back from Victoria, and immediately I had a day-long Clarion West board meeting on Sunday. Argh. Not that there was a board meeting, but I'm a person who needs a lot of downtime, and coming from a busy three-day trip, BAM into a board meeting with just an evening to recover before going into work, well...I was very tired for the first part of this week.

Tuesday night I went out to dinner and a student production of Anouilh's Ring Round The Moon, which was slow to start with then the actors seemed to suddenly get their rhythm working and it turned out to be fun. I'm glad to be doing this again--the friend I see these with I otherwise rarely manage to get organized enough to see.

My final orientation for the year was Wednesday night. So nice to have it catered for the first time--all I had to buy was the liquor licence, the wine, and beer. We had a good crowd of both students and faculty, and I think it went well. Not very much of the food was left, at least. I got home about 8:00 and we were in bed by 9:00 and asleep by 9:30. I haven't done that in ages, but managed to keep getting eighthours a night through the rest of the week. I felt so much better for the rest of the week. Aha! Sleep makes me less tired and/or depressed. Surprise.

Back when we thought we were going away for our annual writing retreat to Rockaway Beach, I had asked for Friday off. When that got cancelled and then when even our alternative writing in Seattle weekend got re-scheduled I couldn't bring myself to cancel the day off, so Jim and I had a lovely three-day weekend.

Friday, though, when Jim was out running some errands and I was having a shower, a storm came through with thunder, lightning, and then some nearly marble-sized hail. It was hitting the window horizontally, and I worried for a couple of minutes that it was going to break the window. It was loud. The hail looking alarmingly snow-like on the roads and lawns and roof, and stuck around in our backyard for several hours.

Friday night we were invited over to Leslie's for dinner, but Jim wasn't up for going, so I went alone, though there was a crowd there (you can tell where I don't know some last names): John Crowley, his wife, Lori, Ted Chiang, his girlfriend Marcia, Lisa Gold, Matt Ruff (Lisa and Matt did all the cooking), Leslie, Leslie's roommate Colleen, and her daughter Kristina. A large group, but we had the most wonderful conversations across the table, more than one going at a time so I kept moving from conversation to conversation. Really, it was a lot of fun, and the food was great. It has been a while since I enjoyed talking with people I don't know very well so much.

Saturday Tamar made a lovely dinner for Devin, Jim, and me, and then we watched Letters from Iwo Jima, which of course was well done. Intense.

Today I really haven't done much at all, except the things that keep life going: cooking, organizing things, playing with cats and kittens, paying bills.

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Listening

New Beirut. New Fiery Furnaces is finally out. Love them both.

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Reading

Eleanor Cameron's Mr. Bass's Planetoid is the continuance of her children's SF series that started with The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet. In this Chuck and Dave have to foil an adventurous young scientist who seems to be discovering everything Mr. Bass has--but other things beyond that which may put both the Earth and the Mushroom Planet in danger. Great, quick-reading fun.

Kathleen Duey's fantasy novel, Skin Hunger, Book One of a new series called A Resurrection of Magic, is was a mixed read for me. It's the story of a young, rich boy who is dropped off at the door of the wizard's academy to make his own way. There's a parallel story about a young girl who whose mother died when she was born partially because of wizards. Since then her father has become embittered and her brother raised her. But she can understand animals, so one day a wizard comes by and tells her to come to him. Eventually she does. This is well-written, with interesting characters in interesting situations, but I found myself annoyed when reading it. First, the chapters are very short and cut between the two stories--just long enough to get interested in one then I was torn to the other. I felt a little whiplash. Secondly, the beginning of both tales felt a little slow, probably because of this cutting back and forth but really, how many chapters did we need to get Hahp to the academy? And Sosima to leave her family's farm? Thirdly, damn the characters suffer. Not entirely unredeemably, but I felt a little pushed. And fourthly the damn book just stops, without the smallest sense of resolution. That's annoying. If the next book were available now I'd read it. I'm not sure how I'll feel by the time it is. I like the story and would have read more if it were in front of me, but I'm of two minds about it given my quibbles with the novel.

Cecil Castellucci's Beige is a realistic YA novel. Here a young girl who has lived with her mother, a recovered addict, all her life has to go live with her father, the drummer for a legendary punk band. His recovery is more recent, and his life is still music, while her life has been far more average, more normal. She resents her mother leaving her behind to go on an archeological dig in Peru, she doesn't much like her father's lifestyle, and she dislikes the daughter of his musician friend who is herself a budding punk rocker. Still, she can't make herself follow the rebellious scenarios that play out in her head, so she goes along with everything as long as she can bear to. Another of Cecil Castellucci's fun, clever stories and likable heroines. I'll read anything she publishes.

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Writing

Finally I'm working again on my synopsis, and doing some last minute tiny tweaks of the novel it's synopsizing. Just a few words here and there to make sense some small but significant things are clear. I also did some smoothing of the very first and the very last few pages. I can't leave this alone.

I've also been working on Jim's manuscript, and I believe editing counts as writing. At least, I'm talking myself into believing it.

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Retrospective: old journal

June 14, 1994
Pitlochry → Inverness → Thurso

Jim's Journal

Used by permission; Neile doesn't seem to have kept a journal this week.

Got up chipper. Had breakfast of scrambled egges/toast/tea/O.J. Made mistake of taking one of Neile's pills[1]--which made me very sick--queasy and dizzy. Had hell of a time getting to the train station, waiting for train (which was late by 40 minutes) and on train ride to Inverness. Found out trains to be on strike tomorrow, so when we got to inverness decided to go on to Thurso, which means we take the ferry to the Orkneys a day early.

Began to feel better when we got to Inverness. Train left for Turso at 3:35 pm. Met up with John & Shelagh [Neile's parents] in station at Inverness. All five of us (Jens, John, Shelagh, Neile, and I) went on together to Thurso--4 hour trip.

Arrived in Thurso at 7:00 p.m.ish. Trekked with luggage to B&B. Walked up main street of Thurso, past closed shops, old church and post office. Would up near ruined church and graveyard near seawall. Most of the tombstones were from the 19th century. Once had a huge tree growing our from cracked stones. Inside chuech saw medieval symbols on stones nearly covered over. Not much of structure was left but one side of frame for stained glass windows. It was probably around 16th-17th century. Walked around for a while reading tombstones and then wandered back to B&B. In bed by 10:00 p.m.

Notes:
1. At the time I was on bromocryptine to deal with the symptoms of a microscopic tumour by my pituitary gland--which eventually just went away. The pills were the kind that you have to gradually start taking, and I still fought nausea daily. Taking a whole pill out of the blue must have been horrible.

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