“. . . Accident ruled every corner of the universe except the chambers of the human heart.” ~ Snow Falling on Cedars movie

  

Cardinal in the Snow, New Hampshire

“The snowfall, which he witnessed out of the corners of his eye . . . struck him as infinitely beautiful.” ~ David Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars

Bare Limbs on Snow by L. Liwag

Well, I was wrong. Put one down for the record books. Apparently the meteorologists called this one accurately: Hampton Roads got snow—a lot of snow. And it’s still coming down. Actually, at the moment, ice is coming down, but another band of snow is right behind the ice.  

We haven’t had snow like this for many years, and just think, it’s even more snow than what we saw in Ohio in December, but not more snow than we saw on that fateful trip to Ohio in the December blizzard.  

I hear a few brave souls outside, and earlier, before the ice, a few of the younger neighborhood kids were rollicking, but funnily enough, Tillie, the Lab, wouldn’t set foot outside until Brett bundled himself in layers and went outside with her. A couple of times, she stuck her snout outside the door, and then brought it back in and looked at me balefully as if to say, “you’re kidding, right?” The only dog brave enough to go outside by himself initially was Alfie, the smallest Jack Russell, who promptly sank and became covered in snow up to his flanks. The fat one went out a few steps and then turned around and came back inside. Now that Tillie has braved the unknown, she wants to go back out, but no one is up for playing in the ice.  

“The heart of any other, because it had a will, would remain forever mysterious.” ~ David Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars

Fosso Innevato (Snowy Ditch), Italy

Another benefit of the snow is that I slept, really slept. That wonderful muffling effect that a heavy snowfall has on all ambient noise must have allowed my body to achieve a state of complete restfulness, because I got a great night’s sleep, even though I didn’t fall asleep until about 4:45 a.m. My body feels cold but not tired.  

Corey is about to build a fire in the fireplace so that we can contribute to the Greenhouse Effect. Unfortunately, it’s that or walk around the house in coats because it’s damned cold in here, but at least we haven’t lost electricity as so many others affected by the storm have. So we take the bad with the good, but hey, I slept . . .  

I’ve had a few new readers stop by and leave comments, which is always nice. Just wanted to take a minute to express my thanks as comments let me know that someone is reading.  

Last night, I dreamt of hats, straw hats, straw hats with big brims specifically. I was trying them on in some kind of rest stop store, kind of like the old Stuckey’s restaurants that used to dot the highways. I also dreamt of bow ties, Jack Nicholson as a military officer, and learning that Corey had spoken to his commanding officer in French.  

Strange, most strange. In another part of the dream, I was speaking to a woman who was putting together the program for the Opera House, and I was giving her printing tips. I told her that I used to do this kind of thing for the Museum. Also most strange. I don’t discern any great meaning behind these snippets, just found them interesting.  

“When they looked out into the whiteness of the world the wind flung it sharply at their narrowed eyes and foreshortened their view of everything.” ~ David Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars

Kiosque du Jardin de Ville (Kiosk in City Garden), France

I plan to spend the rest of the day wrapped up in a blanket, reading a book. It’s the perfect day for it.  

Since I began this post, the wind has begun to blow quite hard outside, making the wind chimes clang repeatedly. It’s kind of haunting, actually: just the wind and the chimes. No sounds of traffic, people, dogs. Nothing. I guess everyone who was feeling adventurous has had enough of the snow and ice and gone inside. That and the fact that it is darkening rather quickly may be the reason for the seeming silence.  

When I saw the snow in the middle of the night, I began to think of songs that would be appropriate. Oddly enough, Samuel Barber’s “Adagio in G” popped into my head, but it’s such a solemn song that I don’t want to use it with today’s post. I think that I thought of that particular song because of a movie that I saw years ago starring a younger Ethan Hawke. Barber’s Adagio was featured in the movie previews, but not in the movie itself.  

The film, A Midnight Clear, was the story about two WWII units stranded in a snowstorm, one American and one German. The units reach an unspoken truce, but ultimately, the film ends tragically. I don’t think that the movie was very popular, but I remember seeing it with my friend Mari during one of our regular weekend movie outings.  

If I remember correctly, Hawke also starred in Snow Falling on Cedars, a weak adaptation of David Guterson’s beautiful novel of the same. I really don’t remember that much about the movie, but I vividly remember the cover of the book, which was a black and white picture of fog draping the cliffs surrounding Puget Sound. Odd how memory serves us.  

The book was beautiful, almost lyrical, in its portrayal of the complexities of the human heart, love, betrayal, and truth. The movie was beautiful in its cinematography, but hard-placed to convey the depth of the novel’s characters. However, with few exceptions, Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Lord of the Rings being a prime example, that is almost always what happens when adapting a book to a movie.  

Today’s post feature photographs of snowy images from different places: Italy, France, New Hampshire, and Ohio.  

More later. Peace.  

Annie Lennox’s version of “Whiter Shade of Pale” seemed like a good fit.  

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

Another Full Moon by Lachlan Donald of Melbourne, Australia

“Living is strife and torment, disappointment and love and sacrifice, golden sunsets and black storms.” ~ Sir Laurence Olivier

Well, last night was a bit better. I managed to fall asleep by 3:30 a.m. and slept for three straight hours before Tillie woke me to go out. It took a bit, but I fell asleep again around 8:30 and might have slept longer, but Eamonn called from his Dad’s house to complain that his phone wasn’t making outgoing calls. He was rather peeved when I told him that we would not be paying the phone bill anytime soon as we were between a cash influx.  

You would think that I had just stripped him of all his human rights in the way that he carried on. It’s amazing, though, this parenting thing. I used to get distressed whenever Eamonn got distressed until I realized that the maxim about boys being easier to raise than girls was a complete and utter lie. Eamonn is just as dramatic, if not more so, than Alexis was at his age. So I have finally gotten to a point at which I subtly tune out his beseeching until he sort of wears himself out, and then I comment.  

Is that an awful thing to admit? Not really. Don’t judge me unless you’ve raised teenagers.  

“Time has been transformed, and we have changed; it has advanced and set us in motion; it has unveiled its face, inspiring us with bewilderment and exhilaration.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

January Snow

So about 6 hours of sleep, more than I’ve been getting lately, and almost enough to make me feel refreshed.  

It is quickly darkening here, and the forecast calls for 5-8 inches of snow. I will be completely surprised if that happens, but who knows. I was looking at the weather report, and Lima, where Corey’s parents live, was a whopping 18 degrees today, so our 34 degrees is almost tropical.  

Other than the weather report, not a lot happening around here. I finally got the 2010 calendars up for everyone. I mark all the birthdays, holidays, school events, etcetera on the various calendars throughout the house. My logic is that perhaps one of us will glance at the calendar for the day and remember an appointment, although I must say that I have been much better about going to appointments on the correct days since I stopped taking that horrible medication for migraines (originally typo as migration—ha), Topamax.  

In some circles, it is referred to as dope-amax because it really wreaks havoc on the whole cognitive/short-term memory function—as if I need any more quashing of that particular ability.  

Anyway, the calendars have been marked, and in so doing, I realized that my youngest son will be graduating from high school this coming June. How wonderful and horrible at the same time. I know that he’ll be elated to be out of high school, but I’m really not sure how I feel about such a rite of passage.  

Anyway . . .  

“Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

Icy Sunset, Point Woronzof Park, Anchorage by Janson Jones

I’m in the middle of book four of the Harry Potter series. Getting through all the books is taking longer as I haven’t been able to focus enough to read lately. I was reading a bit just before writing this post, and I came across a word that just doesn’t appear that much in the U.S. but probably is used more often in the UK: betweentimes. What a lovely, polysyllabic word. I love words that are different, words that aren’t used much in casual conversation. I’ll have to manage to find a way to work betweentimes into something soon, which is likely to get a raised eyebrow from Corey.  

I watched “Real Housewives of Orange County” last night, and I have to say that the women are getting annoyingly tiresome, I mean, more than usual. Recent shows focus too much attention on Lynne’s daughter Alexa, who is out of control, and now that Vicki has decided to act nicer, the timbre of the show seems to have shifted. I don’t care for the superior attitude of housewife Alexis and her controlling husband, and Tamra is essentially a basket case.  

Speaking of which, it’s really grating on my nerves how she says “between Simon and I” all the time. It should be “Simon and me.” Me. Me. Objective. Geez. I know, I’m nitpicking, but making the same grammatical error over and over and over again makes me cringe. (Yes, I need something else on which to focus my attention).  

So I believe that I’ve gotten to the point at which RHofOC has grown old. With any luck, RHoNY will be a bit more fun as it hasn’t been on as long as the original.  

I watched my other reality television addiction last night (both on the same night—how convenient), “Project Runway.” I don’t know if it’s just my state of mind, my inability to focus, or what, but that show is also starting to seem like a rehash. After the season with Christian Siriano (fierce), everyone else seems boring. However, now that I think of it, a few other shows seem less interesting this season: “Leverage” (what happened to the fast pace?), “CSI” (don’t even watch it any more), and then there’s the new one that just came out: “Spartacus: Sand and Blood” or something like that.  

Boy was that a mess. It was kind of like a horrible mishmash of 300 and Gladiator, only with lots more fake blood and stop-action for every fight sequence. I wanted to shake the television. I mean please.  

“None of us knows what the next change is going to be, what unexpected opportunity is just around the corner, waiting a few months or a few years to change all the tenor of our lives.” ~ Kathleen Norris

NOAO Enhanced Image of the Moon

Okay. You know that my life is slow when I go on and on about television. Maybe once I begin to sleep more normally, I’ll be able to focus on other things of more importance.  

Along with my winter/moon-themed images, I thought that I’d feature a new photograph from Janson Jones’s newly-revised Floridana v3.0 blog. He has decided to drop the Alaskiana from his blog’s title, but it’s kind of hard for me not to think of the two words together as they flow so well (Floridana Alaskiana).  

Other than that, let me close with a few ponderables:  

  • Why did Heidi Montag have 10 plastic surgery procedures done at once? I mean, she’s only 25, and now she looks like a bad version of a Barbie Doll. Let me just pause here to say that I am not a Montag follower, but I read a blurb in Newsweek about her plastic surgery addiction, and it made me cringe. Botox at 25? Really? Supposedly Montag prayed over the decision to have the head-to-stomach reno done; might I just say that this is not the kind of thing you pray over . . . I mean how about Haiti? Or the economy? But a boob job? Again, please.
  • How did my much-shorter-but fluffier Jack Russell Shakes learn to get into the kitchen trash, which is a pedal-opening container? I now know for sure that it’s him and not Tillie (apologies to the Lab) because Tillie was sound asleep next to me when I heard the commotion in the kitchen. Very strange.
  • Why do Little Debbie oatmeal cookies taste so much better at 3 in the morning? Just saying.
  • What gives with being cloudy and overcast on the night of the Wolf Moon? According to an article on MSNBC, tonight’s moon is expected to be the biggest and brightest (in appearance) of the year, and the term wolf moon dates back to the Native American notion that hungry wolves howled at the winter moon. I love looking into our backyard when the moon is full. The entire yard just glows.
  • Which idiot decided that sending formaldehyde-laced trailers to Haiti would be a feasible idea? Remember the trailers that FEMA sent to New Orleans, the ones that actually made people sick? Yep, those trailers. Let’s send them to Haiti. No, I don’t think so. Yes, the Haitians are dirt poor, but do they deserve to live in infected dwellings even temporarily?
  • And finally, what would cause a Roman Catholic priest to shoplift a tub of butter and a sofa cover from a Wal Mart? Okay, maybe the butter if he was starving, but a sofa cover? I just don’t get it.

More later. Peace.  

Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” (and by the way, this song existed loooong before that hack movie Twilight) . . .  

    

  

 

“Lost — Yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.” ~ Horace Mann

 

 Dawn on Island View Beach, BC, by Brandon Godfrey

“If you had never been to the world and never known what dawn was, you couldn’t possibly imagine how the darkness breaks, how the mystery and color of a new day arrive.” ~ John O’Donohue*

Dawn as seen from an airplane over Greece

While the above sentiment is beautiful, greeting the dawn for six mornings in a row has just gotten old. I mean, I was thinking about it. If I worked the night shift, then my body clock might make sense, but as I am not working at all, this biological time-out has become overwhelmingly stale. 

This most recent episode began on Sunday after my birthday (great sushi for birthday dinner, by the way). I woke up on Sunday with a headache, so I spent most of the day lying on my back in the dark. Slept on and off. By Monday, headache had receded to pressure, but I felt exhausted. Or, let’s just say that I thought that I felt exhausted. Now I truly know what exhausted is: I feel as if I am one of those movie zombies, wandering about aimlessly looking for my next victim, but even that description doesn’t quite do this state justice. 

Last night, I took my bedtime meds early (around 10). Nothing, nada. Around 12:30 Corey came into check on me; I took Benadryl. Nothing nada. At 3:20 when Corey (Mr. Nightowl himself) came to bed, I took half a trazadone, since a whole pill normally puts me out and gives me a medicine hangover. Nothing, nada. Creeping towards 5 a.m. and still no sleep. Not even spurts of mini-sleep. Ab-so-lute-ly nothing. By this time I figured that it had been 9 hours or so since I had taken any muscle relaxers, so I chanced it, even though thoughts of putting myself into a pharmaceutical coma were lurking somewhere. 

At 6 a.m. I heard Brett’s alarm go off, but he didn’t get up. I was just starting to drift a bit when I squinted at the clock: 6:16 and still no movement from Brett. He had two exams today, so he had to go to school. I knocked on his door, and behold, he was not awake. I nudged Corey around 6:45 and told him that there was no way that I could drive even though I was awake since I was definitely under the influence of something. I finally fell asleep around 7:45 and slept until 11. Took two ativan and slept from 11:30 to 2:30. 

Those last three hours were the only uninterrupted, sound stretch of blissful sleep that I had. Every night since Sunday has been like this. 

“I’m sleeping while awake, standing by the window, leaning against it as against everything.” ~ Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Snow at Dawn by Tracy Rosen

In between tossing and turning, I play computer games. I think about writing, but realize that if I begin a post, my mind won’t settle—it will only come to consciousness fully. I know, computer games aren’t the best idea either, but I try to find something mindless, like Bejeweled, just moving jewels around, but mindless games don’t seem to fix the problem either. 

I have noticed that the quality of my dreams when I do sleep is pretty wild: Something about a really ugly dress, a work dream thrown in there (work dreams have taken the place of algebra finals for my stress dreams), and then the other night, I had a full-blown action/adventure movie in which Corey and I were holed up in some seedy hotel, trying to find ammunition. Apparently, we were on some job that involved taking out someone, and we had run out of ammunition. 

I remember being quite enamored with my gun, which was a Walther PPK, à la James Bond. It had a weird siting mechanism, and the safety was on the back, not the side. Weird. I have never owned a gun and have never fired a handgun, but in this dream, my gun was my best friend. 

“Only mystery makes us live. Only mystery.” ~  Federico García Lorca

Spire of the Church of Tronville-en-Barrois at Dawn

Although, what is more strange is that when I am not sleeping, in those long stretches of painful wakefulness, I find myself doing very odd things like math equations. Trust me when I say that while I am good at math, I do not like it, so why is my mind in overdrive doing word problems? 

Do you ever compose in your sleep? I do, not as much as I would like, but it happens. I compose verse, which in my dream state sounds perfect, but I almost never wake myself to jot down what I have composed. I think that I do, but it’s just my body tricking me. However, on Monday, when I finally did fall asleep, I composed a piece of music, which is something that I have not done in many years. 

I am a classically-trained pianist, which I may have mentioned. I was good, but not great, and I knew it. I just loved it, which is why I took lessons for so long, but knowing that I didn’t have that special whatever that would set me apart, I did not major in music in college. So when I realized in my dream that I had composed a piece of music, I felt overjoyed. Once I woke up, I managed to hum just a tiny bit of it, but that was all that was left to me in my conscious state. 

However, I interpret the way in which my mind has been working recently during my semi-awareness to mean that I might be embarking on another creative spurt, at least I hope so. I mean, math? Music? Of course, the two are closely related . . . perhaps my mind is making connections that I have yet to reach once I am alert, although describing myself as alert these days might be going too far. 

“I have a sense of something imminent coming closer. But then I lose it again, become ordinary and inadequate. I feel like someone who is trying to guess an object being described by music. The sound grows steadily louder; he thinks he is on the point of grasping it, and then the sound becomes weaker again and he has to look for another answer.” ~ from the diary of Kaethe Kollwitz

Sunrise on the Outer Banks of NC

Who knows what is really going on in my mind? Certainly not I. Of course, if I were to venture a theory, it would be that the stress of our lives is currently wreaking havoc with my body. Yes, there is the pain, but that is omnipresent. It is more the sense of my head being very full and tight, my ears ringing, and an inability to focus. 

Of course, it has now been exactly two years since Corey was laid off. His job with Vane Brothers, which his contact said should start at the beginning of this year, now has a tentative start date of mid-February. We haven’t given up hope because if he does actually manage to get a job with this company, it would be wonderful. They have a great reputation in the shipping industry, good benefits, and people who work for them seem to be satisfied, which is not commonplace in tugboating. 

I have learned that people who work on tugs jump from company to company, often returning to companies once, twice, even three times. I suppose it’s just one of those industries that is a bit incestuous: everyone knows everyone else; being part of the in network secures a job faster than qualifications, things like that. Anyway, I am really, really hoping that this comes through. We’ve been due for a change of luck for some time now, and I find that time has become somewhat unreliable as a result. 

By that I mean I look up, and it’s the end of January. I was just getting ready for Christmas. But at the same time, it’s been two very long years without a second regular income, and that seems interminable. It’s almost as if I am somnabulating through the days, getting nowhere, so my body cannot truly rest. 

 “If you could only keep quiet, clear of memories and expectations, you would be able to discern the beautiful pattern of events. It’s your restlessness that causes chaos.” ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

Florida Dawn by Janson Jones

Oh listen to me, going on about a whole lot of weirdness. I can say, though, that my back feels better today after getting my caudal yesterday, even though I felt as if I was going to throw up on the procedure table. This nausea crap is really getting old, but as I told Corey, I’m sure that this, too, shall pass. 

I just have to hold on to the idea that next week or the week after, my body will begin to right itself, so to speak, and I will be able to concentrate more fully on the things that matter, like writing this blog, for example. This overwhelming sense of restlessness cannot last forever; can it? I mean, a person could really and truly go crazy without the ability to find focus. 

Ah well. For now, I will continue to exist between these states of tossing about in the bed covers, stumbling to the kitchen to get something to drink, sitting at my desk in front of this computer waiting for inspiration. I don’t think that I have killed my sleep like Macbeth did, but I do believe that something inside of me is churning about too much, hence the inability to sleep soundly. Exactly what that something is, I have no idea. But as Emerson said, “What you are comes to you.” 

I have to believe that given time, things will begin to shift course. The receding tide will remove all the detritus that life has scattered on the shore for the past two years, and dawn will again become something that I greet with a sense of hope instead of dread. 

More later. Peace. 

Music from the Dixie Chicks: “Landslide,” which seems wholly appropriate: getting older, children getting older, being brought down by a landslide . . . 

  

 

  

*Many thanks to Crashingly Beautiful for the quotes used in this post.

“Sleep no more . . .” ~ Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Hitting a Brick Wall, image by Janson Jones of Floridana Alaskiana

 

“Methought I heard a voice cry ‘Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep’, the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast . . . ”  ~ William Shakespeare (Macbeth II,2)

Just a quick update. I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in many nights/days. Today, I had a caudal injection at my Pain Management Center and have spent the day in bed on the heating pad, napping fitfully.

Sorry not to be posting, but I feel absolutely useless. The picture above reflects my current state perfectly: I feel as if I hit a brick wall while traveling 100 mph. Discombobulated, ringing in my ears, throbbing muscles. Not a pretty sight. Hope to be able to post something more meaningful tomorrow, perhaps.

Until then, more later. Peace.

Classic by Sam Cooke: “A Change is Gonna Come”

 

Wear Sunscreen.

Headache today, so I thought that I would use this opportunity to post one of my favorites, a graduation speech by Mary Schmich. Even if you’ve read it, it is worth reading again:

“‘Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young.’

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.”

Chicago Tribune, January 6, 1997 

More later. Peace.

“There comes a moment when you realize that virtually anything is possible—that nothing is too good to be true.” ~ Kobi Yamoda

 

“To dream anything that you want to dream, that is the beauty of the human mind.
To do anything that you want to do, that is the strength of the human will.
To trust yourself, to test your limits, that is the courage to succeed.” ~ Bernard Edmond

Skywriter wrote in to remind me that it was a year ago yesterday that Susan Boyle auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent. The Broadcast of that audition to the public aired on April 11, 2009. On April 16, I wrote a post about Susan Boyle (April 16, 2009 Post on Susan Boyle ).

Susan Boyle's Audition on Britain's Got Talent

I went back and looked at that original audition tape, and it still made me tear up; the timbre of her voice when she sang I” Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables was so rich and pure. Then I listened to her performance on Oprah, and I noticed a difference: It was still the same voice, a bit more refined, not as powerful, which is probably due to the song itself. But I have to wonder what the world has done to Boyle.

I remember the reports after she did not win Britain’s Got Talent. Boyle checked into a psychiatric facility for exhaustion. The media played up the incident, claiming that fame had gone to the singer’s head, that she couldn’t handle the price of fame, ya da ya da ya da . . . It was almost as if Boyle was being paid back for soaring too high too fast.  I remember that the reports seemed too eager to point out her problems, to say that she wouldn’t be able to fulfill her obligation to tour with BGT.

Then a week ago, there was some report about Boyle causing an incident at Heathrow Airport when she began singing with a mop, and wiped a fellow passenger’s shoes with the mop. Depending upon who you listen to, Boyle was acceding to requests from fellow passengers to sing a song; people were singing with her; the passenger with the shoes was being a spoil-sport. Again, ya da ya da ya da.

“You don’t love a girl because of beauty. You love her because she sings a song only you can understand.” ~ L. J. Smith

Let me rewind a bit. When Susan Boyle first stepped on the stage, she received a questionable welcome from the audience and judges. Much was written about appearances being deceiving. In the weeks and months that followed, Boyle had a makeover, new hair color, plucked brows, new clothes, a bit of makeup. Everyone seemed to be a bit more comfortable with the new-improved version of Boyle.

But what about Boyle herself? She literally rocketed to fame. When her vid from BGT was uploaded, it received 2.5 million views in 72 hours. Requests for Boyle began to filter in. The woman herself worked non-stop throughout the duration of the show. Everyone wanted a piece of Boyle. That she fell prey to exhaustion when the show ended is not too surprising. Before her audition, Boyle had spent almost all of her time caring for her ailing mother. The Scottish woman sang at church, not in front of thousands.

But fame is fickle, and it seemed that the press wanted to make more of the downside to Susan at any available opportunity. Hence the reports of her temper tantrums, escapades, whatever. I mean, the poor woman cannot even leave her house to go shopping without getting her picture taken and people commenting on whether she is wearing makeup. Even Boyle felt a need to comment: “When it all first happened I just thought ‘Oooh, my God’. I didn’t know what to think, It was all so sudden. It felt like a giant demolition ball in a way. The impact of it was so hard. It still is very strange to me. But now I have learned how to deal with it all. You have to put on a front. You have an audience to please and so you get on with it. You have to.”

“For now I’m happy the way I am—short and plump. I would not go in for Botox or anything like that. I’m content with the way I look. What’s wrong with looking like Susan Boyle? What’s the matter with that?” ~ Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle Performing on the Wenschen 2009 Show in Munich

Why am I going on about this? Well, it goes back to that dead horse that I beat frequently, you know the one about judging women based on their physical attributes. Boyle, 48, is single, lives with her cat, claimed never to have been kissed, although admitted that she was having a bit of a go at the judges. Rolling of the eyes at this preposterous woman. If Boyle had opened her mouth and sounded like Pee Wee Herman, the audience would have had a tremendous laugh at her expense, and she would have been ushered off the stage.

Instead, the woman who looked like nothing special turned out to be more than extraordinary. And none of us were expecting that. Did we embrace Boyle harder because she did not fit our stereotypes of hardbodied female vocalists à la Madonna? Perhaps. Did we love her more because she was like us, that is, not rich, not famous, not pampered, not full of a sense of entitlement? Probably. Was it her voice or her demeanor that made us want to stand up and cheer and say “Take that, Simon”? A bit of both.

Which is why I now find myself facing a quandary: If I am to be truthful, do I like Boyle less now that she has become more like them? Was she more likable when we focused on the fact that she was the victim of bullying while in school, that her peers taunted her and called her slow?  “I didn’t mix with other kids much. I was frightened of people because of their reactions toward me . . . It’s complicated,” Boyle recounted in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar last year. Did we empathize more when her tales of singing in front of a mirror with a hairbrush dovetailed with things we had done ourselves?

“But aren’t many gardens beautiful because they are imperfect? . . . Aren’t the strange, new flowers that arise by mistake or misadventure as pleasing as the well-tended and planned?”  ~ Libba Bray

Susan Boyle in Harper's Bazaar, photo by Hugh Stewart

Personally, when I listen to the original audition video, I close my eyes. Not because I can’t stand to look at Boyle, but because I always close my eyes (except when I’m driving) when I am listening to beautiful music: I close my eyes to tune out external stimuli so that I can listen as fully as possible.

I have to admit that when I looked at the video from Oprah, I did not close my eyes. I kept getting distracted. I was wondering about her earrings, her dress, her hair, whether she was wearing too much makeup. I have to wonder if this is a female thing or an American thing or a societal thing . . . by that I mean, my compulsion to look at Boyle now that she has become somebody. Did I like her better when she was frumpy? Is it that rooting for the underdog thing?

Susan Boyle may look more acceptable to the industry now that she has had her redo. But the reality is that she will always be that woman from Scotland who said that she wanted to be famous like Elaine Paige of Cats, Evita, and Hair fame. And how cool that on December 13, 2009, Boyle realized her dream by singing a duet with Paige in an ITV special called “The Susan Boyle Story.” Said Boyle of the surprise duet,  “I never thought I would see myself standing on the same stage with such an icon from West End theatre, let alone singing with her as an equal.”

So I listened again to the performance on Oprah, and this time, I closed my eyes. There it was. A bit quieter, but the same beautiful timbre, the same rich voice—goosebumps.

Susan Boyle singing “Who I Was Meant To Be.” Sit back. Close your eyes, and enjoy.

More later. Peace.

“Here among the thirty thousand days of a long life, a single day stands still.” ~ Donald Hall

“Silent Dawn” by Walter Launt Palmer (1919, oil on canvas)

A liberal is a man or a woman or a child who looks forward to a better day, a more tranquil night, and a bright, infinite future.  ~ Leonard Bernstein

Frozen Afternoon on Indian Lake, by L. Liwag

Cold and grey here today, this after temperatures in the high 50’s yesterday. All fleeting feelings of spring fever have evaporated. 

Big loss for the Democrats yesterday in the Massachusetts special election to fill the late Senator Kennedy’s seat. We were spanked. Hard. 

Of course, everyone is commenting that this win by a virtually-unknown Republican is a clear indication that the country’s support for President Obama is waning fast and that the mid-term elections could be a toss-up. 

A few reminders: The mid-term elections are almost always a toss-up when a new party takes office. There is no stopping that trend, which results from the incredible impatience of the American voter. That’s right—impatience. 

Might I just suggest that since President Obama has been in office just one short year, those of us who are complaining might want to exercise a bit more of that commodity that is so lacking. One year. No, all the change hasn’t happened. Get real. Did we really expect it all to happen in the first year? And yes, people are afraid of the healthcare bill, mostly because it has been labeled as a giant tax increase, the death of Medicare, a deficit buster. Excuse me, the majority of Americans polled said that they wanted healthcare reform. 

Now that the hard work is under way, people are backing off, saying that they never agreed to higher taxes. Ya da ya da ya da. Tax and spend Democrats. Ya da ya da ya da. Look, Corey and I are already in a fairly high tax bracket, not because we are rich, because if we were rich, we would have all of those wonderful loopholes to keep us from being in a high tax bracket. But I would pay a bit more in taxes if it meant real healthcare reform, available healthcare for anyone who needs it. 

Personally, I have always favored a flat tax: Everyone pays the same percentage, no deductions, no loopholes. If everyone paid the same flat rate, we could get rid of much of the IRS (save a whopping amount there), and the system would be fair. Just imagine if everyone who pays taxes paid a flat 10 percent. For us, that would be a huge savings. For the budget, it would mean an incredible influx of cash from the wealthier sector, you know, those really wealthy people who, in the end, pay about 6 percent. 

Ah. I can dream, can’t I? 

“Don’t confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other” ~ Erma Bombeck

Lita looking decidedly unglamorous while freezing at Indian Lake

Yes, I am disappointed in President Obama in some ways, but at the same time, I remind myself that it’s only been a year. Given the eight years that W. had to run this country in the ground, I think that we can allow the POTUS a bit more time to try to enact his proposed changes. I can be more patient, and so can you. 

So the stars are coming out for Haiti. Telethons. Glitz, million-dollar donations. I say, let them. It makes them feel useful, and many of those who are on the forefront are known for their charitable giving anyway. 

I didn’t watch the Golden Globes because those ceremonies bore the crap out of me. However, I will admit to watching the after shows in which the fashion police bash the people who appeared on the red carpet. Apparently, ruffles are big this year. Some women looked like they were going to the junior prom in a dress made by their mom. I’m sorry but peach colored ruffles? Yuck. 

Of course, I can sit here in my flannels and holiday socks and say such things because I do not walk red carpets. No one is shoving cameras at me and asking me inane questions. Personally, I’d rather sit here like the lump that I am than have to endure that kind of mob mentality: Ryan Seacrest leering at Mariah Carey’s over-exposed chest yet again. (When is that woman going to realize that she is not 20; her shoulders are really wide, which is not diminished by her humongous globes, and she just looks baaaaa-d in the clothes that she chooses?) 

But I digress . . . 

“You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedures is everything and outcomes are nothing.” ~ Thomas Sowell

Corey in his shades, what else?

Didn’t post yesterday because I was busy sorting through more forms from my doctor, trying to figure out which ones were ready to send to more prescription companies. Managed to get another four packages ready to send, one of which is for my Cymbalta. I just have three left to do, and those are for headache medications. My headache doctor, who isn’t nearly as nice as my back doctor, wouldn’t sign until he had seen me again (even though I just saw him). Luckily, I have already scheduled an appointment for February. 

I also found out today that my hearing for my Social Security benefits may take up to a year to schedule because of the backlog. Luckily, I don’t really have to do anything for that except sign papers and wait. The company representing me does all the hard work. I just show up when/if they finally schedule me. Supposedly the judge hearing these things actually looks at the paperwork and speaks to the person applying to assess validity. 

However, this drawn-out process really makes me wonder how those who supposedly con the system to go on disability ever manage to do so. There seem to be checks and balances at every single turn. But perhaps the checks and balances have been instituted in recent years because of the number of people who have managed to con the system. Who knows. Just more waiting, something I do in my sleep. 

“In its early stages, insomnia is almost an oasis in which those who have to think or suffer darkly take refuge.” ~ Colette

Close-up of Brett at Indian Lake

Speaking of sleep, I fell asleep around 6 a.m., only to wake up about an hour later to take Brett to school, which means that I didn’t really bed down until 7:30. This is getting to be ridiculous. Who does this? I mean, besides people who work the night shift. I don’t work the night shift, and I still don’t sleep at night. I don’t really remember what I dreamt last night, but I have this horrible feeling that Paris Hilton(?) was in it, and that’s just too depressing because it’s a waste of perfectly good dream space. 

Normally Corey takes Brett to school, and I pick him up, but I knew from listening to Corey’s breathing that he didn’t fall asleep until after 5, and he was asleep when Brett came into the room, so there was no point in awaking him when I wasn’t really sound asleep yet. That’s how insomnia is: Either you are fully awake, or you sleep in fits and starts, or the least sound will break your sleep, or all three. Bah. 

Brett has had a bad few days, and I’m not sure as to why. He had seemed to be adjusting to his new medicine, so I don’t know if this is just a hiccup or what. I’m hoping that’s what it is because he only has half a year left to graduate. I would hate for him to crash and miss a lot of school again. 

Anyway, my birthday is coming up this weekend. Have I mentioned that I hate birthdays? I really do, always have. I really don’t know that we’ll be doing anything, maybe a movie. There are a couple that I would like to see. We’ll just have to see how it goes. And then next week I’m having a caudal done on my back for some intra-spine cortisone. Love my life. 

No really, I do love my life, just hate the individual pieces in it sometimes. 

As for the not sleeping, well I imagine that sometime in the next year that, too, will resolve itself. Thankfully, it does not require a form or a signature to do so. Until then, I will try to appreciate the dawns that creep into my bedroom, moving my sight from darkness to pale light: 

It’s at night, when perhaps we should be dreaming, that the mind is most clear, that we are most able to hold all our life in the palm of our skull.  I don’t know if anyone has ever pointed out that great attraction of insomnia before, but it is so; the night seems to release a little more of our vast backward inheritance of instincts and feelings; as with the dawn, a little honey is allowed to ooze between the lips of the sandwich, a little of the stuff of dreams to drip into the waking mind. ~ Brian W. Aldiss 

More pictures from Ohio trip. More later. Peace.  

Music by Enya, “Stars and Midnight Blue” (Don’t know why I don’t think of her when I cannot sleep) . . . 

  

                                                                                                                                  

The Second Room

The maple that trembles in front of our window
Is like another room we enter
Only when falling asleep and near
Dreams, when it’s difficult to know
What distinguishes the soul and the body, and the night.
Then we become little by little this foliage
That endlessly whispers and perhaps travels
With our sleep which it takes in and leads right
To where roots plunge, the very depths,
Where the top of small branches wanders under the wind.
We sleep, the tree keeps watch, it listens to the words
The dark tree of dreams murmurs as it sleeps.
 

~ Jacques Réda “The Second Room” from Return to Calm (found on Crashingly Beautiful)