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Les Semaines

99.02.14

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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Sweethearts

Well, this is the day, so of course everyone is either talking about love or working hard at ignoring it.

It's very different thinking about love now that I've been monogamously married for over 15 years. The girl who wrote The Phonosnout entries would be surprised, I think, at the love I have now. I'd like to think I could convince her of its value, but I know that when I was younger I was seriously romantic and expected to live this life full of lovers and exotic adventures. Instead I'm married and despite my love of travelling to the U.K., I find myself quite the homebody. I think because I've learned that if I want to write I have to be home long enough and emotionally settled enough to get the work done. I've written travel journals and sketched out some poems while travelling, but it has been the raw material for work and not the work itself.

Hmm, what does this have to do with Valentine's Day and love? Well, I think maybe I'm drawing some parallels here. That the kind of love I value most now requires spending long quiet time with the one(s) you love. Years, maybe.

I've never loved anyone the way I love Jim. It's simply not possible. I haven't spent 15 years living with anyone else daily, with the exception of my parents and sister. Sure I've had passions and they were superficially more intense that what I have now on the level of physical awareness and the conscious obsessive thought about the other, but they certainly weren't deeper. Surface fires, like oil burning on the ocean, when there's a whole sea of emotion there to engage, the whole ocean of your life and emotional consciousness for the fire to permeate.

Well, you get the picture.

So here's Jim and I meeting. We're in our early 20s. We're both leaving the places our families lived for the first time, really, despite both of us having lived away from home before. He's from North Carolina; she's from British Columbia. He's shy and sarcastic; she's social and romantic. Both write poetry seriously enough to go to school so we could continue doing writing it and stave off the horrible grown up getting-a-job-to-support-ourselves business.

We're both about to start the M.F.A. in writing poetry program at the University of Montana, and Richard Hugo, an excellent and famous poet and the reason why we choose Montana in the first place, is assigned as our advisor, and we need to get him to sign our registration form before we can hang out in the horrible line and register for classes. So we wait for several hours, a few of us, talking about starting the program and where we come from and who we read and all. I thought Jim was kind of dorky but interesting and attractive and damn smart. We started hanging around a lot together. After a couple of weeks I clearly let him know I'm interested in him. He's chicken and turns me down but not forever. I have a brief, high fire romance with someone else but it ends, and Jim and I have continued to get to know each other better.

And there we are. We spend the rest of the year getting to know each other better. He meets my parents in March, visits me at home in the summer, and we move in by the next December (hey, we're graduate students and what's the point of paying two rents, especially when we're only on one place at a time) and by January we've decided to get married because his Catholic family is a little freaked out by the cohabitation, and besides after I graduate my student visa will be gone and we'd have to live in different countries. So we get married.

At the time I didn't have a whole lot of faith that we'd stay married. I was rather against the whole idea of marriage and couldn't see myself giving up Romance and Adventure. But Jim is fun and he likes to live the same way I do which is no small thing, and besides, we love each other.

So here we still are. Happy Valentine's Day, Jim. The fires aren't as obvious because they've seeped throughout the whole ocean, but they're still there.

But I don't think he knows this journal is here yet.

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

Listening

David Usher still haunting the cd players, though with less frequency than before, for which Jim is grateful. He'd gotten just a little tired of my obsession. Annika Bentley's see you around, lifeguard still gets attention.

Newly added is Meg Lunney's The Margaret Anns--which is hard to describe. More like early No Borders Here Jane Siberry than anything else I can think of. Maybe a touch of Mary Margaret O'Hara, too, particularly in the voice. And a couple of Celtic songs on the disc. Interesting and different.

Oh, and I also got a live tape of Pepper Acton. I'd love to hear her live!

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

I began the week reading Martha Well's Death of the Neuromancer, which I mostly enjoyed, but somehow felt shut out of the characters--we saw them too distantly for me. I bailed on Preternatural--just couldn't bring myself to read another page. And I started working through George R.R. Martin's A Clash of Kings, but find I'm disappointed in it, too--he hops around through so many viewpoints that there isn't a character to really get hooked on enough to really care about them--it just takes too long to get back to them, and at about halfway through the book the plot is barely creeping along. I fear right now that Martin has got Robert Jordan disease and that his story has become so big its unmanageable. We'll see.

I got so uninvolved in the story that I ever took time out to race through Christabel's The Mortal Immortals last night. This is a book I read in junior high and loved so much I talked the librarian into letting me have the copy out of our school library (no one had ever taken the book out in the years it had been in the collection). I hung onto that copy for years, even leaving it behind at my parents' house when I went away to graduate school, but at one point I let it go out in a charity donation and regretted it ever since. I finally found another copy, but paid quite a bit for it as it's now rare. Anyway, it wasn't quite as wonderfully magic for me as it was in my teens, but I did enjoy reading it! Not terribly well-written, but there's something charming about it.

I also realized here that I rarely talk about the poetry I'm reading--I think that's because unlike fiction I rarely read a poetry book cover to cover. So here's some of the poetry I've been dipping into recently: Jan Zwicky's Songs for Relinquishing the Earth, Susan Andrews Grace's Ferry Woman's History of the World, and Margaret Gibson's The Vigil: A Poem in Four Voices.

And I've also been enjoying reading Chiara Shah's India trip journal.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

I'm still in the thick of revising poems, but also wrote a new one that I was happy with. It's not long.

Things are starting to come together. I finalized the Lucidity chapbook and got it out in the mail to the local (state-wide) poetry chapbook contest. That must have opened the floodgates because since then I've sent out four poetry submissions, which means that in addition to the chapbook I have 20 poems in the mail.

I've been thinking a lot about why I stopped submitting poems in recent years. There was a time when Spells for Clear Vision was published that I simply didn't have many poems finished that were unpublished and there was a dramatic fall-off in the number of submissions I sent out (from 11 in 1993 to 1 in 1994, and in 1996 I didn't send out any poetry at all, but that is when I started really focusing on fiction).

Whew! Shortly after I wrote that (and well before completing the rest of this entry) I heard back from one of those submissions (my first poetry submission by email and my first poetry submission to a speculative poetry venue, though I've had many poems with speculative themes published in mainstream literary journals). Star*Line is taking two of my speculative poems. What a wonderful welcome back to the world of submitting poetry! They even pay in more than copies.

I also got word that my second published short story, "Ars Poetica" has just appeared in Odyssey issue 7, which has made its way to subscribers in the U.K. and is slowly making its way across the Atlantic for me to see. ODYSSEY is spottily available in the U.S. in Barnes and Noble.

And I enjoyed reading at the It's About Time reading series on Thursday night. There was a good audience and I was utterly relaxed. I've realized, though, I like having longer than 15 minutes in group readings. It has been a while since I was able to give a longer reading, and I miss it.

All in all, an excellent writing week.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

Winter 1975

64. Chapter Sixty-Four

What to say for chapter sixty-four? That the square root is eight? But what has that got to do with it? You never know, it might have everything to do with it. But then again.... That's enough of that. I think chapter sixty-four should be Real and Relevant and Meaningful. But how to make it that way? I can only try.

65. Friday Morning

It's Friday morning, this snowing morning, and it's warm in the classroom. The poetry classroom. Room for improvement in this room. I guess. Especially right here, in this desk. Well, on a Friday morning there's not much to do, but listen and write and write and listen. I hope i'll have a rowdy weekend, and not a boring one. I love rowdy weekends.

66. About Rowdy Weekends

Actually, my weekends aren't ever really rowdy. I'm lucky if they're even faintly interesting. Last weekend was a friend of Laura's (do you remember who Laura is? I don't mention her very often, but she's always here) came over from Vancouver and brought a friend. They were both really nice and i was allowed to have the car to drive them to and from their hotel. A nice downtown hotel, with hot and cold running chambermaids.

67. Sucked in.

Guess who's probably the next stage manager of the drama club. I've done it again. I always manage to somehow. As if it isn't enough that i'm class rep, on the liaison committee, working on the annual, scorekeep, and have writing to do--i'm just grouching for nothing because i really enjoy it all. I hate having nothing to do, there's nothing worse. To me at least. I like to keep busy so i don't have to do any Deep Thinking. I don't like to think, in case you hasn't notice.

68. Drama Stage Manager

I had to watch them at rehearsal today. They were okay. I mean there are so many way they could be better. There's one girl there, no names mentioned, who can't act, can't speak, and who puts a thoroughly plastic air to the whole production. She really spoils it. I'm not speaking just because she isn't my favourite person; she just can't act.

69. My Jolly Miller Pen

This Bic pen came out of our Jolly Miller flour. You know, "Free Bic Pen Inside"? That's where this en came from. It just got attacked by my ferocious kitten. (Achilles was a heel!) Achilles is his name. Not the pen, my cat. He's four months old, and is black and white. More black than white, but white on his legs and a black heel on the left rear. Hence the name. (I'm still talking about the cat. I guess i should really rename this chapter, but i'm just too lazy.)

70. Driver's license

I haven't told too many people about it, (who talks to people?) but i had a bad time getting my license. First i went down on my birthday to get my learner's permit. I like to blame it on Gerry1, but i failed the test by one mark. Is there any excuse for that? Well, i went back the next day and passed the test sans errors. Now ask for excuses. I learnt for a long time, even had to renew it before it ran out (three months). Then in taking my driver's test i climbed the curb while parallel parking and failed that test by two marks! (I was nervous, would you believe?) Took it again as soon as i could (1 week) and did really well. (Look at all my trials and tribulations).

71. A sad tail (er, tale)

That surely is a sad tale. Have you ever heard the like? Things like that are the story of my life. I always do dumb things like that. What a fool i am... but you must have already noticed that. You know, troubles don't really bother me, but when i cause them by my own stupidity...that's a sad tale.


NOTES

1. I have no idea why I was blaming it on Gerry. That's lost in the past.

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