“There are some things one remembers even though they may never have happened.” ~ Harold Pinter

                   

“And in the heart, born single as a kiss,
Broods the sad other—learner, yearner, dier—
That knows, uncomforted, its one desire
Was not for this.” ~ Rhina P. Espaillat, from “Falling”

Saturday early evening. Partly cloudy and warmer, high 80′s. Thunderstorms predicted for tonight and tomorrow.

Very tired today. Spent about eight hours yesterday roaming around with Alexis, trying to find her comfortable shorts and sandals. Bought a couple of skirts for myself to wear to her showers. Also bought the invitations and decorations for her shower. So it was a very productive but tiring day. I made the mistake of drinking too much caffeine while we were out, and I definitely felt the difference in my body.

Double Decker Bus at Piccadilly Square, London

Both Eamonn and Brett came to me today separately to say that they missed Corey. I’m missing him as well. Maybe there is something in the air. I would hate to think how it would feel if he were really going to be gone for 90 days. There was a specific reason why I never dated anyone in the Navy as I knew that I would not be good on long deployments, six months at a time. That has to really wear on a relationship.

Anyway, the house is empty at the moment. Brett went out with Em, and Eamonn went to some cookout with his friends. Just the dogs and me, and Tillie is content now as I took her out to play before sitting down to write; otherwise she wouldn’t leave me alone.

“There either is or is not, that’s the way things are. The colour of the day. The way it felt to be a child. The saltwater on your sunburnt legs. Sometimes the water is yellow, sometimes it’s red. But what colour it may be in memory, depends on the day. I’m not going to tell you the story the way it happened. I’m going to tell it the way I remember it.” ~ Charles Dickens, from Great Expectations

So I’ve been thinking about memories, specifically my earliest memories, real memories, not the imagined memories from hearing people talk about events in your childhood. Of course I have the general, vague memories: going to Ravenscourt Park with my dad and our poodle, Sooty. Walking through Ravenscourt Park with my mom to the tube station. Going to the shops with my mom in Shepherd’s Bush and Hammersmith, and to Mr. Higgin’s shop on Goldhawk Road. But my first true memories come from about the age of four:

  • We are living in London in the first house. We live on the second floor. I have not begun school, so I am at home with my mother. There is a large window in the kitchen, and it is covered with steam as she is cooking. I draw what I think are words and letters on the window. I ask my mother what I have written, and she says, “home.”
  • Same house: It is Christmas Eve. My mother has put up a fake silver tree. I have begged to stay up late. There are footsteps outside the door. My mother tells me that it’s Santa and that he won’t come in if I’m still awake. I crawl under the heavy front door that has glass as its top half, and run to my bedroom.
  • We have moved to our apartment off Goldhawk Road. I fall off the living room couch and sprain my arm. That night I develop a fever and have nightmares about rolling hills of different colors and a giant striding the hills. I have this nightmare frequently when I’m sick.

  • A little older. We are living in London. I go to spend a week with my parents’ friends who live outside the city. I realize later that I have been sent away so that my parents can sort out yet another indiscretion of my father’s. While staying with these people a local boy is stung by a wasp. This is a very significant event, but I am not sure why.
  • Same age, same visit: The friends and neighbors take several of the children to a neighborhood pool. I do not have a bathing suit. At first I want to swim in my dress. They convince me to swim in my underwear. I am unashamed in that way that only the most innocent of children can be.
  • Still 5. My mother’s brother Danny dies, and she is very upset. She tells me not to tell anyone, so I tell my friends who live in the apartment two floors above us.
  • Five or six. I am participating in a Dances of Asia program along with some Phillipine Embassy children. There are older girls and boys, and I am left alone with the older boys in a room. One of the boys finds a girdle and holds it up. All of the boys laugh. I run from the room and promptly tell on them.
  • Still in London, five or six. I am auditioning for the school chorus in front of the headmistriss of flora Gardens School. I do not use my usual singing voice but yell all of the words very loudly because I want her to hear me. She smiles and tells me that not everything need be loud. I am not given a place in the chorus.

“Memory is the library of the mind.” ~ Francis Fauvel-Gourand

More childhood memories:

  • I must be about five or six as I am in school. My mother puts the front part of my hair up in a rubber band, but she does not take it down every day. I cry from the pain when she finally removes the rubber band that has become tangled in my hair.
  • Same age: my mother and I travel back to the U.S. for her friend’s funeral. I learn the significance of this much later. While we are in the U.S> it is Halloween. My mother buys me a plastic mask to wear. It scares me, but I say nothing because I want to go out with the other children.

  • About six. Summer. We travel to France on the ferry that crosses the English Channel. Then we drive through France, and Spain. We arrive in Morocco where good friends of my parents live in a metal Quonset hut on a military base.
  • In Morocco, I eat watermelon for the first time that I remember.  An Am-ah in long black robes takes me to the market. I ride on the back of a motorcycle and see camels.
  • Same trip: We drive somewhere in the country, and I need to use the bathroom. There is a hut by the side of the road. Inside are two holes with smooth stones on either side of the openings. I refuse to go to the bathroom.
  • In Spain, we stay at a hotel called the White Horse. There is a strip of paper across the toilet, and I decide that I will use this bathroom.

“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.” ~ Cormac McCarthy, from All the Pretty Horses

I’m older now, but we’re still in London:

  • I’m in the hospital to have my tonsils removed. The nurse comes to give me a shot, and I throw a tantrum. Orderlies hold me down.
  • After the operation they put me in an oxygen tent. I pull the sheet over my head because it is cooler beneath the covers. My mother walks in and sees the sheet over my head and screams.
  • One day while walking to school, my friends and I see a purse behind the bushes that line the side of the hospital fence, a huge black metal fence that runs the length of the street. This may be the nurses home. We wonder how a purse got behind the bushes. Years later I remember this and think that the purse must have belonged to a nurse who was attacked. I create an entire story in my head about this unknown woman.

  • One day while walking home from school I fall on the road right outside the entrance to the park. A piece of gravel embeds itself on my left palm. I still have a very tiny spot on that palm where the gravel was.
  • We are in school having a maths lesson. The teacher writes a problem on the blackboard and asks the smartest boy in class how many numbers he can work with at one time. He says all of them. She says no, that we can only work with two numbers at a time, do one thing at a time. I spend the rest of my life trying to prove her wrong.
  • My mother cuts off all of my hair so that it will be in the same style s a singer she likes. I hate it short and feel like I look like a boy.

“The words with which a child’s heart is poisoned, through malice or through ignorance, remain branded in his memory, and sooner or later, they burn his soul.” ~ Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

These memories are mine, perhaps not recalled perfectly, but as close to real as I have stored them. For example, I know that I saw the guards at Buckingham palace on several occasions, but I do not actually remember this. Most of these things I have not told my mother, so she has not recounted them at the dinner table in that embarrassing way that she does, like the things that I did as a baby. I never told her about the girdle incidence, or the black purse behind the bushes. She does not know that I was afraid of the mask with the thin strap of elastic that got caught in my hair. I never told anyone about my dreams of colored rolling hills and giants.

Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, London

Nor does my mother realize that I remember the Indian woman in the sari who came to our apartment door right after I got back from spending the week in the country, that my mother closed the door and began screaming at my father. I remember that, just as I remember being taken from the room.

Why does it matter where these memories come from? I don’t know, I only know that it matters to me. These are my truths, and they have not come to me from someone else’s filter. There is one thing that I can tell you for certain: I was a happy child most of the time until I went away for that trip in the country. After that, I did not trust that my parents would not send me away again. After that, I was unsure of everything.

All images feature places or things in London that remain firmly ensconced in my memory. I cannot tell you how exciting it was to find pictures of some of these places on the Internet.

More later. Peace.

Music by Josh Ritter, “Change of Time”

                   

The solitude of an apricot

Away from leaf touch, from twig.
Away from the markings and evidence
of others. Beyond the shale night
filling with rain. Beyond the sleepy
origin of sadness. Back, back into
the ingrown room. The place where
everything loved is placed, assembled
for memory. The delicate hold
and tender rearrangement of what is missing,
like certain words, a color reflected off
water a few years back. Apricots and
what burns. It has obtained what it is.
Sweet with a stone. Sweet with the
concession of a few statements,
a few lives it will touch without bruising.

~ Carl Adamshick

“Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from Cat’s Eye

Flowering Crabapple, Norfolk, VA by Brett Sutcliffe

                   

“Aren’t there enough words
flowing in your veins
to keep you going.” ~ Margaret Atwood from “The Shadow”

Wednesday, early evening. Sunny and in the 60′s. Two hours ago it was almost 80.

Thunderstorms rolled through a little while ago, and the temperature dropped, but before that, it was an absolutely beautiful day, warm, blooms everywhere, pink Dogwoods, songbirds. I saw my first Cardinal. So it truly is spring.

Pink Dogwood by finalcut (FCC)

I went outside to close the sunroof in the Rodeo before the rain, and Tillie thought that it was time to play, so she ran out the door. I need to take her back out now that the storms have passed, but I thought that I’d try to begin this post before doing so. I’m not sure how far I’m going to get as this computer (in Eamonn’s room) is just plain slow, and it keeps locking up on me. I swear that by the end of April, I will have my computer fixed and set up in my room.

Yesterday I got an invitation in the mail from one of Alexis’s friends who is giving her a baby shower in May. I’m going to give her a shower in June. The May one is for her close friends and Mike’s family who will be in from out of town that weekend for a family wedding. My shower will be for relatives and family friends. Lex is starting to get excited now that the doctors have declared that all is well. My mother is already buying baby clothes. Admittedly, I’ve stopped myself from buying anything yet, even though it’s so tempting.

I can tell that Alexis is getting excited as she’s starting to worry over silly things—Will the baby have a receding hairline like Mike? Will the baby come out with Filipino eyes and white skin? Will people think she’s adopted? (Trust me, that’s actually not a silly thing as you wouldn’t believe the number of people who—rudely, I might add—asked me if Alexis was adopted or if my kids had different fathers (since two look Filipino, and one decidedly does not)). She’s also getting to the point at which her belly is beginning to get in the way. I told her that it’s not movable.

So, family excitement looming.

“The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date . . . You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from The Blind Assassin

I read The Blind Assassin (above quote) years ago. As with all of Margaret Atwood, I loved it, but for the life of me I cannot remember what it was about. Suppose it’s time for a reread. Not that that is such an easy thing to do with my books packed up and in various places (the shed, the garage). As soon as I fill another box, Corey stuffs it somewhere. He used to think that I didn’t know what I have boxed, that is until I started requesting titles. Fortunately, he’s pretty good about remembering where the boxes are.

Spring in Central Park by Bosc d'Anjou (FCC)

Oh for built-in bookcases.

My definition of bliss: a room with built-in bookcases on three walls, a window seat with lots of cushions and pillows for reading, a Bose Sound Wave machine, and my workspace, which would include a wide desk with lots of drawers, a place for my computer, and a place for my IBM Selectric. Such a thing would be perfect. Such a thing would be lovely. Such a thing would be a dream realized.

Anyway, today is a Margaret Atwood kind of day. Hence, the quotes and the poem . . .

“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.
We lived in the gaps between the stories.” ~ Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

This is how boring my life is at the moment: I’ve discovered a new source for music, the show “Being Human” on SyFy (not to be confused with the show by the same name on BBC America). Some shows on television are just great about using newer and underrated artists on their soundtracks, like “Bones” and “House.” I have a site that I visit (Heard on TV) when I’ve heard a song on a television program that I don’t recognize; it’s a great source, especially if you’re like me, and you like to find new artists who aren’t necessarily being played on the radio.

Washington Cherry Trees by schindler_project (FCC)

Brett tells me that in June (I think) the copyright law for the Internet goes into effect with some pretty radical changes in what is considered an offense and penalties for said offenses. This means that I need to download all of my music from YouTube before that new law goes into effect. I’m not talking about pirating, but rather, taking that which I’ve created into a playlist and converting to MP3s and saving to move to my computer once it has been fixed.

I don’t have a personal MP3 player. I may, one day, but for now, I listen to my music via my computer or on the old car stereo. Having said that, I need to clarify: I’m a big believer in copyright. I try to use materials that are open source or under a creative commons license so that I am adhering to copyright laws. I ask people who want to use things from my site to please ask for permission, and so far, I’ve been lucky. This is not to say that I have not inadvertently infringed on someone’s copyright, and when called to my attention, I fixed it immediately.

But I agree with Brett in that the statistics bear out the contention that most people who download something, almost always do so to try it before purchase. If they like the game or the movie or whatever, they almost always purchase it. If they don’t like it, they delete it, so I believe that the music industry, for one, benefits from people having the ability to listen to things before purchasing. My favorite music store (no longer in business) had a listening island that allowed customers to listen to CDs before purchasing, and that ability kept me from buying some duds but also allowed me to talk myself into purchasing way more music than I should have.

Just saying.

“Everyone thinks writers must know more about the inside of the human head, but that is wrong. They know less, that’s why they write. Trying to find out what everyone else takes for granted.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from “Lives of the Poets”

Took a break there to clean the floors, rid them of the doggie tumbleweeds, and now I’m on Brett’s computer. I was kicked out of Eamonn’s room as he’s home now. He and Ryanne are making Chicken Parmesan for dinner. Since Corey has been gone, we’ve all been taking turns making dinner, and it’s working out well, most of the time.

Spring in London by miemo pettinen (FCC)

I think that the spring cleaning that I mentioned is on tap for this weekend, that is if my back holds up.  I’m going to at least attempt to clean all of the ceiling fans and light fixtures, rid them of that winter dust that gets blown out via the air ducts. I know that our house is in serious need of new duct work, but that’s coupled with the central air installation, which is coupled with the new windows. If anyone deserves a home makeover, it’s me, but I just can’t seem to win any of those stupid contests.

I seriously wonder if anyone wins those contests, if the sweepstakes and surveys actually do put an extra thousand dollars in someone’s pockets, if some lucky family somewhere does get a new bathroom renovation.  I also wonder who has time to enter those contests.  This is where my mind goes when it is in a seriously creatively deprived state, which it has been for well over a week now, which is why my posts have been,well, yawn. I know.

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” ~ Margaret Atwood

Anyway, when I thought about today’s post, and I realized that I really didn’t have anything insightful or interesting to say, I considered another fluff post, you know, an excerpt, or a definition, or a picture, but then I began thinking too much about what my fluff piece should be, and I realized that with all of the effort I was putting into thinking about my fluff post, I could put just as much effort into writing a post about nothing.

So here we are. At the end of the post, at the end of the day, at the end of the light outside the window.

Cherry Blossom Festival at Wakayama Castle, Japan, by jmurawski (FCC)

The room is slowly getting darker. I just killed a mosquito that landed on my hand. It must have been full and lethargic for me to be able to kill it so easily. If I inhale deeply, I can smell the chicken cooking, the candle that I left lit in the living room, my dog Shakes, and the underlying smell of floor cleaner. Why mention this? I think perhaps it’s because I’m writing blind: I don’t have my glasses on, and I’m sitting far enough away from the screen that the only thing that I see is a blur of black emerging across the page. I can discern no particular letters or words, just this moving blur, sort of like the long scroll of ink that Atwood referred to above.

Writing, for me, is a whole body experience, which is why I am too often caught up in the pain and unable to immerse myself in the words. I have always written this way, though, well, always for as long as I have used a keyboard to write. Once I figured out where everything was on a typewriter, I have typed by touch. When the only computer in the house was in the corner of the dining room, I used to unnerve those unaccustomed to my habits by looking out into the living room as I wrote. I wasn’t looking at anything in particular, just letting my mind and my eyes wander.

I write these words for no one and for everyone, for myself alone. They are mine, the outpouring of a mind adrift. They are not mine as they cease to belong to me the moment my fingers touch the keys. The question, really, is this: Who owns the words?

More later. Peace.

Music by Josh Ritter, “Change of Time

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhoME4ji6jk&feature=share&list=PL485CA955275B18EA]

                   

Postcards

I’m thinking about you. What else can I say?
The palm trees on the reverse
are a delusion; so is the pink sand.
What we have are the usual
fractured coke bottles and the smell
of backed-up drains, too sweet,
like a mango on the verge
of rot, which we have also.
The air clear sweat, mosquitoes
& their tracks; birds & elusive.

Time comes in waves here, a sickness, one
day after the other rolling on;
I move up, it’s called
awake, then down into the uneasy
nights but never
forward. The roosters crow
for hours before dawn, and a prodded
child howls & howls
on the pocked road to school.
In the hold with the baggage
there are two prisoners,
their heads shaved by bayonets, & ten crates
of queasy chicks. Each spring
there’s race of cripples, from the store
to the church. This is the sort of junk
I carry with me; and a clipping
about democracy from the local paper.

Outside the window
they’re building the damn hotel,
nail by nail, someone’s
crumbling dream. A universe that includes you
can’t be all bad, but
does it? At this distance
you’re a mirage, a glossy image
fixed in the posture
of the last time I saw you.
Turn you over, there’s the place
for the address. Wish you were
here. Love comes
in waves like the ocean, a sickness which goes on
& on, a hollow cave
in the head, filling & pounding, a kicked ear.

~ Margaret Atwood