Les Semaines

November 16, 2008

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


Work and A Sad Farewell

At last, the third and final big work stress event is done: the PhD program I work for had its fifth-year review site visit over Thursday and Friday. It made for a long week.

A funny work week: Monday, a dental check up so I was a few hours late for work; Tuesday, the Veteran's Remembrance Day holiday; Wednesday, a morning-long meeting with Graduate School updates; Thursday, the site visit team started their meetings; Friday, my meeting with them and their report.

Thursday I had to be there the entire day in case anyone needed me. The only thing they ended up asking for was someone to lock the door at the end of the day, so it felt like I was hanging around for nothing, and didn't leave until well after 6:00 pm. I'm sure that's no big deal with most people, but I usually leave at 12:30, 1:30 on Thursdays because of the colloquium. I was going to have to stay nearly as long on Friday, but they decided other people could cover, which I greatly appreciated as I hadn't had much sleep.

On Thursday night, just as we were getting ready for bed, Devin called: she'd found her sugar glider, Rhonda, in a bad way in one of the pouches. We got dressed and raced over there. It was clear that Rhonda didn't have long and there was no point taking her to the emergency vet.

So Devin just held her until she died. I don't think it was even an hour. It was painfully sad to watch, but seemed like a lovely death. Rhonda seemed content to be held where she could feel Devin's heartbeat and clutch her finger. She seemed comfortable and not in any pain, and just ready to go. I'm so glad about that.

Rhonda was a sweetheart. She was nervous of me, but willing to settled down when I carried her. I remember once going shopping for paint with her sleeping in my bra. The people at the store were making a fuss over a cute dog and I thought how much of a fuss they would make over Rhonda, but I decided to let her sleep on.

It's going to be strange without her, and poor Reuben (who probably her brother and maybe a littermate--we don't know, they were rescues) will miss her, too. It's horrible for Devin, of course.

Bye, Rhonda. Thank you. You were a sweet, sweet girl.

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


Just a smattering of old favourites. I did some baking on Saturday and re-discovered the power of Hole's Live Through This. And while working in my study I sang along (even though most of it's not in my range) to David Usher's Little Songs. While doing so thought that in this album at least Usher's highly influenced by Cohen, and does that lineage proud. I wish I liked his other albums as much as this one. I've played it obsessively over the years.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Daniel Abraham's fantasy novel, A Betrayal in Winter is the second in his Long Price Quartet. I suspect this would be greatly enriched by being able to recall more than the broad details of the previous volume, A Shadow in Summer. This focuses on a young woman who is the daughter of the town's king, who is conspiring to raise her lover to her father's place, and on her brother (who is a main character in the previous novel) who finds himself blamed for all his sister has done and drawn back to the city himself. This is textured and fascinating, both psychologically and in this created world.

Carrie Bebris's North by Northanger (Or, The Shades of Pemberley) is another Mr. &s Mrs. Darcy Mystery. Still enjoying the characters and settings. Each mystery is quite different and interesting, with a paranormal twist, but it's really the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy that keeps me reading these, and I'm enjoying how she pulls in characters from the other Austen novels.

Cory Doctorow's young adult SF novel, Little Brother is captivating. It's the story of a young highly computer-savvy kid who, after a bomb blows up the Bay Bridge, gets caught up in an ever-increasing clampdown by Homeland Security. How he and his friends fight the oppressors makes for a gripping, fun, frightening, and timely warning tale. Should be required reading.

In John Green's young adult novel, Paper Towns, Quentin has a long crush on his unpredictable neighbour. When suddenly she demands his help on a series of avenging adventures then disappears, he becomes obsessed with finding her. Luckily, she has left some clues, however cryptic. I love the realistic, smart and troubled characters in John Green's stories. I've really enjoyed all three of his novels.

Jennie Cruisie's romance novel Strange Bedfellows is a romp about a romance between a hippy chick and a Republican lawyer who can't agree on much but can't keep their hands off each other. Lots of fun.

last week's reading § next week's reading


I've been revising and sending out poems, revising and sending out queries, tinkering again and again with the opening of Gypsy Davey. Will I never finish with this novel? I think the answer is that it's still going to be a while.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

September 21, 1994

Writing's a killer. It's difficult and obsessive. It's possessive. It's heartbreaking. But I wouldn't have it otherwise." William Trevor, in The New Yorker, January 4, 1993.

October 17, 1994

A quiet day off--or evening, rather. I feel free because I left work at 2:30 and haven't done much since. I couldn't use Gail's computer and so there was no point in staying to work on the proceedings [1] so I took some time for myself. Rare. Jim's out, rarer still. I've been listening to Sara Craig and feeling wild and now Sam Brown and feeling connections and beauty. Hoping something comes of something in this brief spell of time.

My car wound like string
around the lake and I was
looking for you. Rain dented
the thin sheen of light on the street
and I couldn't find you.
The lake is like a void
to my right and I circled it
like danger, or a plot
that shouldn't include me
but I knew I would enter.
Once more around, and
I stopped the car, though
you weren't there. I folded
my T-shirt and jeans jacket on
the car seat and locked the
door, slipping the keys deep
in my pocket. Rain still
pebbled the bit of lake I
could see and I stepped
into it, solid as night itself
small waves touched my clothes
like encouraging hands
and I swam out into the
darkness where I could hear
and see nothing but water
and the token drift of your voice
across the lake and the black
cloud of bright rain around my skin.

November 15, 1994

Midway through Spells reading tour [2] and I still haven't adjusted to the time. Not much point now: just London [Ontario, not England] and Winnipeg to go. Four readings done: the National Library [Ottawa], Women's Students @ Queen's [Kingston, Ontario], the Idler Pub [Toronto], Hart House at U of T [the University of Toronto] today. All very different. Small audiences, each on listening differently to different things. Not selling many books, but a few. I so much don't want this book to sit on the shelf like so many other--but so it goes. Dribs &s drabs.

Good ads, though, and everywhere. [3]

Christina's house now--wonderful and the feel of the two of them through it despite their nasty landlord. So much the flavour of the things they love. Christina woke up enough to pd to the loo and back to bed. The wonderful creaking of the floors in the dog-bone apartment.


1. I had been working on editing and desktop publishing the proceedings of a conference. It ate all my free hours for months on end. I've buried the length of the project, but just remember that it went on forever because I am a perfectionist and it was a messy job.

2. When my second book of poems, Spells for Clear Vision came out, I was lucky enough to have a Canada Council funded book launch tour.

3. Thank you, Brick Books. It was great to see my book included in so many ads. It made it feel real.

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