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Les Semaines

99.09.26

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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The Storm

And after the lull before the storm, the storm.

This really was a horrible week, full of anxiety and I'm so glad it's over. Next week, even though it's the first week of school and one of the busiest at work, has to be better. It has to be. Blessedly, my mind has hidden a lot of the details of this week already but it was a dark and stormy time, a slough of despond, a grey night of the soul. I felt like I couldn't write my name in the sand with a sharp stick (one of Richard Hugo's favourite sayings). I'm still in recovery mode, trying to be gentle with myself. I can't quite shake that feeling of impending doom.

Monday: a meeting, a student orientation, then I discovered there had been an earthquake in Taiwan, close to where my friend Christina and her husband Matt are (they're the people we travelled to Turkey with). Gradually I got more and more worried as it became clear that the city they live in (Taichung) was one of the hardest hit. Worry worry worry. Got in stupid disagreements on Usenet and didn't argue my case well. Inarticulate, while I thought I was being careful. This is stupid. So of course I couldn't sleep, between worrying about Christina and Matt, and worrying about people misreading what I've said.

The last time I remember looking at the clock was 3:00 am; Matt phoned at 5:00 to let us know that they were fine. Bless him.

Tuesday: spent hours with difficult students, or rather students that simply required a lot of me. I was getting farther and farther behind with all the paperwork and organization, and in deeper and deeper into misunderstandings and my anxiety level was reaching critical, probably due to lack of sleep. I was reading a book that fed into my anxiety level (Richard Bowes, Minions of the Moon) so I finished it quickly and took up a comfort book (Sherwood Smith's Wren to the Rescue). Got to bed early, but I was still too wired, tired, and upset to sleep.

Wednesday: Another student orientation. I was tired and inarticulate, and didn't do a good job of explaining the program. I worried I'd put off students who might otherwise be interested in the program. (From the mailing list sign up afterwards I discovered this was unlikely, but I still worried about it--at that point I worried about everything). Emotionally, I felt like I was bottoming out. Numb and tired.

Thursday: battered and bruised.

And now a weekend to try to recover and tidy myself up. I sent email to the people I had argued with that I was so worried about. Caught up on some paperwork. Got a little more organized at home to subdue the panicky feeling there. Didn't even try to work on the novel.

I am feeling better, but still shaky and uncertain, and very tired.

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

Listening

This was a week when I listened to some especially wonderful music. Veda Hille's you do not live in this world alone was the disc that most helped me feel better about life.

Also got a several new discs: Tori Amos' new one, to venus and back which I like better than I thought I would (I had bought the two singles released before the album and wasn't as drawn to them as I have been with her previous work); Rebecca Timmons' new disc The Turing Event, which is at least as good as her wonderful debut album; Kaitlyn ni Donovan's first full-length release, songs for 'three days'--I've had a tape ep of hers for years that I adore, and the full-length album I think will be just as wonderful when I've had time to listen to it properly; and Diane Izzo's debut, One, which is a sort of strange amalgam of PJ Harvey, Chan Marshall of Cat Power, Liz Phair, and probably many others.

This has been an amazing month for new releases.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Richard Bowes' Minions of the Moon is a powerful novel, and despite my state of high anxiety I really enjoyed it. I'd like to read it again sometime when I'm not so distracted. The main character has a "Shadow", a doppelganger who looks just like him and is part of him, but isn't him. I found the way the doppelganger was handled was quite fresh, and I liked the main character even though he was supposed to be a bit non-connecting himself. I found the novel tense and fascinating, but I probably should have read it when I was less tense myself.

Jonathan Carroll's The Marriage of Sticks is another book that I loved that I also should read again some time when I can give it my full attention. This reminded me a lot of my favourite novel of his, Bones of the Moon, I'm not sure why, except the main character felt a lot like the main character of that novel, and probably simply because I liked it as much, I think. Carroll is allowing himself to have stronger elements of the fantastic in his novels, and I think it's where he really shines. This is an intriguing novel about a woman and the way she lives her life.

Sherwood Smith's Wren to the Rescue and Wren's Quest were the books I read to try to calm myself down. I read Wren to the Rescue first several years ago when I first bought it, and enjoyed it. It's lighter-feeling than most of my favourite young adult novels--perhaps it's for a slightly younger audience, it's hard to tell. While I like Smith's Court Duel and Crown Duel better--I think they stand with the best in the genre--I still really enjoyed reading these. They're entertaining books about a girl in an orphanage who discovers that her best friend isn't really another orphan but is a princess, and that she can go back home with her--but then the princess is kidnapped. The relationships are real, the characters are clear, the plots interesting. Just the thing for a bad week.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Well, as I said above, this week I felt like I couldn't write my way out of a wet paper bag. No words were added to the novel. Sigh. And now I'm working on a grant application for the Canada Council--o ye gods of articulate self-promotion, smite me now with inspiration, I pray!

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

March 1976

341. Everett's story

If anything can possibly go wrong; it will. One day the son will shine on my brothers and there will be peace in my family. A while ago, unspoken he said: "Someone needs you." I hope that I helped the right person. In my brain there is a question, but my heart knows better.
The passing tides they wander
From unknown swirls way out at sea.
Tides was the roughest shores
I think and know it happened to me.
The bad part of the daze are gone
and are washed out to sea.

342. Question

[Long quote from Nilsson "Joy to the World" omitted about a chain of events starting from if there weren't questions ending with how then there love songs.] Ain't's it the truth? Probably no love ("+")1 songs, either.

343. How can i doubt?

The words are written, i have read them, yet still i have doubts i cannot sweep away. These words have a dual meaning, i am applying them to two situations. Love is so easy to give, and so hard to take, my brain says it's time to run and hide, my heart knows better, but also shies away in fear.2 Many kinds of love are like pain. In fact i cannot think of one form of love that is not.

344. Sunday evening, lost in piles of paper

My work light leaves shadows on my mind as does my work. I think my theme cry will become "so little time and so much to do."3 But that is not all of it, if i just weren't such a procrastinator i'd have a little more time to enjoy life.4 (Life? What life?) ([Quote from Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick about believing in the day omitted.]) I don't know about the day, but i do believe in the son! ("+" again!!)

345. Here I am back again!5

Phono I missed you--I was reaching the point of insanity, but now I am back to normal (what a drag)! I miss Jeff, a friend from Ottawa. Ottawa is nice but there are no seagulls. The nice weather makes being a seagull even more fun. Sun on my wings, wind in my feathers. Who's the nicest person in this school, I know, do you? Tonight I am going to kick up my heels--no more tests--I'm all caught up. This is just a jumble of thoughts but that's the way us seagulls are. Thanks, Nancy!

346. Not the only one

Here I am sitting in English Lit. bored to death. Well, Shaun, you're not the only one! I suffer, too... as do we all... but lit isn't really boring--i'm afraid i get off on it. Even Milton. (Let's all regain our paradise.) Sometimes i get the feeling i'm the only one on the whole class that likes to go! (I must be strange, must be something wrong with me... i feel like i'm trailing off today... all my thoughts settle into three dots...)

347. On being completely different

Fun, and very f'rout (must think of a new word soon, f'rout is getting[?] trite). Individuality is something else. Individuality is carrying a puppet around with you all day to develop his personality (he's got to grow up sometime). His name is Fred,6 and he's to keep me company when Everett goes away on his fish boat for a month. (A whole MONTH!!!) (Pain, sorrow.) I hope Fred is good company. Everyone think's i'm going through my fifth childhood.

348. By Janine again

Nancy don't worry about your fifth childhood, i'm still in my first. The world through the eyes of a child is so much more beautiful and that's what i want, a beautiful life. Bryant7 isn't a very good reader, didn't do much justice to my essay but who cares anyway? Went to see Cuckoo's Nest,8 made me think. What does life mean? Are we just all little robots controlled by big brother? I don't want that, I want to be an individual, maybe a seagull. And what happens when life ends? Does it just end and you're left with whatever you got out of it? Maybe it has to do with God? Nanc--I'll leave that question for you.

349. All by my lonesome

I'm here, in The Mustard Seed, waiting for it to open, i'm all alone, by my lonesome. Uh oh, Fred's here and he resented that. Fred and i are all alone here... poor us! He's not feeling very talkative either. I hope someone comes soon, i don't feel like waiting much longer (sheer impatience). Maybe i'll go home and sleep, but i feel like walking. I hope someone comes and we can take Fred for a walk. Maybe Phil or Mike... hope soon!

350. Friday night

Friday night, it saright / i wish that i were free; / Friday night, it saright long as you['re ("+") with me...
along again, Karen and Don were in for a while, but they've gone to a movie now. Walked them part way and saw lots of people i knew... people walking downtown on a Friday night, alone. (I've been here almost two hours.)


NOTES

1. The "+" sign is supposed to be a cross.

2. I suspect here that I am referring to my relationship with Everett, which began even though I still had a huge crush on Paul. It wasn't that I didn't love Everett, but I wasn't used to being the loved rather than the lover, and I had trouble with that.

3. Wow--how things don't change.

4. Hmm--that hasn't changed either.

5. By Janine.

6. If I remember correctly, Fred was a sock with floppy brown corduroy dog ears sewn on, and button eyes and nose.

7. The teacher. He may not have been a good reader, but he did a throw-you-to-the-back-of-your-chair imitation of Hitler's speeches in History the previous semester.

8. The movie.

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