“August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.” ~ Sylvia Plath

Felice Casorati, Il sogno del melograno The Dream of the Pomegranate 1912 oil on canvas

“Il sogno del Melograno” (The Dream of the Pomegranate), (1912, oil on canvas)
by Felice Casorati

                   

“Having experienced both, I am not sure which is worse: intense feeling, or the absence of it.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from The Blind Assassin

Monday afternoon, Labor Day. Partly cloudy and humid, 80 degrees.

Well hello. Many thanks for holding on during my dry spell, brought on by the complete and total distraction of gutting and renovating the sole bathroom in our 1950s rancher. I’m hoping that now that most of the work has been completed, I can sit here for a few hours without feeling guilty that I am not tiling or grouting or whatever.

We’ll just have to see, I suppose.

Galileo Chini 1922Terme Berzieri  Frescos

From Terme Berzieri Frescoes (1922)
by Galileo Chini

In the past few weeks my creativity has been limited to finding content that might be somewhat interesting to post here as well as rapid skimming of my tumblr dash. Several times I have sat here, thinking about all of the things that I want to say, and then I would think about all of the things left undone, and I would stop. Now that I’m here, I can’t think of a damned thing to say. I guess I’ll just keep going and hope that I arrive somewhere along the way.

Corey is on his way to the Azores. His departure was abrupt but necessary as he had exhausted his unemployment benefits, and unfortunately, the gulf companies in which he is interested prefer that applicants come in person. Since it’s not exactly a short hop to New Orleans, we decided that the best thing for now was to say with his current company. Not ideal, but it works for now.

“Life hurls us like a stone, and we sail through the air saying, ‘look at me move.’” ~ Fernando Pessoa, from The Book of Disquiet

I know that it’s not August any more (header quote), but I’ve been saving that quote, and I’m going to use it. I mean, “the odd uneven time”? Perfect description of these days.

I’ve noticed that in recent weeks, more and more pictures have appeared on my tumblr dash featuring orange and red leaves on trees, so I suppose I’m not the only one yearning for fall. Unfortunately, it seems that once again I have missed summer, and I”m not entirely sure that that was a bad thing this year. First there was the very uncomfortable side effect of my face swelling whenever I hit any kind of heat, and then there was the whole renovation thing. Between the two, I barely made it into the pool for any kind of relaxation, and now that Corey has left, the pool is just kind of sitting there, needing to be vacuumed and treated.

Felice Casorati, Preghiera The Prayer 1914

“Preghiera” (The Prayer), (1914)
by Felice Casorati

Not so much my thing. Eamonn was supposed to help with that . . . still waiting . . .

Speaking of kids, Brett started school last week. There was a major snafu with his financial aid; apparently, even though I completed the FAFSA in February (a new early record for me), it didn’t go through. Who knew? And, get this, we made too much money for him to qualify for his grants. Seriously? I mean, really? Geez.

By the way, Olivia started walking a few days ago. So cute. And we added Lex to our telephone plan for her belated birthday present. I was too worried about her being with the baby and not having any way to contact anyone for emergencies. It’s only a few dollars a month, and we got her a new phone, so that’s one less thing that I have to worry about.

Speaking of new phones, we upgraded mine, which would ordinarily excite me beyond belief, but I didn’t even bother to do anything with it until a few days ago. More of that time management thing.

“There are days that walk
through me
and I cannot hold them.” ~ Katherine Larson, from “The Gardens in Tunisia”

So, besides all of the mundane, day-to-day life stuff, what else is new?

The puppy seems to have regressed and has decided that she is no longer house-trained. I am sorely not amused . . . I’m telling myself it’s the heat and the biting flies.

I’m very behind in my writing project with my friend Mari. I haven’t mentioned it here because I wanted to wait until I was sure it was going to work. Unfortunately, I’ve been the one to fall behind. That’s next on my things of wanting/needing to do.

Vittorio Zecchin Mille e una Notte

“Le Mille e Una Notte” (The Thousand and One Nights), (1914)
by Vittorio Zecchin

And of course, because it’s fall, my thoughts have turned toward going back to school. Ask me what I’ve done as far as preparing for my GREs . . . correct. Nothing. I’m still in that middle of the road place in which I’m not entirely sure if wanting the degree is enough of a reason for pursuing the degree. It’s an old argument, one that I have yet to resolve. I’ll probably be 80 and still contemplating this.

God, one of these days I’m going to finally figure out what I want to be when I grow up, and I’m fairly certain that it isn’t what I thought.

“One tries to go deep—to speak to the secret self we all have.” ~ Katherine Mansfield, from Collected Letters, 7 September 1921

I ran across an image of a painting by Italian artist Galileo Chini, which led me on a search for more, which led me to explore the whole Liberty school, which is what the Italian version of Art Nouveau is called, apparently. What struck me was the resemblance to Gustav Klimt, one of my favorite artists; I’ve featured Klimt on here several times. Anyway, the exploration led me to several blogs, almost none of which included names of the works of art, nothing about the media or the dates created.

Galileo Chini La Primavera Classica 1914 panel

“La Primavera Classica” (1914, panel)
by Galileo Chini

A particular pet peeve of mine.

I mention this because I received an e-mail from someone informing me that I had infringed on copyright of a poem that I featured a while back. The infringement was completely unintentional, and I really felt bad because I try to do my due diligence.

What’s the point to all of this? Well, there is one, actually. Copyright was one of my favorite courses when I got my publishing degree; it’s something I wish that I knew more about, or even worked in. And the whole Linkedin thing that I’ve been doing has been tormenting me because there are all of these advertisements for jobs in the publishing industry. I read them, and I say to myself, “I could that. And I could do that. And that, too.”

It’s so frigging depressing. Not just because the jobs are all in big cities, but more because of the reality of my life. The whole disability thing. I’m in the middle of filling out yet another round of forms, and I had a meeting with my pain management doctor so that he could fill out his forms, and it didn’t really hit me until he started talking that I really am limited.

I hate this more than I can say.

“I want to resemble a sort of liquid light which stretches beyond visibility or invisibility. Tonight I wish to have the valor and daring to belong to the moon.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from A Writer’s Diary

I’ve been dwelling in the past in my recent thoughts. It’s not a good place to be. But I keep arriving at various crossroads in my life, and I cannot help but wonder what might have happened had I chosen differently.

Remember that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in which the old knight says, “You have chosen wisely”? I haven’t felt too many times that I have chosen wisely.

Galileo Chini Canale a Bangkok c1912-13

“Canale a Bangkok” (c1912-13)
by Galileo Chini

I’m not talking about my love life, my decision to end my long marriage or my decision to take a chance again, to allow myself to love Corey. Not those decisions. No, all of the other life-changing decisions. Far too many to go into here, at the end of this post. Suffice it to say that so many times I wish that I had chosen wisely, but I have always, always, always been led by my heart instead of my head, and this impulse has led me to think, or rather, not to think too well.

Everything from buying this house to making a u-turn that led to my Calais being totaled. Choice? Fate? Something else?

I know. Why dwell? Why not dwell . . . I mean, for most of my life I was always the one to make the big decisions, and granted, a u-turn is not a big decision—I just happened to remember that—and it’s not that I’m necessarily bitching about that because control and I are good friends. I want control. I take control. It’s just that sometimes having control isn’t necessarily the best thing.

Damn. I don’t even know what I’m saying at this point. I think that I’ll stop for now. I knew that the more that I wrote the more that would want to come out, and now I’m not really making sense.

Welcome back. I think . . .

More later. Peace.

*All images are by Italian artists working in the Liberty style, the Italian version of Art Nouveau, so named after the firm of Liberty and Co. in London. 

Music by Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan, “Don’t Explain”

couldn’t choose, so I posted both . . .

Music by Robert Plant and Alison Kraus, “Killing The Blues”

                   

Traveling

If you travel alone, hitchhiking,
sleeping in woods,
make a cathedral of the moonlight
that reaches you, and lie down in it.
Shake a box of nails
at the night sounds
for there is comfort in your own noise.
And say out loud:
somebody at sunrise be distraught
for love of me,
somebody at sunset call my name.
There will soon be company.
But if the moon clouds over
you have to live with disapproval.
You are a traveler,
you know the open, hostile smiles
of those stuck in their lives.
Make a fire.
If the Devil sits down, offer companionship,
tell her you’ve always admired
her magnificent, false moves.
Then recite the list
of what you’ve learned to do without.
It is stronger than prayer.

~ Stephen Dunn

“And never have I felt so deeply at one and, at the same time, so detached from myself, and so present in the world.” ~ Albert Camus

Norman Smith, Landscape II, pastel on paper

“Landscape II” (nd, pastel on paper)
by Norman Smith

                   

“She was desperate and she was choosey at the same time and, in a way, beautiful, but she didn’t have quite enough going for her to become what she imagined herself to be.” ~ Charles Bukowski, from Factotum

Sunday afternoon. Cloudy and 68 degrees.

Norman Smith, Venice Impression pastel on paper

“Venice Impression” (nd, pastel on paper)
by Norman Smith

I still don’t feel that I can string together sentences in any meaningful way, especially since I am struggling for each and every word. I find myself staring at the screen until my eyes completely lose focus, and then I don’t remember where I was going with a train of thought. These phases are nothing new and I know that my inability to find the right words will be a reality that I will have to face again and again without every knowing why.

So, with that in mind, I think that I will just do a random thoughts post, well, because it seems to make the most sense right now . . .

  • I dreamed last night that the feral cats that live in the park bushes all came out at the same time and sat in a group in the entrance drive to the park. They were all black.
  • Brett finally got the radical hair cut he’s been pining for: shaved on the sides and longer on top. Now he’s going to bleach the tips and color them pink. It should be pretty wild once he’s finished.  I can’t wait to hear what my mother has to say about it.
  • Actually, I can wait.
  • The spring pollen is wicked at the moment. Everything has a nasty yellow sheen.
  • So far, I am disappointed in this new season of “Dr. Who.” Just saying . . .

“How fragile we are, between the few good moments.” ~ Jane Hirshfield, from “Vinegar and Oil”

  • A few days ago, I experienced something that I haven’t experienced in a very, very long time: I felt pretty. Not vapid pretty, not glossy print pretty, but pretty all over, inside and out.

    Norman Smith, Last Reflected Light, pastel

    “Last Reflected Light” (nd, pastel on paper)
    by Norman Smith

  • It must have been obvious because my PCP with whom I had my six-month check-up said to me a couple of time that I looked good, really good, better than she had seen me in a while.
  • Does that mean I look horrible the rest of the time?
  • What causes days like that? Is it an alignment of the stars?
  • The “I Feel Pretty” song from West Side Story kept running through my head, particularly the line “It’s a pity not every girl can feel this way.”
  • To be honest, I can’t recall a time in recent memory that I had this feeling, and that’s sad because it was a wonderful feeling.

“We are what suns and winds and waters make us.” ~ Walter Savage Lindor, from “An Invocation”

  • I finally went to a dermatologist to have the mole on my face looked at. It’s completely benign, on the surface of the skin. The doctor was pretty funny, using euphemisms for age and old, i.e. “wisdom,” “knowledge.” He said that it was what used to be called a beauty mark and that it brought out my eyes. What a character.
  • I like doctors who don’t take themselves so seriously. That whole god-complex attitude really breeds antipathy rather quickly.

    Norman Smith, Norfolk Marsh, pastel on paper

    “Norfolk Marsh” (nd, pastel on paper)
    by Norman Smith

  • My mother’s doctor said that the shadow that was on her kidneys has almost disappeared; apparently, the heavy-duty antibiotic they prescribed for the diverticulitis has taken care of everything, which makes me wonder why she was told that there was a “mass” on her kidneys.
  • So why am I so consumed lately with an intense yearning to have my flabby arms fixed? she asked, apropos of nothing.
  • The dermatologist remarked that I didn’t have crow’s feet, and I thought to myself that you have to smile and laugh a lot to get crow’s feet.
  • I go back in two weeks to get the bump on the sole of my left foot removed. It’s been there for years and years, and it, too, is benign, but I’m really tired of it.

“One got the impression that she was following phantoms; she was consumed by shivering sensations of eternally pursuing something unattainable. Something about her was tear-streaming; she existed in the midst of unconsciousness. And she could only be seen not by those who ceased looking but rather by those who absolutely exhausted it.” ~ Katherine Mansfield, The Collected Stories Of Katherine Mansfield

  • I finally got the paperwork back from the living will registry, and guess what? They misspelled my last name. People always put a y where the g goes, which makes no sense to me.
  • If my name is misspelled on my living will, does that mean that it is applicable to someone other than me?
  • If your name is misspelled on your birth certificate, does that mean that you don’t exist?

    Norman Smith, Marsh Sunrise, Pastel on Paper

    “Marsh Sunrise” (nd, pastel on paper)
    by Norman Smith

  • I had students in my 6th grade class who couldn’t spell their names. What does that tell you?
  • My last name has the same number of letters as Smith or Jones, so how do people manage to screw it up so badly?
  • “Lo-lee-ta: the tip of my tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.” Man, Nabokov made even the pronunciation of my first name sound sexual.
  • Have I ever mentioned how much I hate that my first name is associated with young girls, with jailbait, with dirty old men? It is a short poem, but society has turned it into a blasphemy.

“She walked roads no one else could see, and it made her music wild and strange and free.” ~ Patrick Rothfuss, from The Wise Man’s Fear

  • I am so glad that Brett’s spring semester is almost over because I’m exhausted.
  • I really am, exhausted, that is. Bone-weary. I don’t know if the lack of energy is allergy-related, tied in with my fibromyalgia, a reflection of my dour mood, or a combination. I just know that I’m damned tired.

    Norman Smith, One Tuscan Evening

    “One Tuscan Evening” (nd, pastel on paper)
    by Norman Smith

  • A couple of days ago I pulled all of my purses out of my closet—not intentionally, but I couldn’t find the one that I wanted to use. Then my bedroom flood was covered with purses, and I was too tired to put them away, so I stepped over them for two days. Pathetic.
  • When I finish this sham of a post, I have two baskets of clothes to put away. I may read instead.
  • I love having Olivia over here, but I’m so tired when she goes home, especially if she spends the night.
  • Corey is supposed to be home around May 10, just in time for our anniversary. He’s probably getting off the ship at that time because they are going deep-sea for 45 days after that, and he doesn’t want to do that. I’m glad, but of course, I’m worried.
  • The dermatologist said that I have worry lines. I refrained from retorting, “No. Really?”

More later. Peace.

All images are by British artist Norman Smith.

Music by Adaline, “Keep Me High”

                   

Today

Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.

~ Mary Oliver

“The late evening is the time of times. Then with that unearthly beauty before one it is not hard to realise how far one has to go. To write something that will be worthy of that rising moon, that pale light.” ~ Katherine Mansfield, from Notebooks

Horse at Porth Cwyfan, Anglesey, Wales by Karen Ann Jones Telegraph Big Picture

Horse at Porth Cwyfan, Anglesey, Wales
by Karen Ann Jones, Telegraph Big Picture

                   

“As I loosen up and begin to surrender in a sleepy dreaminess I am suddenly experiencing clarity; I perhaps want to exist in a place where there is no dimension of existence.” ~ Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals Of Sylvia Plath

Friday afternoon. Sunny and cold, 40 degrees.

The strange dreams continue unabated; granted, I tend to have strange dreams most of the time, but the latest crop is intensely strange. I need to ponder them before discussing them.

A stormy day at Jökulsárlón, Iceland by Adrian Metzelaar Telegraph Big Picture

A Stormy Day at Jökulsárlón, Iceland
by Adrian Metzelaar, Telegraph Big Picture

Anyway, I awoke this morning with a migraine, which has slowly eased. The past few days I have not felt quite right, unsettled and achy. Nothing specific, but puny is the best way to describe it. I hope that I’m not getting ready to have one of those weak periods, the kind that forces me to bed for days. I really hate that.

However, taking to bed does allow me more time for reading, that is when I can concentrate. I decided against writing yesterday and sat down with a book, but then I kept finding my concentration slipping, my mind racing, and I was unable to read more than a few chapters. I ended up watching television. I don’t pretend not to watch television, but I have kind of an unwritten rule that I don’t turn the television on until after 8 p.m. Part of my reason for doing so is that my mother has the television on from the moment she awakens until the moment she falls asleep. I always told myself that I would not allow the TV to serve as my primary means of getting through my days; although immediately after Caitlin died I did nothing but watch soap operas for a year, another reason that I do not allow myself to turn on the television during the day.

“And language, drowned somewhere
at the endless bottom of senses, dictates
an underground flow of images to the tongue” ~ Boris A. Novak,  from “A Dream is Snowing”

So I’ve been thinking about the concept of false modesty. Let me explain:

We all know individuals who are self-deprecating, but only in the hopes that their assertions about their negativity will be rebuffed by the listener and replaced by a compliment. My mother used to call this fishing for compliments.

Winter Day at Beachy Head by Jackie Watson Telegraph Big Picture

Winter Day at Beachy Head, UK
by Jackie Watson, Telegraph Big Picture

I am not in this category. When I say that I think that I am X, I truly mean that I am X. I am not trying to get anyone to say, “Oh no. That’s not you. You are so Y. How can you say that?”

Corey and I were talking yesterday about my poor self-image, and he said that he just doesn’t understand how someone can live in a state of constantly chipping away at themselves. It’s hard to explain to someone who does not suffer from this, hard to make someone who is relatively self-assured understand that feelings of inadequacy are very real and not some attempt to garner compliments. In fact, I have never known how to accept compliments gracefully, so adept am I at believing only the worst of myself that to hear anything else just doesn’t seem realistic.

But the truth is that I cannot lay all of the blame for this on my mother, as much as I would like to do so. Yes, my mother has spent most of my life pointing out my flaws, patting my belly, telling me that I need to do neck exercises, etcetera ad nauseam. But, and this is a big but, I have listened to her. I did not have to listen, did I? But I did listen, and I heard, and I believed.

“—Our words, like blown kisses, are swallowed by ghosts
Along the way,
their destinations bereft
In a rub of brightness unending:
How distant everything always is,
and yet how close” ~ Charles Wright, from “Night Journal”

True story: When Olivia was just a few months old, my mother was holding her, and she looked down at this new baby, this wonderful, happy baby, and commented on her double chin, saying something along the lines of “You’ll have to watch that.”

What happened to my mother to make her so completely obsessed with the physical? Is she a product of her times, the decades in which women were valued not by what they knew but how they looked? Okay, those decades have not disappeared completely, but you know what I mean here.

Sunset at Reynisdrangar, Iceland by Phil MacDonald Telegraph Big Picture

Sunset at Reynisdrangar, Iceland
by Phil MacDonald, Telegraph Big Picture

Or is my mother’s seeming obsession with the brutal cut a result of her unhappiness in her marriage, her way of coping with a man who had affair after affair, quite probably leaving her completely insecure and wondering what was wrong with her that he could never be happy?

I have no answers to these questions. I only know that as an educated adult woman who has seen a measure of success that I should not be so self-loathing, and truly, truly, I wish that I were not. There have been periods in my life in which I was riding high, feeling quite self-assured, quite happy with the way that I looked, happy with how I was being received by people, but those periods were fleeting, completely dependent upon how much I weighed, which clothes I could wear, how my hair looked.

“I looked up at the mass of signs and stars in the night sky and laid myself open for the first time to the benign indifference of the world.” ~ Albert Camus, from The Stranger

I fear that I’m not doing a very good job of explaining what it is exactly that is bothering me. Let me back up:

When it comes to my brains, I am probably more than arrogant. I know how smart I am, and I also know in which categories I am deficient. But when it comes to the physical . . . I am still that young girl on the playground in elementary school who looked around and didn’t see anyone who looked remotely similar. Surrounded by blond, blue-eyed girls named Kim and Brooke, I felt sorely out of place.

Dusk at the Giant's Causeway, County Antrim by Dacian Tiberius Telegraph Big Picture

Dusk at the Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim
by Dacian Tiberius, Telegraph Big Picture

Some women would delight in their differences from the mainstream, and at times, I have been quite happy to have someone tell me that I am exotic looking, that they liked my looks precisely because I did not look like everyone else. But more often than not I have felt like the outsider.

Another true story: When I worked as a sales manager for that major retailer I was among a management staff that was, on the whole, quite attractive. There was the woman of Greek heritage who was gorgeous. There was the perky blond with the big chest. There was the brunette with the big beautiful eyes and ready smile. And then there was me.

“The heart, being full of blood, casts a shadow.” ~ Henry Gray, from Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body

Okay, what is it I’m saying here? Hell if I know. I only know that Corey is relentlessly frustrated by my self-denigration, that he wishes that I could like myself more. I wish that I could like myself more, too.

Lindisfarne Castle, Northumberland, UK by Richard Hayward Telegraph Big Picture

Lindisfarne Castle, Northumberland, UK
by Richard Hayward, Telegraph Big Picture

It’s no picnic being this wracked with insecurity, and in fact, I’m quite sure that this shroud of insecurity is one of the main reasons I do not do more with my writing, that I am terrified of being rejected for my words, having felt rejected for my difference for so long.

You are probably sitting there thinking to yourself, “Sheesh. Get a life already.” And you would be correct. I should be more grateful for what I have and less worried about what I feel I lack. I should focus more on the things at which I feel I excel and focus less on the skin around my neck or the flab on my upper arms.

I should do these things. I know this. But should and can are a world apart in the universe that is me, a seemingly unbreachable chasm. And I make myself tired all over when I do this.

Enough.

More later. Peace.

(All images are taken from the Telegraph’s Big Picture series)

Music by Aidan Hawken and Carina Round, “Walking Blind”

                   

I’m trying something new today: So that you can see the poem with the breaks and indents as the poet intended, I have snipped the original and inserted as two jpegs, still working out the kinks. HTML does not allow (or I don’t know how in HTML) to place indents within consecutive lines. Let me know what you think. The following poem is taken from The Poetry Foundation:

Evie Shockley part 1Evie Shockley part 2

“I like the sea: we understand one another. It is always yearning, sighing for something it cannot have; and so am I.” ~ Greta Garbo

                   

And yet one has these ‘glimpses’, before which all that one ever has written (what has one written?) – all (yes, all) that one ever has read, pales. The waves, as I drove home this afternoon, and the high foam, how it was suspended in the air before it fell…What is it that happens in the moment of suspension? It is timeless. In that moment (what do I mean?) the whole life of the soul is contained. One is flung up – out of life – one is ‘held,’ and then, – down, bright, broken, glittering on to the rocks, tossed back, part of the ebb and flow.

~ Katherine Mansfield, from a Journal Entry, 8 February 1920

“You ask ‘What is life?’ That is the same as asking ‘What is a carrot?’ A carrot is a carrot and we know nothing more.” ~ Anton Chekhov, letter to his wife, Olga Knipper Chekhov (April 20, 1904)

"Moon Landscape" by Max Beckmann (1925)

“It is true when you are by yourself and you think about life, it is always sad. All that excitement and so on has a way of suddenly leaving you, and it’s as though, in the silence, somebody called your name, and you heard your name for the first time.” ~ Katherine Mansfield, from “At the Bay”

Tuesday, late afternoon. Sunny, hot and humid, pending thunderstorms.

So I relented and turned on the air conditioners. Hate doing that. My power bill hates me doing that, but it’s just too darned humid. Ah, the weather in Hampton Roads, formerly known as Tidewater. Old Norfolkians still refer to it as Tidewater.

Spring, spring, spring . . . SUMMER NOW . . . no wait, spring, spring . . .

I’m fairly certain that I just got a spider bite on my arm while I was outside clipping fresh Rosemary for the house. The mock orange is in bloom, and it makes a lovely spray with the Rosemary, not to mention it smells heavenly.

I’ve been wondering where Corey is, as in exactly where that ship is located in the Atlantic, as it’s been past the predicted time for him to arrive in Florida. Turns out the ship has been rerouted . . . to Norfolk. I wonder when he was going to tell me or if he was just planning to surprise me. I cannot tell you how happy this news makes me. I have a big, stupid grin on my face at the moment, and I think that my face might crack from this rare facial gesture.

Ah, well.

Oh magical text update: The ship tied up at the Norfolk yard this morning. Sneaky bugger.

Ooh, more magical text updates. He’s home until Friday!

“Words can never fully say what we want them to say, for they fumble, stammer, and break the best porcelain.” ~ Margaret Weis, Dragons of a Lost Star

Stream through Bluebell Woods at Moor Corner, New Forest, UK, by Jim Champion (Wikimedia Commons)

                   

“April 7. The heavens opened for the sunset to-night . . . I sat behind the window, pricked with rain, and looked until that hard thing in my breast melted and broke into the smallest fountain, murmuring as aforetime, and I drank the sky and the whisper.” ~ Journal of Katherine Mansfield, 1914

Wednesday, late afternoon. Sunny and mild, low 70′s.

I keep saying that I will be able to be more focused, more attuned to my writing and reading once my computer gets fixed, and I had planned to do that with this paycheck, but somehow, I spent my spending money on Alexis and maternity clothes, and then, of course, there was the food that we needed in the house, and the power bill . . . no computer repairs this time, so I am stuck on Eamonn’s computer, otherwise known as the snail that wouldn’t.

Alongside Shepherd's Gutter, Brook Wood, New Forest, UK, by Jim Champion (WC)

I have given up trying to update my tumblr daily as just getting through 20 pages of posts takes hours, which really dampens the pleasure of the experience and turns it into a chore: Just five more pages, no three more, damn, whatever . . .

So I got this blog up-to-date, filling in the past three days, but in so doing, I realized that I m pretty darned depressed. I mean, I’m excited about the baby, but—and I cannot say this to Alexis—I am so sad that Corey and I were never able to have our own baby. I see that as one of the great ways in which I have failed him and our relationship, not that he would ever say so. But I feel this loss so keenly at times, no, not a loss, but a lack, a hole, something. I know that my state-of-mind is not helped by the knowledge that one of Alexis’s friends has had her fourth child as a single mother, four children, four different fathers, maybe three.

She’s not a bad person, and I’m not judging. Rather, I’m envious. Do I think this young woman is acting responsibly? No. Her family knows it, and she knows it, and she was thinking of giving the child up for adoption, but when it came down to it, she couldn’t.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s so hard to not be able to do something only to turn around and hear of someone who can do that something without even trying. I sound like a child, don’t I?

“I know the slow combinations of the night, & the glow
Of fireflies, deepening the shadows of all I do not know. ~ David St. John, from “I Know”

I know that my mood is not helped by Corey’s absence, that I am feeling sad and lonely and way too sorry for myself. Let’s all think happy thoughts, shall we?

Gag.

Blidworth Woods, Sherwood Forest, UK, by Phil Evans (WC)

At least the rain has stopped and the temperatures are a bit warmer. I moved my boots to the back of the closet and got out my slide-ons just in time for the temperatures to drop 40 degrees at night. My timing has always been stellar with such things.

Today is a lazy day. Brett has no classes as his exams start tomorrow, and I have nowhere that I have to be, having begun the week with my doctor’s appointment. I forgot to have my lab work done last week in preparation for the appointment. Totally slipped my mind, so I need to take care of that sometime soon. Fasting lab work, which is always fun. And when I stepped on the scales in the doctor’s office, I had only lost two pounds, two pounds even though my clothes say seven pounds, at least.

At least my doctor didn’t lecture me about not seeing a pulmonologist. I told her that my asthma was better, and that was it. Good enough. No new doctor and no new meds. Perhaps she was just happy to hear that I’ve given up sugar and soda and that I’m making real attempts to get more physical activity in my daily regimen.

“Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish.” ~ Hermann Hesse

Unfortunately, I cannot say that the headaches have gotten any better. At the moment, I have the lights off and no music playing. The only soundtrack I have is Shakes snoring at my feet. I’m writing blind again, no glasses, unable to see the screen. All that I see is this blur as I type the words. No matter.

Silhouettes in Ridley Wood, New Forest, UK, by Jim Champion (WC)

Last night I dreamed that I was at a high school reunion, and I saw one of the guys I had had a crush on. In the dream, he looked the same. Isn’t it odd how people do not age in our dreams?  Anyway, other people in the dream included my ex, who was bragging that he had had sex with a hooker (?), and another of my guy friends who I saw only from behind. The hooker statement was wild and completely out of character for my ex.  Such a strange dream.

Another part of the dream had a famous soprano singing an aria at the reunion dinner, another completely unlikely event. People were talking during her performance, and I could see that she was getting angry. Then my dinner disappeared. It was crabcakes and asparagus, both of which I love, but neither of which have I had in an indecent amount of time.

I don’t remember how the dream ended.

“but writing down the words
alters what I want to remember
that which had no words
was a living breathing image
……….
but tomorrow when I’m gone
only the words are left
signs evoking something
that no eye sees any more” ~ Remco Campert, from “Memo

I just remembered one of the prose poems that I wrote years ago, and what bothers me is that I have no idea if a copy of this poem exists anywhere. I remember what the poem was about—I wrote it when my ex and I were having major problems—and I remember the title: “One more damned drink for the road,” but I don’t know where to find this poem. There is a slim chance that it was on the hard drive of my broken computer, which is good as I do have a copy of everything from the hard drive.

Bluebells in Roydon Woods, New Forest, UK, by Jim Champion (WC)

Perhaps I’ll be able to find it after all.

I’ve had lines from poems running through my head almost continually for the past few weeks—my poems, other people’s poems, which means that I should really be acting on these creative spurts, but of course, I have not. It’s as if my mind and my body are at war. My brain is saying, write this, write this, and my body is throwing up roadblocks in the form of migraines and muscle spasms. If I had lived in another era, I would quell my ailments with morphine or strong drink, and I would write until I passed out. That, or I would be locked up in an asylum.

But the words are here, almost all of the time. I look at a photograph, and a line comes to me. I’m standing at the sink washing dishes, and a phrase emerges. But it’s no use. I can’t get past this omnipresent pain. Even now, as I type these mundane words on the keyboard, words that take no imagination whatsoever, my head is tightening, and I’m rushing to complete this before the pain actually does make it impossible to keep my eyes open.

“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.” ~ Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

If you’re still reading this, then I thank you. Truly. I mean, how entertaining could it be to read day after day that I have a migraine?

Edge of Roydon Woods, Calveslease Copse, UK, by Jim Champion (WC)

Not very.

What was it Russell Crowe as Maximus yelled at the Coliseum in Gladiator? “Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?”

This blog is no Gladiator, and I am no Russell Crowe, but I hope that sometimes my words are worth your time, that sometimes I am able to arrange my words in such a way as to allow you to hear my voice. It’s all that I could ask. Obrigada.

And now, a few hours of ancient Rome might be just the ticket.

More later. Peace.

Music by Otis Redding, “Pain in My Heart” (heard this on “Awake” the other night, blast from the past)]

Silence

There is the sudden silence of the crowd
above a player not moving on the field,
and the silence of the orchid.

The silence of the falling vase
before it strikes the floor,
the silence of the belt when it is not striking the child.

The stillness of the cup and the water in it,
the silence of the moon
and the quiet of the day far from the roar of the sun.

The silence when I hold you to my chest,
the silence of the window above us,
and the silence when you rise and turn away.

And there is the silence of this morning
which I have broken with my pen,
a silence that had piled up all night

like snow falling in the darkness of the house—
the silence before I wrote a word
and the poorer silence now.

~ Billy Collins, in Poetry (April 2005)

“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” ~ Carl Jung

Spitfire Lake Reflection by Will Forbes (National Geographic Photo of the Day)

                   

“At the heart of all beauty lies something inhuman, and these hills, the softness of the sky, the outline of these trees at this very minute lose the illusory meaning with which we had clothed them, henceforth more remote than a lost paradise . . . that denseness and that strangeness of the world is absurd.” ~ Albert Camus

Wednesday afternoon. Cloudy and mild, thunder showers.

Carl Jung again. I’m finding more and more that I really like Jung, but I probably should read more of him before I become a devotee.

Foggy Landscape by Vadim Trunov (Voronezh, Russia)

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about mothers and daughters, the relationships that are carved from necessity and that  ineffable fragility that exists between the two. I’ve tried to think of the kinds of things that I’ve told Alexis over the years, and whether or not I’ve been the kind of mother that she has needed.

Truthfully, I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ve always said the right thing, and probably, I have not. I don’t know if I’ve always been the sounding board that she needed, or if I’ve shouldered enough or too much of the burdens that she has borne. No one gives you a manual when you take your first child from the safety of the hospital. Suddenly, you find yourself holding this tiny bundle who has needs, the kinds of needs you have never before had to consider. It gets easier with subsequent children because you have already had to learn what the different cries mean, what the different body postures may signal.

But that first time? You know nothing. It doesn’t matter how much you cared for other children when you babysat for the neighbors or how often you had to take care of younger siblings; with your first child, you enter foreign territory, and it is nothing less than terrifying.

Alexis is entering that territory. She told the family at Christmas that she is pregnant. Surprise!

I had wanted to wait until all of the tests were done and she had passed that iffy 16-week mark before saying anything. She has had to undergo more testing than the average pregnant young woman, mostly because of that unexplained seizure that she had a few years ago. Thankfully, everything seems to be good, normal, whatever that is.

“Everything in life that we really accept undergoes a change. So suffering must become Love. This is the mystery. This is what I must do.” ~ Katherine Mansfield, from The Journal of Katherine Mansfield

So of course, I am filled with trepidation and joy, simultaneously. My daughter is not as strong as I was at that age; that is simply an observation, not a criticism. She is an entirely different kind of person. Everything worries her, and she becomes emotionally distressed easily. Having said that, I have noticed that she seems to be handling this rather tremendous life change with a kind of quiet grace.

Colibita Lake, Romania, by bortescristian (FCC)

This is not to say that she doesn’t have her meltdowns. Hormones, that and the fact that she cannot take her usual medications. She is a bundle of raging, unchecked hormones. Thankfully, Mike is very excited about becoming a daddy, and he seems to be balancing her well.

Now ask me how my mother took the news? Not well. She made a rather biting comment in front of everyone, and then said that she was joking and couldn’t understand why everyone got so upset. Luckily, she has since progressed a bit and is now purchasing baby clothes. Regardless, her initial horror at the news really affected Alexis adversely, understandably.

Which brings me back to my original thought: mothers and daughters.

“The tiny space I occupy is so infinitesimal in comparison with the rest of space, which I don’t occupy and which has no relation to me. And the period of time in which I’m fated to live is so insignificant beside the eternity in which I haven’t existed and won’t exist . . . .” ~ Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

I am hard on my mother, judgmental, critical. And I have to wonder if Alexis views me in the same light. I would like to think that this is not the case, that I have managed to carve out a good relationship with my daughter, even though I know that it has not always been good, that there have been times when the estrangement between us has seemed to vast to ever be repaired.

I have not always liked the males that she has chosen as boyfriends, nor have I always liked those she has chosen as friends. I think that those things are probably standard fare for mothers—thinking that the person with your daughter or son is not good enough, believing that your daughter or son does not make the wisest choices when it comes to friends. No matter. Alexis has a tight group of friends that she has been with since grade school, and she has been with Mike for nine years. Obviously, I was wrong about some things.

Morning Fog, The Meadows, Edinburgh, Scotland by keepwaddling1 (FCC)

But I suppose what I am really wondering is if I have instilled in her the knowledge that she needs to face this big new adventure in her life, whether or not I have shown her by example how important it is to love even when it is hard to love, even when everything within screams NO, I will not, because even though you may not want to, sometimes with children it is better to give that inch in order to gain the years.

Does that make sense?

When you are a mother, you subsume so much of your own personality at certain points in order that your child or children can become stronger individuals. You bite your tongue, or you walk away, even when you really don’t want to. And those mothers who are unable to do this, mothers like my own mother, are never able to retain their own identities, continue to live through their children, long after their children have become separate individuals. And conversely, mothers who have very strong personalities, such as myself, must take care not to try to impose that personality on their child or children.

It’s so easy to think of your child as a miniature version of yourself when you first start out. So many people come up to you and say things like, “She looks just like you,” or “She has your eyes and nose,” or whatever. It is much more difficult to remember that genetics are not destiny.

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.” ~ Aldous Huxley, Island

In other words, just because this tiny individual looks like you does not mean that she is you. And that’s a hard but important lesson to learn—early. And while I am talking mostly about mothers and daughters, the same is true of fathers and sons, or parents and children in general.

Morning Lake Mist by basheertome (FCC)

My god, it’s hard. It’s hard not to invest everything in this little person, and I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t invest everything. I’m only saying that it’s so important to remember that at some point there is going to be a separation, a time in which that little person is no longer little, no longer your mirror image, no longer content to live life as you see fit, and that point, that moment is when so many parents fail.

They try to hard to hold on with everything they have in any way that they know how, whether it is by proximity or money or guilt or something else.

As an only child, I have always felt that I could not move too far away from my mother because who else is there to be there in emergencies, like when she falls and breaks her leg? And even though I write often about my longing to be elsewhere to see other countries, I know that I am bound to this place indefinitely. I would be lying if I said that a part of me doesn’t resent this, but I also know that in the end, family is family, and my mother has me, only me, which is why she is determined to hold on so tightly, to try to control things in any way that she can.

“what matters most
is how well you
walk in the
fire.” ~ Charles Bukowski, from “how is your heart?”

So in the end, what have I taught my daughter, my children? What things do I hope she retains in her reservoir of knowledge that may be of some use to her in the coming months and years?

  • That voices raised in anger can say things that can be as damaging as a hand raised in anger
  • That a hand raised in anger can do irreparable harm
  • That the words I love you cannot be spoken too often
  • That calling a child a hurtful name is the same as marking that child
  • That hugs are for sharing

Old Gate in Fog by elias_daniel (FCC)

  • That it is more important to listen than to hear
  • That promises are meant to be kept
  • That a child remembers if you break a promise
  • That children learn trust from being trusted
  • That there is no good time to lie to a child
  • That compassion for others helps you to be a better person
  • That beauty can be found in unexpected places
  • That the toilet seat should be down
  • That body image is cultivated at home first
  • That tenderness should be expressed frequently
  • That hatred for others who are different is learned not inherited
  • That it’s okay to be silly at weird times
  • That we are stewards of the earth
  • That music and art are important aspects of life
  • That it is impossible to spoil a baby
  • That babies are meant to be held
  • That Law & Order is the best show that has ever been on television
  • That your children see and hear more than you realize
  • That truth is paramount
  • That a loving relationship with your partner helps your children to form loving relationships
  • That respect should never be taken for granted
  • That you only have one body and you should respect it
  • That you should always look someone in the eye when you shake their hand
  • That being tolerant should never be underestimated
  • That animals are sentient beings and must be treated as such
  • That until you have walked in another’s shoes you should not judge
  • That stuffed animals do in fact need homes
  • That words hold more power than you can ever imagine
  • That the rich should pay more taxes
  • That simply being a celebrity of any sort does not imply being a good person
  • That the Golden Rule is the most important rule of all.

“Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.” ~ Sarah Kay

I know that I’m running long, but what it boils down to is this: I cannot remember the last time that my mother told me that she loved me. It has been years, maybe even since my father died.  I tell each of my children and Corey that I love them anytime they leave the house and before I hang up the phone. Is this too much? Can you say such a thing too much?

My mother’s constant patting of body parts and the tsks that followed taught me to be ashamed of my body. I hate my neck because she spent years telling me to do exercises to get rid of my double chinssss. I hate my belly because she does not hesitate to pat it and say something like “you’ve gained weight.”

Bridge in Mist by jamtea (FCC)

My mother’s inability to trust, especially my father, made it very hard for me to trust men. And her difficulty in showing intimacy gave me very mixed signals as a teenager. I was taught that sex was dirty and an obligation, and while I realize that this is a generational thing, don’t think for a second that being taught such a thing didn’t screw me up.

I want my daughter to bring her daughter into this world full of hope and a recognition that there are always possibilities. That heredity is not destiny and that we are only limited by ourselves. And one more thing: I will actually be a real Lola now.

More later. Peace.

Music by Peter Bradley Adams, “I May Not Let Go”

                   

Miracle Fair

Commonplace miracle:
that so many commonplace miracles happen.

An ordinary miracle:
in the dead of night
the barking of invisible dogs.

One miracle out of many:
a small, airy cloud
yet it can block a large and heavy moon.

Several miracles in one:
an alder tree reflected in the water,
and that it’s backwards left to right
and that it grows there, crown down
and never reaches the bottom,
even though the water is shallow.

An everyday miracle:
winds weak to moderate
turning gusty in storms.

First among equal miracles:
cows are cows.

Second to none:
just this orchard
from just that seed.

A miracle without a cape and top hat:
scattering white doves.

A miracle, for what else could you call it:
today the sun rose at three-fourteen
and will set at eight-o-one.

A miracle, less surprising than it should be:
even though the hand has fewer than six fingers,
it still has more than four.

A miracle, just take a look around:
the world is everywhere.

An additional miracle, as everything is additional:
the unthinkable
is thinkable.

~ Wislawa Szymborska (translated by Joanna Trzeciak)