“Between me and life is a faint glass. No matter how sharply I see and understand life, I cannot touch it.” ~ Fernando Pessoa

Dubrovnik Rooftops, Croatia
by will clayton (FCC)

                   

“I don’t have a word to say. Why don’t I just stay quiet, then? But if I don’t force myself to talk, silence will forever engulf me in waves. Word and form will be the plank on top of which I shall float over billows of silence.” ~ Clarice Lispector, from The Passion According to G.H. (trans. Ronald Sousa)

Saturday, early evening. Sunny and mild, high 60’s.

Another day of catch-up—laundry, writing, playing with the dogs. My back was hurting before I began. Woke up in pain. Hate that.

I completely forgot to watch the VP debate this past week, but apparently, Joe Biden did a good job. Just hoping Obama gets his groove back before this week’s re-match with Romney. But that’s not what this post is about. Not going to do political today. Just not up for it.

Falmouth Rooftops, UK
by Tim Green (FCC)

Shakes is hanging in. When he has his coughing spells, his whole body seems wracked. It’s terrible to watch. But he’s eating, and this morning, he enjoyed himself doing army crawl across the backyard (that’s when he lies on his belly and pulls himself about with his front legs only). It’s how he scratches his belly. Funny to watch, and he enjoys it.

I took Tillie the Lab outside for modified stick. Tried to keep her from getting over-exerted so that I don’t have to worry about seizures.

In the meantime, I’m sitting here with one of my heated neck wraps around my neck and shoulders, trying to burn the pain out. Not really. Just trying to use heat to make the muscles untense. So far, it’s not working.

This past week, I accidentally rear-ended someone at a read light. Not a big collision, small and stupid. Her truck was completely unharmed. The rodeo, on the other hand, decided to act up, and the lights went out. Turns out I had mashed the light relay against something. Easy enough to fix. Lights back on. I just felt really, really stupid. I wasn’t paying attention, noticed that the light had turned green, started to go before she did. Fortunately it wasn’t anything worse than that.

“All of the influences were lined up waiting for me. I was born, and there they were to form me, which is why I tell you more of them than of myself.”~ Saul Bellow, from The Adventures of Augie March

Yesterday I stopped into Marshall’s to see if they had any good clearance items. Made the mistake of taking a few things into the dressing room. I really, really hate it when I think that my body is smaller than it is. I see nothing but sausage in the mirror. Yes, it keeps me from buying anything, but boy does it do a number on my self-image. It was a whole lot of yuck, no way, and this is terrible. I think that I’ve been watching too much “Project Runway,” which makes me think that I can wear cool clothes.

Rooftops in France
by ifraud (FCC)

Not so much.

Actually, I could be content with myself if I lost 20 to 25 pounds. Don’t ask me how I’m going to go about that. I’ve already given up sugar (mostly). I’m staying away from chocolate (really, mostly), and I’m trying to eat small meals throughout the day. I know that I’m thinner than I was this time last year, but thinner is perhaps not the best word choice.

I don’t know. My body-image is so warped (thanks, Mom). I saw one of my cousins a few weeks ago, and she looks great. She has one of those naturally slender body frames, you know, the kind that normal women do not have. So the visit was bittersweet: great to see all of them, but left feeling like I’m fat and ugly and my mother dresses me funny. This is precisely why I don’t like to leave the house. Bumping up against these harsh realities is taxing.

“What is your life about, anyway? Nothing but a struggle to be someone. Nothing but a running from your own silence.” ~ Jalal al-Din Rumi

I am in desperate need of a shower. Too much information?

When my kids were little, they had this saying, “Something’s sticking” to describe if their shoes didn’t feel quite right or if a label was bothering them. Well, something’s sticking in this shirt that I’m wearing. I think that I have it narrowed to the clear rubber/plastic thread they used. It’s poking me in the chest. Why, mass manufacturers of affordable garments, why? Again, too much information?

Zhouzheng Rooftops, China
by Praziquantel (FCC)

I do apologize, but obviously I am quite uninspired today. Perhaps I should really wait until nothing’s sticking, the back isn’t aching, and I’m not feeling slovenly. Truthfully, each time I got in the mindset to shower, one of my sons beat me to the bathroom—a major drawback to living in an older home with one bathroom. How did families survive in the 1950’s. They had an average of two children. Did those children not take ungodly long showers? Were those children trained not to hog the bathroom because someone else might be in need?

I fear that by the time I am finally able to get out of this paean to 1950s suburbia, I will no longer need to as my children will be out in the world on their own. Every time I ride into this neighborhood with its floral subdivision names so full of hope and promise I find myself thinking of “Leave it to Beaver,” with all of the neat houses in a row, everything in its place, impeccable yards and garages, and everyone in his or her assigned niche. It’s frighteningly stagnating.

“I see the mountains in the sky; the great clouds; and the moon; I have a great and astonishing sense of something there, which is “it”—it is not exactly beauty that I mean . . . A sense of my own strangeness, walking on the earth is there too: of the infinite oddity of the human position; with the moon up there and those mountain clouds. Who am I, what am I, and so on: these questions are always floating about in me.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry dated February 27, 1926

Seriously, though, were architects and planners of these ‘burbs so completely uninspired? Or were they secretly warped, laughing to themselves, as if to say, “This will keep people in line: row after row of cookie cutter houses with slight variations in window placement? Or was everyone just so glad to be in a post-war boom that any thought of creativity took a back seat to production values—developers churning out suburbia like baked bread because the masses couldn’t get enough of it.

Tallin Rooftops, Estonia
by samipaju (FCC)

Not much has changed, though. In fact, it may be worse. I swear that when I was the marketing director for a local realtor, I got so sick of seeing the same basic design for McMansions, maybe a different gable here, a double dormer there, but all the same.

But isn’t this how it is all over the world? People live in neighborhoods (interesting term, that) that are nothing more or less than mirror images with different door colors, whether the house is brick or tin or wood. We conform so easily, without thought, into these nice, neat niches, never questioning why.

Whoa. Getting a tad too philosophical there.

“A man’s truest self realizations might require him, above all, to learn to close his eyes: to let himself be taken unawares, to follow his dark angel, to risk his illegal instincts.” ~ Jean Cocteau

But think about it. Beneath the slate or concrete or thatch or mud or tile or shingles, haven’t we always tried to conform, most of us? When we lived in caves, how soon did the competitions for the best caves begin? Graduate to huts, how soon before the need arose to make this hut just like that hut, or to make this hut a tad bigger than that hut?

Uncastillo Rooftops, Spain
by lostajy (FCC)

The need to compete outweighing the need to conform? Row after row of black and white townhouses, and then bam, one with a red door. How long before the community association slaps the homeowners with a notice to comply?

We humans are so predictable. We want to fit in, but we want to stand out. We need to be accepted, but we ache to surpass. We search for meaning in a cesspool of sameness. Is it any wonder that nothing ever changes?

When we bought this house, it never occurred to us to look for something different. So conditioned have we been to seek what was available. Then, a decade or so later, the era of 2,000 square feet and above as standard made my little brick ranch obsolete. Then downsizing. The realization that so much square footage came encumbered with any number of unspoken needs. A whole generation of house poor people, now upside down in their grand suburbs, so similar to the one next door and the one three doors down from that.

I always wanted a log cabin on a plot of land with a natural lake, lots of trees, the smell of mountain air only faintly overtaken by an ocean breeze wafting in from near by.

Damn. I went and made it philosophical after all.

More later. Peace.

Music by Stuart Murdoch, “Another Saturday”

                  
Apple
I wake and remembered
nothing of what I was dreaming
The day grew light, then dark again —
In all its rich hours, what happened?
A few weeds pulled, a few cold flowers
carried inside for the vase.
A little reading. A little tidying and sweeping.
I had vowed to do nothing I did not wish
to do that day, and kept my promise.
Once, a certain hope came close
and then departed. Passed by me in its familiar
shawl, scented with iodine woodsmoke.
I did not speak to it, nor it to me.
Yet still the habit of warmth traveled
between us, like an apple shared by old friends —
One takes a bite, then the other.
They do this until it is gone.
~ Jane Hirshfield
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2 thoughts on ““Between me and life is a faint glass. No matter how sharply I see and understand life, I cannot touch it.” ~ Fernando Pessoa

  1. I’ve been caught up in following the Jessica Ridgeway story out of Colorado… and now I’m feeling like I’ve drowned. Went to a fall festival today. Not a lot of coverage about Jessica here. I wanted to tell every mother to hang on to her children tighter. We get lax…

    “Something’s sticking…” Should be a category for meet-ups. My kids and I will meet you and your kids there! Not only do the tags and the fishing line they use for thread stick me, but I can tell you exactly when and where there is a piece of my own hair loose and stuck in a shirt sleeve or something (on my way to the bathroom to remove it).

    Designing houses that are similar saves money, don’t you know? Unique costs extra… But, there’s something to be said about blending in, not sticking out…

    There was a log cabin on our road that I always loved, and then one day they covered it in siding… and you wouldn’t even know that it’s a log cabin anymore…

    I hope the rest of your weekend is mar-ve-lous….

    • These kinds of stories are hard not to get caught up in as they are so visceral, hitting every nerve in a parent’s body. We can never be lax.

      Fall festival sounds lovely. “Something’s sticking” is the perfect phrase for so many things, is it not? The other day, Alexis found one of my hairs in Olivia’s diaper. What made this strange was that I was long gone, and her diaper had been changed a couple of times previous to that. I tell my kids that I leave pieces of me wherever I go so that I won’t be forgotten.

      I am absolutely aghast that someone would put siding over a log cabin. There should be some kind of law against that.

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