Les Semaines


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


Trivial Me

This was a busy week and weekend, particularly as we went to a Kristin Hersh concert on Friday night, drove up to Vancouver on Saturday night for Veda Hille's concert to launch her new disc, then drove back home Sunday in time for Jim to give a reading in Issaquah.

Tamela recently did one of these in her journal, so I'm melding hers with one I did a year or so ago via email sent to me by Michael Colford. Warning: putting these two together made it VERY loooooooooooong.

Name: Neile Nancy Eileen Graham

Nicknames: I don't have any that have lasted other than ones with one particular friend, who calls me Nelly. In grade school I was Graham Crackers. Even Jim rarely uses nicknames for me.

Sex: Yes.

Hometown: I would say Victoria, B.C., but I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Home: White house with sage-green shutters in the Ballard area of Seattle, WA, in the Altered States of America

Height: 5'4"

Eyes: blue

Hair colour: It's about half and half brown and grey.

Zodiac sign: Libra

Favorite color: Grey or teal. Or the colour the sky goes just before it's fully night.

Favorite number: Even numbers. I'm fond of 4.

Ever been convicted of a crime?: Nope, but I've been fingerprinted (for my U.S. Permanent Resident Alien card).

Favourite TV show: Crusade was about the only show we were watching with any regularity, but it's cancelled now and Xena has a new season coming up. Yes, I'm a fantasy/SF show geek.

What's on your mouse pad? I don't use one--My house runs on the wood surface of the computer desk. I've had mousepads and get tired of them getting in the way.

Favourite board game: A board game called "Family Tree" that friends of mine made up and customized so it deals directly with events in my life. It's pretty funny to play it.

Favourite magazine: Smithsonian or Current Archeology

Favourite smell: The forest after the rain, or ocean breezes.

Worst feeling in the world: Knowing I've hurt someone.

Biggest fear: That I will never finish any of the really big projects that haunt me. Or worse, that I will.

Best feeling in the world: When someone truly likes something I've written.

Favourite things to do on the weekend: Hang out at home with Jim and the cats, both of us writing but also sharing some time. And hanging out for a while with friends.

Favourite soundtrack: The one to 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning: Do I have to get up?

Do you get motion sickness: Only in big American cars with swimmy springs.

Roller coasters--deadly or exciting?: Neither. Boring, sorry.

Pen or pencil: Pen.

How many rings before you answer the phone: Enough for me to get there from wherever I am.

Future son's name: It's not going to happen, but at one time we liked the name Dylan. I was holding out for Rhys, though. Now I think I'd go for John.

Future daughter's name: It's not going to happen. For a while we liked the name Emma, but then two of our friends named their daughters that. Now I'm not sure what name I'd use. Maybe Vivian.

Do you like to drive: That varies. I like driving alone better than I like driving with someone else in the car, though I have consumer's guilt, and so offer friends rides as often as possible.

Thunderstorms--cool or scary: Very cool.

If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be? Hard question. Shakespeare? Chaucer?

Who is your favourite poet/author: Both of them change. Probably right now Linda Gregg or Brigid Pegeen Kelly as poets. Author is Robin McKinley or Diana Wynne Jones.

Do you eat the broccoli stems: Yes if they're cooked soft. I don't like broccoli very crunchy unless it's raw and then I don't eat the stems.

If you could have any job you wanted, what would it be: Being paid to read.

If you could dye your hair any colour, what would it be: For fun: bright blue. For reality, I wouldn't dye it. I actually like my hair grey.

If you could have a tattoo, what and where would it be: On my ankle a Pictish crescent and V-Rod design (like on the main page of my website and on my left shoulder the Maes Howe dragon, a drawing that was carved on the wall of Maes Howe in Orkney, Scotland by Vikings.

Have you ever been in love: Yup.

What is on the walls in your room: In my study there is an antique print of an Eno's Fruit Salts ad, a tiny forest watercolour, and antique map of Argyll Scotland propped up (haven't had it framed yet), a tile battery-powered clock, a map of Buteshire, Scotland (which consists of the isle of Arran), a reprint of one of my poems in a drugstore-bought frame, a framed poster of an art exhibit entitled "Fred E. Miller: Photographs of The Crows", and a framed artist's proof of the artwork that was on the cover of my book, Spells for Clear Vision.

Is the glass half-empty or half-full: Depends on what day it is.

Are you a righty, lefty, or ambidextrous: I write left-handed but do most other things right-handed. No left-handed scissors for me!

Do you type with your fingers on the right keys: Mostly.

What is under your bed: A couple of catnip toys and several growing dust mice.

Croutons or Bacon Bits: Neither, thanks, but croutons over bacon bits any day (ugh, salty and usually bearing no relation to anything that ever was organic).

Favorite Salad Dressing: Balsamic vinagrette. Add garlic. Add herbs and a little oil. Yum. Right now I'm being lazy and all I have is bottled low-fat Hidden Valley Ranch.

Favorite Snapple: I try not to be fond of things which have corn syrup as a main ingredient, but I confess to liking Snapple's Kiwi Strawberry and Lemon Ice Tea.

Do you drink?: I've heard it's required for life. However, yes, I sometimes do. Not that often. I think I could count the times I've been drunk on one hand. That wasn't my alteration of choice in my youth and childhood, either.

Shampoo or conditioner: Shampoo with conditioner already in it because it cuts down on one additional step in my long showers (Pears brand preferred but I can only get it in Canada so make do with Salon Style and occasionally Suave).

Ever gone skinny dipping?: Not since I was in my early twenties, which was a while ago. Now it would be chubby dipping, which I kindly spare the world.

Do you make fun of people?: Usually not specific people; however I reserve the right to mock groups.

Best on-line friends: I'm really, really bad at answering email promptly, so all my online friends probably hate me now. Mostly friends that I knew first who know have email, but there are a few very wonderful people that I met online first. You know who you are. You're probably reading this.

One pillow or two?: One big one which I share with Maddy and/or parts of Zach.

Pets: Two cats, Maddy (grey & white, AKA The Intimidation Queen) and Zach (dark tabby with white bits and big bright beautiful green eyes). Also, one husband, Jim (brown beard & hair with grey bits).

Favorite Type of Music: What the ecto list calls "beautiful & fierce": Veda Hille, Tori Amos, Ingrid Karklins, Kym Brown, etc.

Hobbies: I prefer to call writing my avocation, so my hobbies are reading, spending time online, talking too much, walking on the beach... I used to love sewing but I haven't had time for it in recent years.

What kind of car was your first car: A blue beetle named Buglet.

Dream car: A Bugatti Royale. I've never actually seen one in real life, though. Maybe my Dad's 1955 MG TF 1500 especially when it was British Racing Green (he had it painted red a while back).

Type of car you drive now: Chevy Sprint and a Honda Civic station wagon. They're both officially "ours", but I mostly drive the Sprint. Teeny and peppy.

Words or phrases you overuse: "Whatever".

Toothpaste: Tom's fennel.

Favorite Food: Lemon poppyseed cheesecake (for my birthday, please, Jim).

On-line Crush: Hmm. A difficult one because I don't usually get crushes until I've met someone. I guess the person I've been most intrigued with as an online personality is Karawynn Long. I admire intense people because I'm basically pretty mellow. I have a crush on woj's musical taste except when he disagrees with me.

Most romantic thing that ever happened to you: After everyone had left a party at my apartment I'd turned out the lights and undressed for bed then heard a noise and looking out the window and there was someone down below kicking the leaves and waiting for me to notice he was there. He knew I would. Or he hoped.

How do you characterize yourself (a hopeless romantic or non-romantic)?: Both. I'm very practical and believe that you make a relationship and you make "soul-mates" and that they aren't pre-ordained; however, I can also be idealistic and get all swoony about star-crossed lovers. I guess I would say I'm personally more like Janet from the "Tam Lin" ballad than Juliet from "Romeo and Juliet". (Janet's rather a determined sort--rescues her lover from the fairy queen.)

Do you get along with your parents?: Wonderfully.

Favorite town to chill in: Maybe Stromness on the Orkney Islands, or Kirkcudbright or a few other small waterfront towns in Scotland. Or Edinburgh, though that's more full of things to do--I'd find it hard to chill out there.

Favorite Ice Cream: Not a big ice cream fan. Recently enjoyed Starbucks vanilla mocha chip, though.

Favorite Drink: The mocha espresso Jim makes me every morning and leaves on the kitchen counter for me. I'm spoiled.

What's your bed time?: 10:00 on worknights, then we read for a while. Weekends usually midnight. Hey, Jim leaves for work before 6:00 am, and I leave at 7:10 and we're getting old! It means I can manage to get to few late night concerts. Annoying.

Adidas, Nike or Reebok: Don't own any. Have an ancient pair of Easy Spirits I should replace someday. When I go hiking/walking I wear a pair of street boots.

Favorite Perfume/Cologne: Rain scents, Irish Mist. Don't usually wear any.

Favorite Website: I read a few ezines like Event Horizon and SF Site. Haven't found a poetry site I like enough to follow. I read several online journals, mostly by members of the Not-A-WebRing. Oh, and I love the Sluggy Freelance comic. My favourite music review site is The War Against Silence, and I probably shouldn't say so myself, but I do like The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music. I also check out the fun sites listed on my Cool Things page.

Favorite song at the moment: Mary Lydia Ryan's "Devil With Wings" and Veda Hille's "All Fur".

Favorite soda pop: Diet coke. After Jim's nephew visited the first time leaving most of a 12-pack behind I got addicted to it for about a year and a half, and only about six months ago switched back to water.

Favorite Movies: Haven't had time for many movies recently. King of Hearts is an old favourite. And Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Bagdad Cafe. Trust. Choose Me. The English Patient. Shakespeare in Love.

Favorite Subject in school: English lit. I liked reading better even than writing.

Least Favorite Subject: Biology--I liked reading about it but hated the labs.

Favorite Alcoholic Drink: Hard cider (pear preferred or a dry apple) or scotch (Lagavulin preferred, Glenfiddich in a pinch, can't be bothered with most others).

Favorite Sport to watch: None. I have no patience. I used to enjoy refereeing basketball a lot, though, in high school.

Favorite Sport to play: Sport isn't play.

Most humiliating moment: This moment when I know people are reading this and realize that I have no memory, which means I can't remember enough to figure out what the most humiliating moment would be. I've had some embarrassing moments and done some stupid things, but the ones I can think of seem pretty trivial, now at least.

Loudest person you know: Jim when he's talking on the phone. Really, it reminds me of those situation comedies about country hicks trying to use the phone for the first time, like he thinks shouting will make people far away hear him.

Craziest or silliest: My friend Christina, who lives in Taiwan. She's the friend we travelled with to Turkey. I think we bring silliness out in each other.

What do you look for in a significant other: Patience with me. A sense of fun. The ability to be both serious and silly. Someone who can challenge me. Most amazingly, I've found it.

Say one nice thing about the person who sent this to you: Michael Colford was the first person to send this to me. I don't know him well, but I particularly like his warmth which comes across online. It makes it clear that he'd be a fun and rewarding person to know better. I don't know Tamela very well either, and have mostly talked to her at parties or cons, but she's lots of fun to talk to. She loves life, and makes it easy for the people around her to enjoy it, too.

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


I have still been obsessing on Mary Lydia Ryan's Diaphanous and Jim has been obsessing with My Scarlet Life's InfraRed (which of course means that I've heard it frequently).

Friday night we (meaning Jim, our friend Tamar, and myself) went to hear Kristin Hersh play at the Crocodile Cafe. It was great to hear her live again--she's such a great performer and songwriter. Tiring, though, as the show started late (as always at the Croc) and there aren't seats in the concert area.

Suffered the same elements (though the same benefits, too, and even more friends at this one) to hear Veda Hille's cd release concert for her new disc you do not live in this world alone. Whoa, that woman can write a song and sing and play its heart out. Worth driving the three hours to Vancouver to hear her.

last week's listening § next week's listening


I always want to like Lisa Goldstein's novels, and mostly I have. Tourists in particular is a delight. And Dark Cities Underground could have been wonderful and should have been wonderful--but it was too rushed. She packed so much into such a short novel that it didn't feel driven but that the characters, the plot, everything weren't given enough space to develop. Very disappointing, because the idea was interesting. Such near misses are both irritating and sad.

last week's reading § next week's reading


Heard that one of my poems is an Editor's Choice in Arc's Poem of the Year Contest--that's three years running that different editors there have chosen one of my poems as their favourite of the poems submitted for the contest. It will come out shortly in their Autumn 1999 issue. They have also taken another of the poems I submitted for their Autumn 2000 issue. And I've been asked to write an article about my favourite Canadian poem for their Millennium issue. Whew!

Got stalled out a bit on the novel as this week got so busy (a novel manuscript to crit, the workshop to talk about it, a trip to Costco, the concerts), though I did get some good work done on Monday.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

March 1976

321. Melodrama

Pay the rent...run the war...maiden name (if applicable)...lead me on to the Gestapo...silence kills while loose lips sink ships... Well, you much have been a beautiful fricket, and ain't that what it's all about? --Actually, no. It's all about something much different. Changes lead me to believe...i'm only lonely since you're not here, but it cannot be a part of me for now it's part of you...1

322. Once

[Quote from Carole King's Tapestry deleted about a man reaching for something and not finding it.] It's so easy to reach for something golden, i do it all the time; it's so hard to take when your hand comes down empty, and it usually does... That's the feeling i have right now. I've reached for something golden, but i didn't quite reach it, time to cry while something dies, deep inside.

323. Strange things

Strange things are happ'ning to me--i wanna hide. Mist over the river. Changes are happ'ning so far again (or is it regression?) I don't think i belong here anymore, so i'm going to have to find a place where i do belong. I have to get out of here soon, because it's beginning to affect my mind (me, i'm only lost and lonely, poetry killing my soul).

324. On Being A Chameleon

Today i am a chameleon, changing with my surrounding and becoming a fantastic actress. I can turn into a student, a rowdy, a tough, a bookworm, an, an... oh dear, changing again, not a writer anymore.

325. On waiting backstage

Well, i'm waiting backstage, listening, watching people in strange clothes wandering around, i'm in strange cloths, too... but i'll never tell... so there! I look like a real honey tonight, i'm glad Everett's not here. Small mercy, but thanks anyway. Good audience tonight.

326. Explanation

I guess i should explain how i got here--somebody in the cast got sick, and here i am--The Star! (with four lines...). Oh well, you've got to start somewhere (i guess, guess...). Pain. I'm back, i've said my lines, got two more entrances... wow. Agony, mind rolling... my make up hurts (i'm allergic)... f'rout... pain and spotlights.

327. Waiting

It's the next day, and now i'm waiting for something else--within a few hours i'll probably be an aunt! (Is that f'rout of isn't it?) I've been waiting a while for this and so it had better be worth it. I guess--hope it will be. Wow, another fricket released unto this world, or unleashed upon it, who knows? (What evil lurks in the hearts of men?) Catriona or Matthew, see you later.

328. Innocent

"I am innocent!" I cried, and every fiber in my body screamed in protest at my accusers. Their shadowy faces leered and i began to cringe in my corner. "Guilt is written all over her face!" They shouted, and i looked but i had no face. A shriek filled my body and slowly began to replace it until only it was left. Alone in my shadow world of innocence, huddled in my truth, a faceless, bodyless lump of pain, i... danced in freedom, on the other side.

329. On pain

I live and love in pain today, like i'm sitting on a razor edge. Next day, still baby-waiting... pain there but not for me (sister, i love you, take care!) Pain in words, and pain in waiting for two phone calls: one from hospital about frick or fricket(te); the other from... i think i want to change a ticket, you know, the one for all of my yesterdays.2
I must, i must write Lit essay.
...nobody loves me; everybody hates me...
i think i'm lost again in self-inflicted pain and doubts.

330. On being an aunt

Hey, guess what and f'rout! I've got a niece. I saw her today, but she didn't look too happy. Poor Catriona, tightly wrapped in a pink blanket... mother's fine Can't get used to sister being a mother.3


1. Hint of a Monkees song.

2. Reference to Al Stewart's song, "Carol".

3. Hee hee, and now she's a grandmother. Catriona's 23 and has a three-year-old daughter of her own.

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