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Les Semaines

99.01.17

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout

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Organizational Crushes

Getting organized is hard, especially when in the back of your mind is the fear that you will organize yourself unto death or sterility, whatever comes first.

And yet, and yet...

I've been organizing this week. Or this week I have been organizing. The first sentence made me think I was putting the week in order, you know, getting the days in the right sequence and all that, and the second made me think I was out signing people up for the union.

All this instead of staring at piles of paper in my dark green study and shuffling them around into more becoming stacks. Very exciting. You should see the mess it made. It's still rather a mess, but my holiday cards are sorted, the bills paid and filed. Poems everywhere, though, and a couple of extra stacks that were tidily arranged on my typing table, which is now under the typewriter in Jim's study as the table it was on is now holding our new (used) scanner. So maybe my pages will become a little more graphically interesting after all.

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This week I've being thinking about my emotional life--crushes in particular, those being the main subject of this week's Phonosnout entries, but I don't really get them anymore. That's not entirely true, but after 15 years of marriage they feel quite different. Something in the back of my brain says that they don't. I have always kept a tight rein on these things, letting go in embarrassing blurts of dedication, from the moment in 5th grade when I told David Dando I liked him, to the intensity of my friendship with Kurt, a friendship which took me with the same force as a crush, as though a decade of friendship were condensed into the six weeks of the Clarion West workshop. A friendship that surprising, that intense, feels rather like a crush. My friendship with Christina is like a 20-odd-year-long crush, it's true. It's amazing to think I have known and loved anyone that long, other than family. I've known Christina even longer than I've known Jim.

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

Listening

Ha! A new Kristeen Young! This one called enemy. Music like a mood-altering drug. I'm driving Jim crazy because I'm in my can't-stop-playing it mode, meaning I play it repeatedly. No sign of tiring of it. I like every song on it, but especially "Sacrifice", about having to give up everything for music: "I'd offer my life on the altar / and cut your heart like a sacrificial lamb..."

Anyway, with my obsession I've been ignoring the tape pile, and also some new discs that arrived this week other than superficial listens: Mandalay's empathy, Mari Boine Band's Bálvvoslatjna/room of worship, Smoke City's Flying Away. All deserve more of my attention, but enemy has it.

last week's listening § last week's listening

Reading

Library books from the sublime to the not-so-sublime: Patrick Nielsen Hayden's second volume in the Starlight series and Robert Jordan's latest. Both very much for reasons of knowing what's going on my field, but Starlight 2 is as much a delight as the first one, and I will have to get a copy of this for myself once it's out in paper. I haven't read all the stories yet, but I'm about halfway through and while they're not all stories that rap me upside the head, they're all definitely worth reading, and I would say among the very best that is being produced in the field, even if he did reject my "Ars Poetica" (soon to appear in Odyssey) for it.

The Robert Jordan wasn't as bad as I keep thinking his novels are in hindsight. They're like candy, in that the instant you put finish them you only have vague impressions of what they're like but you enjoy them okay while you have them. People use him as an example of the Tolkien-followers gone mad, and complain about how long he's taking to tell this story, but how long he's taking to tell the story is part of why so many other people like it. The level of detail can be annoying, particularly as so much of it at this point is becoming repetitive: the characters repeat some silly statements usually about how the other sex is totally not understandable, repeat prejudices against one of the other myriad peoples involved in the story, repeat comments about how they all expect the world will be different when they get what they want, and repeat characteristic gestures (like if I read one more time about one character pulling her braid I will scream--I'm glad I haven't read these books back to back). But I do understand how he's set up all these characters and events happening all over his world, and so each book inches each set forward to the conclusion just a little--hence the feeling of it crawling along.

I wouldn't want to write like this, and in many ways it is appallingly tedious, but I find the technique and his ability to hold so many readers in thrall fascinating as a phenomenon. And frankly, as a writer, I'm really curious how he's going to pull off the ending without it seeming like an anti-climax--unless of course he's only halfway through the bloody thing and the ending will take just as long as all this preparation for it.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Working on a long sequence of poems (9 projected) for the manuscript. The working title for the manuscript is Nettle Wife (unlikely that it will be the final title--unless you like it so if you do, let me know). Anyway, I've finished the first two and took them to a writing workshop Monday night. They're fairly close to being finished. Still working on the other 7, though. I enjoyed finding the right form for them (narrow, justified spacing).

I meant this to be a week I dug back in to the novel, but I've been working on poetry. I decided I needed to get some poems out in the mail, and then I looked at the comments Marilyn had made on individual poems in Nettle Wife and got caught up in revisions--mostly minor, but it all requires time and thought, and re-listening to the poem.

As for the novel, maybe next week. Monday's a holiday, and my horoscope even projects it will be a good day for creative projects.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

Fall-Winter 1974

23. Hopeless me

Let us get back to hopeless me®, that is, me® and my hopeless crushes. I have subjected myself to a series of these time killers and conversation makers for almost all my life. I say time killers because when you have nothing to do you follow the unsuspecting object of your affection anywhere he (she or it depending upon your point of view) goes.

24. In the beginning---

My preschool crush-time was reciprocated. We followed each other around. We had other friends but we were together a lot. I think it was my red tricycle. My red tricycle was always shiny and it had handbrakes. That was some tricycle. Elementary school was the boy who sat beside me (or behind or in front, etc.)

25. First there was...

My first crush in grade eight was Yvon. Yvon was an import from Quebec. He couldn't speak English very well, and he taught me to swear in French. Whenever he heard a new saying like "holy cow" he'd keep repeating it until he made everybody sick. Yvon didn't like me too much. I still see him every once in a while. He has zits, greasy hair and a slouch. He had a crush on a friend of mine1.

26. Then

Then there was Larry. Larry was a nice guy in my P.T. class in grade nine. We played basketball together. I'd ref and he'd scorekeep, he'd ref and i'd scorekeep. We were friends until i got the crush on him. It took me a while to work that one up.

27. Grade 10

Then in grade ten i was lost. It's hard to keep a crush on someone when they're up in senior high and you're still in junior. It's hard when you never see them. And there was no one in junior high at all. So, a crushless year. I guess it goes my technique mixed up, that year off. This year I like a couple of them, and don't care whether anything comes of it or not. I must be getting older (ancient, ancient! The wisdom of the years).

28. This is it

Well, this is it for a while, Mr. Munch2 and Mother. I hope you liked it. Sure there's more to say (isn't there always?) but i don't want to say it (at least not now). So this it is, for a while.

29. Well here i am again

Here i am! Be happy, Mr. Munch (you too, Mother). The phonosnout is back--standing on his nose with his toots in the air, but as usual he's wurdened with wose and wurdened with cairs3. As usual (?) this whole thing is totally unplanned so you're both going to have to take it as it comes. I hope you noticed my new technique. Now the title goes with the chapter. It's better.

30. Back Already?

Well, here i am pen in hand, and the only thing i can think about is that i have forty-five minutes to go and then i'm free. In case you don't know what i'm talking about, i'm at the office answering the switchboard. "Good afternoon, [name of company deleted]." I ran out of things to do as soon as i arrived (but what else is new? I wish i knew!).

31. Future

I don't think i could stand working in an office regularly4. (Thank God, the heater just came back on!!) I could barely take Saturdays when i worked here a year ago. I think i want (i need!) something like writing where i can sit down when i want and take a walk if i don't feel like it. Someone made a "snowman"--covered a beer bottle with cotton batten and made a face, tie, buttons, and a hat. It's cute, but it reminds me of how i feel. It's only two days after Christmas.

32. Christmas

I love Christmas. I love everything about it--answering the phone with "Merry Christmas", mistletoe, the giving and receiving. It's the thing nowadays to complain about commercialism. It's only commercial if you let it be. I love Christmas, but i'm glad it's only once a year--like birthdays.


NOTES

1. Actually, there was a name here, but it was scratched out and "a friend of mine" was added later. Dunno why I cared, since I named other names.

2. Mr Munch was my writing teacher. No, really.

3. This is a paraphrase from the original poem. I wish fair use allowed including the whole three stanzas but I fear it does not.

4. Of course, that's where I wound up. Maybe if I hadn't written it down....

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