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Les Semaines

99.01.31

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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Charmed Life

On Tuesday when I was leaving work one of my co-workers referred to my charmed life. It got me thinking well yes and well no. Choice and luck. And the strong belief that despite all the choice and luck in the world you still make your own life.

I started out with huge advantages. A professional father. When I was young my mother stayed home with us. Both are supportive and loving and sane and reasonable people. Those alone are advantages well beyond what most of my friends experienced. Add to those that they both have their passions but know how to have fun and I am truly blessed.

They had some scary financial times and less wonderful times in their marriage, but mostly my sister and I didn't know about it, and never worried about our suburban homes being taken away. We didn't live fancy and we weren't spoiled but we had lots of toys and lessons if we wanted then (mostly we didn't). Growing up in the '60s and '70s felt safe and there was lots of promise about what we could do and be.

University was cheap, and I got a $500 scholarship that paid my first year's tuition. Except for one year, I lived at home to save money and worked part-time to earn money for books and frivolities. Toward the end of my second year of university I finally realized I wouldn't be happy as a high school English teacher or as a social worker, the two directions I saw myself possibly going, and I decided to simply do a double major in creative writing and English lit and see what happened. I figured I could always get by on my office work experience, and it's true, I have.

I went to do a masters in writing and there I met and married another writer which of course meant that I was never going to be able to stay home and do as I pleased, but so life goes. Jim did go and get an advanced library degree and quickly after graduation got a job that he still has that pays well enough that I never went back to full time work and recently cut back my hours from 30 to 25 per week, and we can still pay our mortgage, even if we have to cut back on travel.

We don't have children--at first by chance and later by choice.

So here we live, the two of us, with two aging cats in our charming 1930s house in a tidy neighbourhood (we would have liked to be in a slightly more urban area but couldn't afford it), and we work and write and listen to music and read and argue and I watch Jim garden (well, I help a little) and we have lots of toys but we're not spoiled. We still don't want the lessons much.

And times like right now I sit in my dark green study, knowing the cats are asleep in the living room and Jim is writing in his study, and I stare out the window past the bare winter lilac bush into blue sky, and yes, yes, I live a charmed life.

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

Listening

More Kristeen Young, more of the new Ani. A reintroduction to Mary Lydia Ryan, a local singer/songwriter/passionate pianist, reminding me how lovely her disc is. More Smoke City. More Whitney Rehr. Some live Veda Hille (my favourite artist). The stack of tapes stands there neglected.

At this very moment I'm listening to the ethereal The Changeling's third album, Amphibian.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Well, after hearing much about how George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones was probably the best epic fantasy type read out there, I gave it a spin, and I did like it. It's engaging and the world and situation is entertaining. I'm a little surprised I wasn't as knocked over as I thought I would be based on the talk, but it's probably because I've read these things so many times, and I got annoyed at the games Martin played as a writer--(WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!) having the first viewpoint character killed and a second one you-think-for-a-while killed seemed more reader-manipulation than I'm usually willing to go with, but I read on, and yes I will read the next. In fact, I have a hold on it at the public library.

Also reading some Borderland stories, the first collection Bordertown and The Essential Bordertown. Despite the YA focus and the slightly repetitive patterns of the stories, I enjoy these. I guess I would say I like the novels out of this universe better, but then I nearly always like novels better than short stories.

Speaking of short stories, I also finished reading the Starlight 2 anthology and do think this is one of the best anthology series going. The stories are excellent, and even the ones I don't particularly personally like I can see why Patrick Nielsen Hayden chose them. It's a good introduction to some of the best fiction happening in the speculative fiction genre. There has been a lot of praise in particular for Ted Chaing's piece here, and I can understand why--he blends thoughtful science fiction with contemporary humanistic mainstream fiction very well.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Apparently, at least according to the Canadian Literature website, the issue with my poem in it has just appeared. I thought I would get at least a contributor's copy since they no longer pay even a token amount of money and I had to wrangle with them wanting more rights than I was willing to give them for the honour of them simply publishing my poem. Sigh. I remember when they didn't give grief and at least sent a nice little check to confuse the IRS and Revenue Canada.

I had promised myself I would get some batches of poems in the mail this month. I haven't done that, but I will shortly. I've been concentrating this week on revisions and I have done some work I'm very happy with.

I think it will be poetry, not fiction for a while, though, as once I'm through this cycle of revisions I'm going to begin putting a chapbook together and possibly the evasive book manuscript, as I've had a wake-up call by seeing the new catalogue from the press that published my last book. We'll see.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

Winter 1975

44. Friday

I can hardly wait 'til Friday. That's the last day in this semester. No more French or Math. Ever! Eleven years of math but no more. I've had French in grades three, four, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven. Seven years. But still i enjoyed most of it. Maybe i'll even miss it, but i doubt it.

45. Jerry's Babbling

I don't really know what he's saying, but Jerry's babbling. I know that because he just told me so. I believe him, he's never lied to me before. But! That's enough of that. Only three more hours in this class to go.

46. My Mind

Only four more hours of math to go. And in the second to last block we get a test on logs. Logs don't come from trees, they come from exponents. I don't believe this. Logs is logs. My mind is just pondering on..., rambling in circles it drew with a compass this morning. My mind is a pain.

Council Meeting

I'm sitting at the back of the back of the class. Listening and Observing. It is very important to Listen and Observe in a council meeting. We just had a vote to select a committee chairperson. I abstained. What else is new (a new gnu). I feel totally useless. ("Talisman, grace my hand."1) The President: "Impossible to say at this point".

What?

I don't understand. What is the use of my attendance at this meeting. I guess i'm the mouth of the people. Huh!2 I'm the mouth of me. People never tell me what they want, it's only what i want. Nobody even notices me back here. I could disappear and the only one who'd know is Laura. She's here with me, Listening and Observing.

Words

It's funny, i feel that words are flowing from my mind to my hand. I couldn't stop them even if I tried. My mind must be cluttered with words fighting each other to get out to my hand and down on paper. I just can't slow down or stop or anything. Ths is so weird i can't control anything at all my hand is just running away i can't stop.         Fever dream.

The next day

Today is yesterday's tomorrow--expcet i mean it. What i'm actually saying is that this is The Next Day, like this is Tomorrow. I think. All this today, tomorrow, yesterday business is confusing. Add a little now, then and forever and i'm really lost in the pages of time. Poetic, isn't it?

Isolation

Isolation. Like that's what i'm in. --Meaning, on the Outside looking In. In a ways it's really great. I Observe a lot and notice things most people never would. [Lyrics from Leonard Cohen's "Master's Song" deleted.3] I'm singing again, can you hear it? Anyways, about Isolation, it's a strange thing. When someone suddently talks to me, it startles me. Poor me.

52. Last words from a drowning student

I now have about five minutes before i write4 a math test.

53. Test is Over

Well the test is over now, i don't think i did all that well. Do i ever? (Yes, yes!) Life is hard on a poor little kid like me. Doesn't anyone care? (Sure!) I care. I'm gonna fight for poor little kids like me. Or maybe i'll turn out to be one of Them.

54. Who are They?

Well, this is going to be kind of hard to explain. They are Those whom everybody blames. You know, "They did it", "He's one of Them". This is all very well, but who are They & Those & Them? It's a long, leading question which i'm sure has been answered somewhere else, so let's forget it here.


NOTES

1. I can hear the voice that sings this, but I can't for the life of me remember who it was. Cat Stevens?

2. Oh, cool! Now I can prove to my mother that I used to say "huh" even before I moved to the Altered States of America. She's always blamed my move here.

3. My writing teacher notes in the margin, Cohen lurks again!

4. "Write" is crossed out and flunk written in in pencil. I'm not sure if it's my writing or someone else's.

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