“Why is it the words we write for ourselves are always better than the words we write for others?” ~ Mike Rich from Finding Forrester

U. S. Postal Service Parcel Post Truck, ca 1950*

                   

“Nostalgia, more than anything, gives us the shudder of our own imperfection. This is why with Chopin we feel so little like gods.” ~ E. M. Cioran, from The Book of Delusions

Wednesday evening. Much too warm (mid 70s) and intermittent showers.

It’s unseasonably warm, so of course, I’m thinking of snow.

Mail Trucks on Parade, 1956

Another sleepless night. Watched the clock hit 7:30 a.m. Not sure what’s going on with this most recent bout of insomnia unless I’m just getting myself too amped for the holiday stress. Stressing over impending stress?

Yesterday I had out of control back spasms. Corey worked on the knots a bit, but I really need some trigger shots. My appointment is in two weeks, which means two more weeks of knots in my back and now, also in my right hand. I don’t know if I have a pinched nerve in my hand, or if such a thing is even possible. I suppose if it’s possible, then I have it.

Brett finishes his scientific writing class with his power point presentation on Thursday, and then he has a presentation in public speaking on Friday. Oral presentations used to really worry him, but he’s gotten much better. Unfortunately, he’s still unsure as to what he wants to declare as his major. That’s problematic as he’s entering his second semester of his sophomore year.

Corey is at work, although his shift today was cut by two hours because of ship departures. His shift yesterday at the boatyard was completely cancelled, but he did manage to pick up a two and a half hour shift at the bank. Some bank in Virginia Beach hires security to walk their employees to their cars once Daylight Savings time kicks in, which is actually a good practice. The downside is that the shifts are very short.

“I was always one for being alone,
Seeking in my own way, eternal purpose;
At the edge of the field waiting for the pure moment;
Standing, silent, on sandy beaches or walking along green embankments;”~ Theodore Roethke, from Section 1 of “Fourth Meditation”

Thursday afternoon. Sunny and much cooler, 50° 

Rural Letter Carrier in Sleigh, 1918

So I just couldn’t finish yesterday. Too lethargic. Of course, now that it’s 24 degrees cooler than yesterday, my cough is acting up. I’ve almost emptied a new inhaler with this bout of bronchitis. Simply cannot win.

House to myself. The dogs are off napping somewhere, and it’s pretty quiet. Corey’s shift today was supposed to be extended by two hours to compensate for yesterday, but unfortunately, not so.

Very good news though: he now has his merchant mariner’s documents in hand, updated licenses and credentials. Hooray. With any luck, he’ll be back on a boat of some sort by 2012. You should have seen how happy he was when he opened the mail yesterday, and his package was there. I haven’t seen a smile that wide in quite some time.

Of course, it will be a radical change for our daily way of life. I’m so used to him being here, taking care of the things that I cannot handle, you know, simple things like picking up the groceries. But the biggest change will be that he’s physically away. We’ve gotten quite used to daily living together. I’m not complaining. We did the sea thing before, just not for the past three years. I am happy for him, though. I know that he’s looking forward to the change. I’m just hoping that he can still fit in at least one online class next semester. I guess we’ll just have to see how things go on that end.

“he told again our great race through the stars
and how the world can’t keep up with our dreams.”~ William Stafford, “Living on the Plains [1990]”

So I’m sitting here as the sky darkens, cup of hot tea on the desk, and Christmas socks on my feet. I wish that I had something interesting to say, but I really don’t. My mind is kind of fuzzy today, probably from the weird sleep patterns of late. It bugs me, though, when I do have the time and access to write, and then when I sit before the keyboard, nothing seems to come forth.

Puttling a Letter into a Doremus Mailbox, ca 1880

Wish that I could ring a bell or respond to a herald: Go forth ye and write . . . No such luck. I’m really hoping that this doesn’t turn into a three-day post. It just seems so lame, somehow.

Last night I had a very strange dream in which I was cleaning out the refrigerator and cabikitchen cabinets in my my-in-law’s house. The kitchen had begun to smell because food from the funeral was still in the fridge. Of course, this never happened. So odd.

I also dreamed that I was walking down a major highway, and in a field off to the right were three young men with a pack of dogs. Tillie was with me, and she ran towards the dogs. The young men told me to be careful because their dogs had ticks. Also strange.

Then in another part I was counseling two men who had just been released from prison. Where does this stuff come from?

“I had the idea that the world’s so full of pain
it must sometimes make a kind of singing.
And that the sequence helps, as much as order helps—
First an ego, and then pain, and then the singing.” ~ Robert Haas from “Faint Music”

Well bugger. I just lost the entire last section of what I had typed. Hate it when WordPress does that.

Friday afternoon. Cloudy and 61º.

Yep. It’s turned into a three-day post. I had thought that I’d be feeling much better by now, but between the coughing, wheezing, and hacking, it’s just not happening. Nice image, I know. I have an idea that I probably waited too long to go to the doctor, so the ordinarily miraculous z-pack is not working as well.

Mail Van in the Snow, ca 1953

When I saw the doctor, he gave me a script for Prednizone, which I did not have filled. I hate taking Prednizone as it blows me up like a turgid balloon, but I think that I’m going to have to just suck it up and take it.

So between the time I first began this post and today, Corey has spoken with the representative from the shipping company that was interested in hiring him right after he had started classes. He seemed to remember Corey and told him that he would move his file to the top of the pile for the next crew change, which is scheduled for early January.

We’re both kind of in shock that things seem to be going smoothly. I supposed living in a perpetual state of waiting for the other shoe to drop makes one terribly gun shy. Daring to hope? Hoping beyond hope? And then when something actually does change, daring to believe that this is so?

It’s hard because we’ve become so accustomed to things not going our way, so inured to the seemingly endless doses of bad luck, so when the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel begins to come into focus, we do a double take.

It’s more of the do I dare? mentality. Do I dare to eat this peach in my hand? What if it’s the very last peach I ever have? Should I savor it or save it?

“It is hard
in the radiance of this world to live
but we live.” ~ Campbell McGrath, from “Storm Valediction”

Last night (after finally falling sleep sometimes after 4), I dreamed that I had been invited to this feast. The hosts were a rich family in New York, and the dinner was at a big, fancy restaurant. What’s significant about this dream is that I could not get anyone to serve me. People all around me were being served food, delicious food, but not a single server would pay attention to me. I wanted to order wine, but no one would take my order. I wanted a steak and asparagus spears, but no one would ask me what I wanted.

Letter Carrier in Snow, 1920

All around me, people were dining on lavish dishes: caviar, mango strips, lobster, crepes, exotic fruits, shrimp. I got a taste here and there, but no plate of food. Corey had food. Somehow, he had a plate, and he was able to take things from here and there, but I had nothing. The sommelier finally came to the table, and seemed surprised that I ordered a bottle of wine without a screw cap, but he never reappeared with my wine.

So does this dream mean that good things are within reach but not quite attainable? Or does this dream mean that everyone gets some except me? Or does this dream simply mean that I went to bed hungry?

Who knows. But now I’m craving steak, button mushrooms, and asparagus. I suppose I’ll munch on a few Wheat Thins . . .

*All images taken from the Flickr Smithsonian Institution’s Photostream, Collection on Postal History

Music by the Perishers, “Sway”

                   

Shopping for Pomegranates at Wal-Mart on New Year’s Day

Beneath a ten-foot-tall apparition of Frosty the Snowman
with his corncob pipe and jovial, over-eager, button-black eyes,
holding, in my palm, the leathery, wine-colored purse
of a pomegranate, I realize, yet again, that America is a country
about which I understand everything and nothing at all,
that this is life, this ungovernable air
in which the trees rearrange their branches, season after season,
never certain which configuration will bear the optimal yield
of sunlight and water, the enabling balm of nutrients,
that so, too, do Wal-Mart’s ferocious sales managers
relentlessly analyze their end-cap placement, product mix,
and shopper demographics, that this is the culture
in all its earnestness and absurdity, that it never rests,
that each day is an eternity and every night is New Year’s Eve,
a cavalcade of B-list has-beens entirely unknown to me,
needy comedians and country singers in handsome Stetsons,
sitcom stars of every social trope and ethnic denomination,
pugilists and oligarchs, femmes fatales and anointed virgins
throat-slit in offering to the cannibal throng of Times Square.
Who are these people? I grow old. I lie unsleeping
as confetti falls, ash-girdled, robed in sweat and melancholy,
click-shifting from QVC to reality TV, strings of commercials
for breath freshener, debt reconsolidation, a new car
lacking any whisper of style or grace, like a final fetid gasp
from the lips of a dying Henry Ford, potato-faced actors
impersonating real people with real opinions
offered forth with idiot grins in the yellow, herniated studio light,
actual human beings, actual souls bought too cheaply.
That it never ends, O Lord, that it never ends!
That it is relentless, remorseless, and it is on right now.
That one sees it and sees it but sometimes it sees you, too,
cowering in a corner, transfixed by the crawler for the storm alert,
home videos of faces left dazed by the twister, the car bomb,
the war always beginning or already begun, always
the special report, the inside scoop, the hidden camera
revealing the mechanical lives of the sad, inarticulate people
we have come to know as “celebrities.”
Who assigns such value, who chose these craven avatars
if not the miraculous hand of the marketplace,
whose torn cuticles and gaudily painted fingernails resemble nothing
so much as our own? Where does the oracle reveal our truths
more vividly than upon that pixillated spirit glass
unless it is here, in this tabernacle of homely merchandise,
a Copernican model of a money-driven universe
revolving around its golden omphalos, each of us summed
and subtotalled, integers in an equation of need and consumption,
desire and consummation, because Hollywood had it right all along,
the years are a montage of calendar pages and autumn leaves,
sheet music for a nostalgic symphony of which our lives comprise
but single trumpet blasts, single notes in the hullabaloo,
or even less—we are but motes of dust in that atmosphere
shaken by the vibrations of time’s imperious crescendo.
That it never ends, O Lord. That it goes on,
without pause or cessation, without pity or remorse.
That we have willed it into existence, dreamed it into being.
That it is our divine monster, our factotum, our scourge.
That I can imagine nothing more beautiful
than to propitiate such a god upon the seeds of my own heart.

~ (January 11, 2010 New Yorker)

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