Les Semaines


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


A Day Late and a Dollar Short

So last week I expected to be late, but I didn't this week. But I am. I have a small excuse--that there's someone staying in my study. I have acquired a teenager for the long weekend. This sounds more demanding than it is, since it's really hard to remember she is only 17 (nearly 18) and not an adult, as she acts very adult. She's also self-sufficient and self-amusing. But she is in my study, and last night wanted to go to bed early and so I didn't get a chance to finish this.

She belongs to my friend, Judy, who lives in Saskatoon and whom I met up with a World Fantasy last weekend. Somewhere along the way we were talking about her daughter, and she mentioned that the boarding school she's attending north of Victoria closes their dorms on long weekends, and that Melissa had nowhere to go this weekend, so I told her to send her along down here. So here she is. And so I suddenly and temporarily have a teenager.

I would like to blame her for the fact that this is late and that I haven't finished any of the things on my list of things to do, but alas, I really can't because it's my own damn fault that I can't seem to finish anything (see my what I'm writing section).

This week felt all pushed for time. I had four stories to read and critique for a workshop on Sunday, and while I printed them out on Tuesday when I finished reading my convention-backlogged email, I didn't get a chance to read the stories for the first time until Saturday morning, and except for one, they only got read over once, and so my crits were a little sketchy.

Wednesday night I had dinner and a went to a play with my friend Sarah. We have once again subscribed to the University's drama series. We do this not only because we like plays (and neither of us can afford to go to any of the professional theatre here in town, which is a real shame as Seattle is a great theatre town), but because otherwise we're really bad at arranging to see each other. So we had dinner and went over to the theatre and saw Chekov's The Seagull. They did a fine job of it. Actually, the productions we've seen over the years have mostly been pretty impressive. I think the school here is pretty good and they draw good students. They also have interesting theatrical spaces. This one was in the round and whoever did the blocking did a good job of it. It's an interesting play, too. I actually thought I'd seen it before, but didn't remember it. I found its comments about writing and ambition about writing rather pointed. One of the characters was a novelist and a shit in the way that romantics often are. It made me think.

Tuesday and Thursday I messed around on the computer and worked on my stories, and on Friday I picked Melissa up from the Clipper while Jim went with Tamar and her boyfriend to hear Low play. I like Low but not enough to go and hear them live. Everyone tells me that if I did hear them live I'd like them more, but I just can't care enough.

Saturday I dropped Melissa off at Pike Place Market then drove over to West Seattle and had a long mostly business lunch with two of my Clarion West compatriots, talking about our upcoming Board retreat. Sunday I frantically tried to write up some sketchy crits for the stories, dropped Melissa off in the University District, then drove over to Redmond for the workshop, which was good but took the rest of the day. Came home, ate dinner, did the dishes, worked on my stories (again), and the evening was over.

Today is Monday, and usually I'm done with the journal and not including Monday with the past one. But because it's part of a long weekend, it just fits, okay? I slept in. I took Melissa to Archie McPhee's, dropped her off at the bus stop so she could go back downtown, went grocery shopping, where I found leeks on sale and so will make leek soup for dinner. Now I've finished this. Time to work on the stories some more.

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


One of these days I'm going to get around to writing about all the wonderful music I've been listening to lately. Soon, I hope. Now playing: Pooka's final disc (they broke up): Fools Give Birth to Angels. Now (later) playing: Crustation Bloom, a really enjoyable trip-hop disc from 1997 that I'm just catching up with now.

last week's listening § next week's listening


I still haven't finished the book I've been reading since I started it on the plane on the way to the World Fantasy Convention. It's long and rich, Dorothy Dunnett's novel about the real Macbeth, King Hereafter. I should note that I have over 20 books out from the library right now and am taking two weeks to read just one of them. I have the feeling I'm going to have to return most of those books before I read them.

last week's reading § next week's reading


I've been working on my "Silver Bones" story. All week. I keep revising and revising and revising it. I hope I haven't revised it unto death.

I have also gone through a couple of iterations of a rewrite of "The Bone-teller", a story I wrote in 1999 but never completed that I want to submit for another anthology.

I am a revising monster. Sometime very very soon I have to decide with both of these that I am simply done.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

April 1986

1458. What Does(n't) Matter
April 16, 1986

A month gone by, and I'm on a trip to Victoria and Jim has one to Big Timber ahead. Not much other progress. Working on 11th page of BN--not exactly speedy. At this rate it will take me two years to get out a rough draft [1].
     Victoria hectic and anguished. Mom tired, Dad sad. They have fun, but live in the shadow of my sister's divorce. Ed and kids down. Already it's two weeks ago and seems forever.
     I can't believe I ever wrote a poem. It doesn't seem like part of me.
     We have decided (turned down by UTah) to move to Seattle. Interesting.
     A lot has happened in this month--a friend went from giving her husband two years to two months, and now it's two days, more or less.
     So little, so little, so nothing to say about it all.
     I've been reading my old correspondence. Interesting. Threw lots out. Kept all of Mom, Dad, Brenda, Harold Christina, Gerry Gail...the ones who matter and will matter. Others did at the time, but no more. The way life moves on. The way this has turned to a journal from the start as Phono. Earlier than that the diaries--most of which is tossed. Lots of paper to burn. Paper from my life.
     It all mattered, once....
     What we keep; what we throw away.

1459. Running through angels
May 2, 1986

Running through all those
days and nother caught me
but the price of grain and
the odd book written or
burned. The weather was off.
Fruit trees bloomed in winter
and the locusts came, shedding
wings like angels. ___________ visited,
taking my arms and said
This is no apocalyptic dream
but I knew that. I knew,
too, that much more to say
before he went out east to exile
and would not return. They
did that then. He wore an
embroidered boat as he
waved out the train, waved,
and nother to day. Used up
like locust wings. And the dust
was thick as dew, grinding
into our skins like glass
and it shone. We weren't
beginners and it wasn't
a dream, all sirens raising
the night and the sounds of engines
not far off. We tried to
add it all up and got
merely sunrise. Try putting
that in letter to someone
in exile. Try naming that. [2]

1460. May days
May 7, 1986

I'm working on the beginning of the second chapter of BN. Having finished the first chapter makes me believe in it and that I can do it. I will really finish it. The writing is rough, and there are some problems there and with some plot devices I have to iron out already. I still have only a vague idea of where it's going, though that first chapter has laid some groundwork. Glad to say something is accomplished.
     Spring. Flowers are out. The plum tree outside our house opened between 10:00 last Thursday when Susan and I came into the house and 2:00 when we sat out on the porch in the dark and wind. It was lovely. And already now the leaves are overwhelming the blossoms. THe lilacs are getting close to being ready to go, but the days are grey. A little more sun would be nice.
     So we've got out plans and fears for moving west. I ready, though leaving one particular friend with all she's been going through won't be easy. Out of here will be wonderful. Jeremiah's sleeping on my jacket and Bryer's on the bed. I wonder how they will like it? The move itself will be horrible. We'll get through it, over it, and done.

1461. Already summer
May 27, 1986

and hot. 82 degrees in this room. Was 90 something outside today, and has been for the last several. Lilacs are out in full force.
     It's been a rough month. Almost three weeks ago Bryer disappeared. Five days later we discovered what had happened to her. It was awful. I can't think about it too much or it makes me crazy--I can't believe it happened that way [3]. And I didn't see it, so I still expect her to be waiting at the door when I come home, or to walk in from outside, talking to greet us the way she did. Anyway, I need to get used to the idea she's dead.
     And now, for two weeks, we've had Maddy. I think Bryer chose her for us. Grey and while and all kitten and now after my pen, as if she knows I'm writing about her. I loe her already, little thumbs and all (they have ink on them now). She's affectionate. I hope she stays that way[4].


Overnight leave no bread on the table
and leave no milk: they draw back the dead--
          Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus

1463. ...as if the completion
May 27, 1986

...as if the completion
would undo us

always the craftsman
leaves a portion of the work
undone. The sign pointing
to God but not naming
him: myself. Keeping him
apart. The incomplete union.
Coitus interruptus. Or the flaw
that describes the void between
what is and what would be.
The great divorce between the
form of the thing and the thing
we know and use daily. So
the scar livid on the perfect flesh.
So the one unpainted circle
near the eaves. So we can always
point to our object(ive) and
never have to say that we missed
it, we say we're still reaching
and we will never sew the last
button on. As if the completion
would undo us. [5]


1. Longer than that and the revisions still aren't done, but who's counting?

2. A close-to-final version of "Midfire" which appears in Spells for Clear Vision.

3. She didn't come home one day, and we wandered around the neighbourhood, calling her, for hours. The next day we put up posters and knocked on all the nearby doors, but no one told us what had happened. She'd been hit by a car, and her back was broken. She crawled into a neighbour's yard (who ignored our posters and never contacted us until another neighbour told us they'd told them and I finally knocked on their door and heard the story). They took her to the Pound, which put her put to sleep, never connecting this cat with the missing one I kept phoning about.

4. She definitely did. She was the most affectionate cat I've ever had, at least with me.

5. Part of this became a section of the title poem of Spells for Clear Vision.

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