“I shrink and grow in cycles, dazzled at the small cup that is my life.” ~ Terresa Wellborn

     

“All my life, my heart has yearned for a thing I cannot name.” ~ André Breton
Vintage Fence by Francoise Rachez

So where do I go now? I mean, now that I’ve reached a milestone of sorts, do I keep doing what I’ve been doing? I suppose so as this platform seems to be working for me. Somewhat. The writing, the posting—both continue to offer me a great outlet. By writing about so many different things, I am able to feel a sense of immediacy as opposed to growing stale. But there is still something that is not quite right, still an element that remains elusive.

After all, I still haven’t gotten around to starting the book. I do have three concrete ideas that could be developed. One is a fact-based story. The other is a mystery, and the other is a memoir/tribute.

Time for total truth, I think: I will never be happy until my unwritten book has been put to page. That is the one thing that I have yearned for all my life, and it is nameable. It is as tangible in my desire as it is intangible in its reality. 

I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.” ~ Sylvia Plath
We Held Gold Dust in Our Hands

I realize that I’ve probably used this Sylvia Plath quote before, but it speaks to me; it is so close to what I feel—each minute of each hour of each day. In fact, all of today’s quotes are quite personal.

I suppose what got me on this reflective tack is that I received two comments recently about my writing, more precisely, about me being a writer, a good writer. Both comments made me pause. Wow. Someone actually thinks of me as a writer, someone other than me. When I list who and what I am for other people, though, I don’t usually put writer first.

By that I mean that I usually describe myself personally as a wife and mother, professionally as a writer/editor. But is my essence, the essence that I have been trying to define my entire life, that of a writer? Is that who and what I am? Thinking of myself as a writer does not negate being a wife and mother, but it does change my perspective. Consider the difference between saying “I like to write” as opposed to “I am a writer.” The first places the emphasis not on the writing, whereas the second shifts the emphasis.

For a long time I thought of myself as a poet, but I’m not a poet. What has helped me to come to this realization is this blog. I can write poetically; my phrasing can by lyrical, sometimes musical, but what I do best is not poetry even though I have written some poems of which I am quite proud. But for me, my forte seems to be this genre called creative non-fiction, for lack of a better category.

“Will secrets fly out of me
when I break open?” ~ Mary Oliver
Vintage Cameo

I know that I will probably continue to have periods in which I feel that I have nothing else to say in this blog, that what I am saying just doesn’t matter any more. Thankfully, when that has happened in the past, I have been able to get past it after a brief respite and some cheering up from friends.

But what concerns me a bit, what is wiggling around in the back of my brain is the idea that perhaps I am using this blog as yet another means of delaying sitting down to write the manuscript that I compose in my head as I lay awake at 4 in the morning, the sentences that I form in my head as I float around in the pool, staring at nothing in particular.

Am I using this so that I don’t have to do that? By turning all of my creative energies to these posts, am I negating my ability to create something else? I don’t believe that that is the case, at least I hope that’s not the case. This is something that I am really going to have to ponder. I know that I do have a tendency to set myself up for failure at those times when I am most afraid of succeeding.

It’s not fear of failure; it’s fear of success, if you can believe that.

I know that I have joked before about my head exploding and the contents running out. I also know that I tend to over think things, to go through all of the ifs, and whys again and again and again, beating the proverbial horse that is already dead (where did such a perverse saying come from anyway . . .).  But once again, am I doing this, employing these methods for avoidance?

Ah me, ah life, as Walt Whitman said. It’s enough to make a sane person crazy, and to make a crazy person absolutely batshit. I think that I had better stop for now.

More later. Peace.

Music by Gary Jules, “Mad World”

Photographs with links can be found on my tumblr, Slow Dancing in Quicksand

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“We do not find our own center. It finds us. We do not think ourselves into new ways of living. We live ourselves into new ways of thinking.” ~ Richard Rohr

Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of Hebden Bridge, UK

  

“I want to write like August, to swim in it like a pool and forget the clock hands moving across summer’s face.” ~ Terresa Wellborn

When I realized that this post would be #500*, I immediately froze and wrote nothing. I mean, 500? That’s pretty auspicious, at least in my mind, anyway. If I were to estimate the number of words in my posts and multiply by 500, I would get somewhere between 550 and 600,000 words. 

Hmm . . . Things that make you go hmm . . . 

Granted, not all of my posts have been written; a small percentage have been videos. But still . . . I have sat down at my computer (or someone else’s) at least 500 times (more if counting the posts I lost and had to rewrite) and written about . . . well, things. I have to admit that when I began this project, I never thought that I would last this long. Of course when I began this project, I was ecstatic to get 100 hits in one day. 

My how times have changed. Now, I realize that despite my creative ebbs and flows, I will probably continue writing here for some time yet, and fortunately, I am not nearly as obsessed by my stats as I used to be. Rather than numbers, I relish the comments as they are much more tangible (so if you’re lurking and haven’t commented, please accept this as an invitation to do so). 

So here I am, muddling about, trying to think of something to say in my anniversary post. Who knows where this may lead . . . By the way, I was quite surprised to see all of the 500 images that I found when I did a Google search, so I took that as a sign that I should bedeck my post in the company of other historical 500th things, like Henry VIII and a 500-year-old bridge in the UK. Granted, some of these anniversaries occurred before mine, but hey, Henry won’t mind. He was all about self-promotion.

So here I go . . . 

“Knowledge of the self is the mother of all knowledge. So it is incumbent on me to know my self, to know it completely, to know its minutiae, its characteristics, its subtleties, and its very atoms.” ~Kahlil Gibran
Image of King Henry VIII in Celebration of His 500th Anniversary

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers.

I have created three sets of five in honor of the big 500. It’s the least I can do. No really, the least: 

  • I have decided that in the history of television, five shows stand out as being uniquely entertaining, at least in my estimation:

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”: I mean really,  hilariously funny and engaging dialogue (shows up again in another Joss Whedon creation, “Firefly” which I would have listed here, but it didn’t last long enough) 

“The West Wing”: Still waiting for a President Bartlett, unfortunately 

“Law & Order” (original): Twenty years. Just as relevant. Who else can say that? 

“House”: One of the best-drawn modern tragic characters 

“Oz”: Consistently gripping drama with an ensemble cast unlike any other ever seen 

  • Based on the above, I realize that I am a nerd/drama junkie. Sitcoms just don’t do it for me.
  • I still need a haircut.
  • Being the party of “No” is nothing of which to be proud.
  • The war in Afghanistan is too reminiscent of Viet Nam in that it is an unwinnable war. Counterinsurgency in a country that has repelled conquerors for over 1,000 years is lunacy. They don’t want to be Americanized, and the concept of American imperialism is outdated. Bring our military home.
“Brilliance is typically the act of an individual, but incredible stupidity can usually be traced to an organization.” ~ Jon Bentley
A 500 Yen Coin
  • BP’s former CEO Tony Hayward has been reassigned to Siberia. At first I thought that this was funny until I found out how much he is being paid to go away: $1.6 million in salary, and more millions in pension benefits. I guess he got his life back.
  • President Obama appeared on “The View,” causing some critics to lose their minds, saying that the show was not serious enough. Need I remind everyone of Bush’s appearance on “Dr. Phil”? At least most (Snooki aside) of the questions on “The View” were pointedly in keeping with today’s issues. And as far as the Boy Scott Jamboree that Obama passed on, how about the other 12 U.S. presidents who declined the same invitation, including Republicans Nixon, Reagan and Ford? They weren’t called un-American.
  • Jon Stewart is right. Nothing Obama does will ever make the right happy. Nothing.
  • Just a reminder: W. had a surplus coming into office ($236 Billion, according to Congressional Budget Office). Obama had a $1.2 Trillion deficit when he took office (same source).
  • Another reminder: The Wall Street crash happened on W’s watch, not Obama’s.
“Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon and star.” ~ Confucius
Darth Vader 500th Anniversary

Well, I just lost one-third of this post when I tried to save because the router went out. Lovely. Let’s see . . . what was I rambling on about anyway . . . 

  • All of Corey’s sunflowers are dead, which means that the beautiful patch of yellow in the backyard is now a sad patch of droopy, green stems and leaves.
  • For some reason, centipedes abound in our house this summer. I don’t care what you might have to say about them, I am terrified of centipedes. I know that this is an irrational fear, but I used to have nightmares about them when I was a child. I dreamed they were in my bed. These things are hard to kill, and before you lecture me on letting things be, you should know that I only swat a few things: cockroaches, flies, mosquitoes, and ants running rampant on my kitchen counter. Nevertheless, centipedes just won’t die.
  • I’m ready for fall, which is weird since I still think that it’s April.
  • At one point we had about six tennis balls throughout the house. Today, I couldn’t fine one, which means that Tillie and Shakes cannot play pool ball. They are very sad puppies. Next week, I’ll probably find the missing tennis balls in an unlikely spot.
  • I think that I’ve just about decided what my next tattoo will be, not that I’ll be able to afford one anytime soon. These are the kinds of things with which I occupy my mind. Small things . . .

So much for the great 500th post. I sort of lost my momentum after part of the post disappeared. I think that I’ll go have a bowl of cereal and watch a “Law & Order” rerun. That always works. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Iron and Wine, “Such Great Heights” 

 

*I realized today that my actual stats show only 496 posts, but, and this is a big but, I have written and posted 500 times. About a year ago I made 5 posts private, but I then decided to delete 4 of them permanently, which puts my total at 500 . . . Crystal clear, right?

“Complacency by the watchdogs hurts both taxpayers and beneficiaries.” ~ Charles Grassley

On My Soap Box Again

    

“We need to make sure middle-class people are able to pay the bills. We need to make sure that poor people don’t starve. Those are values, too.” ~ Charles Schumer  

I read a great article by Bob Cesca in today’s Huffington Post and thought that I would share some information with you, especially in light of the upcoming mid-term elections:

According to Michael Snyder of the Business Insider:

• 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.
• 66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1 percent of all Americans.
• Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.
• The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.
• In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.
• More than 40 percent of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.
• Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.

As Cesca so astutely pointed out, those Americans who are planning to vote Republican this November need a reality check:

And yet they want to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, which would add $678 billion dollars to the deficit—and that’s just the cost of the tax cuts going to the top two percent of earners. In other words, the Republicans want to spend $678 billion in further giveaways for the wealthiest two percent, and they don’t care whether it increases the deficit.

. . . Put another way, $678 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy? No problem. Deficit-shmeficit! But $34 billion in unemployment benefits for an out-of-work middle class at a time when companies aren’t hiring (say nothing of the aforementioned bullet-points)? Evil! Instead, the Republicans want to give $35 billion to Big Oil in the form of corporate welfare during the worst oil spill in American history while telling unemployed middle class families to piss off . . .

The long term budget impact of the wars and the Bush tax cuts literally dwarf the stimulus. Here’s the CBPP evidence in colorful graph form:

“We shall have no better conditions in the future if we are satisfied with all those which we have at present.” ~ Thomas Edison

People, please. How is a desire to make the richest among us richer going to help end the great recession? Trickle down economics did not work when Reagan first proposed it, and time has shown that continued tax cuts of the wealthiest do not stimulate the economy as much as jobs and unemployment bills ($.32 ROI for tax cuts versus $1.61 ROI for unemployment benefits). Keeping the Bush tax cuts, rewarding big oil, turning a blind eye to the needs of the majority of Americans—these are the mainstays of the Republican agenda for America. In other words, more of the same.

The same led to the massive financial crisis that still keeps the nation in a death grip. The U.S. economic situation, which at one time was diamond-shaped, with the largest sector of Americans falling into the middle, has continued to morph into an hourglass, with the largest sectors being the very rich and the very poor. How is this good for America or Americans? How does rewarding big oil help middle America?

Continued complacency among Democrats and a fervent desire among conservatives (Reps and tea baggers) to make the first president of color look bad are driving this train wreck. Enough already. Enough with the bi-partisanship. The Republicans in Congress only know how to say no to this administration, and that determined obstructionism is killing the middle class and the poor.

I would apologize for preaching to the choir, but I fear the choir went out for celebratory Slurpees post-election 2008 and never bothered to check back in.

I’ve worked myself into a headache. Beh.

More later. Peace.

Music by Terra Naomi, “Say It’s Possible”

“We all live in a house of fire. No fire department to call. No way out. Just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns down the house . . . with us trapped, locked in it.” ~ Tennessee Williams

 

“Untitled,” by Galina Lukianova

   

“I believe fervently in the nature, in truth and imagination, I believe in the blood, in life, words, and motivations.” ~ Gael Garcia Bernal
Dandelion, by Fastily on WikiCommons

Well, my computer is still broken. The part that Corey ordered did not fix the problem. Of course it didn’t because it cost less than $20. As is usually the case, the part that I probably need to fix the problem will cost much more. I don’t know for sure, though, because Corey cannot find the part I need (CPU fan) anywhere. 

Surprised? Not really. 

It’s Wednesday afternoon. The heat wave finally broke, and temperatures here are hovering around 90° F, about normal for this time of the year. Speaking of which, how did it get to be the end of July? The fact that I am constantly surprised by how late it has gotten never ceases to surprise me, but you would think that I would have grown accustomed to the incongruity of time passages by now. 

Anyway . . . the sun is shining with a few puffy clouds scattered about in the sky. The Jack Russells are currently asleep beneath the chair in which I sit, so I suppose that all should be right with the world, but it is not. 

This past Sunday night, Alexis called me to let me know that one of her best friends, Jennifer, with whom she works at the thrift store, had been admitted to the hospital. Alexis said that the doctors had found three brain tumors in Jen’s brain. I had to wait to write about this as it really threw me. 

“It is dark inside the body, and wet,
and double-hearted. There are so many ways
to go, and not see, and lose
the feeling of the thread…
and never reach the fabled center.” ~ Larissa Szporluk
Black and White Sunset by Sean K (Flckr Creative Commons Set)

Of course, this is not about me and my reactions, but at the mention of brain tumors in a young woman of 26, I found myself once again railing at the injustices of fate. Jennifer has a five-year-old son named Reilly, who she absolutely adores. She is a single mother who works hard. She is also one of the nicest people I have ever met. 

When Alexis was much younger, I was a bit wary of Jennifer because he family is so dysfunctional, but I realized that it doesn’t really matter what kind of family you come from as it matter more what you do with yourself on your own. I mean, I always thought that I would never have any problems with Alexis because we have tried so hard to give her a normal upbringing, whatever that is. I mean, a home, food on the table, values—but that did not stop her from unexpectedly running wild in high school and causing me endless heartache at the time. 

So I suppose that what I am saying is that I initially misjudged Jennifer. Now she is faced with a great unknown, and her biggest concern is not her own health, but her son’s reaction. Then earlier today, Alexis phoned me to tell me that the latest tests show five tumors, not three: three in her brain, two on her spine. 

Five tumors. Twenty-six-years old. A five-year-old son. No health insurance. To try to pinpoint the worst aspect of this situation is fruitless. It’s all bad, horribly, terribly bad. 

“Come stand with me
under the summer shower –
healed of world-madnesses” ~ Paul Reps
Black and White Study by RandyA38 (Flckr Creative Commons Set)

Alexis has been taking Reilly to school in the morning before work and picking him up after. Jennifer’s younger brother is taking care of Reilly in the evenings. I told Jennifer that Reilly can come over here anytime someone is needed. 

In the meantime, Alexis has diligently informed all of their mutual friends and kept them up to date. One of Jennifer’s dearest friends drove into town this morning. 

No word yet on when the big operation will take place. No idea on whether or not any or all of the tumors are removable as the neurosurgeon won’t know until he cuts her open. And then, of course, the wait for the biopsy results on each tumor. There was some confusion today about what kind of operation she was being taken in for, but I told Alexis that if the estimated time is only an hour, then it’s not the big operation; more probably, the doctors are inserting a shunt to drain of some of the fluid build-up in Jennifer’s brain. 

That I have this knowledge in my long-term memory is both a blessing and a curse. I can sit her on the sidelines and inform Jennifer and her friends and family about some of the things to expect. I can try to explain some of the tests to Jennifer so that she isn’t so stressed. But in the back of my mind, all I can think about is the day of Caitlin’s surgery, the hours and hours of waiting, taking Valium and hiding in a room away from all of the well-meaning people who had come to the hospital to support us. And more hours of waiting, only to be told the news and the prognosis. 

Five tumors. One tumor. Five times the chance of something going wrong.  

Corey reminds me that Jennifer is a woman, much stronger than an infant. But by the time the tumors were found, she was already in a much-weakened state. You see, Jennifer has been sick for months. She has gone to a few doctors about her headaches. One told her that she was depressed and needed to eat bananas. None of them did a CT Scan or an MRI. She also went to an oral surgeon to remove an infected tooth, which everyone thought might be the main cause of her health problems as she had put off getting the tooth fixed because of the lack of insurance. 

Eat bananas. I am reminded of other callous remarks tossed out so nonchalantly years ago by doctors denuded of compassion, and how I had enough rage to kill someone. There is rage again. 

“Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper.” ~ Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha
Tree Black and White Relief by doortoriver (Flckr Creative Commons Set)

There is rage at fate and rage at life. Rage at injustice and those things over which was have no control. But mostly, for me at least, there is a sense of emotional rage at the fact that on top of everything else, Jennifer is lying in ICU wondering and fretting over how she will ever pay for her hospital stay, her medicine, her operations. 

This young woman, who works for less than $9 an hour, who has no benefits, no sick leave, nothing, earns no money each day that she is out of work. Her job is not guaranteed, but I believe that the people for whom she works will hold her job. But the reality is not when Jennifer will be able to go back to work, but if. And then what? What does she do to exist if she is unable to work. She has no long-term disability coverage as I do. And as much as I bitch about how my coverage is menial, at least it is something. 

It’s hard not to be angry at the world, not to want to call someone and just scream at them. Perhaps a Republican Senator who cannot wait to repeal Obama’s healthcare reform. After all, healthcare is provided for members of Congress, as well as their families. It is not provided for people like Jennifer, people on the fringes of society who are not layabouts, drug addicts, or welfare moms who are supposedly living on the comfort of unemployment and government assistance, or whatever other derogatory term is being bandied about. 

Jennifer is one of those individuals who does not rely on other people or the government to provide for her, and look at where she is now. Try telling her and people like her how tax cuts for the wealthy are going to help. 

I’m sorry. This wasn’t meant to be a tirade on politics, but it’s hard not to think about the bigger picture when someone you know is being engulfed by it. Jennifer isn’t just a statistic; she is not someone who falls into category A or category B on some political demographic chart used to measure the invisible part of American society—the part that drives ten-year-old cars that are falling apart and are glad just to have transportation, the segment that lives in questionable neighborhoods because the rent is more affordable but pizza deliveries are not available because of the danger, or the people who spend money not on nights out on the town or designer shoes. 

Jennifer is a member of that group of single, working women who must budget one-fourth of her take-home pay for her son’s daycare in lieu of trying to get health insurance for herself and her son. And now she is part of that group that has the uninsurable pre-existing condition, that label that makes obtaining health insurance well-nigh impossible. 

So yes. There is rage. 

And so we all wait, each of us in our own fashion. We wonder what news the days will bring, and we try not to think of possibilities. 

More later. Peace

Music by Sia, “I Go to Sleep” (originally by The Kinks) 

“Why do they always teach us that it’s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It’s the hardest thing in the world—to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want.” ~ Ayn Rand

Kensington, Brooklyn Graffiti From Truth and Rocket Science

  

“I want to build a ship and write novels. I want a stack of books tied to my name, and poetry, too, collections of it. I write slow. I think long. And I want to last longer in people’s minds than their last meal or movie. So I keep writing and building, word by word, an ark maybe, as I can, in every spare space.” ~ Terresa Wellborn
A Secret Place: Old Barn, by renejo (1951), via dreaminginthedeepsouth

Since I haven’t had my computer, I’ve been spending more time on my tumblr site, and I have to say that I’ve really come to like it. Going on tumblr doesn’t require me to post in the same way as this site. Instead, I can sift through what has been posted by the people who I follow, and decide whether or not to repost, or reblog as it were. It’s so effortless that a part of me feels as if I am doing something wrong. 

I mean, having access to all of this beautiful images, literary quotes, factoids—the researcher in me feels as if I am cheating by not working harder.  I suppose that it’s a fairly normal response to people who are new to tumblr as I am, but in less than two months, I already have 1,024 posts (each individual item is counted as a post), and I am following 29 people (with 13 people following me). Posts are categorized as follows: text, photo, quote, audio, chat, video. 

Having people follow me on my tumblr site is nice, but what I actually get more satisfaction from is finding new people to follow. Let me explain: tumblr is many things to many people; there are sites devoted to music, cars, book deals, gaming, news, food . . . whatever. The sites that I follow tend to deal with one of five things: literature (poetry, quotes by authors, passages from books, book covers), the ocean (pictures of ocean life, waves, islands, etc.), geographic photography (pictures from around the world of architecture, landscapes), vintage things (postcards, typewriters, jewelry), and then a bit of pop culture (Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, videos, shoes). 

Of course, there are the odd bits and pieces, but as a whole, that is what I am searching for when I go on the dashboard. 

“Camus said there is only really one serious philosophical question, which is whether or not to commit suicide. I think there are four or five serious philosophical questions:
The first one is: Who started it?
The second is: Are we going to make it?
The third is: Where are we going to put it?
The fourth is: Who’s going to clean up?
And the fifth: Is it serious?” ~ Alan Watts
My Secret Place by a tamer, via dreaminginthedeepsouth

There is one thing about tumblr that bothers me: copyright. One of the key things that our professors in the publishing program hammered into us repeatedly was the importance of copyright; hence, my sensitivity about usage. This is why always try to use images from Wikimedia Commons or Flckr Creative Commons, or those works that I know exist in the public domain. 

I try to reblog those things that do not appear to be under copyright or are under a creative commons license. A creative commons license means that the item in question can be used, but that certain rules apply. Currently, four license conditions exist, and these licenses allow writers, photographers, software creators, designers, etc.  to specify which rights they reserve and which rights they waive for the benefit of recipients or other creators. 

According to the cc site, the four conditions are: Attribution (BY), requiring attribution to the original author; Share Alike (SA), allowing derivative (changed) works under the same or a similar license (later or jurisdiction version); Non-Commercial (NC), requiring the work is not used for commercial purposes; and No Derivative Works (ND), allowing only the original work, without derivatives. 

However, not everyone is attuned to the nuances and obligations of copyright, and sometimes a picture will be posted without any title, or link, or name. This is where I have a hard time: I  love the image and want to reblog it, but I don’t think that it’s adhering to the rules. Having said that, I get the sense that copyright rules on tumblr are more relaxed, but I could be wrong. Some people are real sticklers regarding copyright, and early in this blog I used an image by a contemporary artist and was called on it. I had assumed that using the image was all right since it was for non-commercial use; however, I in no way wanted to infringe on the artist’s copyright. On the flip side, I have attached a copyright to my tumblr’s name, Slow Dancing in Quicksand (which some of you may recognize as the title of a post) because I want to preserve that phrase as a possible book title. 

I suppose that I may have to be of two minds, depending on which blog I’m on: With this blog, I hold fast to the rules; on tumblr, I try to maintain the rules, and if I am going to import an image from tumblr to this site, I’m going to give the link provided. 

The other issue, of course, is determining which link to provide. You see, with reblogging, image X may have started out on A’s blog, but by the time it appear on my dashboard, it’s been reblogged five times. I’m seeing the image from G’s blog. When possible, I click on the image to try to find the original source, but if I cannot, then I have to attribute the image to the blog on which I found it. 

Somehow, this all seems much harder than it should be. Oh. I get it. There’s the hard part about tumblr, and it’s only as hard as the individual makes it. 

“We are students of words: we are shut up in schools, and colleges, and recitation-rooms, for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bag of wind, a memory of words, and do not know a thing.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Fade to White by Stephen K. Willi, via dreaminginthedeepsouth

Anyway, the whole point of this voyage around my elbow was to say that I’m finding some great quotes and things on tumblr, many of which I plan to use here. 

In addition to Crashingly Beautiful, the tumblr that I have been following the longest, I wanted to list a few of the sites that I follow on tumblr, just in case you want to do some journeying of your own: 

Go exploring. You’d be amazed at the things you can find. 

More later. Peace

Music by Dashboard Confessional, “Stolen” (acoustic) 

Shirley Sherrod’s Message: Not skin color, poverty

I’ve been stewing over the latest Fox noise debacle for days now, how once again their brand of tainted journalism has impugned the reputation of an individual who committed no faux pas, or at least not the one of which she was accused. I realized, though, that Keith Olbermann has already said what needs to be said about this appalling turn of events, so I’ll just leave it to him:  

Vodpod videos no longer available.

  

  

“Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.” ~ Anne Sexton

  

   

“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope not admire it from a distance, but live right in it, under its roof.”~ Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams
Barbara Kingsolver, author

 

Wow. Can I just tell you how good it felt to put up a  post yesterday? I know that I didn’t exactly reveal any great truths or ponder any of life’s deep mysteries; nevertheless, it felt good to write something. Since my computer died, I’ve been spending more time on tumblr, reblogging other people’s pictures and quotes, which is always nice as far as finding new things,  but just isn’t the same as moving some words around the page.  

So much has been happening on the political front, but I’m not in the mood to castigate Neanderthal thinking tonight. Instead, I thought that I might just write and see what comes to me—open the window, so to speak, to allow whatever thoughts are drifting by to coast inside and cogitate a bit.  

“You see, I am a poet, and not quite right in the head, darling. It’s only that.” ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
Edna St. Vincent Millay, poet

 

I found out yesterday that Brett hasn’t been taking his medication, not for about five days. I am of mixed feelings about this. I mean, he seems to be doing okay, and perhaps without the steady stream of stress from school he really is feeling balanced at the moment. However, he starts college in less than a month and a half, and if that’s isn’t a stress inducer, I don’t know what is.  

I do understand his desire to be off medication, to be normal, as it were. I often think of being without medication (not pain medication, but the other kind). I know that as far as writing, creating, it is easier without medication than with. I know from  times past that the highs and lows, the keen sense of soaring when things are good, and the abysmal sense of falling when they are not—these undulating moods can be like a drug to the one who is being tossed about on the waves.  

Pain can be addictive. Pain can make the sufferer feel more alive. Pain separates the anguished from the even; the heady ride into the unknowing can be positively euphoric when compared to notions of normalcy. The years that I spent without medication, immersed in my grief and pain were some of my most prolific as far as churning out pages and pages of angst. But really, how much of it was good, was readable? How much of it would I put out there for public consumption? I do not think that I can answer that honestly, and certainly not without bias.  

“The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes. ~ André Gide, Journals, 1894
Andre Gidé, author (LIFE 1947)

 

Those of you who have never ridden these waves probably find me incomprehensible. How could anyone possibly enjoy suffering? Well, enjoy is not the best word. I don’t think that anyone enjoys suffering (well, almost anyone). It’s more that the suffering becomes so entwined in the very fiber of being that to be without it feel as if a hollow has replaced the niches in which the pain and suffering resided.  

Consider Emily Dickinson. Hers was a life of complex solitude that led to pages and pages of contemplation about life, death, grief, spirituality, hope, and pain. Dickinson’s poems often expound on the idea of what life must be like for other people—their dreams, sorrows, etc.:  

I measure every grief I meet
   With analytic eyes;
I wonder if it weighs like mine,
   Or has an easier size.  

I wonder if they bore it long,
   Or did it just begin?
I could not tell the date of mine,
   It feels so old a pain.  

I wonder if it hurts to live,
   And if they have to try,
And whether, could they choose between,
   They would not rather die.  

That no one found the poet’s written pages until after her death reflects her intense need for privacy. Perhaps Dickinson believed that no one else would be able to comprehend that of which she spoke, that no one else would care to share her intimate thoughts. Of course, many years later Dickinson has become a mainstay in the American literature canon.  

“Artistic temperament sometimes seems a battleground, a dark angel of destruction and a bright angel of creativity wrestling.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle
Anne Sexton, Poet

 

Does the individual need to be mad to be an artist? Of course not. Is there a tinge of madness in many artistic souls? Probably.  

I think that it, this kinship with madness, comes from feeling too much, that there must be something in the artistic temperament that makes bearing witness to life and death, love and hate, elation and despair—that makes the knowing too hard to be left untold. Hence, reams and reams of poetry and prose, canvases awash with emotion, photographs that capture that absolute essence of a moment in time, songs that run so deep that listeners weep upon the hearing; sculptures, carvings, tapestries, mosaics, and architecture that reflect a connection with beauty, a knowledge of pain, a reflection of loss.  

It’s all here. It always has been, ever since the first person took a finger, dipped it in blood or berry juice, and began to draw on a cave wall, ever since someone else took a rock with a sharp edge and hewed into a larger stone. The need to translate what is felt into something tangible is as ancient as time.  

“The creative person is both more primitive and more cultivated, more destructive, a lot madder and a lot saner, than the average person.” ~ Frank Barron
Pablo Neruda, poet

 

So, the question perhaps is whether or not to medicate the artistic mind. To what end? To allow that person to become more normal? To bring that person some sense of peace? Who decides just what is acceptable, what is normal? Can peace of mind be induced chemically?  

Or is the call for medication more for those around the artist so that the surrounding family, friends, whatever, can live life with fewer disruptions caused by the shifting moods of the odd one? You know, the one who doesn’t really fit in, who has never really fit in—the outsider.  

But consider this: Often when not medicated, the artistic individual will turn to other sources for calming or for stimulation. Alcohol? Heroin? All of it? How many creative geniuses has society lost to the vices employed as balms to the tortured soul?  

  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning (opium)
  • Ernest Hemingway (alcohol)
  • Beethoven (alcohol)
  • William S. Burroughs (heroin)
  • Kurt Cobain (heroin)
  • Edna St. Vincent Millay (alcohol)
  • Tennessee Williams (alcohol, amphetamines, barbiturates)
  • Charlie Parker (heroin)
  • Jack Kerouac (alcohol)
  • Hunter S. Thompson (anything and everything)

And then, of course, are the artists who were depressed, suicidal, and/or addicted: Anne Sexton, Vincent Van Gogh, Sylvia Plath, James Wright, and many, many others. Would Van Gogh have painted “Starry Night” if he were on lithium? Could he have even envisioned those passionate swirls with all of their intense aching if were pumped full of prozac?  

Just wondering. More later. Peace.  

                                                                                                               

VII  

 

The days aren’t discarded or collected, they are bees
that burned with sweetness or maddened
the sting: the struggle continues,
the journeys go and come between honey and pain.
No, the net of years doesn’t unweave: there is no net.
They don’t fall drop by drop from a river: there is no river.
Sleep doesn’t divide life into halves,
or action, or silence, or honor:
life is like a stone, a single motion,
a lonesome bonfire reflected on the leaves,
an arrow, only one, slow or swift, a metal
that climbs or descends burning in your bones.”  

~ Pablo Neruda from Still Another Day  

                                                                                                              

Music by  Neko Case, “Furnace Room Lullabye”