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Les Semaines

99.03.21

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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Missing Pieces

When I was a child I loved doing jigsaw puzzles, so when I was in Hay-on-Wye in 1992 and discovered their wonderful store full of jigsaw puzzles I bought two. I caught some kind of virus on the trip, and when I got home I had a lingering fever and couldn't do much more than try to put together the ancient map jigsaw and listen to PJ Harvey's Dry really loudly. I confess that between the cats and my feverish awkwardness several pieces got scattered to the floor, but I did pick them up. However, when I got to the end of the puzzle, there was one piece missing. How frustrating.

Years later I did the second puzzle, a picture of David and Bathsheba from The Bedford Book of Hours, and wouldn't you know but one piece was missing from that one, too, at the end.

You don't really know till the end what's missing or whether anything is at all, do you? Recently I've been wondering about missing time and missing other things. A friend and his wife and 16-month-old son stayed with us Friday night (not good timing given my deadlines, and I found the energy and attention-demand of a 16-month-old rather daunting, too). It reminded me how glad I am that Jim and I decided not to have children. I think I would find motherhood something that would make me very resentful of the time and energy, so I rather think I would have made a lousy parent.

When I was younger I didn't want children, either, but I did go through a time a few years ago where I did want a child--specifically a daughter, say between four and eight. Unfortunately, they don't come that way and they don't stay that way. I've never found babies or teenagers particularly appealing.

I remember when I was just finishing my second year of university and my sister and her two-year-old, Catriona, moved back into my parents' house due to her first divorce. A friend and I were sitting in the spare room talking, and Catriona came downstairs and proceeded, without any preliminaries that I recall, to have a full-steam-ahead two-year-old's temper tantrum. Had she come downstairs just to do this? Who knows. Anyway, my friend and I watched her, and vowed not to have children. That friend has four now. Catriona has a two- nearly three-year-old of her own now. I have two aging cats.

I wonder how much I will feel that my life isn't complete at the end of it? Will it be the fact that I don't have children that I feel is missing? I know that now I only occasionally wish I could have experienced that part of life, too. About the only thing that I really regret is that I have a lot of family things that I'd like to pass on. Of course, even if I had a child that wouldn't guarantee that the child would be interested in such things. I hope that one of my sister's three, or one of their children will be interested in these things.

Maybe I'll feel that I didn't write enough. I certainly feel that now. When I haven't been writing for a longish stretch of time I definitely feel that there's a piece missing in my life.

Maybe at the end I'll feel that I had a horrible good life. I feel that now, too.

I like being full of contradictions, but it seems that whenever you make a strong statement it's both true and false at the same time. The sky is blue. Well, we see it as blue (or grey right now as I look out), but really it's every other colour and just reflecting the blue we see, so blue is the only colour it isn't. I love writing, and I hate it, too. Both statements are equally true.

Life is good--and it really sucks. The cherries are in full blossom and we have sighted the sun, but a good friend has left for Japan--I just got home from driving him to the airport--and who knows when he'll be back.

But it's spring, and the pear tree in our back yard is ready to burst with it.

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

Listening

Ah, a boring week. I'm still listening to various local cds and tapes (jr, Willow, Aiko Shimada) I bought over a week ago. The only new cd in the house is the new Sleator-Kinney, which I bought for Jim. I've enjoyed listening to it, too. The vocals and approach seem very early Throwing Muses to me, though Jim disagrees with me about the approach part.

Also gave Whitney Rehr another few listens as via a friend she'd asked to use some of my comments about her disc in her press kit. This inspired me to make an Ectophiles' Guide entry for her, so the comments could sound more officially useful to her.

I spent many hours Saturday getting a slew of new files ready for the Guide as well. Someone else (thanks Mark!) did the main work, but it always takes me some time to put the final touches on.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Stephanie A. Smith's YA novel, The Boy Who Was Thrown Away, a sequel to Snow-Eyes (see my Feb. 28th entry). This one I found fascinating--most especially the tone. There was an obvious 3rd-person narrator who was telling the story of this boy who later became a major historical figure in the culture that followed him, that he helped to create. Amazingly, this didn't feel contrived or awkward to me, and it created a level of meaning to the novel's events that heightened the drama and made it just that much more magical. I enjoyed this far more than I would have expected given the previous novels of hers I've read, both of which I found intriguing but distant. This time she used that distance to her advantage.

And I'm mid-way through Sebastian Faulk's Birdsong, which was due back at the library yesterday. But as Jim says, it's only 10 cents a day, and I'd rather finish it than not at this point, even if I'm unsure how much I'm enjoying it.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

A busy workshop week, with our fiction group meeting on Tuesday, and the poetry group on Wednesday.

So as we had a slow night for our workshop, they critiqued both my short short and my longer story I wrote last week. This was not a happy event--I'm not sure if it's because I'm a little burned out on workshops or if there's something else going on here--maybe stress and tiredness? But I came away feeling very weary of the whole workshop thing. Not so much what they said about my story (even I know it was a first draft!) but more the way in which it was talked about and approached.

Then the next night the poetry workshop group. I finished some work I was doing combining two poems into a this odd form I've started using in the last few years of putting two poems side by side so that they can be read individually or as one single poem together which is something different from the two parts. More than the sum of its parts, it is to be hoped. I think these two went together well--they are quite different in tone and style and I think that worked for them.

I'm getting anxious about the poems I want to finish for the manuscript. I'm running out of time to wrap them up, and out of time to put this manuscript together. Maybe that's why I was frustrated with the workshop--I wasn't really hearing anything I didn't know already, and I would rather have had the evening to work on the manuscript. It didn't help that I knew the weekend would be busy.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

February 1975

106. I'm still here

Yes, I'm still here. I don't know where she is. Probably off daydreaming somewhere. She's good at that. I'm not, I'm more practical, and less emotional. Usually she's more like me than her, but this guy, this one she's freaking out over. The one who can't stand her. (Sorry about that. That was mean. I may be a lot of things but not mean.) Anyway, this guy has her so emotional that she's left me on my own. She's staring out the window counting stars and listening to "Softly Whispering I Love You" and I'm out here alone with the Jolly Miller pen. It's almost out of ink, but she hasn't been using it lately. Saving it for something. She won't mind me using it. She's nice that way even if she is a little cloudy.

107. On getting up early to do a bi lab

My favourite activity is not getting up early to do a bi lab. But i didn't it this morning. Unhappily but i did. The only thing was that i did one bi-lab, and nailed heart throb to the wall. I wish i wouldn't do that, but i did. (You fool, at least I'm smarter than that. She's not, at least in the state she's in now.)

108. Mystic Lady1

Great--song in my mind. Oh yeah. Sure. Now She's going all mushy again. I don't know whether I can take it. [Quote from The Who's "We're Not Gonna Take It" deleted.] Anything I say today leads to a song.

109. Tryin' to write my novel

[Quote from a T. Rex's "Baby Boomerang" deleted.] That's how i feel today, at 8:01 a.m. I'm trying to write my novel and all he does is get my mind totally messed up. (Her mind is messed up! What does she think she's doing to me? Maybe she's realized I'm here, and she's trying to get rid of me....) Maybe he knows what he's doing and is trying to drive me insane. Probably. N.B. The reason i'm here is there is a liaison meeting.

110. The Slider

These songs i've been singing to you lately, they come from T. Rex and The Slider. [Quote from the title song deleted.] That's how i feel a lot lately. Not exactly sad, but depressed. [Another quote from the title song deleted.]

111. On feeling conspicuous

I feel terribly conspicuous today, especially when I walk past him. I feel that when I can see him a big light (red?) goes on with an arrow point to me saying "She likes him." I feel like everyone can see it except him. This is embarrassing. It makes me go red when i pass him. This is great. I've already told you about all my crushes and now you catch me in the midst of one.

112. Sue--from Fred

Everybody has to be somebody to somebody to be anybody--may you find that lucky someone. Fred. Sue's read it. Sorry Sue. But he didn't mean Sue, he meant me. He thinks my name's Sue.

113. Sitting outside McDonald's2

Common pastime, sitting outside McDonald's. Common for a lot of people, getting to be so for me. Watching all the people come out, waiting. Mom and Dad think i'm still at Laura's. But i've left. It's okay, i['m on my way to Grandma's

114. Reading

I'm reading Breakfast of Champions3 [Lyrics from a Wheaties cereal ad deleted.] I was reading a funny, but what would be classified as "dirty" part--with bold picture--in the middle of homeroom. It would be very funny to see people's faces when they saw what i was laughing at. Oh what I wish. [More lyrics from a Wheaties cereal ad deleted.]

115. Mon Soeur

My sister phoned yesterday--remember the one who's lost or maybe found? Anyway, her job is very boring this time of year, and so she wanted to talk. Not much to say either, except she is so bored she's going insane. Shall we welcome her to the club? I prescribed a Phonosnout of her own. She's sees lots of interesting things when she watches, like a dog jumping out of the back of a truck, stuff like that.


NOTES

1. Listening to too much T. Rex The Slider.

2. McDonald's was new to Victoria, B.C. in the 1970s.

3. Vonnegut lurks again.

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