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Les Semaines

02.04.28

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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Ow Ow Ow or How Da Bird Messed Up My Typing

An exhausting stressful week as we sorted out many things to do with Clarion West and fussed with work things. Jim's situation is getting back to normal and he's starting to have time to work on re-organizing his recently moved library. Lots of expensive car repairs (can't complain as our cars have really demanded little of this, but still)....

On Friday, Dotty and Jan (my coworkers) and I finally had our long-delayed Christmas lunch together, and we talked about all kinds of things but had a long talk about our reluctance to visit doctors even though we knew we should. It was a great lunch.

Because his car was in the shop for the aforementioned expensive repairs (brakes and water pump and second timing belt replacement), Jim had my tiny one, and he and Chuck picked me up from work and we all went to our house so they could work in the garden. Before going outside to work in the rain, Jim was showing Chuck how Sophia just goes nuts for da bird, when the cord somehow got wrapped around her leg. Being a total scaredy cat, she started dashing around here and there with it trailing behind her, getting more and more freaked out, and then the stick got caught on a chair she duck behind and it was holding her back. The more she pulled, the tighter the string held her back leg, cutting into her fur harder the more she pulled to get free. She went ballistic, hissing and squirming and pulling as hard as she could, her tail huge.

Jim reached down to try to free her and she hissed and bit him a couple of times, so I jumped up to hold her so he could free her and she bit me a lot, struggling hard, until I finally got a good hold of the back of her neck and kinda got her still and Jim called Chuck to free the stick and she got free and ran downstairs, but Jim and I were shocked and bleeding and in serious pain from the bites. We ran them under water and gradually used soap and water (the pain had me freaked out myself; stomping around, I couldn't sit down or focus or anything). We read the handbook from our health co-op and they said if animal bites were on your hands you should go in to have them looked at, so Jim, being a little more sane than me at this point, insisted on making an appointment for me to see the physician's assistant. So the three of us headed over to the health clinic. Many hours later (thanks to Chuck for his patience) we came away managing not to have to have intravenous antibiotics, though that was discussed as a possibility, but with many pills to take several times a day for many days and I have to go back in on Monday to get looked at.

In the meanwhile, Jim has two fingers--one on each hand--very swollen and tender, and my left thumb has one bad, deep bite on it while my whole right hand feels like a sausage ready to burst its skin, with about 24 nasty punctures in it. I can barely type (forgive extra typos this week), but luckily I'm lefthanded and that hand is pretty much okay as it is the outside of the thumb that has the bad bite. Because she got me between my right thumb and forefinger, I can't grasp anything in that hand which I'm finding annoying, though I can use my fingers a little. I'm also having to keep a close watch for the infection spreading. But I think it's maybe going down a little.

Not sure why, but I'm feeling really bummed right now. Maybe it's the antibiotics or fighting the infection or still the aftereffects of the adrenaline rush, or just how things have been going lately or maybe some combination of all of this and then some. But I'm sad and having trouble concentrating, even reading.

And poor Sophia now is terrified of her favourite toy. I'm just grateful she's not scared of us.

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

Listening

Jim has been on a total Rasputina kick all week, which confirms to me that their new one, Cabin Fever (mentioned last week, too) is a great addition to their canon.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Jennifer Crusie's Fast Women is, much like the novels of hers I've previously read (see my September 3, 2000 and September 24, 2000 entries) a quick read and a charming book. Not deep, but entertaining and light-handed, and a nice change of pace. This one is about a depressed divorced woman who takes a temporary job at a detective agency, and decides to improve the place, much to her new boss' annoyance, and then they discover that a client/friend/relative is being blackmailed and won't tell them what for, and their previous office manager has taken money from them...a fun romp.

William Mayne's children's novel Captain Ming and the Mermaid (see my February 13, February 20, and July 2, 2000, and May 6, 2001 entries for comments about his other books) is a fun story about a young girl who is taken along on a trip on a small steamboat as it travels down from the Scottish sea lochs to Glasgow for a re-fit. She is needed because she believes in things, and the ship's captain is being courted by a mermaid, and his family don't want him to succumb to her wiles. A nice little story.

William Mayne's Midnight Fair is a story for older children, about a young girl who is trying to sort out the confusions of her family life and a young boy, whose family runs a reconstructed merry-go-round, who is strongly attracted to her. A mix of the girl's chaotic diary entries and narratives of their families and their interest in each other, the story is enriched (and sometimes a little confused) by Mayne's poetic language and use of regional phrasings and diction. It turns out lovely and poetic.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Not much new creation, but confirmation of two upcoming readings for Jim and me together: one on May 29 at the Queen Anne Branch of the Seattle Public library to fulfill (finally) our King County Arts Commission grants and one on June 20 (our anniversary) at Open Books for Jim's book launch. I get to be his opening act then.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

February 1983

1307. Hysteria Nightly
February 4, 1983

One turns the page to continue, to enter the poem that will not enter you. O blast and damn, why am I not made ready?

1308. Winter in February
February 9, 1983

And we re-enter winter by way of snow. Even the cat learns about winter, snow on the feet, in the ears, thrown at you. Got to get this log jam of words out of my way. Talking about writing, and hoping for it all and something to be that I must be. Trying to learn our own voices. The poem that seems so simple and will not be. Mike Poage [1] says something like "wives always careful os what I mean." Now he holds a truth I held once--it seemed so pure and simple, and something that could be held. I hold on language now, and it chokes me.

1309. Prison
February 21, 1983

Your hands tap out a message
stone absorbs: it is early morning
and you are certain the half-light
will carry any sound, yours, just
as it brings the river's silence
to you. Stone absorbs. You wish
it could be thrown through the distance
to the water where it could swallow
the river instead. You swear you can
almost hear rabbits in the grass
outside, the birds rustling their wings
before singing. Visions caught
by stone, hard as jailers. [2]

1310. Miscellaneous
February 21, 1983

And spring seems to begin here--warmth and all. Some sun. After a week with Bill Davis [3], I am worn and thoughtful. He gave me a lot to think about, about sound, which has always been important to me, about publishing, which I am too proud of to undo [4], about people. and journals, and the established ways of doing things. Established journals that hold themselves to death. I wonder what I will believe after this all. Certain achievements may not matter, but count for something. And such silly matters as cover letters [5]. Sigh These things shouldn't matter. (But do.)
     Jim is out, and I'm almost ready for sleep. Cat's out in the wild. His friend, Dylan, moved, and was hit by a car there. I hope Jeremiah is wise about such things [6]. I'm so glad the weather is changing. If that is, it seems like almost anything could. Weather can be light and I can change out of this dull eternal winter need for sleep and dreams. I need to come out of this house for a time. Walk in the hills. Night is still chill in this house. Night and mornings, and this bed that isn't quite right. We don't quite live here.

1311. The author names you again
February 26, 1983

In a this story he has named you Edward.
This time you are the private lover
who commits suicide kills himself [7]. Your only
recognizable feature [is] your hands,
which hold the rope or revolver,
he will not tell. He won't say
whether they tremble, whether they're
as determined as gravity or bullets.
He says the woman will find
you, of course too late ever for sorrow.
Shock will find your life
created in ink
spent in mid-air,
or staining the carpet. In Your
next life you appear as the detective,
silent, hands moving in and out
of coat pockets, touching cold flesh,
notebooks pages and the phone. The voice
you speak to is your own. Your hands
grasp two receivers, and you fade out hang up
in time to hear the sheet open
over your face and your cold stiff, white hands
to fold the rope or gun in plastic. [8]

1312. Shattered Glass
February 28, 1983

Light splayed across the room.
Figures inside it, moving.
A woman, eyes split like a prism.
The man's hands holding the colours.
Wind turns the picture, they spread,
kaleidoscope, divide like atoms,
fuse. But what of their lives?
Has the man ever held the woman's
head on his hands, stroked her eyes?
Has the woman ever moved from
the window, winter light, trees,
caught on her face? Now imagine
It's Russia, the room dirty grey,
the one lamp open as confession,
the man and the woman both
closed as blank walls. What does she
say? Does Is the window lead out open?
It's night. You can believe that it's night.
The one lamp is turned to the wall,
then goes out, and the only light
that fills enters the room is from outside.
It is grey. [9]


NOTES

1. He is a Missoula author who wrote a stunningly beautiful short collection of poems called Handbook of Ornament.

2. This poem was never turned into anything, but I did swipe the line about birds rustling their wings for another poem.

3. I had written an NEA grant for the University of Montana to have a series of visiting writers, and William Virgil Davis was the first of our visitors.

4. Davis had warnings about publishing too young, but with my first book (Seven Robins) due out the next year, I decided to ignore him. At this point in my career I'm not too embarrassed by it--it is a young book but not horrible.

5. Davis felt that cover letters got in the way of poems speaking for themselves, and never used them.

6. Alas, he was not. Three years later a car got him. Which is why we now have indoor cats.

7. This correction is in Jim's handwriting.

8. Though I tried hard with this poem for a long time, it never went anywhere.

9. This, drastically revised, became the first "Aubade" section of "The Lovers in Grey" in Blood Memory.

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