what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout
I know I'm not up for daily entries, so I thought I'd try a journal that I could build the entry for a week (or--insert wry expression of choice--more likely write once a week). We'll see--right now I'm just going to see if I can work up the basics of this enough to pull it off--it will be a while before I upload all this and tell anyone about it. I guess if you're reading this I passed that hurdle.
I just finished reading Michael Cunningham's The Hours and the level of detailed awareness of the process of emotional thought in it (just as in its predecessor, Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway) made me aware of my own thought processes. Thinking about what you're thinking and feeling. It seems for a while I haven't been making this process real enough for myself (I have no memory--if I don't write things down they're often lost for me--maybe I'm a writer because I want to hold on to something of myself). Well, whatever, I'm starting this.
And the idea of including my journal from the past struck me. Typing it in, I was struck by how much my life is still the same. Much of my day is eaten by my day job just in the same way my day then was eaten by school. I have some wonderful moments with other people (much of my job is academic counselling, and it's the part I like best), but a lot is sitting glued to my computer doing "paperwork" and projects, some is bookkeeping which is still not my forté, and about six months ago I started a regular exercise program (the equivalent of high school P.E.) which I'm grateful that I'm still enjoying and able to stick with. Well, those are the charmingly superficial comparisons, at least.
I'm a little surprised that even 24 years ago I wanted writing to be my life, and that it would be one of the first things I would say about myself. It's still an avocation, though, and I don't even teach it much (though I will be teaching an online poetry workshop). After teaching college composition for two years I decided that it took too much out of the same energy I use for writing for teaching to be what I wanted to do for a living. Besides, my first friend to get a teaching job had *five* sections of comp to start with. Shudder. Death would be better. Office work would be better. Office work where I can still work with students and deal with intellectual issues and writing and editing would be even better. Hence my day job.
It's interesting that I mention stories since for many years (from university until just a few years ago) I concentrated on writing poetry, and fiction was something I merely dabbled in. Now I'm thinking about it seriously again.
Also like then, I still feel my possessions in some way define me. I wouldn't say that I am particularly materialistic, but I am a packrat when it comes to books and music I love. I have no hesitation getting rid of things I will never use/listen to/read again, though, and I don't have any particular need for the Bright & New. I guess an example is that the receiver for our stereo and our speakers all predate graduate school. That was a long time ago.
Now I have a house (shared with my husband, of course) rather than a room in my parents' basement, but what I keep in my space describes who I am and tells things about my values and my life. The thousands of books, of course. The fact that much of our art work consists of old prints, most of which are maps of places in Scotland and Wales that I love. And our rather battered genteel furniture, solid but well-used, like the Oriental rug I inherited from my grandmother, the cat-scratched loveseats (and the two cats themselves, purely decorational of course, especially now that they're old), the ratty pink shell chair that I rescued from an acquaintance's garage.
Funny that I also thought then that my music collection defined me. I listen to music almost constantly when I'm home, and have been on many email music lists since I first got online in '91-'92. Now one of my biggest projects (that I hope doesn't suffer too much from this journal project) is The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music, a collection of music reviews, compiled from entries on the ecto mailing list. I always thought that my obsession with music was of a more recent vintage, but obviously not. Well--the things you learn about yourself. This is an exercise in memory, as well. Thought and memory, the names of two ravens in some mythology I read quoted in a novel recently. Charles de Lint's Someplace to Be Flying perhaps?
This possession of music is a strange thing. It matters to me to actually own the music I love--which is so odd, considering that only 100 years ago this wasn't at all possible. The radio in my head is fairly good, though it rarely can carry me through whole songs. Still, I hear a lot in there. But I'd rather hear the music itself.
Right now we're listening to a rather moldie oldie--my parents first owned this one on 8-track tape: Paul McCartney's Ram. This isn't indicative of what I usually listen to at all, but I am having a really good time listening as I type. I think Ram is the only McCartney I could stand to listen to now, though at one time I owned Band On The Run.
Ah, now Penelope Houston's new one, tongue (a dear friend gave us this as it's not available in the U.S. yet). Great fun--full of sardonic lines like "I'm sitting smiling thinking of your tongue" and "you're the scum of the earth". Penelope Houston used to be with the punk group, The Avengers, then started a band doing folk/rock though I think I'd drop the "folk" part when describing tongue.
Not sure what I might start next--I have piles and piles of books to read, mostly fantasy novels, since that's one of the writing projects I'm working on.
I got email from her a couple of days ago saying she's ready to send them back to me, and she has arranged them into a manuscript of her devising. I am waiting for their return with a little trepidation, I must confess. It was freeing to have them elsewhere, out of my hands.
I have been grouping some of the poems into chapbooks, thinking about trying some of the chapbook contests. We'll see about that.
I am also planning to sink back into a novel that I have had on and off the back burner since I wrote 2/3rds of the first draft in the summer of 1993. I'm disgusted that it's been unfinished that long but maybe now I'm ready to finish it. In the shower this morning I even had a revelation about part of the novel's world that I hope I will remember when I'm back working on it. In fact, I think I'd better write myself a note about it now.
Another plan (I hate to say resolution) is to get back into the habit of keeping my work in the mail. For many years I always had a few batches of poems out in the mail, though for the last couple of years I've only sent out two or three a year. I've been slow about sending the stories out, too. Mostly because I've been slow about finishing them. Right now I only have one story out, and nothing else, and expect that back fairly shortly as the editor of the magazine I sent it to is doing a blitz on her slush pile.
The good news is that I am cutting back my work hours by 5 hours a week, which means I actually gain 10 because I won't be taking a lunch break anymore. We'll see what effect that actually has on my productivity. I live in hope, though.
2. This is a reference to a cautionary publication popular at the time, I am Sixteen and I Don't Want to Die. I don't recall now what it's about. Being hit by a drunk driver?
next week's Phonosnout
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