“I am overflowing with words I do not have.” ~ Adam Falkner, from “When it Matters”

Lucien Levy-Dhurmer Les Cygnes 1930

“Les Cygnes” (1930)
by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer


“Try me.
This is a torch song.
Touch me and you’ll burn.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from “Helen of Troy does Countertop Dancing”

Saturday evening. Partly cloudy and 50 degrees.

So today I wrote another poem. It started out as a thought, and then it just grew and grew. I’m not sure, but I think it may have gotten away from me at some point. This creative spark, wherever it comes from, leaves me more than a bit mystified. I mean, the lines, the phrases—they come, and they seem to make an odd kind of sense, and I find myself playing with new themes, internal rhymes I’ve never tried before. And after each new piece, I feel more than a bit spent.

Lucien Levy-Dhurmer Scene in Venice oil on canvas

“Scene in Venice” (oil on canvas)
by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer

But it’s good. Really, really good. I mean, today’s poem and one other recent one are not such personal pieces. Most of my previous poems are very personal, about me, about my life, about my loves and losses. But I find that lately I’m able to think on a larger scale, take on more general themes about the human condition. I’m not claiming that I’m achieving any kind of success in doing so, but it’s a different kind of approach, like trying on new clothes that I never would have worn before.

Too esoteric? Sorry . . .

I would truly appreciate any feedback that anyone cares to give me. It’s hard to write in a vacuum. Honest, constructive criticism is a very necessary part of the writing process, and since I am not in any kind of situation in which to garner that criticism, I turn to you, my readers, whoever you are out there in the ether.

“But though the lights
one by one extinguish
as you explore deeper,
that final light — the sun —
grows stronger,
despite the coming winter,
the darkening seas.” ~ John Kinsella, from “Tenebrae”

Speaking of readers, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that I’ve picked up a few more subscribers in the past few weeks: Thanks for subscribing to my little blog. I hope you enjoy the journey. I do have my regulars, like Leah in NC, and Izaak Mak from I Want Ice Water, and then I have people who have been with me for several years: Titirangi Storyteller (who is so busy being creative in New Zealand), ViewPacific (check him out). If you would like for me to mention your blog, just drop me a line. I have no problem with sending some props out into the universe.

Lucien Levy-Dhurmer pastel on paperGondolas à Venise, sous un clair de lune

“Gondolas à Venise, sous un clair de lune” (pastel on paper)
by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer

One other thing: I’m terribly curious as to how some of you arrived here on this site. WordPress doesn’t allow Google Analytics, and I’m not nearly savvy enough to figure out such things on my own, but I’m curious, truly. Was it an accident? Were you searching on a word? a name? a song? a work of art?

If you would be kind enough to let me know, then I can try to pay more attention to such avenues. I mean, I’m still on blogsurfer, but I think that it’s mostly a dormant community. I’d love to find another blogging community to join, just not something that gives you super inflated stats, like Alpha Inventions, or whatever name it’s going by these days. Suggestions would be appreciated.

Anyway . . .

“It is
the way of things and it never stops, never calls a halt—
this knocking and dismantling, this uprooting, cutting out
and digging down” ~ Eamon Grennan, from “Steady Now”
Lucien Levy-Dhurmer Le Silence 1895 pastel

“Le Silence” (1895, pastel)
by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer

So I am absolutely gaga about this particular Lévy-Dhurmer image. I know little to nothing about this artist’s history or what he was trying to achieve with his art in general, but “Le Silence” is one of those pieces that I find particularly haunting. According to the Musée d’Orsay site, the artist kept this painting his entire life, so it must have been pretty important to him.

I’ve been waiting for the right post to feature the image, and I think that this post is it: juxtaposing the symbolic silence, the cloaked woman who will not speak, against my poem about speaking—somehow it seems to fit; at least I think so.

This poem came about after I saw the line from The Crucible on my tumblr dash, and I began to fixate on the idea of speaking sins. (If you’ve never read Miller’s play, here is a link to an online version in its entirety.)

So following is my latest effort. It’s different for me, not just thematically, but also as it is structured. I ended up using repetitive rhythm quite by accident, and then the references to other works just kind of evolved naturally. I really didn’t think too much; I just did . . .

Speaking My Sins

“I speak my own sins; I cannot judge another. I have no tongue for it.”  ~ Arthur Miller, The Crucible

I remember when smells of sex and sin
rolled from my shoulders and puddled
‘round my feet, how I
delighted in the act, the doing, the making
and taking of sin, such a smooth, ironed out plane of being,
my afternoon explorations—virginal
in their corruption
as I lay ensconced
in the arms of my newest lover,
safe from the mundane existence
my mother laid before me,
a vapor trail of bottled Joy
enveloping every word she spoke, but
oh how I, oh, how I, oh
how I saw myself
far beyond the reaches
of PTA meetings and casserole recipes
and all of the trappings
offered up so blithely within
the pages of women’s magazines.
Oh no, not I, I sighed,
even as I eschewed the words that spewed
from my mother’s Revlon
fire and ice red lips, circa 1950s
Oh no, I, no I know, I

know what you think there,
in the safety of your white-washed
life of dinner on the table by five
and a nice side of green beans and
slivered almonds, you see, you cannot see
how I see you there, cannot unsee
the fuzzy lines of deception and desire
I wield like a non-stick spatula
gently turning the unsullied egg,
yolk intact, like your reputation.
What say you now, oh mother dear, oh
harbinger of rules and commandments com-
mending to me the care and feeding
of cherubim and nephilim alike?
Oh no, you know, no

matter how many times you wag
your finger in my face, for
some reason, the lesson never sticks
but you smile and smile and so I
too smile my way into villainy
one time, no two, perhaps
more? the number has been for-
gotten, obliterated from any records
recording my vices and desires
It’s so much better this way,
after all, aren’t we all just
carbon copies of our mothers’
motherings, smothering
our yearnings with learning
the right ways to right-
eous actions, act like
a lady, for god’s sake you little
tarted up upstart. Now, now

now don’t you fret none,
nothing to do but sweep up the bits
of egg shell on the kitchen lino-
leum, hey, um, howdy,
did you do it? No? I know,
no more gallivanting about
like the cheap hussy you are,
hows about you come inside,
get that load off, let me
shake the rain-
drops from your jacket,
sit here, won’t you, snif-
ter of brandy for your chill,
what say you now, now
that you have so completely
washed away my sins like
the long-lost Breck shampoo-filled
Saturday nights when everything
was so clearly defined and
ruled by advice column ladies
with shellacked hair and

Max Factor pan-stik complexions?
Just a little tete-a-tete, no need
to get testy, after all,
weren’t we just talking about
setting to rights all of the wrongs
you carry with you—cummings said
he carried your heart with him
wherever, so I will too.
Okay, oh? KKK, wait,
no, that’s the wrong one, Gracie,
gracious, goodnight, goodnight, good-
night, I reek still, sweet princ-
ciple of humanity, kind,
human cup of charity—
it begins at home, after all.
What? say you, you say? What
do you say, once more, even though
I have never understood the sake
of old time, no, no, know-
ing me the way you do do
you doubt my commitment,
my cunning com-

mingling of lies and truth?
Commendable really how we
commit so many sins in
the name of veritas yet in-
variably too many truths
spoil more than the broth, you see
seeing as reality’s all connected
really, I can no more real-
istically atone for my sins
than Faust could foist off
his one-way ticket to
ride the conflagration
ferris wheel, wheels up,
hurry up, it’s time to
bring out the dead-
ened spirits of our sweet,
sweet youth, birds
and flocking and feathers
and foibles, mea culpa,
mea maxima culpa.
Peccavi, peccavi, peccavi,
regrets, none, but
sine qua non.

L. Liwag
November 22, 2014

                    

Today’s images are again by French artist Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer—a selection of his blue works.

Music by Mary Gauthier, “Walk through the Fire”

“This is what I miss, Cordelia: not something that’s gone, but something that will never happen.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from Cat’s Eye

Theodor Kittelsen, Øde, 1904

“Øde” (1904, illustration)
by Theodor Kittelsen


“And you wait, you wait for that one thing
that will infinitely enlarge your life;
the gigantic, the stupendous,
the awakening of stones,
depths turned round toward you.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from “Memory,” trans. by Edward Snow

Thursday night. Partly cloudy, 73 degrees.

Another lovely day. The temperatures continue to drop, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Theodor Kittelsen Dragen 1904

“Dragen” (1904, illustration)
by Theodor Kittelsen

So I finally called the repair place that had my phone because Corey hadn’t heard from them. When he took it in for repair, they had said two days for the part to come in and seven days before it would be ready, so I figured yesterday at the latest. I called, and they said that it had been ready for a week and that they had tried to call the number given (Corey’s), but it didn’t work.

Such complete ca ca (one word or two?) . . .

Before I left to get the phone, I looked for the SIM card, which I was pretty sure Corey had said that he put on my dresser. Trouble is that when I dusted the furniture last week, I didn’t think about the SIM card, so it’s probably been dusted into some strange place in my bedroom. I decided to pay the $10 to get a new one and save my back the pain of looking under things for something thinner than a dime.

Anyway, phone is back, but it wasn’t charged when they gave it to me (would that really have been that hard to do?), and I discovered that the USB port I keep in my car is broken. Always something. So glad to have my phone back, though, mostly because I hate being tied to a house phone in one room of the house, in this case, the dining room where I spend very little time. We have other phone connections throughout the house, but it would have meant moving furniture to get to them, and frankly, I just didn’t have that in me.

“On the beach the sadness of gramophones
deepens the ocean’s folding and falling.
It is yesterday. It is still yesterday.” ~ Mark Strand, from “Nostalgia”It is yesterday. It is still yesterday.” ~ Mark Strand, from “Nostalgia”

Last night I had some crazy dreams, or maybe all one dream:

I dreamed that there had been an earthquake in downtown, and the only way to get about was through a chute. I got to the opening of the chute, but I realized immediately that I would never be able to put myself in it without having a complete claustrophobia-induced panic attack, so I walked on the top of it. I got to the center of the city, and it was a mess. There were piles of things everywhere, and there were people looking for their belongings.

Theodor Kittelsen Nøkken_som_hvit_hest The Nix as a white horse 1909

“Nøkken som hvit hest aka The Nix as a White Horse” (1909, illustration)
by Theodor Kittelsen

At first, I kind of randomly looked for my things, first my books, which I was somehow able to summon from the wreckeage by simply saying something like “Shakespeare,” and all of my Shakespeare would stack up in front of me. Of course, it meant that I got everyone else’s Shakespeare as well, which didn’t make me very popular, so I stopped summoning.

Then I began to look for other things, mostly antiques. As order began to be restored, people began to set up impromptu shopping stalls. One of my long-deceased English professors told me that he was only communicating by Twitter these days, but he wanted to give me some old statues of famous writers, like Poe. I found a pair of garnet earrings that were 50 percent off, and Brett found a cool carved pipe.

I happened to run into an old beau of mine, and when I went to introduce him to Corey, Corey refused to shake his hand, claiming that he had just smoked a cigarette. It was very awkward.

I ran into my ex and his sister, and there was a fight about an old turntable and some china.

The dream finished with me trying to find a tire store to replace my tires because I had bought the wrong size, and we needed to drive to Ohio. The whole thing was utterly bizarre. I awoke with a headache . . . as usual.

“It is the finely wrought
detail that captivates us; not
the thing you’ve said, but how you’ve said it.” ~ Amy Glynn Greacen, from “Sword Lily”

Other than the phone fiasco and the mind-blowing dreams, not a lot else going on. I’ve been perusing the web looking for affordable kitchen cabinets and other things. Since we’re preparing the house to sell, I don’t want to install the knotted pine cabinets I had in mind. It would just be a waste.

Theodor Kittelsen Nøkken, 1887–92 aka The Water Spirit

“Nøkken aka The Water Spirit” (1887–92, illustration)
by Theodor Kittelsen

I’ve been reading books by Dominick Dunne in recent days. Not sure how I got on that tangent, but I finished The Two Mrs. Grenvilles last night, based on the 1955 Woodward shooting, and before that I read A Season in Purgatory, An Inconvenient Woman, and Another City, Not My Own.

The thing I like about Dunne’s books is that they are thinly-veiled retellings of famous true events, but he is able to get away with more because he disguises them as fiction. I find Dunne’s handling of these romans à clef (novels in which real characters/situations are disguised) quite skillful, but at times his name-dropping gets a bit tedious, especially with Another City, Not My Own, which has his narrator Gus Bailey covering the O. J. Simpson murder.

Still, it’s enjoyable and fast reading.

Not much else to say. Life goes on . . .

More later. Peace.

All images are by Norwegian artist and illustrator, Theodor Kittelsen (1857-1914).

Music by One Two, “Without You”

                   

Canary

for Michael S. Harper

Billie Holiday’s burned voice
had as many shadows as lights,
a mournful candelabra against a sleek piano,
the gardenia her signature under that ruined face.
(Now you’re cooking, drummer to bass,
magic spoon, magic needle.
Take all day if you have to
with your mirror and your bracelet of song.)
Fact is, the invention of women under siege
has been to sharpen love in the service of myth.
If you can’t be free, be a mystery.

~ Rita Dove

 

It’s so difficult to describe depression to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness. I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling— that really hollowed-out feeling. ~ J.K. Rowling


“Strange how we decorate pain.
These ribbons, for instance,
and the small hard teardrops of blood.
Who are they for?
Do we think the dead care?” ~ Margaret Atwood, from “Morning in the Burned House”

Wednesday afternoon. Rainy and cooler, 76 degrees.

Last night I had a very melancholy dream: I was working for the government contractor again, preparing a major proposal, but for some reason I was doing the writing/editing at home. At one point during the dream, I’m in a coffee bar, and I’m waiting for a male friend of mine to finish his conversation with his lover. While I am waiting, I begin to draw with colored chalk on one of the walls. I don’t askI just do. The image that I create is incredible, swooping colors and forms emerging from my fingertips, and I wonder where this talent came from.

While I’m drawing, my friend leaves, so I sit down on a bench and just stare at what I’ve created. I ask for a glass of wine . . .

Daniel Vasquez-Diaz Window in Bidasoa, Fuenterrabia 1918

“Window in Bidasoa, Fuenterrabia” (1918)
by Daniel Vasquez-Diaz

Return to home and the proposal . . . for some reason, I’m trying to take a shower so that I can go in to work before the deadline, but I can’t quite get the shower to work, and it’s because i have too much on my mind. This idea of being late for work frequently appears in my dreams. I’ve run into a man with whom I used to share a very deep love, and he tells me that he has remarried and has a child, and this is the last thing I am expecting. I ask him why he didn’t tell me before, and he says that he didn’t know how.

I tell him that I still have to finish one whole section of the proposal, and that I cannot deal with what he has said right now. I turn my back on him so that he cannot see how much he has hurt me, and then I get in the shower with all of my clothes on. By the time I get out, he has gone, and I know that I will never see him again. My mother comes in and asks me why I am taking so long.

When I awake, I’m trying to remember the name of the person in the company who prepared the budgets for the proposals. I can only remember his first name: William. He wasn’t in the dream at all, but somehow my mind has carried on with the proposal theme into waking. I begin the day with a heavy heart.

“All I ever really want to know is how other people are making it through life—where do they put their body, hour by hour, and how do they cope inside of it.” ~ Miranda July, from It Chooses You

I won’t pretend that I’m doing better. I mean, I was, for a few days at least. But at this moment, the dining room table is covered with everything that I removed from the small, antique bookcase that sits in the corner of the living room. You see, the other day I decided to try to touch up some scratches on the dining room table . . . hours later, and I had touched up the finish on the coffee table, two end tables, the Bentwood rocker, another rocking chair, and the bookcase. I have no idea how any of this came about. I only know that I worked myself into a state of great pain.

Pierre Bonnard Landscape through a Window c1918

“Landscape through a Window” (c1918)
by Pierre Bonnard

So two days later, everything remains off the shelves and on the table, and I am no closer to having the house clean for Corey’s homecoming on Saturday. So here I sit, tired and depressed and completely unable to muster even a scintilla of energy. At least I have two more days . . .

At the moment, it’s raining, and thankfully, the temperature has dropped. But my mind is still on the dreams, on the chalk image and the heartbreaking words. I haven’t seen this man in decades. I have no idea as to where he is or what his life is like, so that he makes an appearance in my dreams and leaves me feeling devastated is, shall we say, unwelcome? But more, I am wishing that I actually had the artistic talent that I had in the dream, the ability to blend colors, create shapes, all without hesitation or thought.

I don’t know which part of the dream hurts more, and I wonder if other people dream this way: complete scenarios, emotions, colors, smells, tastes . . .

“But I won’t go there again.
We are all and only our distances
And when we touch that is what we touch.
Our messy shelves. Our sullen privations
And overabundance of lemons.
Our grief, our mountains and fields
And rivers of grief.” ~ Dan Chelotti, from “My Sparrow”

Other things: The air is so heavy, and while there is no mist, it feels that there should be one. Does that make sense? I don’t know . . .

Lately my nights are taking on a strange hue: the color of loneliness and ennui. I sit in bed and watch television. The dogs follow me from room to room, looking at me with anticipation as if I am going to do something incredibly exciting, and then sitting rather resolutely when I do not. Do you know how it feels to know that you have disappointed even your dogs? I am thankful for the company, but this loneliness will not lessen. This small house now has too many rooms.

My mother has been much on my mind, of late, and she pops up in my dreams constantly, even when she doesn’t fit the narrative, and that’s how it was in life as well. There is so much my mother never knew about me because at some point I stopped sharing, feeling that I would only receive scorn and negativity, as in, “why in god’s name would you do that?”—a comment I heard more than once in my life.

(c) Henrietta Garnett; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

“A Venetian Window” (1926)
by Vanessa Bell

My mother would call and ask what I was doing, and I would tell her that I was on the computer. She would ask what I was doing on the computer, and I would use that catch-all word: writing, because to explain blogging would have been just too damned hard, and perhaps I didn’t give her credit, and perhaps she didn’t earn that credit, and perhaps I was too hard on her, and perhaps I learned hardness from her.

I only know that this year will be full of firsts, and I am not looking forward to any more of them: Olivia’s first birthday without her, my kids’ first birthdays without their Oma, the first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas, and truly, I would like nothing more than to be far far away when those dates roll around, having no desire to meet them head on.

“Sorrow is so woven through us, so much a part of our souls, or at least any understanding of our souls that we are able to attain, that every experience is dyed with its color. This is why, even in moments of joy, part of that joy is the seams of ore that are our sorrow. They burn darkly and beautifully in the midst of joy, and they make joy the complete experience that it is. But they still burn.” ~ Christian Wiman, from My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer

And it’s funny, but when my father appears in my dreams, he is just the same: quiet, unassuming, and I can deal with this visage of my father because it is so like the reality that was. But now, when my mother appears I do nothing but question. Why was she in that dream? What does it mean? Does it mean anything? Because, you see, she is different in the dreams, somehow. It’s hard to pinpoint it exactly. All I know is that sometimes she is so much more caring in my dreams, more concerned about my welfare, and it makes me wonder, really wonder, if she was this way in real life, and I just didn’t see it.

Too much . . . . . . . too much . . . . I am reminded of the Wordsworth poem, “The world is too much with us”:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—

Late and soon . . . . . . late and soon . . . . .

East Coast Window exhibited 1959 by Mary Potter 1900-1981

“East Coast Window” ()
by Mary Potter

My life is on a loop replay of literary quotes from things I read and studied so very many years ago. Funnily enough, I came across an older profile of myself in which I called myself a “Virginia poet,” and that really took me aback. How very pretentious of me. I write poetry so seldom now, having little to no faith in my abilities where verse is concerned. Needless to say, I changed the profile, but coming up with even the barest of descriptions for myself was taxing. I mean . . . . . . what am I?

Gah! I am too old to be doing this who am I crap.

“Some begin to talk,
to themselves, as do the mad;
some give their hearts to silence.” ~ Stephanie Strickland, from “The Red Virgin:  A Poem of Simone Weil”

I have said many times—in jest and not—that this world is purgatory, this here and now—this is the realm in which we are destined/doomed to work through our sins, resolve our issues. Again and again and again and again.

I feel as if I have spent my whole adult life to this point just waiting, waiting for life to begin. I will be able to do x once I have done y. I will be able to leave this area once my mother is no longer alive. I will be able to do to do . . . what??? It’s maddening, I tell you. How have I lived this long, done this much, and still have absolutely no idea as to who or what I am?

Konstantin Adreevich Somov View through a Window 1934

“View through a Window” (1934)
by Konstantin Andreevish Somov

I am (was?) a daughter, a mother, a spouse, an ex-spouse. For so many years I wanted to be someone’s sister, but that’s another story . . . I have been an editor, a staff writer for a weekly news insert, a newsroom supervisor, a proposal development specialist, a marketing director, a publications manager, and a sales manager. I have taught college, and I have taught middle school. I have managed staffs of 45, and staffs of 2. I have worked in a steak house and in a donut shop. I have been a nanny, a housekeeper, and a restaurant server. I have coordinated special events and memberships.

I have dated navy pilots, a devout catholic boy, a sociopathic liar, lawyers, and others. I married and divorced my best friend, and I married the man who has tried to make my dreams come true.

I have lost a daughter, a father, a mother, a woman who was like a mother, an uncle who was like a father, and many more.

What is the point of this litany? Well, you would think, wouldn’t you, that after all of this I might have a better idea of who and what I am, but I don’t. I really don’t, and part of me, a small part, envies those people who do one job their entire lives; I mean, for them, it seems that everything is clear cut. You work in factory x or business y. You get up, go to work, come home. You get raises and promotions along the way, and when someone asks you what you do, you have an answer.

“Wherever I turn, the black wave rushes down on me.” ~ Franz Kafka, from “Diaries”

Look. If I am to be honest, and that is what I am attempting to do, I would have to say that I have never been satisfied, even in my dream job of teaching English at ODU. While I was doing that, I kept thinking that I really needed to be in a doctoral program, and perhaps if I had followed through with that, I would still be teaching English at some college somewhere.

Richard Edward Miller Woman by a Window

“Woman by a Window” ()
by Richard Edward Miller

Follow through. Key words, those. I’m great at starting, at doing, but continuing? Going all the way to the end? As my dad used to say, “Shee-yit.” (I really miss hearing my dad say that. It was his one- word exclamation for just about anything, good and bad.)

Anyway, the point is . . . there is no point. I have reached and passed that milestone birthday, that one that signifies you are now definitely on the downswing of life, and I used to point out to Mari when we were adrift that May Sarton didn’t publish her first novel until she was in her 50s. Somehow, when you are in your 30s, that seems like all of the time in the world, that you have plenty of time to write your own verse.

When I presented Dead Poets Society to my literature classes, I was so finely attuned to Mr. Keating’s words, his query of the young boys: “The powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?” I thought, then, that I did, indeed, have a verse.

Late and soon . . . . . . late and soon . . . . .

It is very late, and it is too soon, and I am no closer to any answers than when I typed the first word of this post. I am doing nothing more than decorating my pain. Atwood and Wordsworth, two worthy wordsmiths. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

More later. Peace.

Music by Lucius, “Go Home”

                   

Sailing on Lake Superior

Before us now the edge of the earth,
below us the nearly endless cold.
Around us nothing but shimmering
water,
the miles of empty and sparkling blue.

For a few hours, the sail fills on
toward infinity. Shadows of
our delicate bodies ebb and flow
across the deck of our delicate boat.

What if the beautiful days, the good
and pacific temperate moments,
weren’t just lovely, but everything?
What if I could let it fall away
in the wake, that ache to extract
meaning from vastness?

Let this suffice; the ease of thinking
it all goes on, whether we’re here
to see it or not. The splashing waves,
the suntipped gulls arcing across
the radiant world.

~ Kirsten Dierking

“She was a genius of sadness, immersing herself in it, separating its numerous strands, appreciating its subtle nuances. She was a prism through which sadness could be divided into its infinite spectrum.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer, from Everything Is Illuminated

Nikolay Nikanorovich Dubovskoy Silence has Settled 1890 drohende Stille oil on canvas

“Silence has Settled or Drohende Stille” (1890, oil on canvas)
by Nikolay Nikanorovich Dubovskoy

                      

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” ~ William Shakespeare, from Macbeth

Alexis’s friend Jennifer died today. Jennifer, who had so many reprieves, who lived to share another Christmas and another Christmas with her young son, and even, almost a third Christmas.

When I first wrote about Jennifer it was in September of 2010, and everyone was so certain that she would die before the end of the year. I include myself in that everyone. But Jennifer fooled each of us. She left the hospital, went home, and lived. She lived through two more (three?) of her son Reilly’s birthdays; she lived long enough to come to Alexis’s baby showers and to take a bus to the hospital when Alexis was in labor.

She lived, and then, she didn’t.

As if I needed yet another reason to hate November.

“Given the choice between the experience of pain and nothing, I would choose pain.” ~ William Faulkner, from The Wild Palms

You see, I feel nothing but guilt about Jennifer. I was not a good friend to her, and even when Corey mentioned that I might want to call her because she was sick again, I chose not to. I just couldn’t do it, couldn’t put aside my own feelings of dread at facing another young person’s death, couldn’t find a way around my own discomfort to call this sweet, sweet girl. God, she could talk your ear off, and the drugs made her ramble even more. I am not patient with such things, witness my attitude with my own mother.

And the whole time Alexis was pregnant, Jennifer would find things for her that she might be able to use. Jennifer was a world-class thrifter. But that’s how she was, truly, thinking about other people. Looking out for others even when she already bore so much more than she deserved.

I thought about Jennifer a lot since that September in 2010. I was beyond happy when she was around to spend Christmas with Reilly that year and then the next, and then that thing happened that always happens: complacency. Just as with my brother-in-law Patrick: you get so used to the person being in a certain state of health that that state becomes normal. So when Patrick got sick again, it just didn’t occur to me that he would die. Neither did it occur to me that Jennifer might actually die this time, even though within my heart I knew that it was a strong probability.

“How could I have been so ignorant? she thinks. So stupid, so unseeing, so given over to carelessness. But without such ignorance, such carelessness, how could we live? If you knew what was going to happen, if you knew everything that was going to happen next—if you knew in advance the consequences of your own actions—you’d be doomed.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from The Blind Assassin

Funnily enough, today I was watching Sesame Street with Olivia, and I had a flash of memory: When Lex was younger and one or more of her friends had spent the night, I used to go in and jump on the bed and use Elmo’s voice and yell at them to get up. Weird, I know, but true. I thought of that today, before I got the news. And then a few hours later a got a text that Jennifer had died.

And so I wept. I wept hot tears of hate. Hatred at myself. Hatred at fate. Hatred at cancer. Hatred at whatever it is that decides to inflict such pain upon a sweet, talkative young girl who never had all of the comforts that Alexis had, who came from a broken family filled with dysfunctions—how that girl moved beyond that and became a wonderful mother to her son, the kind of mother she never had.

I wept at myself for failing to do the right thing, and then, I realized that my tears were also selfish tears, appropriating Jennifer’s life and death to add to my own litany of loss, and I am repulsed by myself. How can I cry for Jennifer and turn it into tears for my own losses? Who does this? I am sickened, and so I weep more, weep until I cannot breathe and am on the verge of hyperventilating because the overwhelming sensation that I feel is guilt: guilt over not calling Jennifer, guilt over not keeping in touch with Patrick, guilt over not being more patient with my mother, guilt over not going back to the hospital in time to be with my father so that he did not die alone, and always, always, always, guilt over Caitlin.

“Youth offers the promise of happiness, but life offers the realities of grief.”Nicholas Sparks, from The Rescue

I won’t scream and say that it’s unfair, that it’s unfair because she was young. Death holds sway over who it will. Youth’s seeming immortality has no pardon from its sway, is impotent in its presence.

When is enough enough?

I know that I am merely screaming into the wind here, that nothing can change anything, yet I am so filled with self-loathing right now that it just makes me cry even harder.

We are careless. Humans are careless. We make assumptions. We delude ourselves. It is easier this way. We do not want cold truths. We do not want blunt realities. Allow us to coast along with our false certainties, to be comforted by our denial. Yes, that is better, is it not?

My dog Shakes used to get very worried when I had crying jags. He would come in and try to get in my lap and Alfie would bark shrilly as if that could stem my tears. It was harder to cry when that was going on. I suddenly remembered that in the middle of my keening, and then I cried even harder.

Granted, it has already been a very shaky November so far as it was apparent that I was well on my way to a major fall. But now? I don’t even know how to think. I’m just letting my fingers form the words for me as I do not want to think about anything too much. I do not want to see Jennifer’s face in my mind, especially as I cannot recall Caitlin’s face. I know. That makes no sense, but it feels like yet another betrayal.

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” ~ C.S. Lewis, from A Grief Observed

Jennifer was someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s lover, and someone’s mother. Jennifer used to put baby oil in her hair when she was a teenager because it was curly and she wanted to make it lay flat. I’m certain that Jennifer is the first person Alexis got drunk with, and for a while I would not let Alexis spend the night at Jennifer’s apartment. Turns out my daughter was probably the instigator all along, but I blamed Jennifer and Amanda. Not my Alexis.

But we do what we can as parents. We try to make the right decisions. Try to guide our sons and daughters into having the right relationships, and even when they don’t, we make excuses for them because after all, they are our sons and daughters.

After today a young son lost his mother. Reilly will not have his mommy to spend Christmas with him, to celebrate his birthday with him, to see him go on his first date, to watch him graduate. His drug addict father hasn’t been in the picture in years. He will have his uncle who helped Jennifer with Reilly after she got out of the hospital. But no matter how much the people in his life who love him may try, they will never ever be able to fill that void. No one can replace your mother, especially when you are young.

” . . . you know you can go your whole life collecting days, and none will outweigh the one you wish you had back.” ~ Mitch Albom, from For One More Day

I haven’t talked much about suicide on this blog for many reasons. I will only say this: that knowing what it would do to my children kept me from making foolish mistakes. Jennifer had no choice in this. And try as she did, the fates were against her. Her death will affect Reilly in so very many ways, ways in which people could never predict.

Caitlin never had a choice, nor did she have a chance, but that never kept us from hoping until hope was taken away.

Hope. That four letter word that is probably more powerful than love or hate. Hope allows us to fool ourselves in ways that love and hate never do. Hope keeps us coming back. Hope carries us to places we might not dare to travel. And then when hope is lost, that my friends, that is the worst loss of all.

Goodbye, Jennifer. I hope you were loved much as you deserved.

“Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”
~ W.B. Yeats, from “The Stolen Child”

A song I used to play over and over on my piano: Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata

“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

“I am a jumble of passions, misgivings, and wants. It seems that I am always in a state of wishing and rarely in a state of contentment.” ~ Libba Bray, from The Sweet Far Thing

Three Seascapes circa 1827 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

“Three Seascapes” (ca 1827)
by Joseph Mallord William Turner

                   

“So I fill my hands with the shards of infinite ardors.
A generous cargo of ohs and oh wells.
And a strange half-wish to be a ghost.

It is the thing I wish for most.” ~  Jill Alexander Essbaum, from The Devastation

Monday afternoon. Partly cloudy and warmer, 70 degrees.

I had a full-blown Caitlin dream last night. I haven’t had one of those in a very long time. By full-blown, I mean, I saw her, held her, fed her, talked to her, called her by name. I cannot begin to express how much this hurts my heart. And to compound the ache, my father was also in the dream in a very active way: we talked about something, he smiled, I kissed his cheek.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Setting Sun and the Sea not sure, watercolor

“Setting Sun and the Sea” (title questionable, nd, watercolor)
by Joseph Mallord William Turner

In the first part of the dream I was in a medical center with Caitlin. Our nurse was very nice, and she was trying to get us a private room so that I could breast feed Caitlin. There was a lot of noise in the hall, and I peeked out and saw soldiers and people running. The medical center was being stormed by someone, I don’t know who. I looked around the hallway to see if there was a way out, and there wasn’t.

I went back into the room and closed the door quietly. I told our nurse what was going on. Other people came into the room with their babies. Everyone was scared. People were looking to me. I fed Caitlin and ignored everything else. My ex wanted to know how I could have fed her. I told him I breastfed her; he wanted to know where the milk came from. I told him that it was just there again, like it had always been. Then I went to the windows and said that we could try jumping to safety.

“Sometimes fear grips me that these fragile moments of life will fade away. It seems that I write against erasure.” ~ Assia Djebar,  from “Assia Djebar: The Tireless Walker of Memory,” trans. Erin E. Brady and Guillaume Basset

In another part of the dream I was having an affair with my second cousin at Great Bridge. Everyone knew, but no one said anything. I was still married to my ex. I had four children, and one of them looked like my cousin. My ex wanted to know if he was the father or if my cousin was the father. I lied.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Lonship Lighthouse, Lands End, c1834-5 watercolor

“Longship Lighthouse, Lands End” (ca 1834-5, watercolor)
by Joseph Mallord William Turner

Then, I was talking to all of my cousins about the cars I had when I was a teenager, and I remembered when I spun my VW Beetle into a ditch (this really happened). My cousin said that he remembered, but the ditch was in front of my mother’s house. I said that there were no ditches there, only in Great Bridge.

Then we were singing karaoke. I signed up to do a duet of a country song, but when the music started, I realized that I couldn’t read the screen with my contacts in, so I didn’t know the words. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill were part of the group I was with, and they wanted to do a sing-off. I said that I couldn’t because I couldn’t see the words. They said that I was just making an excuse. Then two of the women in the group said they would sing with me.

At some point in this sequence, I was sitting outside with my dad. He may have been working on a fishing rod. I told him that I was really glad that he was my father. He smiled.

I awoke with a pain in my heart and a completely empty feeling.

“Because the body is so ephemeral and corrupt,
what is beautiful today may not be so ten years hence,
I give you words.
Because my thoughts are strange and dreamlike
and not to be trusted to icon or art,
I put them into words for you” ~ Shaindel Beers, from “I Give You Words

Today has been completely out of whack. My doctor’s office called to say that they had to cancel my appointment today because they hadn’t gotten approval for my shots, not the Botox for my migraines, but the cortisone for both of my wrists. Unbelievable. The Botox has finally been approved, but not the cortisone? What gives? I really need shots in both of my hands because they hurt all of the time.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Storm Clouds colon Sunset with a Pink Sky 1825

“Storm Clouds: Sunset with a Pink Sky” (1825, watercolor)
by Joseph Mallord William Turner

Then my dermatologist’s office called and wanted to know if I could come in at 8 in the morning instead of 2 in the afternoon. Really? No. I made these appointments to work around Brett’s school schedule. He has an exam tomorrow. And besides, I’m not even conscious at 8 in the morning. Of course, I didn’t tell them that.

In between, Brett found out that an exam he thought was on Wednesday is actually today. Yep, major freaking out ensued.

Then I paid some bills, and I tried to create an online account for my life insurance, and the site kept saying that there was no policy in existence. I called customer service. Policy is in existence. Associate took all of my information and said to give it a bit and try again. He had a hard time with my e-mail address. I bet he put it in wrong because I still can’t log in to the site.

So much fun. Love days like these. Just want to do nothing, but no. I’m a responsible adult with responsible adult obligations………….. whatever……………

“In one way, causeless emotion reminds me of melancholy: when we have sorrows without a name.” ~ Mary Ruefle, Madness, Rack, and Honey

For Mother’s Day, I ordered myself a couple of books and a one-pound bag of Chimes Mango Ginger chews. These things are addictive, and the ginger is very good for your heart and digestion, or so I tell myself, but they’re impossible to find in grocery stores. So yesterday, Brett went with me to T. J. Maxx, mostly to get out of the house, and I tried on clothes, which always makes me feel fat and ugly, and there on the shelves in the gourmet section were Chimes Chews, plain ginger, mango ginger, orange ginger. Unbelievable.

The Scarlet Sunset circa 1830-40 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

“The Scarlet Sunset,” detail (ca 1830-40, watercolor)
by Joseph Mallord William Turner

I’m trying not to think about it too much because I already justified to myself ordering the one-pound bag. I’m also trying not to think about the shirt that I tried on that was too tight in the—wait for it—ARMS. I have fat arms. How does that happen? Why does that happen? Why do women lose tone in weird bodily appendages and men don’t?

So the trip out of the house to lift our spirits ended up making me feel fat and ugly and inefficient. Now here’s the real rub: I can’t stop thinking about how I paid x amount to order this one-pound bag, when I could have paid y and gotten them at T. J. Maxx. My never pay retail mantra is kind of stuck, like LP’s? Remember that, how they would stick in a spot and play the same sound over and over again, and sometimes, this would happen at night when you would put on an album to fall asleep by, and then you’d fall asleep, and something would nudge you in your sleep, and you’d wake up to the sound of the record stuck on a scratch or groove? Am I the only one that happened to?

“This is the solstice, the still point
of the sun, its cusp and midnight,
the year’s threshold
and unlocking, where the past
lets go of and becomes the future;
the place of caught breath . . .” ~ Margaret Atwood, from “Shapechangers in Winter”

So, no relief in the wrists, no sassy red capris with white polka dots because they looked stupid on me, no cute lavender denim shorts because, well, the stupid thing. I did come away with two pair of really gauzy yoga pants and a new bra, so I’ll just stay at home and wear my yoga pants and hide my arms.

Joseph Mallord William Turner The Beacon Light, oil on canvas

“The Beacon Light” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Joseph Mallord William Turner

Ack. What am I going on about, anyway. That my arms are flabby is no surprise. That I didn’t look all chic in the red capris is no surprise. That I found Chimes locally is a surprise. I think that I’m just trying to keep my mind from dwelling on my dreams last night. I did so many things, saw so many people, touched on so many memories. I think part of what caused such emotional dreams were two things I saw yesterday: the movie Boy A, which is heartbreaking, and then a short film on Tumblr about a wolf looking for her cub. Ack. Set myself up, I suppose.

The reality is that the dream of breastfeeding Caitlin was so perfect and so very, very painful. That is something that will never happen again. That baby that I held in my arms with the dark hair, the one who looked up at me in contentment—it’s not real. What is real is that I feel like I picked and picked and picked at a scab, and now it is raw again.

The scar that had faded to a pale grey line is red and aching, and it’s going to take me months to heal from this, and why can’t I be better about this? Why does the pain caused by a dream have to be so immediate and so real? Once again, I am among the walking wounded, and no matter how many of these damned Chimes I chew, I fear it is going to get better later rather than sooner.

More later. Peace.

Images by Joseph Mallord William Turner, English Romantic artist (1775-1851)

Music by Sleeping At Last, “Uneven Odds,” absolutely breathtaking

And speaking of  Tim McGraw (really miss you, Corey), “I Need You”


                   

Turner, Late Painting

This almost empty
canvas
is sister
to an empty page
just as a poem
enters: white

with all
its possibilities
emerging from the brush—
smoke or cloud
or beach foam—

and there in the corner
a patch
of burnt orange
where the sun will
eventually
come up.

~ Linda Pastan

“It’s a most distressing affliction to have a sentimental heart and a skeptical mind.” ~ Naguib Mahfouz

Pierre de Clausade Pont Neuf, Neige sur Paris, 1959

Pont Neuf, Neige Sur Paris (1959, oil on canvas)
by Pierre de Clausade

                   

The slow mornings of coffee and newspapers
and evenings of music and scattered bits
of talk like leaves suddenly fallen before
one notices the new season.” ~ B. H. Fairchild, from “The Dumka”

Thursday afternoon. Sunny and mild, 54 degrees.

Well, it’s been a wild week so far. Where do I start?

Pierre de Clausade, The Seine

“Quai des Orfèvres” (1974, oil on canvas)
by Pierre de Clausade

Dreams first: Last night, I had this very strange dream in which Corey and I were at his parents’ house in Ohio, and I had gotten up late, and there was no coffee left. I got so upset that there wasn’t any coffee. I took it personally—they had drunk all of the coffee before I woke up to punish me, but then I realized that Corey hadn’t had any coffee either, so it was okay . . .

No snow here. In fact, it’s absolutely beautiful today, big change from last night. The winds were absolutely wicked: one panel of our fence was blown off. It was part of the old fence on the side of the house. And on my way to pick up Brett at school, the major artery to campus was flooded, really flooded. People were acting crazy, and I just kept thanking the stars that I had relatively new brakes and tires. I made it to campus through the water, but the way home was a nightmare as the cops had closed off the boulevard by then, and everyone was trying back roads. I was so tense that I arrived home with a headache.

No surprise there.

“To touch and feel each thing in the world, to know it by sight and by name, and then to know it with your eyes closed so that when something is gone, it can be recognized by the shape of its absence. So that you can continue to possess the lost, because absence is the only constant thing. Because you can get free of everything except the space where things have been.” ~ Nicole Krauss, from “Man Walks Into a Room”

So Corey left Sunday. Everything happened quite fast. The ship got into port on Saturday afternoon. Corey and I had both thought that the ship/he would probably be in port for several days, maybe even a week as that’s usually the case.

Pierre de Clausade Neige Sure La Rive oil on canvas

“Neige Sur La Rive” (1964, oil on canvas)
by Pierre de Clausade

Not so much.

He drove to the ship around 3 in the afternoon and was back home by 6 that same evening. Seems they were planning to leave port at midnight. We had to get everything packed and ready in a matter of hours. The good news is that he’ll only be gone about two weeks. They are only doing a run to Ascension and back. Not sure how many runs they’ll be doing, but he’ll be back and forth every two weeks or so, maybe three times.

Because of the quick turnaround, I didn’t really have time to prepare myself emotionally for what was happening, which meant that by Monday, I was kind of paralyzed emotionally. By that I mean that just the effort to get out of my pajamas and drive Brett to school was more than I was prepared to do, so posting was out of the question. I was in a mild stupor, just wandering through the empty house. Between Tillie and myself, I don’t know who was more downtrodden.

“I say: let the trifles that strangle us be seen merely as
trifles, remediable inequities.  Then when the wind has had its way with us
we can see ourselves as we are, face to face with the invisible.” ~ Pablo Neruda, from “A Heavy Surf”

Pierre de Clausade Neige au Pont Neuf

“Neige au Pont Neuf” (1959, oil on canvas)
by Pierre de Clausade

The house has been so quiet during the day, just the dogs and me. Yesterday I took my mother to the orthopedic group to get a cortisone shot in her knee. She had been saying that the pain was excruciating, but when I told her that she should get a shot, she freaked, saying that the shots were too painful, that I had no idea how painful they were. I explained to her that I’ve had cortisone shots pretty much all over my body. I wanted to tell her not to be such a big baby, but I didn’t. Anyway, took her, she got the shot, everything was fine.

Speaking of pain, these patches that the new doctor prescribed seem to be helping with the overall pain, but they aren’t lasting a week like they’re supposed to. Month two doubles the dose, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m scheduled for the migraine Botox shots at the end of the month. Wouldn’t it be something if I manage to get to a place in which I am no longer coasting along between a 3 and 5 on the pain scale, that I actually hover more at 1 or even zero?

I can’t even begin to conceive of such a thing.

“I suppose it’s like the ticking crocodile, isn’t it? Time is chasing after all of us.” ~ J. M. Barrie, from Peter Pan

I just took a break to drop off prescriptions and to have a quick game of stick with Tillie, who has been soooo restless these past few days. Her sad face absolutely wounds me to the quick.

Okay, must pause here. What exactly does the quick mean? A quick (sorry, groan) search yields the following: the living flesh (as in the flesh beneath the finger nail). But cutting to the quick means to get to the point, or the heart of the matter. The quick and the dead—the living and the dead. Language is amazing.

Pierre de Clausade Mer du Nord oil on canvas

“Mer du Nord” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Pierre de Clausade

What else is new?

Yesterday I had to do a complete scan on my computer and redo my Mozilla Firefox profile because everything was acting wonky. I could only open one window of Firefox at a time, which is problematic when I’m doing searches on images as I rely on the drag and drop from one window to the next (for example, from Tumblr to Google images). Apparently, I didn’t have any viruses, but I cleaned out all of the extraneous files, shredded my recycle bin and restarted a couple of time. Everything seems to be back to normal.

Thank the gods for discussion boards. You can put even the most obscure phrase in Google regarding a computer problem, and you’re bound to get at least five hits on discussion boards dealing with the same problem. It’s just a matter of reading carefully and being selective. I have come so far when it comes to figuring out computer issues, a far cry from the woman who got her first PC back in the 90′s and found the whole concept of screen savers amazing. As I was saying to Brett, it’s amazing how much has changed: my first computer measured memory in megabytes, and now his phone has more memory than I had on a PC.

“Here is a handful
of shadow I have brought back to you:
this decay, this hope, this mouth-
ful of dirt, this poetry.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from “Mushrooms”

In other news, I finished another Ian Rankin novel last night. I’ve read four in the past two weeks. The main character is Scottish CID officer John Rebus, who is quite the curmudgeon. Any wonder I love his character? I’ve read just about every book in the series; I think there are 12 total. I need to figure out which ones I have left and add them to my book wish list.

Pierre de Clausade Notre Dame in Winter

“Notre Dame in Winter” (nd, oil on canvas)
by Pierre de Clausade

Brett is going to NYC this weekend on a school trip. The art department at ODU is sponsoring a weekend trip for students to visit museums. I am so envious. It’s been years since I was last in New York. I want to take Corey for a long weekend, just meander through the museums. I know that he would love it.

Next week is birthday week for Eamonn and my mother. Have no idea what I’m going to do yet. My other m-in-law’s birthday was on St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve never been a big Saint Paddy’s day celebrant. The idea of drinking green beer just appalls me. Around here there is parade in Ocean View that has become quite a tradition. What is probably the bigger tradition is being drunk before noon. I don’t think I would have enjoyed that even when I was young enough.

Whatever.  I’ll close for now.

More later. Peace.

(All images by French painter Pierre de Clausade. I was unable to find dates for all works shown.)

Music by Taylor Swift, featuring The Civil Wars, “Safe and Sound” (not normally a Taylor Swift fan, but I love this song)

                   

The Afterlife

They’re moving off in all imaginable directions,
each according to his own private belief,
and this is the secret that silent Lazarus would not reveal:
that everyone is right, as it turns out.
you go to the place you always thought you would go,
the place you kept lit in an alcove in your head.

Some are being shot into a funnel of flashing colors
into a zone of light, white as a January sun.
Others are standing naked before a forbidding judge who sits
with a golden ladder on one side, a coal chute on the other.

Some have already joined the celestial choir
and are singing as if they have been doing this forever,
while the less inventive find themselves stuck
in a big air conditioned room full of food and chorus girls.

Some are approaching the apartment of the female God,
a woman in her forties with short wiry hair
and glasses hanging from her neck by a string.
With one eye she regards the dead through a hole in her door.

There are those who are squeezing into the bodies
of animals – eagles and leopards – and one trying on
the skin of a monkey like a tight suit,
ready to begin another life in a more simple key,

while others float off into some benign vagueness,
little units of energy heading for the ultimate elsewhere.

There are even a few classicists being led to an underworld
by a mythological creature with a beard and hooves.
He will bring them to the mouth of the furious cave
guarded over by Edith Hamilton and her three-headed dog.

The rest just lie on their backs in their coffins
wishing they could return so they could learn Italian
or see the pyramids, or play some golf in a light rain.
They wish they could wake in the morning like you
and stand at a window examining the winter trees,
every branch traced with the ghost writing of snow.

~ Billy Collins