Les Semaines

January 13, 2008

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


Unsuspecting Question Answerer Suspects Nothing

I'm a day late, and I'm not re-dating this or anything. I'm just in a mood like that.

The first week of Winter Quarter has passed and I survived it. It wasn't awful or anything, just busy.

And I am daily astonished at the amount of hand-holding prospective students applying to doctoral programs seem to require. One of my favourite questions went something like "if you say you require a master's degree, does that mean that you want your applicants to already have a master's degree?" Um, yes. Another was "You only accept students for Autumn Quarter, so can I apply for Spring?" Um, no. Those are just two samples of recent questions. Most of them are like that. Only a very few are a little more complicated or subtle. Mebbe they're winding me up, but why would you wind up the person who is processing your application? I wonder at the reading comprehension of these people, and can't decide if this means they should be doctoral students or that they shouldn't. I guess shouldn't, because the students we do accept have never asked questions like that; they mostly excel at more complicated questions, which frankly I find more entertaining to answer. I don't much like worrying about people's intelligence and reading comprehensive level. Also, I don't like how crabby answering the dumb questions makes me. It's such a relief to see the students I know and trust.

I also had a bunch of certificate students come by to talk to me and I always enjoy talking to them, especially the ones who are happy to know that they will be able to complete the certificate after all.

I also survived the first Clarion West workshop meeting for 2008. I hate meetings. Or rather, I hate making myself get out the door to go to them. Once I'm there, I'm fine, but motivating myself to leave to get there feels impossible. I moan, I complain. I leave everything to the last minute. I slowly gather things together. Then suddenly if I don't leave right away I'll be late and I swoop up four last things and run out to the car yelling back at Jim to ask if he can (get me my glasses/bring me the thing I left out on the counter/sorry could you do the dishes I forgot). Then I race off, all anxious, and arrive a couple of minutes early.

It's kind of like getting to work, though I'm nearly always a couple of minutes late there. I always stay a little late to it evens out, but somehow since morning are so much not my thing I have trouble getting out the door.

Let's be honest: I really want to stay home with the cats and a good book (even if it's one I have to write), no matter whether it's work I have to go to or meetings. Or even traveling. Getting out the door when I travel is the worst.

We finally had Christmas with Devin and Tamar, and they both have annoying colds that won't go away and leave them alone, so we were all tired but we had fun and cool presents. Devin gave us all sorts of cool things, including a framed copy of a hilarious photograph of Atia and Titus. I really should scan it and put it on LOL-cats with a caption like "Unsuspecting cat suspects nothing" 'cause in it Atia's relaxing into a cat-loaf while above her! where she's not looking! are four! big! heavy! paws! about to land on her. It's really funny.

And Tamar got us a panini maker. Guess what we had for dinner tonight?

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


Jorane's new album vers à soi is lovely. It's a mix of her more difficult-listening earlier work and the almost-pop of the previous album The You and the Now into something accessible and haunting like her first album that I adore, vent fou. As this one continues to grow on my I think I might end up liking it as much as vent fou.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Isabel Hoving's young adult fantasy novel, The Dream Merchant has everything: a fun, multicultural group of young heroes out to save a corporation. They has special abilities, get to travel to alternate worlds, one has a secret twin, they're pursued by evil people, and get to find out that Things Are Not As They Seem. Sure it's a little slow in parts, but it's worth it. Pretty Much. As least I thought so.

Alaya Dawn Johnson's young adult fantasy Racing The Dark, the first of her The Spirit Binders series has great worldbuilding and imagination. It also badly needed an attentive copyeditor, as it was full of little things that threw me out of the story. But it was a good story, so I jumped back in. Lana lives in a world full of destructive spirits that were bound long ago, but still manage to disturb the world. During her initiation dive, she finds a stone that marks her as someone special, but she doesn't want to be special so she ignores it. However, the spirits are beginning to change and disturb her world, so her family leaves the isolated island they've lived on to go to a city, where Lana's mother is forced to apprentice her to a witch who wants to use her potential power. While Lana is apprenticing, her mother is bound and the world's foundations are shaken a little more, until Lana must go on a quest to save her mother. Complex and rewarding. I'll read the follow-up volumes.

Laura Ruby's children's novel The Wall and the Wing is funny and clever and a romp, while still giving us characters I could care about. Gurl grows up in an orphanage in a world where most everyone can fly, at least a little. She can't, she's a leadfoot, but she has a much rarer gift: she can turn invisible, and now everyone wants to find her to use her as a thief. How she and her friend Bug and the cat that finds them sort all this out was an enjoyable read.

last week's reading § next week's reading


New poem finished. Two poetry submissions and a story tweak and submission, check.

Writing retreat day. Mostly a bust. Sigh.

However, new poem "Dsonoqua on Lewis, The Outer Hebrides" is up at Strange Horizons (but alas they didn't get my correction about the missing italics, though I don't think not having them breaks the poem). Go read about the cannibal woman who haunts the west coast woods's visit to western Scotland.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

June 22, 1994
Hoy, Orkney

Jim's Journal

Used by permission; Neile failed to write anything about the rest of this trip.

Rainy in early a.m. Made decision to visit Hoy. Neile decided to stay back in Stromness. Ferry left at 9:20 for Hoy. Were met at ferry dock on Hoy by van. Stopped off at Dwarfie Stane--a wonderful hollow (carved that way) stone with "bed chamber" that resonated in wind. Neile had been here with Christina back in 1991; she had hummed while lying inside--magical place. Didn't know exactly what it was for--burial? storage? [Editor: yes, it was a tomb.]

Had to rush back to van. Were dropped off along trail to Old Man of Hoy. Jens and I walked together up steep, windy trail. Made cliff view point in 1.5 hours [forgot to mention how on way to drop off the driver pointed out the only remaining virgin forest in of Britain, untouched for over 3,000 years.] Extremely windy on top of cliff. Managed to take some good shots of the Old Many of Hoy. Had lunch as best we could in wind.

Shelagh and John didn't make it all the way but got to see Old Man.

Sheltered from rainy skies back at drop off point in old croft that is now museum (just photographs and legends on walls) of life on Hoy.

Ride back to Mainland in very bumpy sea. Pouring down rain in van while waiting for ferry>

That might Jens brought out dinner at the cafe.

Name of ferry: Jessie Ellen.

[I spent the day walking the beaches west of Stromness, one of my favourite places. See my 1992 journal for my description of a walk on that beach.

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