Les Semaines


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


I Am Found

Go to sleep too late Sunday night and then are awakened by the phone ringing at 3:30 and of course it is just a machine, picking our number for random annoyance. We both have trouble sleeping after that. And then the airport shuttle van arrives early so we're scrambling out the door and can't pet Sophia goodbye. At the airport there's a nasty long line at check-in but it moves fairly quickly, and another long and confusing line snaking its way toward the security check-through where no one quite know which line is for which gate, not even the staff who are directing and redirecting us. I guess I thought that by now they'd have this sorted out a little better. But the lines move quickly enough for us, though not for those who didn't arrive early for their flights. We're way early, and have to wait wait wait for our flight to be called, then skip over quickly to Vancouver, where our checked suitcase doesn't arrive and we stop for okay sushi and wait a while longer and then take the medium-longish flight to Ottawa, where to entertain myself I watch a silly movie and Jim reads. Happily, when we arrive at Ottawa our suitcase is parked by the exit to the baggage carousel waiting for us. Blaine, looking a little tired, meets us and takes us home for tea and talk too late and sleep.

Tuesday we're alone in Blaine's house. We stay in his neighbourhood, have brunch at a bagel place nearby (I'd forgotten how good bagels are back east), spend a long time browsing in a local bookstore and buy a couple books, then we board a bus, meeting John and Blaine for dinner at the Bay Street Bistro near the National Library.

At my reading then, my only solo one on the trip, I have the luxury of time, and skip my way all through the book, reading all the Mairie poems and most of my favourite poems in the book. I'm very pleased with the reading overall, and lots of friends show up though I get distracted afterwards and don't really get a chance to talk to them. Again Blaine and Jim and I talk too late.

On Wednesday Jim and I take the bus to meet John and Sue McMaster for lunch at the National Gallery (good to see Sue as I haven't seen her for several years). Then John lets us into a show of historic Canadian sculpture, but we haven't the right markings and we get thrown out. So instead we go to the Canadian gallery (Thomson, Harris, etc.), other galleries (contemporary, Rossetti, etc.). After stopping for tea we catch John at coffee break with other employees and tease him about us getting tossed from the exhibit. We hang around the gallery, walking our feets off, until John is done with work, and then the three of us go to Blaine's for dinner. Blaine's boyfriend Jamie stops by for a while but doesn't stay for dinner. The whole time we're interrupted by trick or treaters. Again, Blaine and Jim and I talk late before reluctantly dragging ourselves off to sleep.

Early Thursday morning we get ourselves ready, then pile into a taxi. I drop Jim off at John's apartment (he stays in Ottawa till Sunday, but leaves before I get back) and go on to the train station and hop onto a train for Montreal. I'm sleepy, so I mostly doze on the train which gets in at noon. It's a very short walk downhill to the hotel, where even though they don't have my name I manage to check in. To amuse myself before my friends start arriving, I go to panels panels panels, and am quickly paneled out, but Judy arrives and finds me so I follow her back to our room and we talk. At dinner time we gather together with a group of other SFCanada members, and we head off up the hill en masse for dinner at a movenpick restaurant (a Canadian/German restaurant chain with stations where you can get everything from sushi to fajitas to espresso and many fancy desserts. After the long chatty meal we return to the hotel, where we attend yet more panels (and Judy is on one). Later we talk and crash.

Friday start with yet more panels. I join Judy for lunch in the hotel restaurant. More panels. Then I join another contingent of the SF Canada crowd for dinner at a restaurant off the train station. All I remember is that they had good fries and I had a Montreal smoked meat sandwich. Then back to the hotel and crashed, unable to bring myself to go out to the parties we'd planned on, I'm so tired.

On Saturday we had a slow morning, and again had lunch together at the hotel restaurant. We attended a few more panels and hung out a while with Sabrina from my fiction workshop. At one point, I can't remember if it was Friday or Saturday, I ran into Laura Anne Gilman of Roc (whom I met through Lynn Flewelling, whom I met through an email list of fantasy writers) and she told me that someone from the ecto list was looking for me.

For dinner Judy and I had our traditional room service meal--nice to be in a hotel prepared to handle these numbers (unlike previous conventions)--the wait wasn't long and the service (and meal) were good. After dinner I went downstairs because there was to be a cabaret, and walked in to hear Charles de Lint, his wife Maryann Harris, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and several other writer musicians playing a lively set of contemporary folk covers music (de Lint's gravelly voice was a pleasant surprise--I'd heard him play before and loved it, but didn't know he had such a strong voice. Other people came up and also of note were Cat Kiernan's and Nina Kiriki Hoffman's amazing vocals, Ellen Klages' humour and I can't forget Patrick Nielsen Hayden's amazing cover of Joni Mitchell's "Free Man in Paris"--unfortunately his voice was way too low in the mix but he's a stunningly good guitarist. (I wasn't taking notes and have a lousy memory so there could easily have been other great sets that are just missing from my memory.) It had settled down to jamming (several ballad covers featuring Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman (especially doing a memorable cover of Richard Thompson's "Vincent Black Lightning".

Eventually, though, the person from the ecto list who was looking for me found me--it was Jennifer Jackson and we started talking and eventually needed to go outside to continue our conversation. So much fun to talk as we have several friends in common, music in common, and the book world in common (she's an agent). I'm really glad she found me. We talked ourselves tired and I finally had to go upstairs and crash lest I embarrass myself by falling asleep where we were.

Sunday I woke up, packed, had a brunch of leftovers (I had a box of crackers Jim had bought when he had an upset stomach and Judy had brought mandarin oranges) then I headed back uphill to the train station and got the train back to Ottawa, where John met me and we took the bus to his place that Jim had just left that morning for home. Spent the day repacking (leaving behind everything I could) for the tour, John made la-a-a-mb chops for dinner, I spent a long time deleting email from my home account obsessively, and Jim phoned to let me know that he'd arrived safely and the cats were still alive and well.

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See comments about the cabaret just above.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Mary Gentle's Lost Burgundy is the fourth in her Ash series (see my May 7, 2000 entry for comments on the first in the series, June 25 for comments on the second, and October 1 for the third). Though it was probably not the best book to read while distracted by travel and would have been even better read closer in time to the previous volumes, I still quite enjoyed this. Following from the three previous novels in the struggle between Burgundy and Carthage (most especially the Wild Machines of Carthage) the characters are under a hopeless seige in Dijon. The way out from the siege and the overall situation is fascinating, and made the ending of this vivid series particularly resonant.

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No writing, just a reading.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

August - September 1980

[in which I am 21, post-B.A. and have my first full-time job as receptionist at an alcohol treatment centre]

1175. By fifteen minutes                            August 1, 1980

It is now August first, by fifteen minutes and I am up, into the night, trying to relax. I have my tea, and "Phaedra" [quote from Simon and Garfunkle about having book and poetry to protect the self omitted]. I don't know where I am going, and the phone next door just rang, and I wish my phone would ring. "Phaedra" sounds like rain just now, and I wish I felt like rain. I would like to go for a walk, but I have nowhere to walk to, and no one to walk with, and it is late.

1776. Half of August gone                            August 14, 1980

and I was going to be out of here by now. here I am still--after two buzzing weeks going in all direction. I have been seeing as much of Christina & Brenda as possible, and Lorna has been in town, and I'd have lunch with her twice, and I'm changing my name [1], and I'm in a deep and reciprocated attraction, and I've been sleeping outside on the nice nights, Christina and I slept on the roof to watch the meteorite shows on Monday night, and I've been running all around trying to get things done, done a bit of sewing, a bit of reading and a lot of work. I've been all energy, trying to do as much as I could and feeling great--I had only one bad day in there and so many good. Making escapes and running, so half of August is gone.

1177. August Dying                            August 29th 1980

Dying, Egypt, dying...and the time weighs on me like time weighs...I want to write a poem of desperation about the day before yesterday when I was desperate, and I didn't understand--now I do, or do not, neither of which really matters because I have given in to it (bend me down).
     Fragments of poems catch me ("in the year of the cloud when my marriage failed") ("and pronounce 'Here endeth' much more loudly than I'd meant. The echoes snigger briefly") and on and on. The night moves slowly in this end of August. The full moon is past--I saw it waxing in Cawston [2], I saw things in Cawston. The moon rose so swiftly over the mountain I could see it move, blinking I could see the glow covering the ridge, and see the clarity of my moon shadow as I watched and walked. Harold and I had walked up the side of that mountain that day. The next day we drove along the road to it and now on this evening at the far end of August I relieve those days, bringing them closer and further. I was anonymous there and that is a feeling I enjoyed. I want to be unknown, and to avoid the responsibility of being myself.
     And here I am, myself, at the end of August having to confront and give in, and start a new page--and a new book--it's time for me,though the book isn't ready.

1178. A Note for September                            2nd September 1980

Beginning September with a change of mind; September has changed to much already. Leaves have begun to fall, the air to alter, the sun rises later in the morning. I find it was over too soon. Everything was over too soon, and before I took my chances to enjoy it all. Things have change, and I am back to something, which I can make something good out of or not, as I choose. It is always that choice that hold me.... The new world, the sun can rise anywhere here [3].

1179. This morning is even more                            3rd September 1980

This morning is even more of September--as soon as the sun had risen, so did the fog, abruptly and coldly. The year is slowing down, and so am I, but I can breathe here. And moving on the sun is so bright but cold..I don't know what more to say about it.

1180. The mist rose today                            18th September 1980

The year is winding down now, and I haven't done the things I needn't to; it seems the year is running out of time and so am I. Work absorbs more than I wish it would: I mean, my job does, and makes me wish I had more time for my work. 1980--the year look so well on paper as does my new name. I have just had the last of summer--days of hot sun--even though fall, autumn, does not officially arrive until late this week. The sun rises after I am up these days, and I am breathless for it in the mist.


1. This is true. I was at this time doing the paperwork to add "Neile" at the beginning of my name.

2. I had been to the Okanogan to visit Harold

3. Quoting my own poem. Disgusting habit.

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