Blort

My God, that last post was just 6 weeks ago. Unbelievable, it feels like forever and a half. The J-hols (as I like to refer to the ol' RH/YK/etc) totally blew my brains out: tons of fun having people over and visiting others, but left M and the kids and me in a state of utter BLUUUUUUUUUUUUUURGHHH. We're just getting back into some kind of swing of things, adjusting to the sudden massive drop in temperature and daylight hours, having trouble waking up in the morning and so on.

Then, last weekend was total aikido immersion, which was deep and amazing and OH MY GOD IT FEELS LIKE SOMEONE RAN OVER MY LEGS WITH A TRACTOR. AUGH.

Also today the Boss's Boss tapped me to be on the Core team of 3 folks (himself and me and another person) working on The Super Aweseom Project To, Through The Power Of Automation And Adherence To Standards (ta daaah), Make Our Entire Department's Lives Not Suck As Much As They Occasionally Do--and that's gratifying. Sometimes it just helps to know someone in some position of authority thinks you're Special, y'know (snide remarks about the Special Bus notwithstanding)?

Meanwhile I think I'm remembering/figuring out what I've been writing these past months and when/where/how I might start to get some of it Out There and that's hella scary/exciting/exhilarating/wtf/omg.

Life is full of awesome.

Recently reading:

· Prismatic Publics: innovative Canadian women's poetry and poetics - Kate Eichorn & Heather Milne, eds.
· Seven Pages Missing - Steve McCaffery (both volumes simultaneously)
· The entire digital/avant poetry Internet

More with the reading

Still reading:

· Zhu Wen, I love Dollars - Samuel Beckett packs Molloy and Malone off to modern-day mainland China! Crazy hijinks ensue!!!

Newly reading:

· 86: Best Canadian Short Stories - because I am a total sucker for contemporary Canadian LitFic. Grew up on the stuff, can't get enough of it, etc.

· William Faulkner, Selected Short Stories - Some people make fun of Faulkner. I find him utterly compelling, and have since I slurped down As I Lay Dying in one day when I was nineteen. "Barn Burning" and "Two Soldiers" have that same relentless, heart-poundingly unstoppable quality for me. Can't get enough.

Not reading anymore:

· David Helwig, The Streets of Summer - Meh. If I can see where I'd cut stuff to make your story better, if I can see through your dialogue, that distracts me from enjoying the story. I don't have time for that. This is a pity, because Helwig is the editor of many of my fave CanLitFic collections, so I was really hoping I'd be into his own work. And yet: no.

Still on the shelf, queued up:

· Best American Short Stories 2006
· The Picador Book of Contemporary Chinese Fiction

Boy am I ever reading a lot lately.

Suddenly reading tons again. Mostly short stories/novellas, as usual. And writing a bunch, but that's just for me (for now). Anyway: reading enough that I want to keep track of it. So, to the best of my recollection, here's what I've read in the last week or so:

Saul Bellow - Ravelstein
James Joyce - "The Dead"
Patrick White - "Down at the Dump"
William Trevor - "A Meeting In Middle Age" and "Reasonable Access"
O. Henry - "Best-seller"

People. You have no idea how much faster that is than I usually read. Which was in fact getting me all down, because I have all this great stuff I've always wanted to read but "never had time".

So I decided to capitalize on this and grab a bunch of library books at Lillian Smith that I've been meaning to read forever and couldn't seem to get up the gumption to get through but now, wtf, I'm all gumptiontastic:

Zhu Wen - I Love Dollars and other stories - 6 stories, 228pp
David Helwig - The Streets of Summer - no table of contents! (what?), 177pp
Best American Short Stories 2006 - 20 stories, 358pp
The Picador Book of Contemporary Chinese Fiction - 21 stories, 294pp

I'm starting at the top of that list and just readin' through (since that's the order in which I'm excited about them). We'll see how far I get by September 17 (the due date). Lessee, that's 22 days. My goal is to get through the Zhu Wen and the David Helwig. Then I'll think about renewing the other two if I'm not done by then.

Heading to Ottawa this weekend for lil' brother Jon's shotgun hippie wedding. I get to hold a chuppah pole! Out in the woods and everything! Should be fun.

tidbit

I notice myself working with music differently of late. Especially these
days when time seems to feel so fragmented, much of my musical activity
(both music-making and music-listening) is interstitial -- I'm drawn to
things I can listen to and even write in between other things, in a
semi-distracted state. Why fight it? This is a place for me to collect
little tidbits, ideas, fragments, maybe even finished pieces:

http://x.boywithmachine.net

Having an average weekend

In chronological order:

Dinner @ neighbours'. Good, long sleep. Shul. Nap. Positive gig. More sleep. Relaxed, sun-dappled morning with the kids. Swimming lesson with Her Majesty. Pizza. Big dominoes at Bloor/Spadina. Weeding. $sprog playing accordion to accompany the weeding. Neighbourhood kids spontaneously joining in (and their parents came to hang out, too). Tea + snax on the back deck w/all of the above. Cleanup. Lousy Korean/Japanese food from New Generation (would not order again). "Burn After Reading." Bed?

Stupid Human Trick #76501

So our basement has a low ceiling. This means I have to constantly remember to stoop slightly or I get smacked in the forehead or poked viciously by a corner of drywall in the top of my skull. So today as part of the whole Passover thing I was moving some boxes around, and happened to be holding one that (a) was quite deep, so it came up to just below my chin and (b) had a picture frame wedged somewhat inelegantly into it such that a corner of the frame was pointed straight up, right at my mouth level.

Maybe you can see where this is going.

I stood up to hoist the extremely heavy box, and in my enthusiasm to get the @#$%er off the floor, smacked the top of my head good and hard on a projecting bit of the low ceiling. Ordinarily, this is enough to elicit some invective from me, with perhaps some vigorous rubbing of the affected region, and then I get on with my day.

The part you never think of (well, I never thought of) is that, when smacked rather hard on the top of your head, you have a (pretty sensible, all things considered) reflex which causes you to contract your neck muscles and duck your head back down away from the source of the smacking. Which works just fine when it's your reptilian brain trying to protect your stupid ape brain from the thing that just smacked the top of your head, unless you happen to have the sharp pointy corner of a picture frame just below your mouth, into which you then jam your face reflexively, which is to say, really effing hard.

Now there's this thing? About getting the corner of a picture frame jammed into your lip? Where not only does it hurt, but you whip your head back reflexively? Back and upward, to be precise, which works just fine when your reptilian brain is trying to save your stupid ape brain from the tree branch or whatever you just ran into in the jungle? But doesn't work so well when that means smacking my head back into the low ceiling.

You can clearly see where this is going now.

So after bopping my head back and forth a few times reflexively, which is to say (a) really, really hard, (b) really, really fast and (c) totally beyond my conscious control, I just dropped the box and screamed "FUCK!" really loudly. It was the first thing I could think of to do that would get my body to do something other than reflexively and cyclically pummeling itself to a bloody mess. I now look like someone kicked me in the mouth a few times for fun.

Note to self: DO NOT DO.

Passover's on its way, oh yes it is

M went and bought an unreasonable amount of money's worth of Passover food at Sobey's today, and then left it in the car for me to somehow get into the house when I got home. Luckily I learned my lesson last time, and grabbed the kids' little green wagon (fixed! ha!) and used it to cart stuff in from the garage. Four trips! And I only managed to overfill and tip the thing over on one of them.

Soon: cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning. Followed by a week of vacation spent mostly with my extended family, parents in from Ottawa, and the like. Some people find this kind of thing scary; I actually like my family, and I somehow also perversely like Passover food, so this should be just fine.

Later: wallowing in overpriced food debt.

Colin & Jen's Excellent Carsonby Adventure

Back from a crazy but wondrous weekend in Ottawa for Colin and Jen's Totally Ultimate Weddingstravaganza.

Pre-game show included:



Actual wedding included:


  • Actual bagpiper with actual bagpipes!

  • Tiny, tiny hall out in Carsonby, ON -- in combination with VERY LOUD bagpipes (see above), this made for a high-energy wedding ceremony! "WHAT??" "I SAID, DO YOU TAKE JEN TO BE YOUR LAWFUL WEDDED--" "I CAN'T HEAR YOU, SOMEONE'S SLAUGHTERING A SHEEP IN THE CORNER OF THIS VERY ACOUSTICALLY LIVE WOODEN SPACE," etc.

  • Pot luck reception with contra dancing, shape-note singing, and instrumental musical accompaniment provided by some of the Ottawa Valley's finest folk musicians -- stunningly awesome, and fun at the same time.

  • Highly cute photos provided by my dad; includes photos of me, M, the kids, my parents cutting various rugs, and my sister.

  • Last, but definitely not least, a delightfully joyous and warm communal outpouring of affection for these two dear people, the chance to reconnect with friends from near and far, and lots of love. I'm so very glad Colin and Jen did this. Congratulations!

Just, holy wow.

So much going on! So fast! Aaaaaa!

So let's see uh, start with being spontaneously invited over for homemade pizza dinner yesterday by people we'd just met at the park. With charming kids roughly the same age as our kids. Who live just down the street from us. And that was the tail end of a most delightful weekend of neighbourhood neighbourliness, most of which was along the same lines.

Today: back to the grind. I dipped my toe into the oozing pit of Websphere 6 at work, and well, it got oozed on, as expected. Tonight was the first aikido class back at our usual practice space, renovations on the community centre that hosts us having been completed. It was good to be back, but as I've been remarking to aiki-friends, aikido just feels kinda... off to me these days. Not like I'm doing particularly poorly or anything, just... wierd. I'm sure, like most such phases at aikido and other practices, it'll pass, but it is noteworthy in its unprecedentedness. Also: post-aikido beer at the Village Idiot, where I surprisingly bumped into my brother! It was nice to have his party join ours. People actually talked to each other and seemed to get along.

Then I came home and packed up/folded/arranged the very, very many cardboard boxes we've been accumulating as we unpack our stuff and assemble new Ikea furniture. Here's hoping the recycling guys don't pass over my omg-what-are-you-running-here-a-branch-of-the-LCBO pile...