“I went broke believing/That the simple should be hard.” ~ Matt Nathanson, “All We Are”

Fenêtre Ouverte Sur la Seine, Pierre Bonnard (1912)

“And in the end the words won’t matter
‘Cause in the end nothing stays the same
And in the end dreams just scatter and fall like rain” ~ From “All We Are,” by Matt Nathanson

"Table Set in a Garden," by Pierre Bonnard

Last night I had one of those dreams that seems to go on forever, with changes of scenes, players. I remember that I was in a gourmet wine shop with Anthony Hopkins. There were different selections of cheeses, breads, wines. I was sitting at a table with Hopkins, a couple of characters out of a British mystery novel, some woman who I knew distantly. I had stopped in for a cup of tea because my tea was cold.

Then we were all packed into someone’s Jaguar (not an easy feat) so that we could visit the boarding school of one of the British mystery characters, but it was chained shut. Then Anthony Hopkins became agitated and hit the back end of a parked car. I offered him bread to eat so that there would be less alcohol in his body. Always thinking, I am.

Then, there was this man who owned a vineyard but was also part of a boy band. Don’t ask me who as I don’t listen to boy bands. I thought that it was quite a contradiction. Turns out, though, he was very intelligent and debonair, not a teeny bopper. We were eating chocolate, and he was telling Hopkins, who was now Dr. Mallard (David McCullum) of NCIS, that he would create a label just for him. Someone mentioned Kim Kardashian, and I said that I didn’t like her, which seemed to offend the vintner at first, and then he laughed and said that she was a big fake and that I was the first person he had met who had the guts to say so.

I don’t remember more, but the cheeses were delicious, as was the wine. The thing I remember most about myself in this dream was that I wasn’t myself. I was a different woman, but I don’t know who. Very strange.

“The artist who paints the emotions creates an enclosed world . . . the picture . . . which, like a book, has the same interest no matter where it happens to be. Such an artist, we may imagine, spends a great deal of time doing nothing but looking, both around him and inside him.” ~ Pierre Bonnard

"La Fenêtre," by Pierre Bonnard (1925)

 I do remember just a short blip from another dream: I was walking across the parking lot of a local shopping center, and I was thinking to myself that it would be nice to work in one of the bank’s drive-through booths (all of which were torn down years ago) after hours, just get locked in with the computer and do nothing but write, but then I thought that since it was a bank, they probably wouldn’t let me in after closing. All of this passed through my mind in just a second as I was avoiding a rain-splashed hole in the parking lot pavement.

Then in another dream, I was back at the real estate company, and my old office was very crowded as the owner had moved six people into a two-person space. I remember being quite upset because the filing system that I had created while I was there was in disarray. And then I found stacks of phone messages tied up in bundles. I thought that it was strange that the owner was reviewing all of the phone calls that came into the office.

I always dream about the real estate office where I was marketing director when I am feeling particularly stressed. It’s my grown-up version of an algebra exam dream. Oddly enough, I wasn’t stressed when I fell asleep, so I’m not sure why this scenario popped into my head.

Other than my very strange dreams, not a lot to write about today. It’s beautiful outside—sunshine and temperatures in the 50s. I think that our bout with snow and ice is finally over.

“What I am after is the first impression—I want to show all one sees on first entering the room—what my eye takes in at first glance.” ~ Pierre Bonnard

La Fenêtre Ouverte, by Pierre Bonnard (1921)

Corey managed to put aside a small bit of money so that we could go to the movies last night. Avatar. Wonderful movie. I wasn’t interested in seeing it until Brett saw it with his friends and told me that it was a great movie. Since we have the same tastes in movies, I thought that it might be worth a try. Corey wasn’t sure about it, but he knew that I wanted to see it. So much better than the last movie Corey and I saw.

As much as I dislike megalomaniac James Cameron, I have to admit that he knows how to do a big movie. The storyline was moving, and the picture itself was breathtaking. The only drawback was that the movie was in 3D, which meant that I had to watch with those funky glasses on top of my glasses. Films in 3D get to me after a while, and my eyes begin to hurt. But it was worth it. We both really enjoyed the movie. I understand now what all of the hoopla is about.

The only problem is a slight residual headache from the 3D, of course, wouldn’t expect anything less with my stupid head.

My dreams about wine and cheese made me think of France, which made me think of French painters, hence, the images by Pierre Bonnard, a French post-impressionist painter known for his use of intense colors. Bonnard, who was a contemporary of Toulouse-Latrec and Henri Matisse, was intrigued with light and refracted sunlight. Bonnard did not paint from life; instead he painted from drawings or photographs. I chose his depictions of open windows, as well as the outdoor table with wine and cheese.

 The Internet is not cooperating today. Have no idea as to why, so I’ll stop for now. Maybe I’ll have more to write about tomorrow.

More later. Peace.

Music by Matt Nathanson, “All We Are,” another great song that I first heard on NCIS.

 

All We Are

I tasted, tasted love so sweet
And all of it was lost on me
Buttons sold like property
Sugar on my tongue

I kept falling over
I kept looking backward
I went broke believing
That the simple should be hard

All we are we are
All we are we are
And every day is a start of something beautiful

I wasted, wasted love for you
Traded out for something new
Well, it’s hard to change the way you lose
If you think you never won

‘Cause all we are we are
All we are we are
And every day is a start of something beautiful

And in the end the words won’t matter
‘Cause in the end nothing stays the same
And in the end dreams just scatter and fall like rain

‘Cause all we are we are
All we are we are
And every day is a start of something beautiful, something real

All we are we are
All we are we are
And every day is a start of something beautiful, beautiful

“Under all speech that is good for anything there lies a silence that is better. Silence is deep as Eternity; speech is shallow as Time.” ~ Thomas Carlyle

Key West Sunset by Janson Jones

“A person has three choices in life. You can swim against the tide and get exhausted, or you can tread water and let the tide sweep you away, or you can swim with the tide, and let it take you where it wants you to go.” ~ Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider, Northern Exposure

Wow. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. My head is ringing. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood . . . 

I sat down to post yesterday and realized that I didn’t have anything to say. I hate it when that happens. I will be so glad when this latest bout of whatever finally passes. It’s hard to label it as I don’t really know what it is. Not the blues. More a total lack of energy and constant head pressure. I have been good for absolutely nothing, and it grows weary. 

My cohort Janson Jones in Alaska has been posting some beautiful pictures of Florida on his blog Floridana v3.0, so I thought that I’d share a few with you. Lovely Florida Keys skies. Wish I was there. Actually, I really do wish that I was there as I’ve never been to the Florida Keys but have loved looking at pictures of that area for years. Warm weather, beautiful skies, umbrella drinks—I could do with a little of that right now. 

 

Neonic Blue by Janson Jones

“The journey between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life really takes place.” ~ Barbara De Angelis 

Let’s see. On the home front, Corey has applied for a few port security positions. His Coast Guard training makes him qualified to do that, so maybe he can pick up a job in port security until the tugboat industry gets back on its feet. Who knows when that will be. He hasn’t given up on Vane Brothers, but delivery of their new boat seems to be open-ended at this point. Unfortunately, bills are not open-ended. Hence, the temporary change in focus. 

Haven’t seen much of Alexis lately. I don’t really know what’s up with her. She could be in another one of her moods, or she could just be terribly busy with her life. I try not to read too much into it, having grown accustomed to my daughter’s mood swings. 

I do wish that things would even out for Brett, though. He is on new medication, and seems to be a bit better, but high school has become such an albatross for him that at this point, we are just counting down until graduation. It’s weird, really, how high school can be such a defining experience for some people and not others.  For Brett, it is nothing but something to be endured. For Eamonn, everyday was a party. My sons are so different in so many ways. I try to remind Brett that high school is really very small in the big scheme of things, just a blip on the radar, so to speak. But I know that it’s hard for him to see it that way until he has some distance. 

I’m still not sure if he is going to be ready to tackle college in the fall, but I’m thinking that maybe a bit of time off from academics might be what he needs to figure out what he wants to do with his life. No one ever tells you about this part of parenthood: having to stand by helpless while one of your children is suffering and being able to do little to nothing to make it better. Such a horrible feeling but nothing compared to what he is feeling. 

I just wish that it were somehow possible to absorb other’s pain, to take away the hurts and replace them with a sense of calm. If wishes were fishes . . . 

Dawn, Long Key State Park, Janson Jones

“I sleep and I unsleep. On the other side of me, beyond where I lie down, the silence of the house touches infinity. I hear time falling, drop by drop, and no falling drop is heard falling.” ~ Fernando Pessoa, A Factless Autobiography

I’m back to having violent dreams again. A couple of nights ago, my dream involved knives, lots of sharp knives, and trying to escape from someone in a tunnel that was filling with water. Before that I had a dream with guns again. Maybe it’s too much NCIS. I only know that I wake up exhausted from fighting bad guys. I suppose I should be thankful that I’m sleeping, given the alternative, but is it too much to ask for sleep with restful, pleasant dreams? Probably. 

The songbirds are beginning their pre-dawn canticles, so spring cannot be too far. Each morning around 4 a.m., if the house is silent, I can hear them. It’s such a lovely sound, yet I wish that I were actually sleeping rather than listening to them sing. 

I will be glad for spring, though. Using space heaters makes the house very, very dry, which I’m sure does not help the sinuses. And the space heaters, along with the electric water heater and all of the other electrical appliances are killing the power bill. At the moment, it’s more than a car payment, and if you’ve made a car payment in the last few years, you know how high that can be. 

Someday we’ll be able to install the whole-house gas-on-demand hot water heater that we have; it’s currently sitting in the box it came in, in the storage shed in the back yard. I hate the electric water heater. It’s not power efficient, and it’s small, which means no long showers unless your preference is for cold showers. But it was an electric water heater or no hot water at all until we make friends with Virginia Natural Gas again. 

Power companies are such ripoffs. In our area, Virginia Power and Virginia Natural Gas are monopolies. We have no alternative sources for electricity or natural gas. Bah. 

That’s just about all for now. I’ll leave you with this quote by Alexander Woollcott, which seems quite fitting since I’ve done a whole lot of wishing in this post: “Many of us spend half our time wishing for things we could have if we didn’t spend half our time wishing.” 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Australian trio Sick Puppies, “That Time of Year” (heard on an NCIS episode) 

 

  

  

That Time of Year 

Another Year
Has Come and Gone again
Look around
And think where have you been
Trace the Lines
On your face tonight
And don’t forget
That this will pass in time
It’s cold out this morning
You should be getting into bed
Can’t believe its that time
Of year again

  

Curled up tight
A darker shade of white
Thinking Back could be here for a while 
Its cold out this morning
And it’s getting harder to pretend
Can’t believe it’s that time of year again 
Can you believe the life you led?
Did you achieve the goals you set?
Did you lose your mind?
Well and then 
Is there a reason you own them
It is a season that won’t end
Can’t believe it That time of year again 

Another year
Has come and gone again
Look around
and wonder what happened 

“Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?” ~ Fanny Brice

“Benjamin’s House,” by Andrew Wyeth (1955)

“A bit of advice given to a young Native American at the time of his initiation: ‘As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think.'” ~ Joseph Campbell

I’m in the mood for sparse, hence, the Andrew Wyeth images. My favorite is the last one: “Renfield.”

"Wind from the Sea," by Andrew Wyeth (1947)

Lovely visit to the pain management group yesterday. Trigger point injections from my neck to my bum. I saw one of the new Physician’s Assistants that joined the group last November. He seemed a bit nervous about giving me the injections until he realized that I wasn’t squeamish. After that, he proceeded to inject everything in sight (slight overstatement). Anyway, I felt like a pin cushion, came home and had to lie down on the heating pad.

A bit better today, but very sore. I told Corey that I’m not certain about this new guy, and Corey reminded me that he hasn’t been giving trigger point injections for years like my other doctors. Good point. Guess I’ll have to wait and see.

Brett used my computer last night to write something about Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” for school. Personally, I have never been that big of a Kafka fan. Just not my cup of tea, so to speak. A story about a man becoming a giant cockroach gives me the willies. I know. It’s about alienation, distance, loneliness. A masterpiece reflecting the identity of self in society . . . Ya da ya da ya da. He’s still a cockroach.

“In reading, a lonely quiet concert is given to our minds; all our mental faculties will be present in this symphonic exaltation.” ~ Stéphane Mallarmé

"West Window," by Andrew Wyeth

Once the omnipresent head pressure of the last few weeks began to lessen, I was finally able to read the last three Harry Potter books in quick order. I had forgotten how much I really love the last book. Then I thought about all of the e-mails I get from my Goodreads contacts in which they list what they have read lately, and it made me pause. I haven’t really read anything new in a while. I’ve been rereading old favorites. I suppose there’s nothing really wrong with rereading, as it is something that I have always done, revisiting favorites once a year or so, but sometimes I feel as if I am not making any forward motion in my reading.

What I mean is that I feel a general lack in my background as far as world literature is concerned. I am hard-pressed when it comes to naming new authors from around the world, those who are considered to be contributing to the literary canon, as it were. And when I feel like this, I miss Mari, and teaching, and the department. Being surrounded by colleagues, attending lectures, reading journal articles, going to literary festivals—these things serve as a constant stimulus and impetus; the desire to remain current stays at the forefront at all times.

I miss that. But then, I miss many things, as you are probably weary of hearing me lament. Most probably, I miss the idea of working, the positive aspects of being amidst a job that stimulates the brain. When I get like this, though, I remind myself of the less than positive aspects: the backstabbing, the politics, the endless time-consuming meetings about nothing at all. These things I do not miss.

“When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

"Monday Morning," by Andrew Wyeth (1955)

Corey and I talk about the possibility of my returning to work full time. The idea of doing so appeals to me greatly, but would my body allow it? And working at home would serve no purpose other than to bring in income, which I am doing (to some extent). It would not allow me to get out of the house, be in different surroundings for several hours a day. It’s all so vexing, having no clear answers.

Anyway, Corey did speak with his contact at Vane Brothers, who told him that delivery of the new boat has been put back because of the bad weather. No surprise there. He did tell Corey that he would make a note that Corey has stayed in touch and continued to express interest in working for the company. I suppose that’s the best that can be expected. Yet another shipping company to which Corey applied has said that they are not hiring anyone new at the moment, even though their website listed open positions. Such a depressing mantra.

We are coming to the end of February, and Corey’s current unemployment extension is about to end. I know that another bill for yet another unemployment extension is before Congress, but who knows if it will be approved. God know that it should be considering that over 10 percent of the population is unemployed. We can only wait and hope and in the meantime, keep sending in applications.

“Passion is a positive obsession. Obsession is a negative passion.” ~ Paul Carvel

My Australian friend Maureen of White Orchid mentioned something in a recent post to which I can really relate: Apparently, the reality show “Little Miss Perfect” airs in Australia, and Maureen and her daughter watched an episode. For those of you who do not know to what I am referring, “Little Miss Perfect” is a show about child pageant contestants and their mothers . . . No, I’m not kidding.

"Renfield," by Andrew Wyeth (1999)

Apparently someone thought that this form of child abuse would make for good television. Child abuse? What would you call it? These little girls are made up to look like little beauty contestants, complete with fake eyelashes, make-up, costumes, the works. They have mothers who give them nothing but candy before the pageants so that they’ll be full of energy. This is good parenting?

Okay. I know that there are some people out there who love pageants, love the whole idea of the pageant circuit, participated in it, thought that it was the best thing since Barbie got longer hair. Whatever. You are entitled to your opinion. If you did it and you loved it. Great for you.

I’m looking at it from a totally different perspective: that of a sane person (relatively). These little girls are being indoctrinated into that whole concept that their entire self-worth is tied to their looks, to their ability to charm, to their willingness to please. Does no one else see anything wrong with this? We’ve raised generations of young women who regularly abuse their bodies in attempts to conform to airbrushed magazine images. We have agents who tell size 4 models that they are too fat (just read that one in the news). We have young women who are getting Botox before they are 25.

The need to fit in, to conform, to wear the right clothes, to carry the right purse, to be like everyone else—that need is as ancient as the concept of societies. But there is something very, very wrong with a society that condones taking five-year-old girls and plastering eye shadow on them and sending them out on a stage to compete with other five-year-olds for crowns and trophies rewarding them for being cute.

Let me pause here. No, I do not believe that every child should be given a trophy simply for showing up to school. No, I am not against healthy competition. Yes, I believe that innate talents should be honed and fostered. Yes, there will always be someone who is the valedictorian, and rightly so. But must we start at such a young, impressionable age at teaching our little girls that beauty is the answer to all of their problems?

Just consider the title of the show: “Little Miss Perfect.” What is perfection? The right dress? The best walk? The most winning smile? Are these young girls not being indoctrinated to grow up into young women who strive to fit into a size 2? Who will turn to plastic surgery to take out an imagined imperfection in a nose? And perhaps most importantly, are they being given the tools to face the real world? What will they do when their beauty does not open every door? How will they cope when they get their first stretch mark?

Yes, I know that I’ve said it before, but as I commented to Maureen, this concept of instilling unrealistic expectations at a very young age makes me want to throttle someone. I am reminded of the woman in Texas who put a hit out on the mother of her daughter’s cheerleading rival. True story (click here for info). I am also reminded of the mother of a girl who went to my former high school. This mother called me after cheering tryouts at which I had judged to drill me about why her daughter had not been chosen. All I could think of was how she had gotten my phone number?

Who are these people? Where does that kind of obsessive behavior originate? It has to begin somewhere. “Little Miss Perfect” my ass.

More later. Peace.

Red House Painters, “Have You Forgotten?”