Les Semaines


what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout


Not belonging or Tribe of One

In the Phonosnout entry below I talk about how I had scattered friends from many different worlds, none of which I felt I entirely belonged in. It's funny how that has been a constant in my life. It was the same in high school, the same in university at the time I was writing that Phonosnout entry, and still is the same now.

My friends come from varied worlds. The people I see here in Seattle are former neighbours, friends from the literary writing world, some from the speculative fiction writing world, some we met on the University of Washington BB, some some musicians and music-lovers, co-workers and former co-workers. There's very little crossover.

It's funny, though, how many of our friends have groups of friends that they've known for years, all of whom know each other as a group. We've never had that, or at least the only time we've had that is when we were students at Montana and when Jim was in library school in Ontario, and it was for such a short time. So few of our friends know each other, except for seeing each other over the years at our few parties.

Online I'm part of speculative fiction groups including SFF-Net, which I don't really keep up with, The League of Canadian Poets' listserve, the ecto msuic list, my workshop groups, friends from many periods of my life. It makes me realize why I prefer small groups to large parties: small groups is obviously how I give attention to my friends, usually one-on-one since they don't gather together in significant ways and my worlds don't overlap very much.

I wonder if this is part of the reason I feel scattered so much of the time or whether the scattering of my friends is the result of my scattered interests? Well, of course they all feed back on each other and this is contributes to all the scattering. Seattle is home but we've been toying--I'm not sure how seriously--with the idea of moving back to BC, which has a lot to do with the political situation here and with the uncertain future of the company Jim works for and with my general restlessness and desire at some point to be back in Canada, where I feel somehow I do still belong, though when I visit there it's clear to me that it's not the same place that I left. Lord knows when I left to go to grad school in 1981 it never occurred to me I'd still be here south of the border in my 40s.

Working on our Christmas card and Christmas card list brings this all home. Sometime just for fun I should colour code my Christmas list or something. Instead I usually do the logical things and try to send the ones that have the farthest to go first. The scattering of our friends and family was made painfully aware to me when I paid for our Christmas present mailing this week. Ouch.

Sometimes I feel like a tribe of one. Or like a tribe of two ones here in this house. (Or maybe it's a tribe of four ones, because the cats are definitely ones, not twos.) Our house is a tribe of one and scatters out with links into the city, north to Canada, west to Japan, east to Turkey, south to North Carolina. We scatter our holiday wishes in all directions: there's Bette in Montana, Christina & Matt in Turkey, Rich in Japan, Lisa & Steve in England, John in Ontario, Harold in BC, a cousin newly discovered in Oklahoma.... It's like those Christmas lights now that come as nets, spreading in all directions. It's kind of cool, and I can only think that where I belong is simply one of those lights somewhere in the midst of all those other ones. I choose a green one as home.

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


No obsessions this week, just a lot of varies listening as I start to put together a compilation of samples from my favourites of 2000.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Katherine Sturtevant's At the Sign of the Star is a young adult historical novel set in Restoration London. Meg is the daughter of a widowed bookseller, and is happy to be an heiress who will inherit her father's shop and plans to stay in the trade herself--but then her father decides to remarry, which means she will likely be disinherited. I was impressed with the way the author avoided the complete reconciliation to her new circumstances that most young adult novels would have moralistically given. I also enjoyed her evocation of the era.

Also read Zel, a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale by Donna Jo Napoli, an author I've had to stop reading before because her prose style jars my ear so strongly. I had a bit of that with this one, but it wasn't quite as bad as it has been in the past. Still, I'm not going to seek out any more of her books. Even though I love reading retellings of fairy tales, Napoli's work just doesn't come alive for me, and again I have that problem with her prose style. I've seen so many recommendations of her work that I'm pretty sure that it is just me but that still doesn't mean I can recommend it. Odd how this just doesn't click for me.

last week's reading § next week's reading


This week I'm revising a short story to get it ready to submit to the crit group. I'm rusty with short fiction, but am glad to get back to this story as it's one that I don't want to give up on.

I messed up and didn't have anything to bring to my poetry workshop group this week. The long poem I've been working on is still far from finished, but I've been revising other poems.

My energies are scattered, but I'm working.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

June - July 1978

963. Misc. messages

The guilt of not--creating. Yes, I know that. Line: "I will dream you again tomorrow." This came to me after Paul left. I feel euphoric, ready to create. Paul--I enjoyed that, don't stop coming. I can't do more than feel a warm, langourous affection for him, but I so enjoy his visits. (Artificial voice, there, but...). Time, we need more time. Paul is really growing rowdy; I think soon he'll be stuck in the mud of guilt--he'll never learn to enjoy. I am learning to enjoy, to taste, to dream.... Daring new colours, huh? I didn't see, I thought it was white. White is not a daring new colour. Mother said to let my conscience be my guide--does she suspect anything or was she just saying...I trust Jocelyn will never mention the past [1]--even she doesn't know about now and I want to keep it that way. Secrets, I am loving secrets. Paul is a secret that goes down well, so well. I can still feel him. I would purr if I could. Twelve o'clock. All's well.

964. Reality again

Randy phoned last night--so lonely, so depressed. I didn't know what to say, so lost in myself, so dreaming. O Randy, it hurts me to feel your pain, but you belong to another life still. One I cannot enter. [2]

965. So many different people

In my life lately. Chris, Paul, Brenda, Randy in a way, Cyril in a way, also, Lorna. So different, so many worlds I yank myself in and out of, yet with part of me in all. Where is the most of me? I love them all but can give myself completely to none of them. I am not belonging.

966. Livin' on

My Stephen blends with Stephen Daedulus as I blend with Anaïs. I am so different from Anaïs but her journals let me see through her eyes. Justine, A Sense of Wonder, The Waterfall, all these intricate feminine ramblings that surround me, swallow, even The Firedwellers. All the feminine cat-like changes, the leopards meeting the leopard in me. Feline, feminine, there is little difference, both so changeable, both so easily domesticated, at least superficially, but no one realizes the seething up mental images, mental realities that consume. Cats with hidden fire--funny I never thought that it was like this for anyone else, the thousand roles, the thousand uncertainties, the dreamings. Reality is too brutally too killingly desperately boring. People are never constant. Without a thousand fantasies I could never survive
          Go go go said the bird Human kind
          cannot bear very much reality
Funny becoming someone else's fantasy--the guy in sporting goods, Randy, and Chris I guess. I wonder what role I have in Paul's fantasies, if any. I would love to see someone else's version of me, no matter how much it hurt, just because it's part of me, too. Part that I will never be able to claim. How does Harold see me? Does anyone actually bother seeing, sorting out the images to make one, complete image? Maybe everyone sees as incompletely as I do, never working at their sight. Must learn to work on my vision, my sight. Phono, what has happened to you? Artificial speeches, that are beginning to scratch a new surface. Taste a new glory, meet a new happiness. How I would love to taste a love! Not a fantasy of love but a love enriched with fantasy. I must learn to rule my fantasy, impose a few barriers. I hear sirens passing into the distance, wavering on that line turning, revolving on its end. Drilling boring into infinity. Last night I dreamt of slowly travelling of bus-wandering down by the edge of a lake, beginning a love. I need someone to really touch. A new lover. Not only physically. The physical is nothing (what do/did I have with Paul?) A week and a half ago gone. Past already, I can tell. Sporadic visits still, I imagine. Sometime. Nothing ever regular. I like it to be a little more regular to ask him to come and he would, but oh, that verbal hesitance. Hesitance of every nature, I can throw myself into nothing, I cannot for all these strings, O I I I. Mopty [3]. We all know. Don't you? Phono. You live and breathe somewhere inside me and free, so free. Toots in the air [4]. O yeah. Living on, livin' on, lovin' it.

967. What?

Am I depressed? I guess I am tonight. I'm not all that sure I know what it is like not to be. Contentment I know, but sometimes i wonder if I have ever tasted happiness. Or sorrow for that matter. I remember the bitterness, the pain and frustration of my first separation from Paul and wonder how real it might have been. Real enough, I imagine, expect, and remember.
     How funny, how strange, how significant that I can't think of any values beside God, or rather without him/Him. It is true, all that propaganda that humanistic beliefs give you no values. I have thought that I had/have values but I have violated them all. All of them. Values of honesty, morality, everything. I have lied. I have slept with guys I didn't love, and worse, enjoyed it without enjoying it. Think: Mark, Everett, Paul, Rob. Is that all? It seems like so many more. Paul so continually. Paul the only one so seriously, who I dedicated myself to, and still can't forget or erase or change that dedication sexually. Only Rob since Paul and the whole time thinking of him, doing it to get ride of him, hurting Rob to exorcize him. Still, after two years of saying goodbye, I hate you, let's be friends and ignore each other, sleeping with him and not just (if at all) out of sexual need. O I wonder what is in my mind if anything, O if anything at all. Lust (that ugly word!) can't be it, and I know love can't be so what's there? Nothing. That's my answer. All roads lead on back to so little sometimes. Sometimes. What a way to spend a night off--watching TV, writing, craziness, reading, bits of it all. Go to your phone right now and make that call. O hell, who to call. I love to see someone. Could I see someone; who's there to see? O hell. O bitter, slimy hell. S'there.


1. My sister.

2. Randy was still wanting to be a fundamentalist Christian. I was breaking away. White and purity was no longer my daring new colour.

3. Mopty = ma petite = poor, poor pitiful me.

4. A quote from the poem entitled "The Phonosnout" that I swiped the title of my journal from.

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