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Les Semaines

02.12.22

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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The Holidays Begin

Busy, busy week. We'd finished the holiday cards but still had wrapping and a little shopping and some organizing to do. Mostly, we had cleaning to do, and kept on it steadily in all the off hours, meaning when we weren't at work or sleeping. The house hadn't been so clean at all this year as in the few moments before Mom and Dad and their two dogs arrived Sunday afternoon. Floor all washed and vacuumed, the place mostly dusted, kitchen and bathroom both as sparkling as we could possibly make them, given our nasty old floors which we talk and talk about replacing but haven't yet. I would also like the replace the nasty cheap cabinets in the bathroom. Someday. I always will wonder why someone would go to the bother of remodeling a bathroom and then put in the cheapest things possible, so that it looked horrible within a very short time of remodeling. The cheap, soft linoleum is not only most ly white so it shows everything, but also dents whenever you drop anything, no matter how little you think it could possibly dent a floor.

Friday a very strange thing happened to me--strange for me at least. I woke up happy and in a wonderful mood. It felt good, but very foreign. Do other people wake up happy? Anticipating a pleasant day? Well, for once I did and I certainly appreciated it. Mostly I wake up tired and cranky and have to ease myself into liking my day. Coffee certainly helps with the process. I like it best being alone in the morning, which most wise people usually leave me. Jim, though he wasn't going to work, insisted on getting up and making me coffee, and I even joked around with him rather than complaining that he was getting in my way. I hope that sometime this can happen again.

After work on Friday we went and picked up a tree. Most years I don't want one, and we empty out one of our bookcases and create an altar to the great god Book, but my co-worker Dotty had put an evergreen wreath up and whenever I walked into the office it smelled so wonderful that I decided we had to have a tree. It's a little one, but Jim chose a lovely, symmetrical one. And the house smells of it, and of the cloves I boiled on the stove to clear up the smell of vacuuming and cleaning fluids. Very holiday.

Friday night we picked up Indian food and took it to Tamar's and had a quiet evening talking with her and then exchanging gifts. Saturday, we cleaned in the morning, and then picked up Chuck and met Karen and Barry in the lineup for The Two Towers, which I loved and want to see again. Afterwards we dropped Chuck off at home and met Karen and Barry and one of their friends for dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant and then to Diva's for coffee afterwards. It reminded me how wonderful it is to just sit and talk with interesting friends. What a delight!

Sunday I got up and started cleaning, or at least continued the cleaning. Barely pausing to gobble down breakfast and coffee. Actually, I had both of them while cleaning. And started decorating. At 2:00 Mom and Dad and their dogs arrived and here it is, Christmas.

Happy Holiday, everyone.

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

Listening

Got three very interesting disks from the Tsamisdat (Eastern European discs) site, Boo and Sina. Need time to absorb them, but I like them both very much so far. Now that Mom and Dad are here, there won't be so much listening, though.

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Reading

I've never really clicked with C.J. Cherryh's work, having tried several of her fantasy novels in the past, but I really enjoyed Cyteen, so much so that several days after finishing reading it I wish there were more of it. I find it drifting into my mind at odd times. It's a distant-future story of a young man in a new world, who gets caught up in a messy emotional and political situation, where he is manipulated by the powerful woman who runs nearly everything. Trying to get around some of the pressures of the situation, he messes up badly. This is a fascinating story of a world, of a political situation, of machinations within machinations, and very much also about identity. Recommended.

I really loved a previous novel by Linda Haldeman, so when I discovered that she had written Star of the Sea I was happy to discover that our library had a copy. This is the story of a young, innocent girl who goes to a convent school and starts communicating with the statue of the Virgin Mary, the Star of the Sea of the title. Is she hysterical? It is a miracle? This is a gentle, interesting story. Too bad Linda Haldeman only wrote the three novels that I know of.

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Writing

Not this week, either, though I'm ready to get back to the novel. As soon as I can. Sooner. Story back in the mail. Where to send it now?

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Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

February 1987

1492. In the pink chair
February 8, 1987

In the pink chair recently acquired [1] and it's a sunny Sunday early afternoon. Went out in the air for a bit yesterday--that was a shock. Looked out over a ravine/valley to the Sound and the Olympics high and ethereal beyond. No walk at all and not far from Jim's work. Sort of a suburban hill in the midst of land given to the college [2]. It was outside and beautiful.
     Maddy is sinking to sleep on my lap. Jim wished that the Muse would sit on my lap and here is Maddy. I hope it's the same thing.

1493. Berlin Dreams
February 8, 1987

Berlin dreams under soot under snow
under pure cold, and something wakes
you, the children stirring in your womb,
perhaps your own thumping heart
or the stubborn ache in the small of your
back. Walk to the kitchen, pour yourself
a glass of water sipping it as you gaze
our the window wondering how
you came to be here this hour of the night
in an older foreign land divided into two
different twins like those you carry now
so heavily in your belly. You rub your skin
--strange to think that those limbs pushing
against your fingers you will soon be able
to touch and kiss and trace the shape of.
You wonder what your husband dreams of
back under the quilts so solidly and
soundly asleep while the life in you
moves and twists restless as birds
in winter. You think of the night,
how it opens and stretches back to
your home, your husband working
day by day in his lab, the moon now
lighting the dusky snow into a wakening
brightness, your quiet self watching
streets, watching yourself from the far
window, and always those two small bodies
dreaming under the warm thunder of your heart. [3]

1494. Frustrating Chores
February 15, 1987

Spending the last couple of days doing things that make me violent, make me want to do violence. Taxes and grant applications: the money we give to the government and the money we never get from the government. Still we do our best.
     Spring arrives hesitantly then disappear.
     They're going to replumb our apt. building.
     Robin is coming to stay two night.
     Mom & Dad follow immediately for three
     A three-day weekend, this. last till may...
     Got to decide which poems to send with the grant. Write Letter, write on my story, make the corrections Susan suggested.
     Got to work.
     I can smell Jim's cigarette smoke from this closet.
     Maddy and Zach perch on the chesterfield.
     Zach sleeps and Maddy's watching him.
     I'm wasting a Sunday afternoon.

1495. As if I might write
February 15, 1987

For a while I felt as though
I might burst. As though my heart
holding this, held something large
and broke through. This will
This desire larger than words
to create words and defeating them.

[empty space with gouges]

Maddy's claw marks.

Sometime I'll got through this book and know how to harvest all its gold.

1496. What I am Told
February 16, 1987

The books tell me
that I am not far wrong
That what I believe in
and what I love are true.
They tell me what I cannot
tell myself.

Rains fall heavily on the
window behind me
and the wind that drives it
passes through.
And touches me.

Cloud and sun tangle
out the window: inside
my mind tangles and
I say to myself
it is true.

All the worst
and the best
is true. [4]

Zach playing in the tails of my blanket on the floor.


NOTES

1. We still have this chair and haven't yet reupholstered it, though we should. It's a big shell chair, and wonderfully comfortable.

2. Shoreline Community College. Jim was working in its library at the time.

3. This, slightly revised, appears in Spells for Clear Vision. This is my imagining of her life based on letters from my friend Brenda, who was spending the year in Berlin while her husband was doing a chemistry postdoc. She was pregnant with twins. This is a couple of years before the Berlin Wall came down.

4. Nothing ever came of this one, though I still like the ending.

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