Les Semaines


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


What 41 is Like

A hectic week with visitors and concerts (see listening below) and work and cleaning the house for guests and rain and sun and October weather, and it was my 41st birthday on Friday. Jim asked what I wanted to do, and I said "Nothing, please" so we had a wonderful quiet evening (after running around all day taking the car in to be repaired, driving our houseguest to the airport for a sidetrip, meeting another friend for lunch...) sitting in the living together reading with the cats lounging beside/on us and a fire in the fireplace. Truly wonderful. And lemon poppyseed cheesecake Jim made for us to nibble on. Does it get any better?

And to see old friends, even briefly. John is a friend I met at university. We were in third- and fourth-year poetry workshops together, with Robin Skelton. We were friendly but not terribly close, though we got friendlier as time went on, and especially in the years after graduation, and when I went away to graduate school we stayed in touch and visited back and forth sharing talks about life and writing, and then he and Jim got to be friends, too.

He arrived on Wednesday night, taking The Clipper down to Seattle from Victoria, then gave a reading at the Seattle Art Museum Thursday night (which I sadly missed because I had tickets to see Tori Amos even before his reading was arranged), and he's gone to Monterey for a week but will be back again to stay for a week. We had two good talks late into the night--not such a good thing during the work week.

John is a wonderful poet, author of about seven collections of poetry. He has a Canada Council grant this year to work on a new collection, so he has a little extra time to promote the reprinting of his book about Emily Carr the Canadian painter, that he actually had just started working on when I met him. I remember seeing early versions of some of the poems in our workshops. I can almost hear Robin's beautiful voice now, talking about them.

And this morning I got a phone call--my dear friend Bette was in town and was wondering if we could meet for a while. I've known her almost as long as John, having met her while a graduate student in Missoula, Montana, where she still lives. We've been close since we met. She's an amazing person, and knows so much about philosophy, religion, and literature that I often feel ignorant when talking to her and she has such a love of beauty in any form, she's magical. She too is a writer, a fine poet and also working on two books of nonfiction.

Anyway, we only had time for tea in our living room, with another fire, but it was lovely to be able to spend some time with her.

Old friends are such a gift--especially ones like John and Bette where there is no intermission in our friendship and ability to talk to each other even when we're out of touch for months and don't manage to see each other for years.

And so now that I'm no longer 40 and am now 40-something life is full and moving too quickly, but I've been reminded of the gift of friends and a home with a fireplace.

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


Two concerts this week. Went to hear Lamb at a club on Monday night--it was packed out and smoky and so loud the bass reverberated in my chest. They were quite wonderful but so bone-shaking loud that I while I could hear Lou's vocals I couldn't really get into them. But wow they were jumping, and it was especially great to see people who were happy to be onstage and not afraid that it was uncool to smile and have a good time. That they did, and so did we.

Then on Thursday I went to hear Tori Amos in an arena. This is the second time I've heard her with the band (I'd previously caught her "Club Tour" when she was trying out the band and heard her in a very small theatre, which was quite wonderful). The arena was so huge that it just wasn't like really seeing her--more like watching her on tv, especially when I used the binoculars so she was more than just a small figure way over there. There were times when I really got into the music. Her version that night of "Cooling" really shone like a jewel.

New albums in our lives are: Stereolab's Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night, another dreamy repetitive Stereolab bop/lounge wander/wonder; Tamara Williamson's Unconscious Pilot, which is rather like her previous solo album Nightmare on Queen Street, odd but melodic both self-indulgent and frequently delightful; Natalie MacMaster's In My Hands traditional/contemporary jigs and reel and more.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Read another urban fantasy, this one Madeline E. Robins' The Stone War about a changed New York City. The city has been shaken by a multitude of disasters, and a man who loves the city desperately goes back in to see what's left of the place he loves. Gradually he builds a community there, but they have to fight evil mutants and eventually the cause of the series of disasters. It's an interesting read, though I didn't follow some of the characters' turns and changes--one character in particular's shifts just didn't ring true for me, so ultimately I questioned where the story went.

A novel that knocked me out for the depth of its characterization was Paul Russell's The Coming Storm. Here the characters seemed so real I had trouble leaving them when the book ended--it's a long time since I've felt that so strongly. This is a novel where the main plot is about a young gay teacher who falls in love with one of his students but there are a lot of tangles in and around that to do with love and loyalty and repressed homosexuality and sexual discovery. If you like characters that seem real and complex and human, I highly recommend this one.

last week's reading § next week's reading


Still not finding the right kind of time--I haven't even opened up any of my writing files on the computer. This is not good. Still, I've been thinking about things a lot. For some reason I think about writing a lot when I go to concerts. Go figure.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

April 1976

361. Picture by Peter

Mushroom on the page. Instead of writing. It'll give you a better idea of Peter, anyway.

Peter's mushroom drawing

362. I only want to say

[Quote from Jesus Christ Superstar omitted when Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemene and is thinking about opting out.] I could fill up a whole chapter with song lyrics, but i guess that would be cheating. Conversation here--"who dealt last time", "30, 50, 75". Got smiled at, that makes me feel better.1

363. I want out

Yeah, that's how i feel. I want out. For a walk in the air. I need air. I need an escape from this dead room. (Or too alive room, i'm not sure yet.) Right now i'm dealing with parentheses, semi-colons, and dashes. They are, of course, interspersed with commas, periods and the odd letter. F'rout. Babbling. Nothing to say except i want out. I'm on my way now. Yay!!

364. Back again, and wanting out again

Yowch! Won't anybody take me for a walk? Please? I want out! Out! Out! You hear? Huh? Do you? Do you believe in the day? Do you? Believe in the Day!!2 HELP!!! My mind is being dissolved in quotes, song quotes. S'there. Bye now.

365. Spirit in the sky

[Quote from the song of that name omitted.] Don't you know that you got to? Uh huh! "+"

366. Boredom

Sheer boredom. Still want out. I do. No one will go with me. No one love me. Poor me. That was a lie. Somebody loves me (He ["+"] does!) Yay! Jesus loves me. That is something farther than f'rout. F'router than f'rout. Lonely and lost, he still loves me.

367. Song (sorta)

[Quote omitted from Elton John's Rock of the Westies about desperation--I can't remember the song title. Second quote omitted from a Canadian rock musical I once caught on tv and taped the songs from, a song about possible new starts.] Two different and opposite songs, and both so true and applicable. I think i died last night, hoping my life will begin today.

368. I think it did

I think something in my life did begin today, i'm not too sure what, i can only hope and pray. Lord, guide me, sometimes i make such bad decisions. I want to make the right ones for a change (just to be completely different). Jesus Your love is the best plan i've ever had to guide my life, though i don't always follow it/ Perfection is so hard to follow. Times are changing and so is my life, only sometimes i won't let it be right (only wrong). Why me, yet the answer is mine...

369. Yesterday

My mind is not in anything i do today. I am careless, because i just don't care. (Except about yesterday, i care about that, that's where my mind is.) Can life begin today, or does it always have its roots in yesterday [quote from The Beatles' song deleted.] Yesterday was more real than today; i wish i could capture it and hold it to me forever.3

370. Game time

I wonder who's playing games? Is it me? Him? Them? I feel like a pawn in some celestial game, but i don't believe in that kind of games, that there's any such thing. The reality tries to break through, but i think i'd rather see it as a game, it's easier on my hopes (and wishes). Oh help, i don't know how to reconcile my dreams with reality.


1. I was obviously sitting in The Mustard Seed, the drop-in centre. There was a lot of card-playing there.

2. From Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick

3. I'm sure that at the time I thought I'd never forget what I was referring to here, but I can't recall anything.

last week's Phonosnout § next week's Phonosnout

Last Week § Les Semaines index § Next Week

Email comments, questions, and complaints to neile@sff.net § Neile's main page

4070 people have wandered through this week with me