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Les Semaines

99.08.15

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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Family Ties

A while back the magazine/anthology GRANTA had an issue on family entitled "Families--they fuck you up". Well, hell, yes.

Visiting Jim's family is always, well, stressful, no matter how much I enjoy each of them individually. You see, I come from a small family--just me and my parents and my sister. Jim's one of six children, and his mother died in 1982 (before I met her, though I did talk to her on the phone a few times) and his father remarried nine years ago. All of his siblings have children, too, and one of those (the nephew who recently visited) has a child of his own. So his family is far, far bigger than I'm used to, especially as we only get back east to see them about once every three years or so.

I do like all of Jim's family members. There isn't one I don't like when I talk to them--one on one, especially. They're all so different. Jim's eldest brother is a former Marine and policeman who now loves working at a Barnes and Noble. He's turned into a real reader and is interested in writing, too. He's 16 years older than Jim and is his godfather. He's probably the worst joker/punster in the family but they all have that to some degree. He's Mark, the visiting nephew's father.

His next brother is corporate sales manager and is the real politician in the family; he tries to help everyone get along. He is married to a woman who is studying textiles and has two daughters, one of whom is a senior in college in special education (we love talking music with her) and the other is still in high school and is a cheerleader.

Next is Jim's eldest sister, who is widowed and has three children. We were extremely happy to get a chance to meet up with her for a two-hour conversation, as she's the one we probably see the least, especially as she couldn't make it to the party. She has two boys and a girl, all of whom are in high school.

Jim's middle sister has two daughters, one of whom is in her second year of college, a likely business major, and the younger of whom is in highschool. It was great to see both of them again because they're fun and the eldest is Jim's goddaughter.

Jim's younger sister, the sibling closest in age to him is married to a man who runs plumbing construction teams for his father's business, and they have a young son who is a real livewire. They all work and play hard, and live out in the country (the party was there) with a barn with three horses, a kennel with four dogs, various cats out there, and a garage full of showcars. Amazing.

So here we all are yelling surprise at Jim's father to celebrate his 80th birthday. Yes, he was surprised and happy. It was intense.

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Listening

Not much listening time this week, but we did talk a lot about music.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Just before I left I read (for the first time) John Masefield's classic children's novel The Box of Delights, which was quite delightful.

On the plane I read a more recent children's novel by William Mayne. Mayne is a hit or miss author for me, but when he hits, his novels are among my favourites. Cuddy is definitely one of his best. Too bad he's hard to find out of the U.K. Thank goodness for amazon.co.uk. Cuddy is about Saint Cuthbert appearing to some children to get help for his spirit to be released to where it should be. It features a nun talking inside and to the bear who ate her, which was strange and amusing. And Mayne's poetic writing was beautifully lucid. I ate each sentence. Yum.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Don't make me laugh. But I have been thinking, thinking, thinking.

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Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

February-March 1976

281. Van Gogh

Van Gogh lived and died with a soul tormented. He tied himself into worse knots than i could ever tie myself into because basically i have strength for self-preservation and -indulgence. Van Gogh did not know how to preserve or indulge himself. [Quote from Don McLean's "Vincent" deleted.]

282. Snowy, rainy, yucky day

It's a snowy, rainy, altogether yucky day. It snows great big fat flakes. It rains and stops. Could be called freaky if i felt like calling it that but i don't . S'there! Dull day--dull night. Rain spray (at me?) Rainfall--now--rain. Care. So Wish. Hello!

283. Gipper's Nancy

Nancy's heart is naked upon much paper. God bless Nancy...especially when her pen bleeds...it's only because her heart weeps...God bless Nancy. Feb. 27/761

284. Suddenly here

Suddenly i'm here in Nanaimo. It was a surprise to wake up here--it wasn't ready for it. There's a couple of inches of snow here, and i wasn't ready for it either. I'm listening to a guy talking and he's got a freaky deep voice. He's a writer. He's got a salt-and-pepper beard. Do all writers have deep voices and beards? Don't be stupid. I'm making dumb assumptions 'cause i'm still sound asleep.2

285. Back home again

It's a Monday morning with a not-too-great weekend behind me. He (meaning heart-throb) didn't turn up this weekend (flu) but i'm not too upset. I'm too stunned to be upset about anything. Stunned and sleepy. A bad combination. I keep dozing off. I'm back home (meaning Victoria). I've been here for quite a while. I feel invisible, or at least i didn't until someone said hi to me a moment ago.

286. How far to reality? Wednesday, March 3

Wow, yesterday. Did it happen or was it a dream? Sure seems like one. It seemed so unreal, even at the time. It still does. [Quote omitted from a Nilsson song about someone's baby not being there.] That's what it was like this morning after a very restless night. I wish i knew the difference between reality and unreality.

287. Nothing

Well, it has been said several times that nothing comes from nothing. Well, nothing is coming from my inattention. I'm freaked (obviously). I wonder if something would come from something if I was paying attention. But i can't because it takes too much effort, and it can't afford it. So, therefore, nothing is coming from nothing.

288. To be or not to be by Janine

Hamlet is a bore. At least the way it is being taught. I think i could teach English better than this. So how are you, phono--it's been a long time, i'm okay sticking it out. It's very hard to pay attention when your mind is elsewhere. i think i like Macbeth better, bloodier but more interesting. Oh well only 20 more minutes and 4 more months.

289. Golden Years

[Quote from Bowie's "Golden Years" omitted.] You won't hear me say that. Life's taking me everywhere (and back again). Superficially speaking, a lot has happened (though underneath it's still the same). Oh, so similar are my days, yet i sit anxiously waiting, for what, forever. I'm getting more anxious and restless all the time.

290. Wish i was

[Quote from Simon and Garfunkel's "Punky's Dilemma" omitted, you know, the song about being a Kellogg's cornflake.] I'm just wishing because there's nothing else to do, nothing more, but to wait. I'm lost in shadow. Being lost and finding shadows are my two favourite and most-used images. I'm becoming as insubstantial as my poetry.


NOTES

1. That was Gipp. To find out who he was, see my July 25th entry. In case you don't remember, I went by "Nancy" at that time.

2. Nanaimo is a city about 90 minutes drive north of Victoria. I'm not sure why I was there--probably for a writer's conference for highschool students. I vaguely remember it because I bought a couple of books there, one being the Skookum Wawa anthology that I still have.

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