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I wanted to post this to the Fourth Street Fantasy community on LJ, but apparently I don't have posting access. So, here: a poem that I was trying to find online for the story-telling evening about journeys (but which I could not locate until yesterday). Milosz is one of my favorite poets.

Czeslaw Milosz

A valley and above it forests in autumn colors.
A voyager arrives, a map led him here.
Or perhaps memory. Once, long ago, in the sun,
When the first snow fell, riding this way
He felt joy, strong, without reason,
Joy of the eyes. Everything was the rhythm
Of shifting trees, of a bird in flight,
Of a train on the viaduct, a feast of motion.
He returns years later, has no demands.
He wants only one, most precious thing:
To see, purely and simply, without name,
Without expectations, fears, or hopes,
At the edge where there is no I or not-I.

South Hadley, 1985.
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There are two big envelopes sitting on my bookcase right now. One of them has the last of my financial aid forms; the other holds my application to Viable Paradise. Both are addressed and have the appropriate bits of paper stuck in them (don't want to get those envelopes mixed up...), and one has postage. (The VP application is enough paper that I need to buy actual postage for it.)

I am not wholly happy with the state of the two chapters I'm sending, but hey, I've gotta send it out sometime. May's well be now, right?

Last night I wrote my annual poem. It usually happens around this time of year. This time it's a sestina and I think it actually has a turn. It's interesting; even though I have been working very slowly on stories and novels during college, doing something like writing a poem lets me see how my writing skills and even just my brain have been developing. I am starting to believe that college actually will leave me a better writer than I was before.

This is comforting, because real analysis so thoroughly took over my brain this semester that it was hard to envision college leaving me as anything other than a blob. (A blob who is better at proofs than she used to be. And who has forgotten how to write actual numbers--when we started using numbers again I had to try to write an eight three times before my hand stopped automatically doing an infinity sign instead. I could not make this up.)

Which is all very well and good but does not get any more work done on my real analysis midterm. Or my music organized for the choir rehearsal tonight. Um. I will do that eventually, honest.
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After writing a very odd post on my stopover in Chicago on the way here, I deleted it, and henceforth got distracted by home and Christmas and family and books and friends and being back in Minneapolis/St. Paul and winter and so on.

(Minnesota has snow. Minnesota has lots of snow. It was a little unpleasant yesterday, when it started raining and there was damp and wet and slush everywhere, but what can you do? And at least it still looks like proper winter outside.)


excessive description of my journey )


Brief summary of books so far this break:
Freedom and Necessity, Bull and Brust, on the train, a reread: still excellent. Good train reading--long and dense enough to occupy my head for a while, compact enough to put in luggage.
A Fine and Private Place, Beagle: [livejournal.com profile] vcmw gave this to me a while ago and I kept forgetting to read it. I finally did! It was not quite what I had been expecting--to be fair I think I was expecting Spoon River Anthology by way of Peter S. Beagle, and it was not that. But it was interesting, and the voices (particularly the New York accent) quite distinctive.
The Well-Dressed Gentleman's Pocket Guide: A gift from my sister. A quote: "Instinctively, the gentleman craves a hat." Details on various kinds of coats, hats, etc; diagrams of several methods of folding one's handkerchief or tying one's tie. Lovely.
Fun Home, Bechdel: A friend was getting rid of this, so I nabbed it. I'd read it before, but didn't remember many details. Elegiac.
Mythic Delirium, Issue 23: In progress--I am a slow reader of poetry. [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae has a poem in this one, which is really the reason I got it (see: do not read much poetry), but the other poems are lovely as well! And a couple of other people I know in here too, which is neat.

I also got copies of Gaudy Night and The Jewel-Hinged Jaw for Christmas, which I haven't started rereading yet but certainly will at some point.


Other than that (and finishing the solstice stories left over from 2009, which I did on the train) I have been fairly useless this break. This is okay, I think. That is sort of what breaks are meant for. (I just feel like I ought to be writing oodles of novels because I am me.)

But I started compiling my resume for physics-research applications yesterday. And today I did a copy of the second (first and a half) draft of A Returning Power to edit, and renumbered all the scenes in order so they no longer go 8.5 10 9 12/11 10.1 (my numbering system was based off an outline I did before I started the redraft).

And somewhere in there it became almost 2011. Which is just strange. But here we are.
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"The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will."
--Czeslaw Milosz, "Ars Poetica"

Queens' Play, Dunnett: It took me a strangely long time to read this. Part of it is the difference in narrative styles, I think--it is definitely not structured like today's prose, even on the paragraph/interior-to-a-scene level. Finally got through it, though. I would be interested to see what the next book was like, but it doesn't look like the five-college system has it, and I'm not sure I am devoted enough to ILL it. We'll see.
Strong Poison, Sayers: I am glad I read Gaudy Night first. It means I have way more insight into both of 'em than I would have otherwise--well, okay, technically I suppose I just had to do less work for it. Next one please.
Centuries Ago and Very Fast, Ore: I got this through ILL. A friend spent part of Friday evening doing dramatic readings of the silliest lines she could find in it, so when I actually got around to reading it, I was slightly relieved to find that actually those lines mostly did make sense in context. Since I had mostly gotten it on the strength of finding the title of the book lying around in my head somewhere, I was also happy to find that it was a pretty nice read. It's about a time-travelling immortal gay Paleolithic man; it's told in slivers that mostly aren't quite short stories. It's more about queer people than the mechanics of time-travel, and it's more about mortality and the mechanics of living in a body for a very long time than any question of how or why that happens. It's also, sort of at a slant, about family.
Bells in Winter, Czeslaw Milosz: I have not, in any real sense, read this book of poetry. I can't sit down with a book of poetry like a novel, read through it running the sentences and paragraphs through my fingers like beads, and lay it aside. In many real senses I have not even read one poem in this book. But I have touched some of the beads in the necklace of Bells in Winter, and hovered over some other ones, and put it on and taken it off a couple of times.

...If you were wondering, I really like Czeslaw Milosz's poetry. It might take me a while to get through this book, but I am very much enjoying it. His poetry makes me take the long view--not to think of what my emotions are right now this instant or today, but wonder what I'll see when I look back here, decades on from now. I read his poetry, and then I walk home, and in the first dry autumn leaves I smell what I will smell in thirty years when I come back to visit Mount Holyoke, when all the slang will be impenetrable and the cultural references obscure (to me, I should add); when I will know a wildly different set of people, but maybe some of the same ones; when I will be older and stranger and more like myself.

Which is a lovely mood, but gets no homework done. (But I did wash my clothes.)
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Yesterday I went to the art museum with [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae. It was awesome. Art museums are some of my favorite places, especially if you go during the middle of the week, when even though school is out, almost no one is there. It's more crowded on the weekends, which has its problems, among them the tendency of museum halls to echo well.

This is also the part of the novel where it throws up short stories set in the same world as a distraction tactic. In the grand tradition of my brain, which writes school reports instead of worldbuilding notes, the short story emerged when I was trying to write poetry (while in the art museum, because museums are a good place for poetry). The poems were from the points of view of the main characters of this short story.

(I have decided it is a short story because, after all, it is a shorter story than this novel is; and I don't really want to have another novel right now. It may turn out to be longer than a short story. However, if I keep calling it a short story, maybe it'll get convinced that it is one.)

So, like a good little novelist, I took a page of notes on the short story, enjoyed the art museum, and got back to working on the novel today.

Tonight is the play-reading for Fourth Street. Tomorrow is a whole host of other things, plus the first day of Fourth Street. Hopefully I'll be able to at least mostly keep up with the novel over the weekend; if I don't, I will be able to make a bunch of progress next week, when I don't think I have much of anything going on.

36056 / 80000
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Not Isaac Newton's Oracle

the oracle misses those easy
long arcs; puffed white contrails
traced baseballs caught, thrown
against bright summer sky.

she misses the crack of the bat.

fractalled glass
echoes the same,
but the place
between notes
slips down stairs.

the oracle sits on her couch,
pets the cat.
watches soaps.

"Nine Things About Oracles"
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I dwell in Possibility--
A fairer House than Prose--
More numerous of Windows--
Superior--for Doors--

Of Chambers as the Cedars--
Impregnable of Eye--
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky--

Of Visitors--the fairest--
For Occupation--This--
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise--

(Emily Dickinson)

She got it right, that Emily.

May 2017



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