Les Semaines


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


The World is Too Much With Us

I've been thinking how the news has been far too present in my life this year--I don't think I've ever spent a year so glued to the tv and radio trying to find out what is happening.

It began with the earthquake in Turkey only five weeks after our trip there, thinking that one friend might already be back there (she wasn't yet), not knowing that two other friends were right in the middle of Istanbul, though they were fine.

Next was the earthquake in Taiwan, where my friend and her partner currently live. I was already trying to find out as much as I could about it when I heard that their city was one of the hardest hit. Spent a mostly sleepless night until they phoned to say they were fine.

Then floods in North Carolina, happily far from where Jim's family members live.

Then the shooting at the Northlake shipyard that I drive past every day on my way to work and where I park my car and commute to the university was in the area cordoned off by police.

Followed of course by this crazy wonderful scary week here in Seattle with the WTO and all that went on around it.

It's so weird when the news actually affects my life and people I know and love. This has been the first time in my life when it has happened so continually, with events in my home town that people I know were involved, and far-away events that also impinged on my life and the lives of my friends. I'm obviously very lucky that this hasn't happened before.

In all these situations it was strange hearing what was going on from people involved in what was going on as opposed to what the media said. I'm not really sure if the media deliberately misleads people or simply goes for the most dramatic story or truly does distort things in favour of its corporate owners' perspectives, but it's true that all the various media tales just don't add up to something believable, and friends were clearly misquoted and tapes edited till what people said was distorted, but still at least most places that covered the WTO protests made it clear that the damage here in Seattle was done by a small minority while tens of thousands of protesters walked the streets peacefully despite the pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, and concussion grenades. And most of the damage was in broken glass and lost holiday sales and none in lost lives.

For which I am grateful.

In other events it is getting near that time of year. In her Dec. 4th journal entry Karen talks about how much she loves giving and sending gifts. Me too. I love finding things that I know will delight the recipient, giving a tangible object to as an outward symbol of affection. A friend told me that she and her partner no longer exchange presents, but instead send the money they would have spent to charity. Maybe I'm just a material-oriented sentimentalist, but though noble this feels cold to me. Jim and I give other money to charity but use some to spend on small gifts for each other, little luxuries like a book the other person would enjoy but not be likely to buy, personal jewelry, things that will make the other person laugh. I'm just not willing to give up this pleasure.

Another idea Karen gave me was when she suggested that anyone wanting to get a holiday card from her, send her their email address.

I am still in the process of designing our card but if you're not already in our address book and are interested in receiving one, please email me at neile@sff.net and I'll send you one once they're ready. This year it will just be pretty paper with a poem or two on it; come to think of it, that's just like last year. A poem of Jim's for sure, and one of mine if I can possibly find one that is at least a little seasonally appropriate. I never realized I write such angry/sad poetry until I started looking for poems to put on these.

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


A week where pretty much everything I listened to is something I've been listening to for the last few weeks. I really had very little time for music in this busy week, being out nearly every evening for one thing or another, but I did play Nicolai Dunger's Songs Wearing Clothes over and over again. Partly because I wanted to hear it again, and partly because it was in the player and I didn't have time to go and dig out another disc I might have wanted to play instead. Songs Wearing Clothes is still an odd disc. I'm trying to decide if it will wear out its welcome with me or not.

last week's listening § next week's listening


I spent most of this busy week reading Frank McCourt's 'Tis. I did enjoy it mostly, but found it ultimately unsatisfying. Unlike Angela's Ashes, 'Tis doesn't seem to have a shape. Interesting things happen, but it doesn't seem as though Frank McCourt has truly sorted through them, and that he's not willing to be as honest about them or doesn't have as much perspective on them as he did with the story of his childhood in Angela's Ashes. Perhaps that has to do with the fact that the people he's writing about in 'Tis are still alive; perhaps it has to do with the fact that he hasn't truly confronted his adult self, and adults are naturally less sympathetic than suffering children.

I did think it was on the most part interesting and well-written. I do like McCourt's style, with the exception of the phrases he keeps repeating, like describing his chronic eye infections as "eyes like two piss holes in the snow," and clouds, usually black, filling his head.

Still, the book just seemed to stop rather than end, and I don't admire Frank McCourt the adult as much as I admired his younger self as portrayed in the first book.

last week's reading § next week's reading


Ha! I actually wrote this week. Way back last spring I started a poem about lady wells, and while I didn't finish that one, this week I wrote a sestina about seeking a particular lady well near Rosemarkie. If you want to see my earlier entry which describes what a lady well is, you can find it here.

Anyway, I'm more than delighted to be writing again. On to the fiction shortly, I swear.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

May 1976

440. Help! by Janine

I think I'm am going crazy. I am being pushed under a huge load of things to do and I'm beginning to falter. Keep your head up for just two more weeks kid--you're getting there. Every day though someone demands one more thing, it's getting worse. Oh well be optimistic everything works out in the end--so they say. I'm looking forward to this weekend though--two whole days on the mountain, pure heaven. I'm not religious but I do feel close to something, someone when I'm close to nature

441. What do I value? by Janine

I think my values are quite different from Mr. Bryant's. But what are they? I want peace, love, happiness-but isn't that being too idealistic? My future is going to be helping others. Maybe if more people can merely have fun by walking on the beach or playing with a cat life would become simple enough to be fulfilling once again. My days are full, they're full of hard work, fun times, quiet times, smiles and love. I hope one day I can help more people to enjoy life as simply as I do.

442. Lately it seems

Lately it seems that i've been spending a lot of time waiting for the phone to ring. (A watched phone never rings.) In connection, i've been doing a lot of strange worrying (how dumb). Well, things will change (hopefully) and maybe i'll stop writing sentences with so many parentheses in them (i doubt it). Ring, phone! Y'hear?

443. Cosmic chaos

"Cosmic chaos"--i like that line. Signifies all and nothing. "Metaphysical nausea"--completely different. These describe theatre of the absurd. Abs'lutely insane, totally inane. Therefore i said THEREFORE in as much as theatre is absurd, i dwell in cosmic chaos.

444. Whatta day

Wow, whatta day. I've caught Paul's sniffles and sneezes. And i've been embarrassed besides. I have to wash my hair. I have to make lasagna at Paul's tonight. Wow, whatta day.

445. Why?

Why is everyone so pessimistic. No hope, so sad. Don't feel like it. Don't want to be pessimistic, like opt better. Can't see the world as completely black, there's always that light, that hope. Somewhere His light is always shining, if you just look, just open your eyes. The next step is to open the door and let Him in. Then live love, and love living.1

446. Who could believe?

Who could possibly believe that God doesn't care? Thomas Hardy, how could you let your eyes be so blinded? Couldn't you see anything at all? I wish people would only open their eyes for a second. So sad, so many people will never see. I hope I cannot hear their cries at the end.

447. Change of atmosphere

Too depressing, too sad. Must speak of less gloomy things than The End. Speak of sniffles and sneezes, and fug in my brain. Snuffle away all day, play Larry Norman ("I wish we'd all been ready"). Here i am again, back to my first train of through, but still again, i wish we could all be ready. I wish.2

448. Deadlines and yesterday

Today is become deadlines, yesterday was confusion leading into restless night. Time is running out because of today, my mind (and heart?) is running out, growing more and more confused. Help, Lord, i have to fight something i'm not too sure i can even face. I need Your strength, so guide me, help me help him.3

449. End of Book Two

It's the end of Book Two4, and i'm at a messed-up stage (as always). Something said last night blew my mind and i'm having trouble getting it back together. Picking up the pieces after explosion. It wasn't that past part of what was said, just the present part. O pain. I love you, please believe me, but i don't know how to handle this.


1. Well, yeah, you can tell just by reading this journal what a huge difference it made in my life. Hmm.

2. Meaning ready for the end time, the Rapture, Judgment Day.

3. A relationship crisis. Paul had told me he used to have a sugar daddy at 14 and his feelings for men were something he was still dealing with. He didn't tell me the reason he had left home so early was that this father beat them all in the name of making them Good Christians. Not that at that time I would have understood and been able to help him with either.

4. A very slim notebook with an evergreened hillside in the foreground and mist/cloud with other higher, rocky mountains behind.

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