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It probably looks like I'm really late posting this month, but I actually just didn't finish any books in July. Lots of other stuff has been going on, though. In particular, my class was approved, I set up a room and a timeslot with the women's studies department, and advertised on facebook and various department mailing lists; as of today, there are ten people registered, which is two more than the minimum to avoid cancellation and includes five people I either don't know or don't know to be taking it. I don't think there's anyone liable to be reading my journal who is a current UBC student, interested in both SF and queer theory, and hasn't already heard about it through other channels, but there are still five spaces left and it's up on the student service centre as WMST 425R. It's in the fall term every Wednesday from 10-1, which is a date I'm very cheerful about, since it means I won't lose any weeks to holidays; there's a brief PDF outline online here, and I'll be posting some more stuff soon.

Joanne left on August 2nd to go to Ontario for a month to see her family there, as she does every year about this time. Before she was gone we made a plan that I would housesit, and also spend the month moving in, so that when she got back we'd be living together, which is in fact what I've been doing. By a fluke of timing she's never gone away while we were actively dating before; I miss her more this time, then, because I have no reason to already be holding back from the possibility of connection. I'm glad we're taking this step toward there not being more such separations after this.

I'll be taking my own trip soon: on Thursday I'm leaving for Oregon, back the 31st (two days before Joanne is home). I will meet Rachel's baby! And reacquaint myself with other aspects of Rachel's local landscape.

Being August, it's sometimes been hot, but this past week the temperature when the sun is out has been exactly right for me, not uncomfortable but warm, breezy and peaceful. When it's a day like that I breathe it in and it buoys me up, and I've been noticing that more the past couple of years, or noticing a change in my relationship to it. To varying degrees during the first two decades of my life I thought of and talked about the weather as something baffling and mystical, something that carried encoded in it aspects I was drawn to, but couldn't figure out. I think now this is because it had this tendency to show me at least the potential to feel happy and grounded, at times -- especially in my childhood -- when I felt very far from having reasons to feel that way. Recently, as I've been able to build up such reasons around myself, it feels good to be out on a nice day in the same way that it did before, but I no longer articulate it to myself as numinous.

Because of the people in it (most especially but not exclusively the two mentioned above) and how they reflect me back to me, because of social institutions like university and Windsor House, because of my theoretical, artistic, and ethical passions, and because most of all I've been able to make and maintain a space of personal safety around these: my life is so much better than it was when I was 10. I suppose this is pretty obvious, but what remarkable corollaries it sometimes has!
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It's too hot (but cooler today). Whoops, here I go being tardy.
Pamela Dean, Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary (reread)
CJ Cherryh, Conspirator
I actually started a lot of books that I didn't finish in June, and may still go back to some of them; it's interesting what gets recorded and what doesn't. If I didn't have this paragraph I probably wouldn't remember that later and would have looked back and gone, "I guess I was just reading slowly!" In fact I was reading quickly, but without follow-through.

My girlfriend Joanne will be on co-op radio tonight at 9 pacific interviewing and eliciting music from the startlingly interesting [livejournal.com profile] osmie; she used to be a regular host of their women's storytelling show, but this is the first time she's done it since I met her, so I'm looking forward to it. She says she likes to pretend that nobody's listening, but she probably won't see this entry in time to be self-conscious, so you guys can feel free to check it out, too (thus Edit: and an archive).

We Live In The Future Watch: Speaking of segues, [livejournal.com profile] osmie linked on facebook to this physics paper on the grandfather paradox. It's not my field but I guess we're experimentally testing questions about time travel now.
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It's been the winter solstice again. I live on a planet with an axial tilt; it is much larger than I but my days are intimately bound up with it.

Rachel and her gentlehusband came to visit and it was lovely and lower-key than usual. She is pregnant, which makes me feel strangely protective. We played board games and watched several movies all of which I enjoyed more than I expected to and ate dinner with old friends of mine who have naturally over time become hers. Once I guessed her Balderdash entry verbatim before it had been read out (the word was 'millimole'; Rachel scribbled for five seconds and slapped it down with a "done", and I said, "I'm just going to assume that Rachel wrote, 'A mole with a thousand legs'." It was basically amazing).

Now she's gone home, though, and others of my people have likewise fled the city; Joanne's gone to Ontario and the new women's studies buddies I know best are off to various American ports of call, some indefinitely. So I am left more of a hermit than I might be, my beard growing relatively long and itchy, checking every day to see if my grades have come in yet (nope). It's nice not to be furiously treading water, though. Also my narrative about this is slightly disrupted by the people still around who invite me to solstice parties I don't quite make it out to.

I have a lot of windows open with short stories I've seen recommended or otherwise becomes interested in, but haven't got around to reading yet. Some of them have been there for months. I still intend to read them all (that's why the windows are still open) but in the meantime, I thought it might be interesting to link to them in the order they appear. Do you feel like reading an arbitrary but not indiscriminate short story? Try one of these: 1 2 3 4 5.
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A while ago I was attending to some errand on the sales floor of the store in whose bowels (until the start of next term) I work, and they were playing a version of "Santa Baby" sung by a man. I listened with a certain amount of curiosity, but was disappointed to hear that he was singing, "Think of all the girls that I could've kissed." Why do people covering songs across genders think that this sort of alteration is a good idea? This is a song about using one's feminine wiles to titillate Santa Claus into giving more presents, and the listener is presumably aware of that by the time they hear this rendition; if you're singing it in a male voice, then, you're already pretty in tension with our unconscious gender expectations. Why not just embrace that tension?

New paragraph, new topic. Do you remember the X-Files episode "Jose Chung's From Outer Space"? It concluded with the suggestion that, regardless of whether there were aliens visiting, we are each of us alone in the universe. That's not among the science fiction touchstones that John Hodgman, er, touches upon here, but he nonetheless produces something that reminds me strongly of it tonally while functioning as an elegant rebuttal -- an argument that, regardless, we are not.

Wednesday dumped several feet of snow on the gradually-less-incredulous city. Then, yesterday, suddenly, it was above zero again. It's been raining on and off since, and the snowbanks are slowly sloughing apart, though they remain still mostly intact, like in the morning when you know you've been dreaming, but the ludicrous events you remember still feel like something that could reasonably happen in the real world.
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You know, most nights, the sky is pretty bright for a while before the sun comes up. But it is true, at least interpreted a certain way, that it's always darkest just at the winter solstice.
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It's been either snowing or below-freezing cold since Saturday. It's not a lot of snow; I mean, it's deeper than my ankles sometimes, but there hasn't been a blizzard or anything. But we live in Vancouver, so everyone is bewildered by it, and everything mundane that happens has an extra twist of surreality from the context. Who knows what other unwontedness might be waiting in familiar places so transformed? I understand that there have been significant power outages in some of the weirder suburbs. The buses lurch about late and overcrowded; on Saturday night, taken by surprise, many of them weren't running at all, and Isabel and I, who were out by UBC for movie night at Joanne's house, ended up after some struggle and confusion stranded and sleeping over on the floor of a friendly religion major with a passion for wine. The inane news radio station that provides background noise at my work has talked of very little else but the weather, possessed by what sounds to be a sort of panicked fascination.

Most people I know are pretty grumpy about the snow and the chaos both, but I am weirdly delighted by them. I guess that this is good for me, because my mother heard a long-term forecast suggesting we'll be snowing again on Sunday and on through the new year. If that holds true, then I think it will be the first white Christmas in my memory.

Speaking of my work, I intend to give my notice tomorrow; I will work through the Christmas break and then stop for the next term, because I am taking five courses and there really isn't room. This was my first traditionally menial job experience, and that was interesting albeit often irritating. What will you miss, Andy? I will miss the weathered, handwritten sign taped to the wall of the main bathroom, which reads,

HI, EVERYONE
     I AM JUST A TOILET, AND CANNOT DIGEST ANY HAND TOWEL.
THANKS FOR YOUR ATTENTION,
TOILET
MARCH 2001
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All I read in September was
Ursula K. LeGuin, The Dispossessed (reread)
I've been kind of embarrassed at how little I've been reading lately, but I think I probably gave myself unrealistic expectations by first starting to keep track during the peak of an unusually heavy period. (It was also a much more innocent time in terms of academic stress.) That tends to happen in waves, so it will be back eventually, and really it only bothers me when I'm considering my reading habits in isolation; when I consider what I've been spending my attention on instead, I don't regret it at all.

Anyway, here's the bookkeeping bookkeeping for my second year of noting these things in my weblog: I read 58 novels, 11 of them rereads. (Also, two of them at different times were Pamela Dean's Tam Lin, so maybe that should count as 57 and 10.) This is a little under thirty fewer new books than I read in my first year, which actually isn't as bad as I thought it might be.

Leaves are starting to change en masse, and it's noticably chilly even when the sun is out; before either of these signs of autumn, before even the equinox formalized it, the days were already getting radically shorter. This feels heavy with narrative significance, because, like a proper existentialist, I am casting out portentious meaning onto everything around me. (You should see my recent relationship with fortune cookies.) I had an excellent summer, charmed and optimistic in a way that was thematically in keeping with and maybe enabled by the daylight still lingering when I got out of my classes at 9 PM. It's not that the sky's recent indifference has me pessimistic instead; it does seem an important difference of tone, though, to be moving into the seasons during which humans really need to work to make their own light.

(One place where I was not actually so good at projecting meaning onto things was in my Japanese course, where on the third day of class or so I had the literally nightmarish experience of having a piece of paper put in front of me and having no idea what to do with it. So I dropped that course and replaced the course I was going to take next term with the equivalent of the last course I took at Langara, which will hopefully catch me back up but which means that I won't be graduating from UBC in April. The need to make up the credits I've thus abandoned did give me an excuse to sign up for the awesome-looking "Feminist Pedagogies in the Classroom and Community" course that Isabel is going to be in, though, which I hadn't thought that I was going to be able to justify.)

Later: something about the election, probably.
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The solstice has passed and so the days are waning, though they're still long enough that if it's dark out it's probably like 2 AM. (By which point... Oh, never mind.) The solstices and eqinoxen have no religious or ritual significance for me, but I always feel buoyed and energized when I notice that it's one of those days; there is something about that particular sort of astronomy, the recognizable influence on my life of things happening on a scale where I am completely insignificant, that I've always found very cheering.

I got my copy of Brendan's book! I ordered the 'author's edition', which comes with an exclusive original anacrusis, so he wrote me an entire story in the style of my placing 2004 Lyttle Lytton entry. I would take this for karmic justice if I were more confused about how karma is supposed to work. The collection is generally excellent, containing several of my favourites (I was particularly pleased to see Asuka, which I recently rediscovered), and several more that I'd forgotten about (or never read?) but admit to be their equal, or near it. There are some webcomics-star-studded illustrations, which I mostly take to be superfluous, in keeping with my opinion of illustrated books more generally; a couple are good enough to enhance my experience, though Bridget is more effective just as text, I think. It's built around Cosette (not least, I suspect, because she's unusual in that her stories can be presented simultaneously in order of composition and that of internal chronology), but several other bad pennies make appearances: there's a Rita story and two separate Holly stories, though we have none of the information that links the latter except her name.

(Everything that Brendan has written about Holly since I made my timeline has been set in the biggest gap I identified there. This is both gratifying and a little bit taunting, since I also want to know what happens next.)

My women's studies pal Joanne told me that there's an English professor whose literature class is all fantasy -- Tolkien and Sandman and, particularly exciting to me, Dean's Tam Lin. The other day at Matt's book launch, Selena told me about a "Women In Film" class she'd taken with a thoughtful and fascinating professor who focussed on works by local women of colour. The knowledge of these, and all the other fascinating classes I haven't taken yet, is rather bittersweet as I register for what will (should all go according to plan) be my final year as an undergraduate, in which there's room for nothing but Japanese and Philosophy, and not nearly all the philosophy I'd still like to learn here, even; I feel nostalgic for my early Langara days, when, having no plan, I just dove into anything I spotted that I thought might excite me. It's not that I have no excitement for the things I'm still taking -- happily, college on the whole has never yet been drudgery for me. There's just so much more offered than I'm able to accept!

I might try to work Tam Lin or Juniper, Gentian and Rosemary into my Women and Literature research paper, though; I can see how that might work, and it would be lovely to get to write about Dean.
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Look out! It's April. I always forget which trees are cherry blossom trees, and then when each of them bloom I am surprised.

Through March, apace:
Liz Williams, Snake Agent
Diana Wynne Jones, The Game
Colson Whitehead, The Intuitionist
C.J. Cherryh, The Paladin
I liked them.

In Charles Stross' Accelerando (which I read the very first month I kept track), there's a scene where one of the protagonists is walking through an airport that's been decorated with an unsettling motif of Santa Claus-es hung in effigy. The artificially intelligent corporations, the reader is told, are doing their best to appeal to human consumers; they understand that we like Christmas and that we're obsessed with our mortality, but they haven't quite figured out how those preoccupations behave in practise.I think of this throwaway paragraph probably more often than anything else in that book, because a lot of advertising makes me feel like this sort of thing is, on some less dramatic scale, already happening: whomever is writing these things has cobbled together a syntax -- mostly from pop culture catchphrases, and recognizable deliveries for jokes, and, especially, other advertisements -- but they don't have a semantics.

I suppose what's actually going on is that they're not trying to use language to communicate meaning. Some advertising (mostly on the amateur small business end of the scale) is trying to do that, to make a persuasive argument to a skeptical audience, and some (mostly on the more professional and corporate) is using language, if it uses it at all, in service of some less direct or more visceral appeal, some attempted colonization of the backbrain, but executes it well enough that it still sounds smooth. In the middle are these confused AI ads, which are trying to accomplish something like what the latter group does, but aren't deft enough to get the surface to make sense, and end up coming across as a complete and distracting misunderstanding of what sort of things it is that real people say when they talk.

My favourite example of this, because it's such a specialized case, is the Telus ad on the wall near Granville and Georgia, about the fish who is friends with a sea horse. It's written in rhyming couplets, but they rhyme badly, have no consistent line-length or metre, and provide information that is not anywhere near charming enough to make up for this. Telus, or whomever is comprised by its human-populated advertising department, wanted to get people's attention with poetry, without having to really care about poetry; but because they had no understanding of what sort of thing a rhyming poem actually is, and how it functions when it does, the ad doesn't work.
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The precipitation was snow today for a while before dissolving into rain. The resulting slush has partially frozen again, and is very slippery. I had never actually been to the Cafe deux Soleil, though I've seen it from outside several times, and could not quite remember where on the Drive it was, so I rode the bus down the street and back up again before I spotted it and was able to turn my attention to not quite falling over on the way to the door.

Elise's new band (called 'La La Boom Boom') is good; 'joyous' is the right description. They do a complex, many-voiced pop that makes me think of the New Pornographers -- it's a little less scattered and sugary, but there's that same sense of adroit playfulness. I liked the way the violin came in high and shining over the other instruments.

They were preceded by some people doing spoken word poetry that I thought was rather silly -- one of them would have been better without the awkward rhyme scheme, though I think that generally my poetic sensibilities run sufficiently textual that I'm out of sympathy with the goals of the genre when it's not being performed by Ani DiFranco -- and followed by another band, all male and wearing dresses, who sang a surprisingly fun rendition of 'Amazing Grace' including the later verses I feel geeky for knowing, and a swing tune with what sounded like an interruption by an enraged Tom Waits. I sat in a booth with several people known to Elise. There was a brief conversation about which of the existentialists we could tolerate, which made me happy and simultaneously (perhaps because we were in a coffee shop) uneasy that I was becoming a caricature. A large bearded fellow with a thoughtful demeanor said that the atmosphere here made him feel like he was in Montreal; Vancouver, he said, is generally a more conservative city, containing fewer hippies and being more self-conscious about the ones it has. Having never really lived anywhere else, it's difficult for me to judge.

The thin snow on the sidewalk near my house showed at least as many animal tracks as human; at least one raccoon, I think, though I couldn't identify the rest. I made my own contribution and arrived back home, feeling embarrassed and internally dishevelled in a way that tells me I have overloaded on extroversion. But I am glad that I went.
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I read some books:
Vernor Vinge, Rainbows End
Sarah Monette, The Mirador
Laurie J. Marks, Fire Logic
Pamela Dean, The Secret Country (reread)
Pamela Dean, The Hidden Land (reread)
Pamela Dean, The Whim of the Dragon (reread)
Emma Bull, Territory
(Also Samuel R. Delany's The Motion of Light in Water; I can't decide if I think that qualifies as a novel for the purposes of this project.)

Today it snowed all over everything; I didn't have to consider whether school was going to stay open, because it ended yesterday, aside from the five or so term papers I have to write in the next two weeks (also, it's Saturday). I should write one of those papers every day or two so that I can be done all the rest by next Friday, and then spend a week on the relatively enormous Honours essay. I finished the first one today (having properly commenced it yesterday), so maybe it's possible.

I took my dog out briefly, and when we came back in he lay himself down on the rug in the front hallway and carefully licked all of the snowflakes out of his fur.
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Rain has been everywhere, rain, rain! but today it is sunny again -- and not just sunny but clear, and golden, and cool but not cold. After a September and early October that were chill, grey and remote, and poignant as winter, and the past few weeks of deluge, the year has resolved after all at least for a moment into the kind of Autumn I like best.

Just because it has been cold doesn't mean that I have had a cold, as Harvey Keitel probably wouldn't say, but in fact both are the case. It's now almost gone (lingering only enough to interfere with my ability to sing high notes at parties), but it's been around for about as long as the rain has, the persistent descendant of the vague fever that incapacitated me over Thanksgiving weekend. (NB: I am Canadian.) My personal myth about that sickness is that it happened because I'd been under the stress of being so relentlessly anxious about school, which weakened my immune system; this may not actually be true, but it was a useful thing to think because it made me look at why I was anxious and realize that it was almost entirely about the enormous (by my own standards so far) term paper I need to write for the Honours seminar. Even when I was apparently reacting to some other, more immediate reason for stress, I was really going, "I have this homework to do now, and I have this 5000-word paper sitting on my future like a brick". Having had cause to look directly at my worry and sort it out into discrete concerns, instead of adding that major one to everything like that, has made the time since rather easier.

It's strange the degree to which part of what I have to worry about for school now is my grades, because there are scholarships etc.; I feel almost betrayed that these things, in their capacity as collectable tokens rather than as feedback, didn't remain irrelevant epiphenomena, even though I thought before that their irrelevance was one of the marks against them. It doesn't help that at least some of the courses at UBC undertake practises that totally undermine the usefulness of good marks except as somewhat arbitrary collectables, e.g. grading on a curve.

Music stuff that I have been meaning to mention:

There is a new Noe Venable album. Unsurprisingly, I think the free downloads are pretty great.

There is also a new Radiohead album. I haven't heard a thing off of it yet, but check out that distribution method!

Non-music stuff:

We're getting the libraries back! I wonder how the pay equity stuff worked out?

I have been invited to a Hallowe'en party. Maybe I ought to come up with a costume this year, after all.
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I heard back from UBC about my application, so far toward the outer edge of the period within which they said they'd get back that I had meanwhile become quite convinced that I'd made some awful and disqualifying error in submitting it. Since I didn't, it seems very likely now that I'll be in and taking at least a couple of their summer courses in May (which is the term I applied for). They've asked me for official transcripts from Langara and Windsor House; I ordered the former sent, but I guess that I'll have to call them up and explain about Windsor House.

(Dr. Russell suggested I think about trying to get into the honours philosophy program -- as though this whole thing weren't complicated enough! But it's tempting, and I am considering it, though I don't know how feasible it will be given the awkward angle at which I'm approaching the university 'years' system.)

Spring is progressing; it's raining a lot, but warmer, and when the sun does appear it is wonderfully moderate and fresh-smelling. The cherry trees have blossomed but not bloomed, or maybe the other way around, but anyway I mean that the flowers are colourfully in evidence but still demurely closed. Formal spring begins with the equinox, the perfectly balanced day, which is Wednesday (on the equator, where all days are so balanced and the seasons understood very differently, the sun will reach zenith). (Can you tell that I'm having fun in Astronomy?) Around here, because of daylight savings, that twelve-hour day's sunrise will be at 7 AM, its sunset at 7 PM, and its noonday sun at 1 PM! As weird as that is, though, when the light is still there in the evening I can never but consider whomever came up with it to be the most marvellous sort of Promethean thief.

Today being the 18th, it is clear not only that Wednesday is the 21st but that Friday was the 16th of March, which is one of my personal anniversaries -- or rather twice-personal, by which I mean that it is celebrated by twice as many people as it were by me alone. Specifically, it is the seventh anniversary of the time that I looked over through the window of the car next to ours in a parking lot off the I-5 in Oregon and unexpectedly met the eyes of a waving red haired 13-year-old, which was the first time Rachel and I had ever seen each other in the moving, present flesh. I'm not sure how we got to be marking and celebrating this, except that I guess the date stuck in both our minds. (Also, I delivered a time-delayed '0th anniversary' joke at the time.) Sometimes one of us will do something especially and premeditatedly affectionate for it, and sometimes, as this year, I'll just go through my day periodically noticing what the date is, and smiling unbidden whenever I do.

My sister is interning at the North Shore News, which is the culmination of her time in the Langara journalism program. So far she has had something like 8 stories in the paper, at least one of which was on the front page, and has conducted a couple of those "man on the street" polls (like The Onion parodies), with names, photographs and encapsulated opinions of people she met walking down Lonsdale. Right now I understand that she's working on a story about the local vandal who has cut holes in certain people's hedges. I've been seeing the North Shore News around all my life, but I've never read it, so for me, opening it and finding Tess there is almost like she was in there all along, if I had thought to look.

At Karen's birthday party at the Elephant House last Sunday, I saw Keely for the first time in ages (and then I saw her again the next night, after B5). She told me about how she is planning to bike from Vancouver down to Mexico with these guys, in May, to help raise money for the implementation of those moneylending systems designed by the fellow who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year. She suggested that it would be cool if people put the word out about the project, so here I am doing that to the best of my ability.

Elise has a gig today, but although I am tempted to go watch I have some homework I really ought to do. Dear Elise: I hope it goes awesome even though I am not there.
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First, Saturday, the day of my birthday party; )

then, Sunday, a day of misadventure. )

Monday was anticlimax and anticipation. )

Now, it's now; still basically Monday. It's still not actively snowing, and everything is kind of holding its breath. I printed off my English essay, did some kanji homework, wrote this entry, and go back to waiting with the rest.

So

Oct. 13th, 2006 08:11 pm
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I was able to get a Sufjan Stevens ticket, after all. The show is tomorrow. Financially it probably wasn't a good idea, but how could I not? Emotionally (you may recall, faithful reader, how disappointed I was not to be going to this show) I can't really process it yet; I'm just kind of bewildered.

At Zulu, they were playing the new Decemberists album, and I asked, "Is this the new Decemberists?" and I was right, so I got to sound hip. Everything I've heard off of that album -- this was, to be precise, the second thing -- has been really good.

Meanwhile, homework! I've been sort of furiously treading water where school is concerned; my taking four classes has not at any point actually overwhelmed me, but having it continue not to do so takes a lot of my attention. I often feel like it takes much less to get my life filled up and busy than it does the lives of many of my friends or acquaintances and the people I read about, which maybe has to do with my constitutional tendency to want to potter around and breathe a lot between the things I'm doing, but anyway I feel quite busy right now and that's pretty much just my Langara classes and the homework therefrom. (On the other hand, a couple of people including a professor have responded to my description of my courseload by remarking that it's a heavy one, so maybe it really is. It's kind of worrying that, having nearly completed two calendar years in college, I still have only the vaguest ideas of a lot of things that other students seem to know instinctively.)

I think that my research essay for English class, which is currently in the preparatory stages, is probably going to be the most unpleasant part of this term. Since I was pretty much bound to be stressed about it, thinking about it that way feels a lot more hopeful than it sounds.

While I'm talking about school, I should probably mention in public that it looks like I'm going to be transferring into UBC's philosophy department as a second year student this coming summer. And then I guess I'll get a philosophy degree. This has by slow degrees come to seem the obvious course of action, though my answer to the question that everybody asks next ("What does one do with a philosophy degree?") is still very vague. But hey, UBC! Where I've been telling my weblog I'd like to go for years before even Langara. It has kindly waited for me to be ready.

Autumn is remembering how to be my favourite season again. The sun is leaving, but -- after a sadly overheated September -- has relented its way back to a temperature that I find basically perfect, kind and warm and windy. I feel filled up and inarticulate in the usual way, in love with the whole atmosphere, skin on out, and crunching wherever I step.
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I have had the entry block. I guess I can talk about music.

I have a ticket to see Final Fantasy the violinist at UBC in September, which is in the drawer with my yen (I'm specifying that not for you guys but so that I'll remember where it is). In the month following that, both Andrew Bird and Sufjan Stevens are coming to town, though I've just read that the Sufjan tickets might be sold out. I hope that isn't true; I actually cried out in horror.

That was not much talking about music! That is what comes of the entry block.

It has been too hot, which I suppose comes of the summer. Dubious season, I've always thought, except I like the smell and the happy way people dress. The summer has made me realize that I'd really like to be swimming, but I'm not sure where. I like to do my swimming outdoors. All my houses previous to this one have had pools, either in the neighbourhood complex or, in the case of the Dollar Road house, in the very backyard; that pool was not worth that house (indeed I didn't use it nearly as much as I'd like to now), but this house would be even better with a pool nearby.

One of my bedposts has ceased supporting the bed, so that the frame slides about and the headboard tilts back alarmingly. This has been Pronounced Unsafe, so I staggered downstairs with my mattress and am sleeping in the lower living room there for the meantime. I will need to clean up my room enough that a bunch of us can squeeze in there and figure out if it's fixable.

I have been reading a lot of library books. Recently: Naomi Novik's His Majesty's Dragon; Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys; Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn; Ken Macleod's The Sky Road; some other things I forget at the moment. Currently: C. J. Cherryh's Cyteen.
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I don't like the heat; longtime readers and acquaintances have probably heard me remark before on my wimpiness regarding non-temperate temperatures. This was probably instilled in me by Vancouver, and it's certainly one of the reasons I appreciate it here, because as hot as I am, I would almost certainly be hotter in just about any of the places I've traveled to. Nonetheless it is too hot. I've started sometimes wearing shorts in public, even though I'm convinced that whenever I wear shorts I basically look like the hit men in the latter part of Pulp Fiction.

I do like the way it feels to step outside at 9:00 at night and have the sky still be light, like it's on my side. I'd forgotten how nice that is. And I like the leftover warmth of the air, in the early nighttime, when the sun is finally down.

I wanted to write something in response to this long and interesting post by Jo Walton, but I've put it off for a while, and now I can't recall everything I wanted to say. My own background is that I have no talent for lying, but I used to do it habitually, anyway; this stopped feeling necessary when I came to Windsor House and my environment stopped being hostile, and so I was able to gradually phase most of it out, the same way I worked my way free of the habit of lashing out at people physically. There's still the occasional inclination left over, to simplify an explanation unnecessarily, or to pretend I don't understand something when I do. (I'll bet that gets annoying! If it's any consolation, I sometimes really don't understand.)

One nice thing that having been a habitual liar does, at least for me, is to provide a firm residual habit of keeping track of what I think is actually true. This doesn't mean that I'm incapable of deceiving myself, but I'm at least able to make it difficult, and to correct myself early if I notice myself saying something that doesn't seem accurate.

Ms. Walton's main reason given to avoid being a liar is what she after Shakespeare calls the 'tangled web', the way that, having lied, it is necessary to maintain that lie, and to keep track of it, and to shore it up with others, and to let people be invested in it, all of these things, if you don't catch it immediately and you don't want to lose anyone's trust. And that's very stressful, and it can often lead someone to tell the sort of lies that are really harmful, because they hurt or attack someone. I agree that that's a good reason. It's a matter of responsibility to oneself; your quality of life gets a lot better, at least in my experience, when you're mostly describing what you really think is so.

What I think I wanted to talk about is that I think we have a responsibility to each other, too; Jo Walton doesn't really touch on this, and maybe she'd even disagree. The thing is that lying is a prisoner's dilemma: the same way that it makes our lives better to feel like we can safely go around telling the truth, it makes our lives better to have those around us doing the same thing -- and, conversely, if we're being honest but nobody else around us is, we're probably even worse off than we would be otherwise. So it seems to me that at least as important a reason to be truthful is to create an environment where it's safe for other people to be truthful, which is a useful environment to have for the obvious reasons that it makes it a lot simpler to communicate with words, or to cooperate to solve problems. (And, in addition to and tangled up with that, there's just my visceral sense of justice.)

Neko Case is playing in Vancouver, tonight; I'd really like to see her (Zulu says it's not sold out yet), but I probably can't justify it. It's getting into the July birthday run, and I am relatively broke.
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Today it woke me up by raining, hard and loud; since it's our day off, it would have been a perfect time for it, except that Hayashi-sensei was to take us to a forest full of monkeys, were the weather better. We are all very disappointed not to have seen the monkeys.

I lounged around the hotel all day, though, which I probably really needed; hopefully, anyway, this will lead to my feeling refreshed and ready for adventure tomorrow, rather than breaking the flow of industrious energy that has carried me this far. Knock on (one of the many) wood(en buildings in this city). I read two books, anyway (the first two of Pamela Dean's Secret Country trilogy; foolishly, I neglected to acquire and pack the third), which makes me feel better about my decision to bring eight.

Yesterday we took some classes as guests at a local university, including a class on the history and philosophy of haiku, which I enjoyed as much as most of you no doubt expect (I got in an interesting argument with the professor). After that and the others we met up with some Japanese students and did an exercise where we tried to communicate with them. My very little Japanese availed me very little, and because I was nervous and rusty I kept making elementary mistakes like forgetting the past tense. This is, if you're looking for one, a good way to feel like an idiot.

My partner was very friendly, though. Actually, everyone is very friendly, both among my traveling companions (who are seriously almost absurdly nice) and the Japanese. It is possible that the Japanese are just being polite.

We are leaving Kyoto tomorrow, so I have no idea when I'll be on the internet again.
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I feel like I'm already gone; some of it is the weather. This week, it's been vacation weather, warm and clear and slightly windy, and it makes all the places I know into places I'm visiting, preparation-places. It seems like I'm constantly seeing some person or performing some activity for the last time before I leave. It seems like the air is telling me something, but I don't know what, unless it is to ache.

People have teased me, because I'm treating this like it will be so big, holding get-togethers to say poignant goodbyes to friends I'll actually be back in the city with in less than a month. Three weeks is less than a Teen Trip*; most of the people staying here will probably only just have started to miss me when I'm back. Many of them I may have gone that long without seeing, anyway. But it's so large and looming from my perspective that everything afterward is hazy and vague.

(* In time span, obviously; in geography, it's rather more ambitious than any of them. In shape, it's probably the closest thing I've had to one in the five years since the last.)

This will be my first time off this continent since I was too young to remember it. (I remember some things from being one year old, but not my trip to Greece.) Isn't that strange? There's such a gap sometimes between the comfortable reality of my experiences, in which it's cheerful to accept that I am at best a modest traveller, and the fiction-spanning space of my sensibilities, by which I often feel as though I am pretty backwards for never having left my planet.

I leave on Sunday, at 1:35; I'll have left the house by 10. All those who've argued over the likely span may be interested to know that my flight will actually last 9 hours, 45 minutes; my guess of 'ten hours' was pretty much on.
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(I wanted a longer and more meandering subject, but apparently that's after a certain point discouraged.)

Last night, I went to a free advance screening of Brick, which I enjoyed so much that I'm afraid to talk about it here at any length. I don't think I could give a rational description.

It is now only slightly over a month until I am going to Japan. (!) For those readers who don't yet know, I'm leaving the 7th of May, returning on the 27th ("That's twenty... One"). Before then, I need to

  • Apply for and receive my new passport. I've left this ridiculously late, but still not late enough that I'm particularly worried.

  • Figure out what it makes sense for me to take along, and particularly whether that category includes my laptop (also, regardless of the answer to that, whether I'll have the regular opportunity for weblog posts or e-mails).

  • Go in early tomorrow morning to give a travel agent a cheque for a fair deal of money.

  • Finish up the current school term by writing a couple of final exams and an essay.

Probably it's this last that will absorb most of my attention for the next week or two.

Those 'Isaac Mizrahi' bus stop ads (which I guess are for clothing?) have a really successful model; whenever I see them, I want to stop and look at her. It's not exactly physical attraction - at least, not in the traditional variation - but there's something arresting about her face, and its expressions. She looks... Clever.

Cherry blossoms!

I have a painful pimple, right now, on the edge of one of my earlobes, and of course I keep touching it. In addition to the usual irrational impulse to keep poking at things like that, there's the fact that I've discovered that, though the pimple itself is on the front of my ear, I can feel it at the back, through the skin. It feels really weird.

I conceived of most of this entry early in my bus ride home from school, but I had to wait until I'd arrived before I could write it; no doubt it mutated, some, in that time (in addition to the certain mutations that are inevitable in the setting down of any narrative, given the brain's ability to fill in or skip over gaps or awkward places so thoroughly that it doesn't even recognize them until it comes time to lay a thing out, in order). It seems like livejournal's newfangled 'current location' field can't be very interesting* until I'm able to make an entry from any arbitrary place it occurs to me, rather than having to seek out these sorts of weblog 'save points': home, schools, libraries. Probably some people, with their cell phones, already have this. This reminds me of cola's idea of the 'blog fight', where two people would stand in some public place, with spectators, and post furiously at one another, until some victory condition was achieved (the other duelist's hands getting tired?).

(* Though it may serve me well in Japan.)

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Andy H.

February 2013

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