“I am no longer coded and deciphered. I am all emptiness and futility. I am an empty stranger, a carbon copy of my form. I can no longer find what I’m looking for outside of myself. It doesn’t exist out there. Maybe it’s only in here, inside my head.” ~ David Wojnarowicz

Mysterious Walk by ~jjjohn~ (FCC)


“Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting.” ~ Haruki Murakami

Tuesday afternoon. Cloudy and very warm, 80° F.

The house is quiet, just the dogs and me. The laundry is going, and the dishes are soaking. My country and folk playlist is running in the background.

Finally, I get to use the computer for my own writing. Yesterday was spent helping Brett with a paper for his technical writing course. It’s very hard for me to accept how his instructor has structured the class—haphazardly at best, formulaic at worst—after I was instrumental in shaping this particular course while I was in the English department at ODU.

Foggy View from Oberfallenberg, Dornbirn District, Germany (WC 2007 Picture of the Year)

But she’s there teaching, and I am not. Such is life.

It’s quite warm today, too warm. It should only be this warm in November in the southern hemisphere. But that’s how the weather is in this area. I remember one Thanksgiving we ate on my m-in-law’s deck because it was so nice outside.

I made the mistake of eating my Hardee’s leftovers just before I began this post, and I must admit that I’m feeling particularly icky at the moment. Leftover grease is worse than original grease, I think. What a bizarre statement. Knowing my body, this will not end well, so I suppose that it’s good that I’ve had to postpone my lunch with my friend Rebecca tomorrow. She has a conflict, so we’re shooting for two weeks from now. We used to have lunch together all of the time when we worked at the realty company. It was one of the bright spots in my day.

“For what can one know even of the people one lives with every day? she asked. Are we not all prisoners? She had read a wonderful play about a man who scratched at the wall of his cell, and she had felt that was true of life—one scratched on the wall.” ~ Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

I’ve happened upon a new (old) band, Nickel Creek. They are a bit folksy—mandolin and violin along with acoustic guitar. I like their sound. They have a song called “Sweet Afton,” which is bittersweet for me as Afton Mountain has been such a big part of my life. I’ve driven that mountain more times than I can count going back and forth to Blacksburg and other places. Love the name Afton.

Fog by Dr Gray (FCC)

Finding a new group that I really like is a kind of gift for me. It means discovering new songs to add to my playlists. I’ve never really wanted or needed an MP3 player, but if I ever get a newer car with an MP3 adapter, it would be nice to have one so that I can download the hundreds and hundreds of songs that I have amassed over the years. Alexis has that function in her new Honda Civic, and it’s very nice.

But the reality is that I will be happy to have a working, safe vehicle. Along those lines, I think that we are really (really, this time) nearing the end with the truck. Corey took that part to have something shaped, now it’s just a matter of Vic putting it on and finishing. After which, we have to pay the back taxes to the city (hate Virginia’s personal property tax laws), get new tags, and (shudder) new tires and possibly brakes.

Not so little when it’s all spelled out, unfortunately.

“And then I felt sad because I realized that once people are broken in certain ways, they can’t ever be fixed, and this is something nobody ever tells you when you are young and it never fails to surprise you as you grow older as you see the people in your life break one by one. You wonder when your turn is going to be, or if it’s already happened.” ~ Douglas Coupland

The last few days have been trying for me. Every once in a while something happens to bring me up short. I mean, I encounter a truth of which I was unaware, or perhaps it’s a truth that I’ve been hiding from myself. We all do that I think—hide things from ourselves, whether because it’s easier or because it’s harder. Who knows . . .

Morning Mist, Stockholm, Sweden, by ashraful kadir (FCC)

But when reality shifts that tiny bit, when the world tilts at a slightly different angle, the reality with which you have become comfortable is permanently erased and replaced with a new reality that you must encompass. There is no choice to be made as the decision has been made for you.

I hate sliding down that slope because each time the bottom is in a different place. And what awaits me there never has the same essence. It could be well and truly devastating, or merely saddening. And although I am an old hand at these slides, although the encounter with the precipice is far from new, it’s painful nonetheless.

I have wished more than once that I could be the kind of person who rolls with things easily, that I could be the kind of person who does not question, the kind of person who can live with a lie, the kind of person who can embrace illusion as truth. But I am not, and I cannot. And more’s the pity. I mean, do you think that I like pain? Better question: Do I think that I like pain?

Now there’s a question.

“There is a twilight zone in our hearts that we ourselves cannot see. Even when we know quite a lot about ourselves—our gifts and weaknesses, our ambitions and aspirations, our motives and our drives—large parts of ourselves remain in the shadow of consciousness . . . We will always remain partially hidden to ourselves.” ~ Henri Nouwen

Perhaps I do. Perhaps I relish the pain because it reminds me that I am alive. Perhaps I embrace the pain because it lets me know that I can still feel. Perhaps this is all just a load of crap.

Regret is Cold, Unfocused, and Lonely by russell.tomlin

I have always gone through life so certain of some things and so uncertain about others.  And the things of which I am most uncertain relate directly to me: my perception of myself, my dislike of certain aspects of myself, my deep-seated insecurities. How is it that a woman who is so confident, so self-assured in some ways can be so damned uncertain in others? How can I be simultaneously haughty and insecure? How do I reconcile being arrogant and audacious with also being self-conscious and unsure?

I know that we are all made up of contradictions, but is everyone else just as torn as I am? I don’t think so. I mean, I know people who embody the very idea of conceit. If they have chinks, they don’t seem to worry about them.

Look. I don’t know why I am the way I am. I have some ideas, but not really. And I also know that I’m lucky in that my spouse, my life partner is supportive, doesn’t denigrate me, lies to me when I say that I’m fat. I know that I drive Corey crazy with my insecurities, and if I could like myself more I would. But I also know that the very nature of our relationship, the age difference, puts me at a disadvantage, at least in my mind. At first, the age difference didn’t bother me so much, but with each birthday, I feel the years more.

I cannot compete with women in their 20’s; they do not have thicker waists or wisps of grey hair. They have not yet begun to obsess over their arms. However, they also do not have my life experience, which allows me to roll with the turbulence of life a little better. Where they have drama on a daily basis, I have the somber reality of having seen the worst that life can deal.

“There’s nothing more personal, I think, than the shape that emptiness takes inside you; nor more particular than the means by which you fill it” ~ Clive Barker

When I say that I would not go back to my 20’s for anything, I really mean it. I’m not even certain that I would care to repeat my 30’s. There was so much angst, always right at the surface. Being my age gives me perspective, but it also gives me pause.

The Mist by bruce... (FCC)

I will never again look the way I did when Corey first laid eyes on me. But then, neither will he. This is the kind of thing that I must remind myself. Corey has a self-assurance that he has worked hard to attain, and he hides his insecurities well. He says that he loves being married and that he loves being married to me.

I believe him.

I just wish that I could believe in myself more. I really dislike needy women, so when did I become one? Exactly at what point did I turn the corner and run into a reflection that I no longer know? Truthfully, years and years ago. The mirror has never been my friend, from the time I was in grade school and wanted to see blue eyes and blond hair staring back at me, to the time my ex described a woman with whom he worked as voluptuous and I looked down at my own small chest to the time I first noticed that my back was no longer sexy.

In other words, always, for as long as I can remember. The person I have seen in the mirror has never quite been the person that I expected. And so it goes.

My keen intellect? My incisive mind? My ability to hold my own in a political debate? My power with the written word? My empathetic heart and devotion to family and friends? All fall away the moment I look in the mirror. And I hate, really and truly hate that.

More later. Peace.

Music by Nickel Creek, “Sweet Afton”


Ruin and Beauty

It’s so quiet now the children have decided to stop
being born. We raise our cups in an empty room.
In this light, the curtains are transparent as gauze.
Through the open window we hear nothing—
no airplane, lawn mower, no siren
speeding its white pain through the city’s traffic.
There is no traffic. What remains is all that remains.

The brick school at the five points crosswalk
is drenched in morning glory.
Its white flowers are trumpets
festooning this coastal town.
Will the eventual forest rise up
and remember our footsteps? Already
seedlings erupt through cement,
crabgrass heaves through cracked marble,
already wolves come down from the hills
to forage among us. We are like them now,
just another species looking to the stars
and howling extinction.

They say the body accepts any kind of sorrow,
that our ancestors lay down on their stomachs
in school hallways, as children they lay down
like matches waiting for a nuclear fire.

It wasn’t supposed to end like this:
all ruin and beauty, vines waterfalling down
a century’s architecture; it wasn’t supposed to end
so quietly, without fanfare or fuss,

a man and woman collecting rain
in old coffee tins. Darling,
the wars have been forgotten.
These days our quarrels are only with ourselves.
Tonight you sit on the edge of the bed loosening your shoes.
The act is soundless, without future
weight. Should we name this failure?
Should we wake to the regret at the end of time
doing what people have always done
and say it was not enough?

~ Patricia Young


4 thoughts on ““I am no longer coded and deciphered. I am all emptiness and futility. I am an empty stranger, a carbon copy of my form. I can no longer find what I’m looking for outside of myself. It doesn’t exist out there. Maybe it’s only in here, inside my head.” ~ David Wojnarowicz

  1. Ha! When I left for school this morning at 8:30 it was 60 degrees. When I got home just after 12, it was 45 degrees. Now it’s back up to 51… But, they are saying by Saturday or Sunday it will be back up to 70. 70 is just fine!

    During my class, a man came to the door and said there was going to be a fire drill at 11:00. About quarter of, we were looking out the window where it was absolutely raining cats and dogs. We started asking the teacher, “Can we stand on the covered balcony?” and she’s like, “No! We will walk all the way across the parking lot into the grass and stay there until the ‘All Clear’.” “Well, could we sit in our cars until it’s over?” “No.” “Well, can we just go home since it’s going to be close to time to leave?” “No – they will not let you leave.” “What are they going to do about us all getting pneumonia?” “What?!” “Have you looked out the window?” The teacher looks out the window. She walks out the door and down the hall and then comes back and tells us the fire drill has been canceled due to bad weather. Cool. I would have personally volunteered to call the college President and tell her that she was going to ruin her shoes in the fire drill… THAT would have put an end to it! I am very grateful that we ended up not having to go out in that downpour!

    I think there is some consensus on cortisone shots eventually destroying the joint, so I’d rather pass. I lived through frozen shoulder in the left arm and it’s okay now, so I’m hoping to just bite the bullet. Was yours in the same arm both times? I hope that I don’t just get it over and over and over. Mayo Clinic says it comes from inactivity. Ha. That can’t (always) be true because I lift weights. I’m pretty sure the left arm was caused by a flu shot (into the bursa). But, I don’t know what caused the right arm… Trying to bring in all the grocery bags in my right hand all at once? (Most places seem to think it is caused by trauma of some type.) I’m not convinced that anyone really knows FOR SURE. I’m wondering if it’s caused by inflammation and just eating wrong can cause it? (Ha. Probably some chicken food additive.) Some say one shot of novocaine can cure it. I have calmed the pain with ginger capsules, at least. I am learning trigger point self massage…

    I used to walk a two mile route through the neighborhood across the street. But after some lady’s dog went after me, I started walking at home. I’ve worn a path in the very back of the yard – looks like a pony track. Now I can have Halona out with me. If it rains, I can come in. If I’m cold, I can run in and grab my scarf and gloves… I just set a timer or check the clock and walk for 30 to 45 minutes (twice a day)… If you start in your back yard you can time yourself. Work up slowly… And maybe ALL the dogs can participate? Even though I go round and round in the same scenery, my mind is usually elsewhere anyway… Just pretend we are walking over the green hills in that picture of Ireland! (I suppose back yards aren’t for everyone, but I really advocate walking for feeling better…)

    1. Leah,
      Yep, we’re suffering the same big temperature dips, but don’t know what the weekend will bring.

      Fire drill in the rain? Please. If it had been me, I would have gotten in my car. What are they going to do to you? Take away your birthday?

      Different shoulder. Repeated cortisone in the same place will break down the joint, but I would rather have the shot once than live with the frozen shoulder. I dealt with it for months and months, and it just didn’t get better, so I had to have the shot. If you’re able to deal with yours, then good on you. I know what you mean about trying to bring in all of the bags at once. I used to do that, which probably contributed to my back problems.

      Too bad about the dog going after you. Was it one of those dangerous, spiked tooth dogs? You could carry a big stick with you when you go. There was an old guy in the neighborhood who used to walk with his equally old dog. He always carried a stick with him just in case. Actually had to use it on two pit bulls from down the street. Luckily, the pit bulls were scared off by the stick and did not harm him or his old dog. Happened right in front of our house. I was terrified.

      I plan to start the walking routine next week. Things around the house will have settled a bit since Eamonn’s car is fixed, and with break coming up, I won’t have to be doing school drop off.

  2. Sometimes I think I’m uncertain about everything. I’ve always been timid and allowed others to paint me a picture and I believed it. The first two words out of everyone in my family’s mouth were, “You can’t.” It took me 50 years to realize that I could just say, “Watch me.” Yet, I’ve not tackled mountains or heights, nor made all that much progress.

    I don’t think you are needy. You give us such beauty in your posts. You give us soul searching, you give us bitter + sweet, you give us LIFE as it is – it’s NOT the air-brushed size 2 model on the cover of some magazine that will earn a great salary the rest of her life for being beautiful. And, I think you are beautiful, although I guess I am going from your internal beauty with a postage stamp sized photo.

    I’ve been reading a couple of books about people who changed the way they lived… One went to live with an Amish/Mennonite community and learned to do without technology as it were. The other told about a Dr. who gave up all but $10,000. of her salary and lived in a 12 x 12 cabin without electricity. It’s appealing in ways, but I kid myself if I think I can give up toilet paper…

    I’ve been enjoying this weather. I’ve been taking my lovely calico with fibrosarcoma outside as much as I can. She loves it so. I stay right by her, or do my walking meditation in a circle around her. I love walking. It’s so beautiful to be out there in nature…

    Other than that I’m finishing up this class on MS 2010… and making interesting things to eat (but not what I SHOULD be eating. Those vegetable things: nobody likes but me…) And spending time looking at all your lovely pictures and quotes and all on F&L, and scanning through Pinterest for recipes my crew will eat… And doing my exercises for this f%#@ing frozen shoulder, and writing letters, and putting off job hunting because who wants someone who can barely use their right arm? (It works for typing, though.)

    Nov. 15th at 9:30 p.m. – it’s 70 degrees outside!!! I should enjoy it while it lasts.

    Wishing you peace… Hope you are feeling some of my healing thoughts sent your way…

    1. Leah,
      Have you thought about getting a cortisone shot for your shoulder? I’ve had a frozen shoulder twice, and the only thing that finally gave me relief was cortisone. It was well worth it. Not being able to lift an arm is such a pain (groan, sorry).

      As always, thank you for your kindness. I cannot tell you how much it means to hear such words from someone I only know through words, but words are everything to me. I’ve considered those broad life changes, but as you, I cannot give up toilet paper, nor could I give up the Internet (unless I absolutely had to). I use the Internet not just for my writing, but as a source of inspiration and for my news. I just cannot bear to watch television news any more. This way, I can better filter what enters my consciousness.

      As to the walking, I’m afraid that I’m going to have to give up on waiting for my s-in-law. She doesn’t seem to be interested, so I’ve decided that next week, I will begin to venture out on my own. If possible, I’ll take the lab with me, but the other dogs will be so jealous. It’s a lovely thing that you’re doing for your calico. Such a gift.

      I used to love to experiment in the kitchen. I took great pleasure and pride in producing new dishes. Now I am quite content to let Corey have the kitchen. Making the kind of dishes that I like to cook takes intensive chopping and such, and I find that it tires me beyond belief.

      It’s 77 degrees now and humid. Hope that you continue to enjoy the warm streak.

Thoughts, opinions, ideas?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.