“Experiencing the present purely is being emptied and hollow; you catch grace as a man fills his cup under a waterfall.” ~ Annie Dillard, from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Blue Whale Fluke
by mikebaird (FCC)

                   

“Do you know the legend about cicadas? They say they are the souls of poets who cannot keep quiet because, when they were alive, they never wrote the poems they wanted to.” ~ John Berger

Sunday afternoon. Cloudy and humid, lower 80’s.

Man, do I love the Berger quote above. I have always loved the sound of cicadas, found it beautiful, but I know that some people find it annoying. Berger’s explanation makes so much sense to me. Of course, you would have to be familiar with my tendency towards anthropomorphism to truly understand this.

Blue Damselfly
by aussiagall (FCC)

Anyway . . .

So it’s a blue Monday—I’ve got my blues playlist going on in the background, and of course, the blue images of different things that I found in various places. I’m just feeling, well, blue.

Not really certain as to any particular cause, more of an overall blue—the day, the atmosphere, my mood, my disposition. I have a sink full of dirty dishes that were not there when I went to bed last night, and laundry that keeps appearing after I’ve done an all-call for dirty clothes. I wonder if anyone in this house ever wonders from where clean clothes and clean dishes come. Does it ever occur to them that the cleaning fairy actually does not exist?

Don’t mind me. I’m tired, and I overdid it this weekend by taking everything out of the kitchen fridge and scrubbing. I wanted to do the old fridge in the garage, but ran out of steam. I managed to cure the leaking washer, but there is still water leaking from the old fridge. One leak at a time, I suppose.

“To hold, you must first open your hand. Let go.” ~ Tao Te Ching

Actually, a better adjective for my mood might be testy. Everything and everyone should be warned. Just not in the mood for anyone’s whims today.

Blue Window
(Source imgfave)

Actually, a whole string of adjectives might be more appropriate: blue, testy, tested, tired, tried, sore, unsure, underappreciated and overtaxed. I’m weary to the bone and wary of what’s to come. My confidence is gone, and my days seem to be running short. And the more that I write here, the less I am certain that I should continue. Not just now, not just today, but tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

Hell. I don’t even know what I’m saying. I think that I’ll take a break and go clean something. I’ve remembered why I used to clean so much: it passes the time mindlessly, and when you’re finished, you can look at something and say, “Now that’s a polished dining room table,” not that anyone should really be saying that because it’s the height of mundane and who cares anyway? I mean really. Are you going to get an award because your dining room table now has a great reflective surface? But when you are feeling the way I’ve been feeling lately, these seemingly small victories are just about all that’s available for the taking, so I’ll take them for now.

Oh, and I broke my only pair of glasses in half last night. This sucks.

“When I look at my life and its secret colors, I feel like bursting into tears. Like that sky. It’s rain and sun both, noon and midnight . . . I think of the lips I’ve kissed, and of the wretched child I was, and of the madness of life and the ambition that sometimes carries me away. I’m all those things at once. I’m sure there are times when you wouldn’t even recognize me. Extreme in misery, excessive in happiness—I can’t say it.” ~ Albert Camus, from A Happy Death

So while I was in the shower just now, I tried to think about what has brought about this latest downturn, and I realize that it’s quite a combination of things:

“Seizure” Art Installation, London
Roger Hiorns*

First, Corey is not doing well on this hitch. He is feeling quite down because so much has gone on for his family in Ohio in the last months or so, and he has been unable to be there for any of them. That, and he’s feeling lonely. I send him e-mails in which I try to brighten his spirits, let him know how much everyone loves and misses him, but I feel that it’s a very small band-aid, and with him being physically so far away, I cannot help but worry.

Also, last night I had a very vivid Caitlin dream. I haven’t had one of those in quite a while, but this one was a hospital/doctor/Caitlin dream, and those are the absolute worst. I was fighting with the doctor who was admitting her because he just kind of glanced over what was wrong with her, and I didn’t understand what he was saying. I was telling him not to be condescending, that I needed facts, not kind words. Then, and this was the really bad part, Caitlin was another daughter of mine who was sick, but I kept calling her Caitlin because I couldn’t remember my daughter’s name, so I was terrified that the people at the hospital would think that I was a horrible mother and take her away.

Add to that my screwy sleep schedule, the ongoing melodrama with Social Security, my upcoming home visit with the disability people, the fact that another huge pane of glass fell out of the sliding door in the middle of the night, and well, you have a recipe for major doldrums.

“What is it about us human beings that we can’t let go of lost things?” ~ Leslie Marmon Silko, from The Turquoise Ledge

In addition to the Caitlin dream, I followed it with a dream in which someone was chastising me for still grieving. I was trying to explain why my grief never ended, but I couldn’t find the words, and I have to wonder if I will ever, ever, ever get over my keen sense of loss of not only my daughter, but also my inability to have another daughter.

Hanging Rock, Baltzer Lookout, Blackheath, NSW
by JIGGS IMAGES (FCC)

For those of you who may be tired of this song, feel free to fast forward, not that I can promise that it gets any better in the next section . . .

I can say that this section and the previous one share one good thing: Camus and Silko, two writers I adore.

Anyway, back to trying to decipher my mood: When I looked in the bathroom mirror this morning when I first awoke, I saw a face that looked unfamiliar. Without the daily dose of beauty cream and under eye dark circle cream, my face bare, I looked, well, old. Older than I have ever looked. Apart from not having my miracle cream, I also do not have my daily dose of Corey telling me that I’m beautiful (which I never believe, but which helps, nonetheless). And for a nanosecond, I feel as if I’ve become my mother—the woman who has tried to stave off time with multiple operations, who has treated her hair so much that its texture resembles fine straw (ooh, I also dreamed that I was losing my hair), the woman who never wanted to be called grandma.

Oh. My. God. I have become my mother.

“We are silhouettes, hollow phantoms moving mistily without a background.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from The Waves

I never, ever wanted to face aging in the way that my mother faced it: full retreat. I wanted to be one of those strong, secure women who never lied about her age, who never went under the knife, who displayed her crow’s feet like a badge of honor. That’s what I always told myself I would do, who I said I would always be.

Blue Bottle Tree Sculpture, Seattle WA
by ingridtaylar (FCC)

When did I become this huge bundle of insecurity? Was it when I married a younger man and began to see each year as another 365 days that separated us? I think so, or maybe not. I mean, I’ve always been insecure, but I was able to hide it behind a demeanor full of bravado.

You must understand, the age thing has never bothered Corey. And as regards my heart, it has never bothered me. And actually, it’s not the physical in so much as it is the counting of the days, which makes no sense. I, who have always felt so much older than my number, am at a loss to explain this discrepancy. I’ll share this with you, though, as I suddenly remembered it a few days ago, and now that I think of it, this memory barreling out of nowhere is probably what precipitated everything: When I told my mother that Corey and I were going to get married, she said this: “Well you can probably get away with it now because you don’t look your age, but that’s not going to last forever.”

Once again, thanks mom. Can you imagine being told such a thing by a parent? But that’s how it has always been between us, a kind of generous love tempered with a bit of spite. It’s not a pleasant thing to admit.

I guess that break in which I did more laundry, cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom helped because I’ve written the last three sections in less time than it took to write the first two.

More later. Peace.

Music by Fiona Apple, “Sullen Girl” (“my blue oblivion”—perfect)

*A note about one of the pictures: SEIZURE is by British artist Roger Hiorns who pumped 75,000 litres of copper sulphate solution into a London council flat to create “a strangely beautiful and somewhat menacing crystalline growth on the walls, floor, ceiling and bath of this abandoned dwelling.” To see more images of this installation, click on the link. Beautiful.

                   

The Hay Devil, Section V

And now
this evening’s sky:
the seep of cloud through cloud so black
it looks like wreaths of ink
unfurled in water
dock-lights
spotting the further shore:
quicksilver
gold
and crimson
one white boat
dissolving in the firth.
It’s gone before I’ve seen it: details
changing
light
imagining a world:
the play of wind
and traffic
voices
footsteps on the streets
intruding on my thoughts like some
perpetual film of space
or coming home
or counting out a lifetime’s worth of sails
and other people’s gardens smudged with rain
or wisps of drifted hay
that catch the light
and vanish
as I never quite arrive
at absence
which is presence somewhere else
in some bright field
some miracle of air.

~ John Burnside

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5 thoughts on ““Experiencing the present purely is being emptied and hollow; you catch grace as a man fills his cup under a waterfall.” ~ Annie Dillard, from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

  1. Yes, she did! She was so excited ! Yes, we do look a like and yes she hates it. I would like to be 18 again, know what I know now and be able to see the future. But, alas! I am in here and now.

  2. Ah, that’s a great quote about cicadas… I will think of it while walking: they’ve been so loud, so prolific out under the trees… There seem to be a lot of dead ones being wrapped up in the writing spider’s webs as well.

    I just don’t think one can ever get over losing a daughter, much as I would like to see you heal… Much as I would like to tell you that she is waiting for you in the next life… or, that she is out there in the wind around you as you walk… and that she knows how strong your love still remains for her…

    I’m going to get an award for the cleanest kitchen floor. Oh, wait. The folks who give out the award won’t be able to get here fast enough – it won’t be clean when they get here… (And here come the heat pump folks again to tell me that cats will be the death of our aging heat pump….)

    Lita, there is such a thing as being beautiful inside, and if you don’t qualify for that, lady, well, no one does. Maybe we will just have to be satisfied with the beauty of certain things inside us… we all fade, all of us…

    • Enjoy the cicadas’ songs. They are glorious.

      Wow. What a deep comment. “We all fade, all of us . . .” Too true. I suppose I wouldn’t mind the fading so much if I knew that I were going to leave some mark behind, any kind of mark.

      And by the way, the cleaning awards people can’t come to your house until they stop by mine. We’ll both be waiting a while, I imagine.

  3. Let me get this out of the way – I HATE AGING. I thought I was going to be able to handle this stage of my life gracefully but no! I am fighting,kicking and screaming all the way. When did I get this age? What happened to 18, 21, 30? I remember dreading 40 but now would give anything to turn back time. I see a gray haired lady with “laugh lines” so deep only surgery would help. I keep the gray at bay but dyeing it. I could stand to lose a few pounds but frankly, I ‘m tired. I don’t have the energy to count calories nor the rational thought to think ” I shouldn’t eat that”. I care, but I don’t care. My bones hurt and I don’t have the stamina I used to-no more shopping day marathons for me.
    But on the flip side, I can run circles around my 32 yr old daughter when it comes to cleaning and taking care of kids. Go figure.

    So for now, I shall continue to color my locks, paint my nails, and spackle the makeup on. And yes, I have accepted that I will be the 80 yr old lady with thinning ,yet beautifully dyed hair, with two rosey cheeks and lipstick applied haphazardley (sp) !

    • Too funny. Speaking of your daughter, did she tell you I ran into her at the Market? I was totally zoned, trying to remember what I was there for when I heard that sweet little voice: “Aunt Lita?”

      She looks sooooo much like you. I know that she’d hate to hear that, but it’s true.

      And yes, why is it that we’re so damned old but we can run circles around our daughters? Hmmm . . .

      I don’t want to be a teenager, and I really wouldn’t want to be in my 20s or 30s. I’m fine trying to hang out in my 40’s, even if they’re gone. Does that make sense?

      By the way, why should we let our hair get thin when men take care of theirs everyday of the week? I’m not losing my hair. No way.

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