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Les Semaines

01.01.28

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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Reports

Another view of last weekend. FYI, RocketMan is Jim, because the company he works for used to be called Rocket Research Company. Chuck is our friend who is a master gardener, and whom we employ to help us work in our garden, and Bob is his partner.

--------------- Swag-O-Mania #50251             (42 lines) ---------------

Date: Mon Jan 22 10:49:02 2001
From: rock harder <Bryer>
Subject:  My weekend report:

Friday afternoon Chuck pruned my rosebushes while Jim and I tidied up
after him (actually, I abandoned this after about 45 minutes as it got to
the point where I was doing more waiting to tidy than tidying and I got
cold).

Then we went to the Moneytree where we witnessed Bob's will, and I
discovered my passport is about to expire.

Then Bob took us out to dinner at the Royal Palm in thanks for witnessing.
I had boring lamb satay and some vegetables that we had to reorder because
even though the menu didn't list red pepper, there was plenty in it.  The
replacement dish didn't have mushrooms.

Saturday was a slow-moving, errand-running day.  Then we went to dinner at
a friend's house where she proceeded to annoy RocketMan the instant he
walked in the door by pulling his hair.  And she and her boyfriend (who 
is on one of those home-release programs and is wearing an anklet and has 
to be home by a certain time because of his drunk driving convictions) had
clearly been arguing.  She has a cute new cat, though.  A very friendly 
black female kitten with a couple of white spots.  Her name is LaRue but 
she was named when our friend got her.

We no longer seem to have much common with this friend and almost wondered 
why we had gone.  It's amazing how history with someone (we've known her 
since we lived in Montana) goes a long way but sometimes not quite far 
enough.  I hate to give up on a friend but she really doesn't seem healthy
right now and there's nothing we can do to help her.  I've already tried 
to talk to her about it some.  I feel a connection to her because of the
years we've known each other, so maybe I should just see her alone myself
rather than making it a foursome or threesome.  Several times when we've 
seen her with her boyfriend it has been tense because they'd been fighting.
It's not that we don't like him it's just that it's awkward.  And the 
lack of things in common make small talk not so easy.

The next morning we had a friend over for orange whole wheat pancakes.
That was fun.  And easy, especially as Jim did the cooking.

RocketMan tried to write in the afternoon, but was put in demand as Furry
Mouse Toss-er.  You see, Sophia has discovered that RocketMan can sit at
his computer and if both doors are open he can toss a furry mouse all the
way down the stairs.  That's terrific news, if you're Sophia.  So if he
had his door shut, that must mean that he wants to play mouse hockey.

A good time was had by all.

We nearly forgot to eat dinner.

We did remember to go to sleep and wake up and it was Monday.  Ugh.

I could go on like this. Not much more to say about Monday other than ugh. Tuesday I left work early to go to a dental appointment where I got a night guard for my teeth which I am now at war with. Maybe I'll get used to it, but having something in my mouth at night is so far really annoying, and when I get congested I have trouble breathing, but we'll see, we'll see.

Wednesday I don't remember.

Thursday I went to the Clarion office after work. I usually go both Tuesdays and Thursdays, but because of my appointment I didn't go on Tuesday. There were three manuscripts waiting there so I logged them in and did all the paperwork, and then I went to the post office and mailed them to the readers and did some of my own mailing. Getting the other packages ready is probably what I did Wednesday after work. Maybe.

Friday I worked late because there was so much to do. This is not such a hardship as it may sound, given that I usually only work five hours a day, but I left about two hours late. When I got home Jim and Chuck were struggling with the compost bin, taking out the black gold and spreading it on the garden and digging out the suckers from the lilac bush where the compost bin lies.

Once Jim had taken Chuck home and washed up, we went out to the Indian Bistro in Ballard and met some friends there we hadn't seen for a while. We had a delicious dinner (I had lamb cooked in a curry sauce with fruit in it) and then came back here for tea and for our friends to meet Sophia. She wouldn't play, but she did fall asleep against Jim's side when one of our friends was sitting right beside her, so she let him pet her. Ha!

We had a wonderful time visiting with them and the hours zipped by.

Saturday was a stay-at-home and relapse day (I spent a lot of it reading the stories for next week's workshop) because this is going to be a busy week and a busy weekend coming up. It was great to have a quiet day. I'm a girding my loins for a busy week.

And we're off.

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

Listening

This week I've been re-enjoying Splashdown, a group I discovered about this time a year ago. They're a pop group, but their sound is totally individual (or at least it would be if I hadn't heard of the German group, Rainbirds). It's a lively kind of edgy, melodic rock that just sounds wonderful to me. So anyway, I did an entry for them on The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music. Oh, and I did one for Two Loons for Tea, too, whose wonderful album will be available Really Soon Now on amazon.com.

And as an oldies pleasure, I've been listening to Heart's Dreamboat Annie. We've had it on vinyl for a long time but we borrowed the disc from the library. I don't like the whole album, but some of it I like. Funny, though, I've never cared much for Heart's other recordings though there's been a song or two here and there.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Tanith Lee's White as Snow is the first volume in Terri Windling's Fairy Tale series in several years. This is a series I have adored even the concept of. This is clearly, from the title, a retelling of Snow White. In this the mother is a princess taken to be the bride of the warrior-king who conquered her country. It is a tale of neglect and betrayal and ice cold hearts. The daughter she bears she cares nothing for. In fact, she cares nothing for life. And the daughter herself isn't up for much, either. There's a Demeter/Persephone bit going on that never came to life. The dwarves are mostly just blah. The world created is blah. The division between the pagan and Christian religion felt flat. The pagan rites hadn't a spark of life in them. None of the characters made me care about them. The ones I might have weren't on the stage long enough. I might have felt sorry for the queen if there had been a bit of her to catch onto, but no. And the Snow White character felt like a complete non-entity. The love stories felt slighted and unbelievable. The whole tale was bleak and cruel and cold. I couldn't imagine wanting to writing something like that. Not even nasty enough to be stylish, just cold and dead and sometimes nasty but not nasty enough to be make the story come alive. Blegh. What a disappointment.

Gerald Morris' The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf is a young adult novel retelling a story from Le Morte D'Arthur. With the help of a dwarf she meets along the way, a young headstrong lady sets out to ask King Arthur to send one of his knights to lift a seige from her castle. Since her father had rebelled against Arthur she won't tell him who she is, and so he won't send one of his knights with her. But a kitchen servant, called Beaumains volunteers. With occasional aid from the fairies and staunch support from the dwarf they make their way back to lift the siege. This was a light, easy and pleasant read. I'm not sure I'll seek out any of Gerald Morris' other Arthurian tales but if one were in front of me I'd happily read it.

The best part of Beth Gutheon's More Than You Know is that it is set in Maine in the 1930s and the 1860s and gives a resonant picture of the life there. The 1930s sections are told by a woman nearing the end of her life, remembering a summer in the 1930s when she had her first love affair as a young woman, one that shaped her life. The affair is tangled with a ghost that haunts the house she lived in that summer and that haunts an island just off shore. She discovers that there had been a murder in the 1860s, when a young woman was tried twice and never convicted of killing her father with an axe. The other part of the story is told in 3rd person omniscient point of view, with the details dovetailing with the things the young woman discovers from other people in the town and eventually in old newspaper records. It is a haunting tale and the characters in it feel quite real, even if none of them feels exactly three-dimensional. I enjoyed reading it but for me the most captivating part of it was that glimpse into another world.

I'm not sure why I read Megan Whalen Turner's young adult novel The Queen of Attolia--actually I do know why, someone recommended it. The funny thing is that they also recommended its predecessor, The Thief, so I got both of them from the library. And it wasn't until I got a good look at the cover for The Thief that it even occurred to me that I might have already read it (see my March 19, 2000 entry). The Queen of Attolia begins with the thief spying on the Queen and being caught; rather than killing him for his spying the Queen cuts off his right hand. He spends a rather long time feeling sorry for him about his disability, which is of course totally understandable but not very entertaining to read about. Then he finally wakes up and starts playing his normal interfering role in politics. I can't imagine two many young adults being interested in this novel, between the feeling sorry for himself parts and the political parts and the short shrift given the other emotional drivers behind the story. And here again, there are large revelations that are withheld until the end of the story when we've been in the character who knows about them's point of view before and so there was no reason to withhold this information (in fact, this time the story would have worked better emotionally had this been revealed earlier). Anyway, another urgh.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Still tinkering with the long poem--I have a little over a week to finish it, since our next poetry workshop is a week Tuesday.

I've always disliked the thought of setting production quotas in any way--for myself or for other people--it just seemed such a mechanical way of writing, of doing anything, of running a life. But I'm seriously thinking of trying out a writing quota. Just for a few weeks to see if it helps me focus myself instead of getting sidetracked by all the gazillion other things I can work on at my computer. So, for the next few weeks I'm going to try to write a modest 2,500 words a week. That's only 500 words five times a week (or some other configuration of that. Okay, here it is in writing. let's see what happens. I hope it does make things worse. And Jim, if you read this, please don't talk about it to me--that will definitely help me stop putting up walls about trying this.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

September 1978

990. September

Neile & RandyMonths again since the last time I wrote. Now I want to capture something I never will be able to, against the chance I will never see them again--the look on Randy's face, Randy's face when he was dancing, the feel of Randy's chest, watching his face, how he falls asleep. Waking in the morning to find him there. We had two perfect weeks, what seems like years ago. Blue-eyed white tiger [1]. He's gone, I'm gone and doubting if it will ever be that way again. Is this possible? The anguish of our mortal fight when we cut down everything each other believed in. Love. A dream. Two perfect weeks of playful happiness. Remembering when he used to wait for me at night at work, when he would say my nancy's waiting outside I have to hurry, when he raced back from Shawnigan to be with me. Perfection can't be reached again. There's no going backwards [2].

991. Anguish

Days of waiting, wondering, half anguish, not knowing what to do. Everything here rubs on me, tastes stale. It is the right time to go. To be rash and young. To live dangerously. I am achingly tired and have written nothing worth writing in months. My mind is fevered and leaves me nothing worth remembering. There is no reality I can grab hold of. Reaching to grasp air. God doesn't mean much to the non-reality, to the dream I am living now [3].
     I think I'm on the edge of redefining my world. Maybe not. I am trying to sort out what has meaning, what has importance. Superficially everything means nothing. Nothing is worth anything. There has to be something that is important. I don't know if just life is. So many people just live, and I can't see what the meaning of that is. I don't understand how people can live. People live (Christians) dead lives, waiting for fulfillment in immortality, I want my fulfillment now. I don't want to live forever. I don't want to be a god. I never want to reach perfection and stop growing. If we are to be Christ-like we will be god-like, and where will the dividing line be? I have no wish to be an angel, to rule planets, to sing for a few thousand years. I don't want jewels for my crown. I don't even want a crown. (Let me be a servant, a slave, in that case.) Let me die and let that be it. I wish to be mortal. I, I, I, I am the centre of my being, and thus the centre of my perceived universe. I like/don't like me, but I want always to know my selfhood. I enjoy being human. Faulty. Defective merchandise. It is thus I have character, difference, uniqueness. But am I so unique? Have I ever thought an original thought, could I ever write anything original, or even say an old thing a new and good way? Can I call myself a writer, will poetry live for me, will anything I have to say matter? Will I achieve immortality that way? What am I striving for in my craft? Is what I am striving for really important to me, and if so, why can't I make it more of a priority, why have I no drive? I will never do anything unless it means enough to me to work myself to death to do it. If writing means that much to me (does it??) then why doesn't it take me over? I need to work up a fantastic creative drive. I feel like I have nothing to say. I haven't lived enough. What is there in my experience that needs to be shared? What goes into words, what needs to be translated into language, transformed into sound? Ah, there are times where there are too many questions and you need another cup of tea and to change your record.

993. Life is too brief

Life is too short for so much, to precious to waste. So silly to get married too young, have children you're not ready for, to settle yourself into sadness. I want to do something worthwhile (to make my mark?) to enrich life, the world, someone? ...something different... I have noticed I have no intuition. I know nothing of what anyone else is thinking or feeling, even the people I love (especially them?) I can't touch anyone else's experience empathetically or sympathetically. I feel apathetic. O dear. I am suburban born and bred. I have half escaped it. My closest friends have not had that suburban upbringing. Chris, Harold, even Randy never had that kind of life. The suburban upbringing dulls you to too much. Nothing matters but house, home, family, job, mate, entertainment. Those have their places, but there has to be more. For some people they may be a fulfillment, but how? Brenda is falling back into it. I worry for her. I keep slipping, but escaping in time. It is a mire. For me it would be intense boredom. Pain. I would tear at the relationship no matter how much I loved, until it came too close to hate. I have to define myself. Know myself, stretch myself 'til I know all my boundaries before I can trust myself enough to love anyone for long enough. Lani is marrying. I don't know how that is for her, what it means she wants the rest of her life to be. It's frightening. Everything is frightening and black. I have many letters to write. Boogie on. Cha cha boogie as Harold would say. Love. (Sigh.)
     O, ho! 'tis foul. Lear. Yeah.


NOTES

1. A nickname I had for Randy. I can't remember where it came from. Clearly he and I were together at this point. Basically, I couldn't figure out why, if he wanted me so badly, he couldn't have me. It was a mistake and not a mistake.

2. I had moved into an apartment and we had two heavenly weeks when my roommate was away, and then he took a job on a sailing ship (really) and went away. I wasn't sure how much I would see him after that.

3. Watch me losing my faith before your very eyes.

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