Les Semaines

September 30, 2009

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

 §

Nose to the Grindstone

And so, September went by and barely had time to say a word in passing. Or rather, I barely had time to say a word (here at least) in September.

It has been back to work. Back to working my life around work.

I'd forgotten, or erased from memory, how difficult it is to get things done during the academic year when I'm back at work. I mean things aside from the daily necessities of life, but kind of including them, too. It doesn't make sense. I only work five hours a day. But after work, after the (admittedly short) commute, errands, the necessary phone calls, I often find myself not getting to lunch until 3:00 or so...and by that time I'm starving because I had breakfast before 7:00. Or when I eat it at work, before 8:00.

Trying to fit in an hour of writing time each day is difficult, but damn I'm doing at least that if it kills me. And don't laugh, because it sometimes does. I could so easily be buried under a pile of books (the library's and mine own) that are piled up waiting to be read, or choke on the growing and accumulating dust mice, or get tangled in cobwebs that already festoon the chandelier in the dining room. I already trip on cat toys. Oh, and cats. Who want to emphatically point out that feeding cats isn't optional. Nor is not playing with, or holding, or not petting enough.

Other possibilities include being foreclosed on for not making mortgage payments, malnutrition because we're eating out of the pantry and freezer, starving when that runs out because I haven't gone grocery shopping.

Well, okay, I did pay the bills, despite them forgetting to put me back on the payroll. Oops. A bit of a surprise on the payday that wasn't, I have to say. But they did fix it quickly.

And I wrote a grant application and even sent it in a day early. You can be as proud of me as you like.

So that was September. And now, ready or not, here comes October.

[The original date on this post--the day I started writing it--was September 9th. Oh well.]

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

Listening

Oh, so much great music. We've been going through a little bump of discovering music again. A recent favourite is The XX--delightfully poppy sultry duets.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Sunday night I stayed up till four am reading Alice Hoffman's The Story Sisters. This is the best novel I've read of hers yet. It's about three sisters and how they deal with the damage of life. It's harsh and compelling. The sisters have dark, destructive secrets and shifting power relations, and a secret language. I really enjoyed it, but boy they have to take on a lo of damage.

Lev Grossman's fantasy novel The Magicians is a strange mix of literary and fantastic fiction. A strange mix of Narnia, Harry Potter, and a college novel. Quentin is a rather whiny young man who is obsessed with a series of Narnia-like novels walks through an alley one day and finds himself in a college-level Hogwarts. The students have to learn spells, make dangerous mistakes, suffer extreme experiences to try to learn more about magic, and at the same time undertake all the usual college indulgences in relationships and drinking and drugs. For me this was a really uneven experience. I found myself frequently thrown out of the novel by all the nods to Tolkien, Rowling, and C.S. Lewis, a little annoyed by the stupid college-student antics and basically just so much unbelievable about this--and yet, it had some wonderful parts to it, too. A real mix.

Rebecca Stead's young adult novel, When You Reach Me also leans a lot on another novel, here Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time but does so a little more gently. Miranda gets caught up in a strange situation with a homeless man, new and old friends, her mother who is about to appear on a game show, and, she hopes, earn enough money to make their lives a little easier, and a series of notes that tell the future and ask her to trust the author and to do a few things for him/her. Highly enjoyable.

Kathleen Duey's young adult fantasy novel, Sacred Scars follows Skin Hunger, and like my comments on Skin Hunger, I've of two minds about this one, too. It dwells in the desolate pain of its characters so much that it's claustrophobic. It also moves veeeerrrryyy slowly for the first third or so that I almost gave up on it. But I didn't, because the characters feel so very real--their struggles, their suffering, their hopes, however hard to realize they might be. I stuck with this for them, just like they stuck with it themselves. I'm thinking that a pretty amazing achievement by itself.

Linda Hogan's People of the Whale is a wonderful, rich, complex novel about current generations of a coastal tribe who have always been dependent on the sea, and particularly on whales. There are the elders who live separately, the adults caught between the contemporary world and their broken traditions, a group of men who went to Viet Nam, the ones they left behind. And their children. Thomas goes to Viet Nam with a group of his friends, and is thought dead, then found years after the war, living with a small displaced tribe in rice fields. The wife and child he left behind have had to find their way without him. He has left behind a daughter in Viet Nam as well. This is a truly wonderful read and highly recommended.

[Here's a list of other books I read that I don't have time to cover: Jennifer Echols Going Too Far (YA), Alison Goodman Singing the Dog Star Blues (YA SF), Alicia Thompson Psych Major Syndrome (YA), A.S. Byatt The Children's Book (mainstream), Jacqueline Carey Santa Olivia (YA-ish Urban Fantasy-ish SF).

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Nearly finished this run by run by run through the novel.

Grant application completed and sent.

Poems revised and despaired over. A couple submitted, too.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

No time to be retrospective, it seems.

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

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