“The wind lashes the surface of the sea and makes it rough and turbulent, but in the deep there is calm.” ~ Cardinal Basil Hume

   

Weeping Willow   

 

“Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating.” ~ Karl Von Clausewitz
Japanese Red Maple

It is April 30. That’s incredible to me. One quarter of the year has passed, and I have nothing to show for it. Do you have any idea how depressing that is? I have no reliable method of tracking time any more—no scheduled meetings, no deadlines, no appointments with students. I am loathe to admit that I measure time by evening television shows: If CSI is on, then it’s Tuesday.   

I have calendars everywhere: on my desktop, on the wall next to the desk, in the kitchen, in my purse, but I never have any idea as to the date, which is why I was so surprised to see that today is April 30.   

Perhaps one of these days the fog will lift, and I will see things clearly again. Until then, I will continue to measure out my life “in coffee spoons,” as Eliot put it.   

Corey worked last night and got home at 8 this morning.   

ARGHH. I went to save, and WordPress kicked me back to the sign in page, which means that I just lost THREE PARAGRAPHS. NOOOOOOOOOO………..   

“Life is not an easy matter . . . You cannot live through it without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of perfidy and baseness.” ~ Leon Trotsky

Let’s try this again, shall we?   

Corey worked last night and got home at 8 this morning. Then the guy who makes the schedule called him at 11 and asked if he could come in until 3. Apparently, they have several people out today. It’s now 4:45 and he isn’t home yet; he’s running on about three hours of sleep, and he was tired before he went in last night. I just hope that he doesn’t have to work too long.   

Eastern Redbud Tree

Of course, the more hours that he works, the bigger the paycheck. I just wish that the schedule could be more even, not 30 hours in three days, and then nothing for five days in a row. Of course, who am I to complain?   

Speaking of jobs, Alexis began her new job with a manufacturing company in Virginia Beach. When I asked her what they build, she said that she didn’t know; all she knows is that she adds wires to some kind of component. It’s a job. She is working with a large group of Filipino women, so I told her that at least she’ll eat well. Filipino people love their food, at home or at work.   

Of course, my mother is beside herself over Alexis losing her job. When Alexis told her about it, my mother proceeded to rant about how I had lost a few jobs—almost a decade ago. Mom told Alexis that she didn’t want her to turn out like me. Lovely, just lovely. Then, without fail, my mother called me to complain about Alexis. When she asked me how much money Mike makes, I told her that truthfully I didn’t know because it wasn’t any of my business, and it’s not any of my business. My mother is of the belief that anything and everything in my life and the lives of my children is her business. It’s more of that privacy issue that I was talking about before, as in, there is none with my mother.    

Today she called and started to talk about the same things all over again. I reminded her that we had already had this conversation, so she turned it around to be a commentary on the relationship between Alexis and Mike. She just doesn’t understand it. Has he ever asked her to marry him? I don’t know, not my business. And so it goes once again. I know that if Mike had proposed, Alexis would tell me, but by the same token, should I be asking her constantly when/if they are going to get married? As I told my mother, they’ve been together for seven years, and it seems to be working for them.   

“Be gentle with yourself. You are the truth unfolding.” ~  Joseph Goldstein

I just made a shocking discovery: We are out of Pepsi. How do I go on?   

Eastern Hemlock Tree

Truths for Friday:   

  • Oprah is on a toot to eliminate texting while driving. I absolutely agree. Is anything that important? Just remember the train engineer who caused that fatal crash because he was texting—25 people died, including the texting engineer
  • Is it weird that I still miss Izzie the Trooper? I loved that vehicle, and even though SUV sales are declining, I would own another Trooper.
  • Have you heard about “Marysville, OH, 43040”? It’s a Facebook group that is praying for the death of President Obama. Call me crazy, and I probably am, but I was never taught to pray for someone else’s misfortune, let alone death. The group has over one million members.
  • Am I the only one who thinks that the legislators in Arizona are on crack? I mean, that is the only logical explanation for their recent blatant racist, xenophobic legislation. An article in the Huffington Post reveals that the Arizona Department of Education has told schools that “teachers with ‘heavy’ or ‘ungrammatical’ accents are no longer allowed to teach English classes, this after the state spent 10 years recruiting teachers for whom English was a second language.
  • As the pictures continue to pour in revealing the devastation caused by the recent oil spill in the Gulf, Rush Limbaugh lets loose with his latest conspiracy theory: “Environmentalist whackos” may have blown up oil rig to “head off more oil drilling.” Really Rush? Gave that one a lot of thought, didn’t you?
  • And finally, on Gawker.com I found one of the best blogs ever about the Real Housewives of New York. Richard Lawson’s post, “Everyone Kills the Messenger,” is so much more entertaining than the show. To wit: “Meanwhile over in Bitchington Acres, everyone couldn’t believe what had just happened. Naturally when one is confused about a situation one turns to the very sage Kelly Bensimon, who is always good at unpacking an issue and making it understandable to the common laypeople below her.” To paraphrase the article would not do it justice, so I will leave you the link. Anyone who is interested in excruciatingly funny sarcasm and incisive wit, especially when it comes to the vacuous Housewives, should take a few minutes to peruse this post. Truly. The only bad thing I have to say is that I cannot believe that I didn’t find Lawson sooner.


Looking Skyward by Janson Jones   

Happy Arbor day, the annual celebration of trees. In honor of this holiday, I am featuring pictures of some of my favorite trees: Eastern Hemlock, Eastern Red Bud, Weeping Willow, Japanese Red Maple, Flowering Crabapple. I also love Yoshino Cherry and Weeping Cherry trees, but I just featured pictures of those in a recent post.   

More later. Peace.  

Mazzy Star, “Into Dust”  

“The human heart has hidden treasures, in secret kept, in silence sealed; the thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures, whose charms were broken if revealed.” ~ Charlotte Bronte

  

 

“In all secrets there is a kind of guilt, however beautiful or joyful they may be, or for what good end they may be set to serve. Secrecy means evasion, and evasion means a problem to the moral mind.” ~ Gilbert Parker

What is the difference between secrecy and privacy? Is privacy a matter of choosing whether or not to share something without fear or shame? Is secrecy choosing to withhold something because of feelings of guilt or embarrassment? 

Or, to reduce it to its most simplistic terms: Privacy is a right to which everyone is entitled; secrecy is a choice made to keep things hidden. That being said, where do the lines blur? When does something private become a secret? I think that it’s a matter of intent. Consider: Is the individual keeping the secret because the relationship could be affected adversely if the information were to be revealed? Conversely, is the information merely something that concerns the individual only and if revealed, would cause no harm? 

One article that I read which addresses this issue was written by a therapist who stated the following: 

Secrecy comes with guilt and fear, while privacy results in a stronger sense of self without guilt. Secrecy is about control and destroys trust, while privacy does not. Secrets are often about addictive behaviors, or old defense mechanisms, while privacy is more often about personal history, values priorities, dreams, and visions of the future. The decision to withhold a secret, or to keep something private, is a choice reflecting our values and emotional maturity. Choosing to share a secret is a healthy and mature act even though it may create conflict. Choosing to keep something private, is our right and privilege, however if we choose to share something personal, it has the possibility of deepening an intimacy. 

“Three things cannot long stay hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.” ~ Gautama Siddhartha

When I was growing up and living with my parents, I had no privacy. My mother would search my things, look under my mattress, listen to my telephone calls, read my mail. I was determined that when I had children of my own that I would treat them with the respect they deserved and allow them a sense of privacy. Did I find out things anyway? Of course. But 98 percent of the time, I believed that their privacy was their right as individuals. 

Charles Darwin . . . Shh . . .

Everyone is entitled to privacy. I don’t need to know everything that Corey thinks or says. Having just said that, I also don’t believe that secrets benefit anyone except the secret-keeper because the truth always has a way of revealing itself. Sandra Petronio, a professor of communications at Indiana University-Purdue University, devised a rule-based theory on privacy in 2002 called Communication Privacy Management, or CPM. Essentially, CPM states that individuals own information until they decide to share that information with someone else. Underpinning CPM is the idea that information is shared based on a set of rules. 

For example, if I choose to share information about my past with X, and I say to X that I don’t want anyone else to know about this information, then I have established a boundary for that information, making X a co-owner of the information. These rules are understood, and if the person receiving the information breaks the rules by sharing the information with someone else, then trust is broken. Of course, the rules fluctuate depending upon circumstances. 

Another aspect of CPM is the concept of rewards and costs: As the information owner, I control who has access to the information; by sharing this information, I could be rewarded by the freeing aspect of self-expression. On the other hand, sharing this information runs the risk of loss of control over the information or possible embarrassment. Therefore, the information owner sets boundaries to control disclosure of the information. 

I will admit that I have reduced CPM to the barest lay terms and by doing so have left out a great deal, but I thought that it was an interesting concept and a more scientific way of looking at the issue of secrecy versus privacy. 

“Lying is done with words and also with silence.” ~ Adrienne Rich

I saw an interesting clip on Today online about this very issue. Essentially, the premise was that the Internet and e-mail have made it possible for more and more people to be unfaithful digitally. That’s right: digital infidelity. A British study revealed that 20 percent of individuals had checked their spouse’s browser history on the computer. I confess. I have done this, but I’m not proud of that fact. My reasons for doing so—insecurity about where I stood—made sense to me, but I still regret the invasion of privacy. 

While technology has made it easier to be duplicitous, it has also made it easier to find out the truth—a matter of be careful what you wish for because that e-mail you are opening may contain more than you ever wanted to know. As Regina Lynn said in an article on Wired.com, “The internet reveals a glimpse of polyamory to everyone who has ever flirted over IM, entered a chat room or joined a role-playing game. Regardless of whether you have sex online, every coquettish remark gives you a taste of what it means to share attention, time and intimacy with other people.” 

Apparently, more and more relationships are suffering as a result of one partner’s online activity because of the opportunities for secrecy that cyberspace offers. And this harmful activity is not limited to connecting to other people. Other significant issues that can come between two people include online gambling addictions, pornography addictions, even shopping addictions.  The question that the secret-keeper should ask is whether or not he or she would want the spouse/partner to engage in the pattern of behavior that is being kept secret? If the answer is no, then there is something wrong with the behavior. 

One aspect of the Today story that I found particularly interesting was the idea that although digital infidelity is not a physical connection, it is usually an emotional connection or a time connection, which keeps one partner from the other. Then there is the added risk that an online connection may lead to a physical connection. One of the experts commenting on the story remarked that more people are leaving their families behind to be with someone they have never met in real life. Am I the only one who finds this weird, abandoning reality for a perceived connection? 

A true cautionary tale: 48 Hours Mystery episode “Love and Lies” tells the story of Jennifer Corbin, who was murdered by her dentist husband. Jennifer was having an online affair with an individual named Christopher. Turns out, Christopher was a woman. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Regina Spektor, “Man of a Thousand Faces” 

“I never know when I sit down, just what I am going to write. I make no plan; it just comes, and I don’t know where it comes from.” ~ D. H. Lawrence

“Double Image,” August Strindberg (1892, oil on canvas) 

 

“The paper I write on or you write on, every word we write, every cross and twirl of the pen, and the curious way we write what we think, yet very faintly . . . In them realities for you and me—in them poems for you and me . . . In them themes, hints, provokers.”  ~ Walt Whitman
"Wonderland" (1894, oil on canvas)

Rarely do I know what I am going to write when I sit down at this keyboard. I may have an idea generated from a dream or something that I have read in the news, but most of the time it’s more a matter of touching the keys and letting the words come out. No great creative genius is involved. Rather, it is more a matter of need: I need to write, to release, to ponder, to construe, to evoke. I need to do this as naturally as I need to breathe. 

That is my reality, and truthfully, it has always been this way. I have been writing about things since I was very young, before I even knew how to string letters together to form words. I would put pencil to whatever scraps of paper I could find in the house, and I would write. Of course what I wrote made no sense to anyone but me, but I knew what I was saying. And I had such a need to share my thoughts that I would take these scraps of paper and slip them under the doors of my parents’ neighbors in the large apartment house in which we resided in London. 

Some of the people knew that these notes were from me, but others were confused by the nonsensical missives that appeared under their doors with no regular schedule. The doorman in our building knew what I was doing, so he ever so kindly explained to the confused tenants that it was the little girl in apartment 13 who had been writing to them. 

Then when I went to school and learned how to form words, I wrote more. I wrote poems, letters, stories. But my dream at that time was not to become a writer. I wanted to be a hairdresser . . . 

“O, how incomprehensible everything was, and actually sad, although it was also beautiful. One knew nothing. And sometimes it seemed that something never seen yet long desired was about to happen, that a veil would drop from it all; but then it passed, nothing happened, the riddle remained unsolved, the secret spell unbroken, and in the end one grew old and looked cunning . . . or wise . . . And still one knew nothing, perhaps, was still waiting and listening.” ~ Hermann Hesse, “Narcissus and Goldmund”
"Baby's First Cradle" (1901, oil on canvas)

In many ways, this blog is like those indecipherable scraps of paper: I know what I’m trying to say, but not everyone who reads my words can discern my meaning. That’s okay, though. The beauty of blogs is that readers can just close the window if they do not find the post interesting, or appealing, or if the subject matter is not something that coincides with their personal beliefs. 

I’m not trying to please anyone but myself. In the beginning of this blogging stuff, I was more self-censoring, not wanting to offend anyone who happened to be reading. I wrote in more general terms, putting less of myself into my posts. Over the months, though, that changed, as I had thought that it might. My persona began to creep into my posts more and more. My life, my family, all of it, became fodder. So much so that now my posts are a virtual doorway into my life. 

Is this a good thing? Perhaps not. Will I change it? Probably not. Do I regret this progression? A bit. 

“The swarm of words,
and little stories
are just to loosen you
from where you are stuck.” ~ Shitou Xiqian
"The Wave VII" (1901, oil on canvas)

When I first heard about blogs—personal online journals that are available to anyone and everyone—I must admit to being personally appalled. What kind of person puts his or her life online for the world to see? It just didn’t seem right to me, someone who had always hidden my journals from other people, seeing them as both highly personal and private. 

Then a few years later I decided to create a MySpace page. I played a bit with the internal blog aspect of the page, which made me realize that the whole social networking thing was really just a collective blog—people visiting each other’s sites, sharing opinions, leaving notes, posting pictures. Then I was given the assignment to create a web page for one of my publishing classes. The site could be about anything; there were no parameters. 

I decided to create a site on which people could create a community poem. I called it The Poem Makers. In concept, it was a pretty creative idea (or so I thought): I would write the first line of the poem, and then anyone who visited could add a line and/or comment on the poem in progress. As part of the site, I wanted to include a blog page on which participants could post ongoing commentary about the project, poetry, whatever. My search for a blog page led me to WordPress. 

Essentially the project was disastrous, mostly because I didn’t know enough HTML to create an interactive site, that and the fact that I knew relatively little about promoting a site.  I eventually abandoned the website, but I took that experience and decided to keep going with the blog. My first post was in February 2008, which means that I’ve been doing this for over two years. 

“Within all of us is a varying amount of space lint and star dust, the residue from our creation. Most are too busy to notice it, and it is stronger in some than others. It is strongest in those of us who fly and is responsible for an unconscious, subtle desire to slip into some wings and try for the elusive boundaries of our origin.” ~ K. O. Eckland, Footprints on Clouds
"Coastal Landscape" (1901, oil on canvas)

In that time I have gone from basic posts about nothing at all to posts that include images and music and cover a range of topics. I like how I have progressed. I know so much more now than I did when I began; in particular, I realize that bloggers tend to congregate in communities and that if you want other people to read and comment on your blog, then you need to read and comment on other people’s blogs—regularly. 

I have also noticed a change in my writing style: Whereas when I was writing for publication, I was much more sparse with my words, never using five words when three will do, always choosing the simpler word over the multisyllabic one. Now that I’m writing without an editor, I tend to be more verbose. I do edit myself, but anyone who writes knows the limitations of such a thing. I do go on and on, and it’s an indulgence that gives me pleasure. I also take more liberties with punctuation than before. Always a stickler for grammar, I am merciless with a red pen when it comes to editing or grading someone else’s work. Too bad I cannot admit to being as rigorous with my own. 

Oh well . . . 

“The process of writing has something infinite about it.  Even though it is interrupted each night, it is one single notation.” ~ Elias Canetti
"Aleja" (1903, oil on canvas)

I remember how excited I was when the number of hits that I had received went past 200. It was a time for great rejoicing. I am now well past 300,000 hits, but I still love to see who is visiting, what they are reading, how they got here. I don’t know that I’ll ever tire of paying attention to my statistics as they serve as my validation, for now. 

I suppose all of this boils down to a few simple facts: I have come to love the freedom of blogging. I sometimes resent feeling as if I have to post until I realize that no one is making me do so. I no longer feel as if blogs are an obscene violation of privacy spurred on by the blogger’s own need for exposure. I take pleasure in reading blogs that are written well, or are visually appealing, or are in line with my own sensitivities. 

For now, this whole thing is an open-ended experiment. Who knows where it will take me, but I’m going to enjoy the ride while I can. 

More later. Peace. 

All images are by Swedish novelist and playwright August Strindberg, who turned to painting during times of crisis in which he felt unable to write. 

Music from Bare Naked Ladies, “Call and Answer”