“We don’t understand that life is heaven, for we have only to understand that and it will at once be fulfilled in all its beauty, we shall embrace each other and weep.” ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

Bateau Acadien*

“We work in the dark—we do what we can—we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.” ~ Henry James

Dried Fishing Boat at Udaipur Sea Beach in West Bengal

Well, Corey finally got a telephone call from the security people. He goes in tonight to fill out his paper work and to attend an orientation. It’s so funny because not even an hour ago, he was bemoaning the fact that he hadn’t received a phone call yet, and it was really worrying him. Now he is worried about going to work. As he puts it, he hasn’t worked in so long that he has no idea what to expect. I told him that I was certain he would be fine.

The company representative reiterated that they think that Corey is overqualified for this particular position, and that they will not hold it against him if he finds a better job. He said that Corey should look on this as a stepping stone.

I am so happy for him. I have a feeling that once he begins working, everything will fall into place. For now, I will have to drive Corey to work on those days that conflict with Brett’s school schedule or other appointments, but it will be so worth it.

“If there were a little more silence, if we all kept quiet . . . maybe we could understand something.” ~ Frederico Fellini

Abandoned Fishing Boat, Threipmuir, Edinburgh, Scotland

More very strange dreams last night, very intricate. I do remember that I was doing a lot of walking to and from place to place and that I felt really good about myself for doing so much walking. Must have something to do with the fact that I planned to start walking today, but of course, I awoke to rain.

In parts of my dream, my father was going to divorce my mother; someone killed chickens in the kitchen; a man and woman moved into the townhouse next door to mine and tried to take my family and me captive; the boys were very young again; Corey and I decided to just pack what we really wanted and to leave everything else behind so that we could start over, and I was packing backpacks for all of us.

Why does the mind work in the way that it does during dreams? Whenever my father comes to me in dreams, it is almost always in some kind of bizarre form with a little bit of truth behind it. I understand that dreaming about my sons’ younger versions is my own sense of wishing that they were younger and still needed me as they did then, but why do I always dream about conflict?

I heard somewhere that every person in your dreams actually represents yourself. I don’t really think that is true because so many people in my dreams act in ways that are totally alien to me.

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” ~ Thomas Merton

The family got together on Sunday for lunch to celebrate the three birthdays. Alexis planned everything. It was very nice, and even my mother seemed to enjoy herself—such a rarity. My s-i-l Ann and I decided that we are quite content to pass the baton for planning family gatherings to Alexis since she seems to have such a knack for it. We haven’t informed her of this yet. I’m sure she will be pleased . . . not.

Old Boat Returning to Nature

For some very strange reason, I have been craving lobster. Now if you knew me, you would know what an aberration this is. I don’t believe in eating lobsters as they can live to be incredibly old if left alone. I think that there is something very elegant about these creatures that live in the bottom of the sea, just meandering along, bothering no one. In fact, I make it well nigh impossible for anyone who is dining on lobster to enjoy their meal as I put my fingers together and say “Help me” in a squeaky voice.

So bearing that in mind, why would I be craving something I don’t believe in eating? This, too, makes no sense to me. It would be akin to my craving lamb or veal, neither of which I will eat. Is this my own version of pica, that eating disorder that occurs in very young children in which they eat non-nutrive substances for no apparent reason? Geez.

“Do you find coming to terms with the mindless tedium of it all presents an interesting challenge?” ~ Douglas Adams, The Hitcher’s Guide to the Galaxy

Old Boat on Càrna Overlooking Caol Chàrna, Scotland

My word for the day is tedium, from the Latin taedium, which means irksomeness. I mean, that is what most days are, really. The tedium, the unending parade of washing machine commercials, telephone calls that result in no forward progress, mail from companies wanting more and more when there is less and less, the stream of cars lined up at stop lights, each individual wrapped up in his or her own world, just waiting for the light to turn green.

Life being dealt out in seconds and minutes of rushing to where exactly? Our own mortality? People going to jobs they hate but saying nothing because having any job is better than no job. Mothers and fathers waiting after school for their children to be released from school only to spend the next two to three hours shuffling them from one extra-curricular activity to another, but is there any interaction going on in the car, the minivan, the SUV between parent and child while on the way to somewhere?

The cacophony of reality television in which the people being shown are doing anything but leading real lives. Shows about fat people, famous people, people with huge families, people who are famous because they are famous, people whose vices are held up as virtues because they can win the island, people who wear seven-carat diamond rings and bemoan their inability to have real friendships, people who are hoarders, addicts, moguls, and more.

“Behind your image, below your words, above your thoughts, the silence of another world waits.” ~ John O’Donohue

Colbost Jetty, Skye, England, by Bob Jones (used under Creative Commons License)

And then there is me: putting my life on this page for anyone to see. Sharing intimate moments, triumphs and failures. Writing about life, love, loss, and nothing at all. Castigating politicians and talking heads. Caressing words as if they hold all of the power. But they do hold all of the power. Words. Words that pass on knowledge. Words that wound. Words that awaken the soul to beauty. Words that weave stories and morality tales and dreams. Words that are hollow and hard. Words that are sour and somber.

Sometimes, it is all so tedious, this life. One long line of I want, and I don’t have, and Why me, and What will happen? Mortgage restructuring, debt consolidation, loans and repayments. This is civilization and all of its entanglements. Pity the poor fool who yearns for this rough and tumble existence over what she already has.

Tedium. Thoroughly tiresome. Bone-shakingly, soul-achingly stultifying. The alternative? Silence and nothingness.

More later. Peace.

“Your Song,” duet with Elton John and Ronan Keating (what a great name)

*All images found on Wikimedia Commons

“Better to write for yourself and have no public than to write for the public and have no self.” ~ Cyril Connolly

Venetian Masks

“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.” ~ Ben Okri

A beautiful spring day here. Tillie is outside playing ball with Corey. Brett is playing XBox Live with a friend from school, and I’m sitting here squinting at the screen because of the pulsating pain that is omnipresent behind my forehead. 

Carnevale di Venezia

Ah, the rich pageantry of life . . . 

I received my lab results in the mail from my last visit to my PCP, and boy were they not good. My triglycerides are high, as is my cholesterol. My liver function is abnormal, and so is my glucose level. The only good news is that my calcium is in good shape, so no brittle bones for me. The reality is that I’m a slug, a slug on the precipice of diabetes, and I have to do something about it. Yes, I know. Exercise is the best possible remedy, and I have had that particular item on my things to do list. Just hasn’t happened yet. 

It’s funny. I run a lot in my dreams, long, beautiful strides, moving like air. In real life, I cannot run. It just kills me. Running would be the fastest way to get in shape, but I do not foresee that happening anytime soon. So, it’s time to get the exercise bike out and do some regular pedaling. At one time, when I belonged to the community center, I was doing my regular weight workout and cycling eight miles a day, so obviously I can do it. Now, I just need to get off my buttocks. 

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

As I type, I can hear Shakes in my closet, trying to shift my shoe boxes so as to build a more comfortable nest. I swear that the Jack Russells think that they are cats. They do possess some very cat-like qualities. 

Venetian Volto (full-face) Mask

I am reading a book about Mary, Queen of Scots. Quite interesting. The biggest problem that I have when reading history comes from the surplus of names. Until I am well into the book, I find myself continuously going back to the list of characters to clarify a person’s identify. So many lords of this and that—it becomes confusing. I do love to read history that is well written, though, especially when it involves some sort of murder. 

I still remember a revisionist book that I read years ago called Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, I believe. It was a retake on Richard III in which the king is made into a kinder, gentler character. Fascinating. My image of Richard III relies heavily on the Shakespearean play, one of my favorites, but reading an alternate version was eye-opening. 

The problem with some historical fiction is that it can drift into so much supposition, as was the case with Patricia Cornwell’s supposed dissection of Jack the Ripper’s identity, or it can be romanticized, which doesn’t really serve anyone well. 

“I want an infinitely blank book and the rest of time . . .” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer

Let’s see . . . what else is going on in my little world?  Not much, I have to say. I watched a television movie, “Who is Clark Rockefeller?” Unbelievable. I watched it because I had heard about this con man a few years ago who claimed to be a Rockefeller, you know, one of the Rockefellers. Turns out, he wasn’t, but not only was he not one of the Rockefellers, he was a German immigrant who had remade himself about five different times, including an incarnation in which he may have been involved in a murder. 

Feather Mask

I know that some people must think that it would be easy to spot a con man or woman for what he or she really is, but I don’t think so. I think that if someone is really good at creating personas, it would be very hard to see through that mask. I mean, we all wear masks that are dependent on where we are or who we happen to be with at any given time. However, for most people, the depth of these masks is quite minimal. It’s called adapting. 

But people who possess the goal to completely recreate themselves—new names, new histories, new everything—that involves something quite different from mere adaptation; it’s regeneration. And I imagine that to do that, there must be a level of commitment that is beyond what most of us have within ourselves. I’m not talking about a mere alias, or a writing persona. I mean the whole egg: voice, inflection, hair and eye color, mannerisms, clothing, and so much more. And putting all of that on and not taking it off for years at a time. I think that there would have to be an underlying psychopathy in the individual. 

This Clark guy was married for 12 years and had a child. His wife did not realize that he was a fake until the divorce proceedings. The feds had a hard time believing that she had no inkling, but as she stated, she was in love and had no reason not to believe him even though there were signs along the way. This was a Harvard MBA, a woman with a powerful job. She was not by any means stupid. 

“You believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” ~ Marilyn Monroe

Carnival Masks

But think about it: How many of us have put on an act when first meeting someone, especially someone of the opposite sex who we were trying to impress?  So many little white lies, so many affectations. I dated someone when I was a teenager who was an inveterate liar, truly. He just did not know how to tell the truth. Being young and in love, I would tell myself my own lies when I caught him in an inconsistency. It was easier that way. Eventually, I allowed myself to face the truth and moved on, but I understand how sometimes we do not see what is right before us because it is easier. 

All of this brings me to a question, something that Corey and I have had many discussions about: Is an omission a lie? I believe that it is. He does not believe that an omission is a lie. I am wondering if this is a gender thing . . . 

I mean, I have always felt that not telling someone that you have done something that might affect your relationship (and I don’t mean what you ate for breakfast or who you sat next to on the train) is the same as lying about it, but are my standards unrealistic? It’s entirely possible. My association with the habitual liar made me very wary; I freely admit that. And then too, my own lies of omission make me suspicious. By that I mean that at one point in my life, I was guilty of several major lies of omission, not in my relationship with Corey, but with someone else. At the time, it was just easier not to say anything. But I suppose that I am sensitive to lies of omission having used them to my advantage in the past. 

What do you think? 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Leonard Cohen (yes, Maureen)—”In My Secret Life” 

 

                                                                                                                                 

I’m including a bonus link to a slideshow from Parabola Online Magazine. Thanks to Crashingly Beautiful for continued inspiration: A Snowy Day at Seven Jewels Lake by Ven Bikkhu Bodhi  

  

 

My Migraine Brain: An Ongoing Saga

Migraine Brain Imaging

“She’s like a crack whore without the dignity” ~ From The Uninvited

Hello migraine. It’s been one whole week since we last visited. Don’t you think that you are dropping in unannounced a bit too often? I mean, it’s not that you are totally unexpected, but you do seem to be visiting more often than of late, kind of like you did a few years ago. And your intensity . . . wow. You seem to have renewed vigor. Are you just laughing at the magnesium? I tend to think that you are.

I really hope that this isn’t a new trend on your part. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see . . .

“Uninvited,” by Alanis Morisette

“Everything stated or expressed by man is a note in the margin of a completely erased text.” ~ Fernando Pessoa

Blooming Sour Cherry Tree, Switzerland

“The various thoughts which arise in our minds are nothing but the scenery of the Life of the Self.” ~ Uchiyama Kosho

Spring in Vorarlberg, Austria

Very little sleep again last night . . . I got up early this morning to take my other mother-in-law to DMV to get a replacement license. I suppose this is my first time alone in trying to do something with her since her condition has worsened, and I must say that it was an awakening.  When I got to her house, she did not know why I was there, and then we had to spend time looking for her social security card, which she was certain she had lost. As it turns out, it was in her wallet. 

I really wasn’t sure if they would replace her license as I put Parkinson’s on the form under medical conditions, but I don’t think that the woman at the counter even glanced at that particular box. In a way I am very dismayed by the outcome. Her license was replaced, which means that she is legal to drive. She assured me that she won’t drive unless she feels up to it and that she will not drive at night, but after spending the morning with her, I am worried that she might get in the car and forget where she is going, only to get lost. 

To say that I am saddened by the helplessness of a once-vital woman who has been such a big part of my life for so many years is a huge understatement. Like so many others of us in the sandwich generation, watching my children grow and come into their own while simultaneously my elders decline and lose so much of themselves has become the sad reality of life. 

“How hard it is to escape from places. However carefully one goes they hold you—you leave little bits of yourself fluttering on the fences . . . little rags and shreds of your very life . . . ” ~ Katherine Mansfield

Claife Station, Western Shore of Windermere, NW England

The weather here is beautiful, a bit chilly, but sunny and clear. For some reason, when the weather starts to become warmer, Shakes takes to hiding in my closet, nested within the shoe boxes and clothes that have fallen in the back. It’s very unnerving to go to the closet door and hear rustling. Maybe he likes the cool, dark of the closet. Who knows. When I was a child, I remember going into my closet during thunder storms. I wasn’t really scared, everything  just sounded better from within the depths of the closet. 

A few nights ago I dreamed about my cousin from Great Bridge again. We were very close when we were growing up, but other than the funerals, I haven’t seen very much of him lately, which is why it’s disturbing that I seem to be dreaming about him about once a month now, and he is always in some kind of dilemma, not danger, but facing some kind of problem. Another who knows . . . 

Some good news with a caveat: Corey spoke to someone at the port security firm today, and she told him that she had a list of names to call of individuals in whom the company is not interested, and his name is not on the list. The head guy comes back next Monday, so perhaps Corey will get some good news next week. Here’s hoping. 

“There is no refuge from memory and remorse in this world. The spirits of our foolish deeds haunt us, with or without repentance.” ~ Gilbert Parker

Bois de la Cambre, Brussels

Tomorrow is Alexis’s EEG, which is supposed to take eight hours (blimey), and then she has her MRI on Friday. It will be good to get the tests out of the way, but then more waiting for results. Overall, she is handling everything really well, or maybe she’s hiding it from me. There is no way to be certain. I just know that I’m on perpetual worry mode until we find out something concrete, which may or may not happen. 

I think that Alexis realizes what a worrier I am, so she probably does not let on if she is fretting herself. But she seems to be fairly calm, which is a good thing. I can worry enough for everyone. 

I didn’t tell my other m-i-l about Alexis’s seizure as I didn’t see any need to worry her. I was thinking about it, especially when she asked how Alexis is doing, but I decided that in this particular situation, discretion is most definitely the better part of valor. The last thing she needs on her mind is whether or not something is wrong with one of her grandchildren. 

“There is an eternal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives.” ~ Josephine Hart

Spring in Vonêche, Belgium

Since it’s getting close to spring, I wanted to feature some spring images from other parts of the world (found on Wikimedia Commons). I have images in my mind of Europe in the spring, the hills in Scotland, vast expanses of green in the English countryside. I know that I saw them as a child, and even then they imprinted themselves on my memory.  

Personally, part of me longs to live in a small European village dotted with houses with steep roofs. I hate the suburbs. I hate ranch houses. I hate driving down a road that is one long line of unending convenience store chains, grocery stores, and car repair shops. I wonder if the place actually exists that I have created in my mind’s eye, the small place, with local shopkeepers, a small flower store, and in the background, fields of wildflowers, a creek. 

But more, I wonder if I would really love it in reality as much as I think I love it in my mind. 

More later. Peace. 

“Be Here Now,” by Ray LaMontagne 

“The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

“Spring Rain,” by John Sloan (1912, oil on canvas)

“Between the wish and the thing the world lies waiting.” ~ Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

Pink Peony with Drops from Night Rain (Wikimedia Commons)

I’m back. Had a brief hiatus while waiting for our Internet to be restored. Usual problem. Anyway, as a result, I am behind on posting as well as reading my favorite blogs, which I plan to do after writing this post. I did spend a bit of my time experimenting with making a couple of videos with Windows Movie Maker. Interesting. Now I just need to figure out how to grab clips from existing movies . . . 

My life is so full. 

Today is my mother’s birthday; tomorrow is Eamonn’s birthday, and tomorrow is my other mother-in-law’s birthday. Speaking of which, yesterday, my other mother-in-law dropped by the house. I was mortified, of course, because the house is in its usual disarray, but what can you do? My o-m-i-l has Parkinson’s Disease, so I was actually quite surprised that she drove over to our house. Surprised, and a bit scared. Her condition has been worsening, and I’m not sure that she should really be driving, but I truly understand how having driving privileges taken away is one of the last vestiges of independence. 

She realizes that she is getting worse, and it really consumes and frustrates her when she is talking and forgets in the middle of a sentence. Parkinson’s is a relentless, unsympathetic condition that gradually eats away the brain. I have known one other person who had it. For those of you who don’t believe in stem cell research, I give you brain tumors and Parkinson’s—two medical conditions that definitely benefit from such research. 

The weather here has been chilly and rainy the last few days, but it is supposed to get warmer towards the end of the week. Spring would be nice. It usually arrives in this area suddenly, and lasts less than a month before becoming hot and humid. 

“Each moment that I wait feels like a year, an eternity. Each moment is as slow and transparent as glass. Through each moment I can see infinite moments lined up, waiting.” ~ Audrey Niffenegger, The  Time Traveler’s Wife

Rain on Silene Flower (Wikimedia Commons)

In other news: Brett’s two gerbils, Ben and Jerry, both died within one week of each other. They were brothers, and Brett had them for more than three years. Of course he is saddened by the loss, as am I. They were actually pretty adorable. Fortunately, both Corey and I were around when Brett discovered Jerry, and then later, Ben. I know that made it a bit easier for him as opposed to finding out by himself. 

On Saturday, Brett took his SATs (college board examination). It’s late in the year to be taking them, but he really wasn’t sure what he was going to do this fall. Now he is thinking that he wants to go to Old Dominion for a year. With any luck, he’ll get credit for some of the freshman classes that he has taken in high school, which will save us some money. No point in asking the ex if he plans to help pay for college as he wouldn’t even cough up half of the co-pay for Brett’s medicine. Such a loser. Such a disappointment. 

Alexis had her appointment with the neurologist last Thursday, who confirmed that her seizure was a grand mal seizure, also known as a tonic-clonic seizure. This kind of seizure features a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions. Since Alexis has been on a medication that also functions as an anti-seizure medicine, the neurologist thinks that perhaps she may have had seizures before that were prevented by the medication but that this one was particularly bad. She is scheduled for an EEG on Thursday, and an MRI soon. 

The neurologist says that after seeing the results of those two tests he will have a much better idea as to whether or not she has developed epilepsy, which usually presents between the ages of 17 and 21 when not caused by an injury. That I know of, there is no history of epilepsy in our family, but the doctor says that it is not always genetic. I had a cousin on my mother’s side who had epilepsy, but it developed after she was in a serious car accident and suffered a head injury. Other than that, I know of no one else in the family on either side, but then again, I do not know everyone on my father’s side in the Philippines. 

The neurologist also said that he thinks it unlikely that her Wellbutrin caused the seizure since she has been on it for more than four years. All of this is worrisome, but I had a feeling that it wasn’t her medication. Now it’s more waiting until after the tests for some definitive news. 

Corey still hasn’t heard from the port security firm, which is so disappointing. They had told him that they hoped to make a decision by mid week last week. He plans to calls them tomorrow. More waiting. 

“I’m killing time while I wait for life to shower me with meaning and happiness.” ~ Bill Watterson

Last night I had a very strange dream in which it was Fashion Week, but it was here and not in New York. Bizarre. Equally bizarre was the portion of the dream in which I was on the run from someone and wanted to change my appearance, so I went into a hair salon and asked a woman to cut and dye my hair. She recommended a color, which I agreed to, but then she said that my hair would be several different colors, including bleached blonde, and the colors wouldn’t be blended but in horizontal stripes. I told the woman that I really didn’t want striped hair, especially not blonde. She told me that that was what I had agreed to, so she was going to do it. 

Very weird.

Other than that, the long wait continues: the wait for decisions, decisions about jobs, decisions about funds, decisions about school; the wait for warmer weather and spring blossoms; the wait for better sleep and less anxiety; the wait for things to fall into place, or not. I spend so much time waiting, that I am forgetting to live, forgetting to experience, forgetting sometimes, even to breathe deeply. The wait is interminable. The interminable is vexing. 

I am reminded of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”—the wait for what, exactly? The unknown continuing to rule the minutes, the hours, the days . . . until, what? It is March 15, the ides of March. One quarter of the year has passed. The changes I predicted are no nearer now than they were last December. Corey and I were watching something last night, and the ending was too perfect. And I suddenly said, this had better not be a dream, and sure enough, it was a dream, and when the man dreaming awoke, he was still in the same place, still facing the same uncertainties, still pining for change. 

This had better not be a dream. 

More later. Peace. 

                                                                                                                                  

So here is my first YouTube video, Jann Arden and Jackson Browne singing “Unloved.” Most of the images are mine. Hope you like it. 

“I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends . . . that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.” ~ Adlai Stevenson

Tom DeLay:  People are unemployed because they want to be . . .

The following article was in today’s Huffington Post: 

Tom "Dirtbag" DeLay

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay called Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) “brave” on Sunday for launching a one-man filibuster of unemployment benefits, arguing that they dissuaded people from going out and finding work. 

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the Texas Republican said that Bunning’s fiscal responsibility was commendable, even if his shenanigans (refusing to allow unemployment benefits to be considered by unanimous consent) nearly brought the Senate to a halt. 

“Nothing would have happened if the Democrats had just paid for [the benefits],” Delay said. “People would have gotten their unemployment compensation. I think Bunning was brave in standing up there and taking it on by himself.” 

Asked whether it was bad strategy to make a budget stand on a $10 billion extension of unemployment (as opposed to, say, the Bush’s $720 billion prescription drug package), Delay insisted that if the PR had been done right, Bunning would have been applauded. Helping the unemployed with federal assistance, he said, was unsound policy. 

“You know,” Delay said, “there is an argument to be made that these extensions, the unemployment benefits keeps (sic) people from going and finding jobs. In fact there are some studies that have been done that show people stay on unemployment compensation and they don’t look for a job until two or three weeks before they know the benefits are going to run out. 

Host Candy Crowley: Congressman, that’s a hard sell, isn’t it? 

Delay: it’s the truth. 

Crowley: People are unemployed because they want to be? 

Delay: well, it is the truth. and people in the real world know it. And they have friends and they know it. Sure, we ought to be helping people that are unemployed find a job, but we also have budget considerations that are incredibly important, especially now that Obama is spending monies that we don’t have.’ 

I am also including a section from the full transcript that was not part of the Huffington Post article. 

 

“For me, the most disturbing aspect of the Republican political culture is how it puts its unquenchable thirst for power, domination and a radical ideology above facts, reason and the truth.” ~ Former Vice President Al Gore

Where do I begin to respond to such crap? May I just inject the term sweeping generalization? Or circular logic? Non sequitur, anyone? Or how about a good old verbal fallacy of composition (people are unemployed because they want to be, and people in the real world know it). Okay, maybe not a true fallacy of composition, but you get my point. 

Delay is a douchebag, a dirtball, a divisive so-and-so. It is so easy to cast stones from that glass house, isn’t it Mr. Indictment? I know that you said that you wish you were in the middle of the healthcare reform fight right now, but wait, you lost your seat because of a little thing called ethics, wasn’t it? Never mind. Capitalizing on that former Senate seat as a political consultant keeps you off the unemployment rolls, especially since everyone turns a blind eye to the $190,000 in illegal campaign contributions. What’s a couple of hundred grand between friends? 

I know that Corey has been sitting around on his butt for the past two years and that our family has been living the high life with a combined income of disability and unemployment because we like it like this. Yes sir. Boy oh boy, do we. I’m thinking of hiring a personal trainer next week because we are so flush. 

I want to know who these people in the real world are of whom Delay speaks and where I can find them. I mean, let’s just use the facts for a moment, shall we? Unemployment statistics are hovering at around 10 percent, and as I’ve pointed out, that is not including the underemployed, the full-time employees who have been cut to part-time, or those whose unemployment has been exhausted. Go to the grocery store. If there are 20 people in line in total at all of the registers, at least two of them are unemployed, and it would be hard to say how many of them fall into the second category. 

When you are walking down the street, look around you. At least two of the people near you are unemployed or underemployed. Look at their faces. Do they look happy to you? Content? At peace with the status quo? Take it a step further: Look at all twenty of those people in line at the grocery store. How many of them actually look happy? This is not a happy country right now. People as a whole are not happy. People who are lucky enough to have jobs know that they should be happy, but that doesn’t stop them from worrying about the next round of cuts at their factory, or store, or university. 

No One Is Safe. It’s not a matter of  the haves (with the exception of a top tier that has remained untouched), and the have-nots. What you have today could be taken away tomorrow, or next week, or next month. 

And please. Before you get on your roll and try to blame it on Obama or Congress, let’s try to be a bit realistic. Democrats have had power for 15 months. George Bush was in the White House for eight years or 96 months, which means that President Obama has had roughly 15.6 percent of the time in office that Bush had. And with obstructionist Republicans like Bunning and former Senator Delay sticking their feet out in the aisles so as to prevent any forward volition, it’s a miracle that anything has been done. 

In the words of the inimitable Andy Rooney: 

“Republicans . . . are conservatives who think it would be best if we faced the fact that people are no damned good. They think that if we admit that we have selfish, acquisitive natures and then set out to get all we can for ourselves by working hard for it, that things will be better for everyone. They are not insensitive to the poor, but tend to think the poor are impoverished because they won’t work. They think there would be fewer of them to feel sorry for if the government did not encourage the proliferation of the least fit among us with welfare programs.” 

Bah, I say. Bah. 

More later. Peace. 

Sheryl Crow, “Murder in My Heart” 

“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.” ~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One of Corey’s Handmade Keepsake Boxes 

“Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened” ~ T.S. Eliot

Well, I tried to do a favor for my mom, and it didn’t quite work out the way that I thought that it would. Big surprise. She needs to file an amended tax return for 2007, and since I’m fairly good at taxes, I thought, how hard could it be? It turns out, pretty hard if she does not have a copy of her 1040 in the files. Apparently, my mother has been getting her taxes prepared for free at a community center that specializes in doing tax preparation for senior citizens. Sounds great, right? It would be great if they had given her a copy of her completed tax return; instead, they gave her a summary sheet.

This makes completing the 1040X form darn near impossible since I need to pull specific items off the 1040 for the amended return. Trying to explain this to my mother was almost as taxing as trying to recreate her 1040. My mother is not a stupid person by any means, but she is woefully tech unsavvy, which means that trying to explain to her exactly what I needed and why I needed it turned into a 45-minute conversation. Her response to me was that I should just get on the computer and find her 2007 return.

You see, my mother is a big believer in the permanent record, you know, as in “that will go on your permanent record,” and unfortunately, after watching the Sandra Bullock movie The Net years ago, my mother is convinced that everyone has a permanent record that looms out there somewhere just waiting to be accessed. I tried to explain that I really needed to know how they filed her return, and her response was “the computer.”

Arghh. Good grief, Charlie Brown.

“Some things don’t last forever, but some things do. Like a good song, or a good book, or a good memory you can take out and unfold in your darkest times, pressing down on the corners and peering in close, hoping you still recognize the person you see there.” ~ Sarah Dessen

Yesterday, Corey had a surprise for Brett and me: Corey has been working on a secret project for a couple of months, and he was ready to unveil his project for us. Turns out, he’s been building boxes, you know, as in keepsake boxes. He had seen one in a catalogue that he liked, but it was listed for $30, which gave Corey the idea to see how much it would cost to build one of his own. He built four, images of which are included in this post. It was hard to get a good shot of the Led Zeppellin box as it is very glossy, which does not translate well to a picture with the lighting in our house.

I was pretty impressed. He did all kinds of cost analyses on materials; he tried different techniques, and he came up with four versions. Corey said that he was aiming for a rustic look, kind of like old ammunition and fruit boxes. These four were just his experimental models, he told us. They are nice, solid wooden boxes that can be used to store games, or letters, or whatever. Now I know why there hasn’t been any room in the shed . . .

All of us—the kids, Corey, and I—have our own special boxes in which we put cards, awards, letters, and miscellaneous other things. All of our boxes are full. I have filled three of these over the years. Now I have the “Imagine” box that Corey made with me in mind. Brett claimed the AK-47 box.

Now that he has experimented and seems to have worked out many of the kinks, he says that he wouldn’t mind making personalized boxes for presents, which I think is a lovely idea.

“One lives in the hope of becoming a memory.” ~ Antonio Porchia 

Speaking of presents, we have three birthdays in March: my mother’s, Eamonn’s, and my other mother-in-law’s, on the 15th, 16th, and 17th of the month.  I have no idea what Eamonn wants for his birthday this year, but I do know that he may have to wait before he gets anything. That’s just how life is at the moment.

Other than those tidbits, not much is going on. The Academy Awards were on last night. I did not watch. I find the program itself to be unendurably long and boring, and the supposedly witty repartee that each year’s host engages in inevitably falls flat. I cannot imagine the combination of Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, and from what I’ve read, most people wish that the combo had not been hosting.

I will probably watch the red carpet wrap-up on VH-1 as I love to look at beautiful gowns, as well as the less-than-appealing ones. You know, the ones that make you scratch your head and say, “what could she possibly have been thinking.”

I was very glad that Kathryn Bigelow won for “Hurt Locker.” I have heard many good things about the movie, which is on my want-to-see list. It’s about time a female director won. Part of me really did not want insufferable egomaniac James Cameron to win so that we did not have to endure another “I’m King of the World!” moment.

More later. Peace.

Music by Bon Iver, “Stacks”

Stacks

This my excavation and today is kumran
Everything that happens from now on
This is pouring rain
This is paralyzed

I keep throwing it down two-hunded at a time
It’s hard to find it when you knew it
When your money’s gone
And you’re drunk as hell

On your back with your racks as the stacks are your load
In the back and the racks and the stacks of your load
In the back with your racks and you’re un-stacking your load

Well I’ve been twisting to the sun and the moon
I needed to replace
The fountain in the front yard is rusted out
All my love was down
In a frozen ground

There’s a black crow sitting across from me
His wiry legs are crossed
He is dangling my keys, he even fakes a toss
Whatever could it be
That has brought me to this loss?

On your back with your racks as the stacks are your load
In the back and the racks and the stacks of your load
In the back with your racks and you’re un-stacking your load

This is not the sound of a new man or crispy realization
It’s the sound of the unlocking and the lift away
Your love will be
Safe with me