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Les Semaines

99.05.02

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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Sloth

This week we got a copy of Ai's new collection of poems. Ai is an amazing poet, an in-your-face poet. Her poems are dramatic monologues that give you glimpses into minds you probably would rather not visit: a mother who has herself experience incest who facilitates her husband's incest with their daughter, a man who shoots his wife and the lover she left him for, Jack Ruby. Uncomfortable reading.

Her books also have uncompromising titles: Cruelty, Killing Floor, Sin, Fate, Greed, and now Vice. So driving home from meeting friends for a birthday celebration last night we got silly/thoughtful and started talking about naming a series of books after the Seven Deadly Sins.

I got stuck on the idea of The Book of Sloth. If everyone had to claim one of the sins as their own, sloth would be mine. I'd rather park on my butt with a book in my hand than nearly anything, and I'm definitely a person who needs a lot of sleep to function well--there have been times in my life when my non-working waking hours were few. Mostly these were due to various stresses in life that seemed best to sleep through (the boss from hell), but the year we lived in Ontario when Jim was going to school and I was working at a job I liked quite a bit (doing publicity for music school at the university there) I slept a lot, or if I wasn't sleeping I was reading. I didn't write at all that year--something which now strikes me as odd. Was I depressed? I don't think I thought so at the time, I just felt very unsettled.

Anyway, learning how not to be slothful hasn't been easy for me. It took me years to find an exercise program I could stick with (it had to entail not leaving home or I'd stop going, and I had to do it first thing in the morning before I was awake enough to think up excuses, and I couldn't get up earlier than I normally would to do it or I'd gradually start letting myself sleep through it). I'm glad I've finally got that working--a flexible work schedule as certainly helped.

It may not sound like it from my reading sections, but I don't spend nearly as much time as I used to reading. I do spend too much time online, but I spend more than that working on The Ectophiles' Guide and other computer and email tasks. I'm not a big one for computer games, luckily, though I do like to play solitaire.

Getting a more regular writing schedule to get the fiction done is the current battle I'm holding against sloth. (I'm not unhappy, though, with the writing progress I've made so far this year--finishing the poetry collection was a surprise and a delight and a great feeling of accomplishment. I just haven't finished any fiction, dammit, even if I have some new first and even second drafts. And it wouldn't hurt if I got on a more regular schedule for housecleaning. Between two cats and two long-haired people the dust mice start herding up pretty quickly.

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

Listening

New cd (to me) from Canada, three sheets to the wind's grace under pressure: three women harmonizing through some traditional, some new compositions. The driving force (and the best singer to my ear) of the three is Rebecca Campbell, who was also part of Fat Man Waving and sings backup now for Jane Siberry. She's obviously very talented on her own.

Other than this, a mostly miscellaneous listening week--from Fiona Apple to An April March (Jim has a new single and they're one of his favourites) to Underwater's I Could Lose, which has to be one of my favourite of the plethora of vocal/electronica bands out there now. Speaking of that, my utter favourite, Lamb has a new disc coming out soon. I can hardly wait. I have two import singles on their way to me soon.

Right now I'm listening to one of my favourite albums of all time--one I've been listening to for years: Sandy Denny.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

I slowly finished Sean Stewart's The Night Watch, letting myself savour it instead of racing through as I sometimes do. At first I thought I might be a bit disappointed by it, but I wasn't--he managed to pull all the threads of all the various personalities to make a satisfying and--thank god--not too tidy a pattern. I was worried the novel would either be a mess or too tidy, but it seems to me he got the balance just right for the civilization he'd created. This is a story where a growing tide of magic caused the apocalypse--a fascinating idea that he did good justice to.

Sean Stewart is rapidly rising in my pantheon of writers.

I also read David Guterson's new novel East of the Mountains, just finishing it this morning. Like his Snow Falling on Cedars it's clearly well-thought-out and well-written, though almost a little too tidy and carefully phrased--as though you can see the author being just a little too conscious of his cleverness. Still, a pleasant read with enough depth to make it worthwhile.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Not an obviously productive writing week on paper/computer--a bit of tinkering with a short story I can't decide whether I want to send in to a briefly-open anthology or not.

But while I haven't been accomplishing much on paper my mind has been buzzing with all kinds of background and new things--this seems a particularly fertile idea time, and I've learned enough about my own writing process just to let this be and not push till I'm ready. I've also learned enough about myself that I wish I'd taken more notes this week as well. Sigh. I hope I haven't lost too many of these ideas. I know some of the details may be gone--only temporarily I trust.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

November 1995

165. On having left Phonosnout at home

I'm writing this on a notepad. What a drag! I left Phonosnout at home. I guess i'll have to write it in after. A drag, a drag! Phono's sitting on the footbench at home and i'm alone, deserted, sitting in a classroom. Ugh! Let me out, i want to go get my friend! (Sure, kid. Sit still and behave yourself. Rotten little kid.)

166. Glory in my freedom

Glory in my freedom! I'm free! No chains (ha!) Anyway, i'm boyfriendless. I done broke up with him.1 It wasn't all as short as it seemed to you, Phono. I went out with him a good two-three months. A record for me, i usually run out of patience before that. A guy (who took me out fo coffee a couple of times before Tom) phoned last night. He wants to marry me. He has got to be kidding. Anyway he may be goodlooking but he's dumb and there is no way (besides, he's ten years older than me.) I wish he'd stop phoning me.

167. Unfinished chapter

Finished one more essay. A little late (a week) but it's done. That means i've done. (uh huh!) [entry ends}

168. The freaky lunchroom

Wow is that lunchroom ever freaky. I was standing near the window, casually drinking my lemonade and--yell! scream! (Murder! mayhem!) The stomping of gigantic feet. Needless to say i escaped as soon as possible (Look out, she's making a break for it... she's gonna get out... oh no! She's out, she made it.) Next time i'll try jumping out the window, it's closer, and not so crowded as the door.2

169. Hitler & the Luftwaffe3

Sitting in History hearing about Hitler and his buddies, bombings, the Luftwaffe, all sorts of exciting and war-type thing. Operation Barbarossa, Germans into Russia, turning point of war. All this is very f'rout was rather frightening. It's very possible that it could all happen again. Just what we all need--Heil Hitler. No more Hitler ever, please.

170. Waiting for something to happen

Waiting for something to happen. Whatever, it is had better hurry up, i'm getting impatient, watching, waiting.4Just about time to change classes, History to Canadian Lit. I wish that would hurry up, too. I'm very impatient today, but feeling lazy. Friday night and i'm tired and sleepy. Great. I don't think it will be much of a rowdy night. O dear.

171. Doing it again

They're doing it to me again! Essays, essays, and more essays. Hassles, hassles, and more hassles. I feel like giving up. I wish i could, but i've put this much effort into it, so why waste it? I wish things would get interesting, at least. maybe it would be okay if i didn't waste so much time. Get right down to it and get it all finished. Wouldn't it be great if i never had to sleep. I'd get everything over with in that case.

172. Far snowy out5

Far snowy out. Two days ago the ground was covered with fluffy white stuff--a bit early in the year for it (late November) at least for here. It's all gone now, rained away. It started when Laura, Pete and I were Seed-sitting.6 My mommy phoned up and suggested we leave (thanks salot [sic], Mommy!) and we dallied a while then drove off into the wet snowy yonder. Slipped around a bit on the highway, but made it to Laura's okay. Got snowed in there because didn't have snow tires or such.7

173. Laziness

Gee, i'm lazy, i can't even be bothered to write. Hate! Hate, laziness. I am laziness, but not the only one. The only one laziness. Wow, no words. ("The poet sighs as he taps his pen; the words just will not flow again. The singer banging at the door, please let him in, he wants for more.")8

174. Question 174

I really should do a little filling in. A little history perhaps, but what? Tell my life story? Got to kind, got to be kidding. Wow, freaky rhythm, have you noticed it, can you hear it, poetry pounding, thoughts are dying, memories are born. Silence pounding on moaning thoughts. did you ever know? Subtle nonsense, unsubtle crap!


NOTES

1. See? I told you it couldn't last long.

2. You can see how innocent those days were. Now as I type this I can't stop thinking of a high school lunchroom in Colorado and a boy jumping out of the window of the library. Then such a thing would never have occurred to me.

3. Interesting conjunction, that, with my previous note.

4. Wow! Don't you remember that feeling? It pretty much describes how I felt most of my youth. Something was going to happen. Soon..

5. From all the snow that has been mentioned here you'd think it snowed in Victoria a lot--I must have just written a lot during snowfalls or been so delighted with the novelty of it all that I was more prone to write then, because Victoria is lucky most winters to get a week of snow. How odd.

6. That means hanging out at The Mustard Seed, the teenage drop-in centre, waiting for the kids to come in out of the cold.

7. And my parent's house was on top of a ridge. Snow in Victoria is very wet, which makes the hills slippery, and rather a challenge for a teenager in a small car without much weight--I would have been driving my father's bright green Datsun hatchback (pronounced "Tired of dat rain? Try DatSun!" in Canajan), Melody. That car survived my lessons in learning to drive a stickshift. Come to think of it, my father survived teaching me to learn to drive a stickshift. No commercial lessons for me, no way (no money).

8. I think these are lines from a poem I wrote that was far, far too heavily influenced by listening too long to Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick. I hope so--I don't want to break any copyright laws.

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