“Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.” ~ Haruki Murakami, from Dance Dance Dance

Iceland colon The Blue Lagoon by Captain Oates
Iceland: The Blue Lagoon
by Captain Oates (FCC)

                   

“It occurs to me, then, that people themselves are full of tunnels: winding, dark spaces and caverns; impossible to know all the places inside of them. Impossible even to imagine.” ~ Lauren Oliver, from Pandemonium

Thursday evening. Very cold, windy, snow flurries.

People are insane around here. They see flurries, real flurries albeit almost microscopic, and they freak. Everyone rushes to the grocery stores and gas stations as if they are going to be unable to leave their houses for days. It’s laughable and annoying at the same time.

Seyðisfjörður - Iceland by Gilles Chiroleu FCC
Seyðisfjörður, Iceland
bu Gilles Chiroleu (FCC)

Anyway, about the whole doctoral program application, here’s the deal: Yesterday I finally found a more explicit page on the website that gave January 5 as the deadline unlike the other two pages that said January. Obviously, I have missed the deadline, which at first gave me great angst but also filled me with a sense of relief.

Corey reminded me that I can use the coming year to better prepare for a return to school, take the tests I need to take, etc. But, and this is a big but, I will be one year older, and the truth is that there is ageism in doctoral programs. Last year the program had 97 applicants and accepted 8. I would be up against people fresh out of master’s programs, people more likely to be able to get jobs.

I’m not really sure how I feel about all of this, but I have ordered some GRE prep materials off EBay nonetheless. I also need to unearth my Norton Anthologies and do some cramming from them. I hope they haven’t fallen prey to the elements or the critters.

“Is the soul solid, like iron?
Or is it tender and breakable, like
the wings of a moth in the beak of an owl?” ~ Mary Oliver, from “Some Questions You Might Ask”

We postponed our sushi date for my birthday until this weekend. I really didn’t feel like putting on real clothes and leaving the house yesterday, that and I was quite full from the Eggs Benedict that Corey made me for brunch. So delicious. So we’re going for sushi and then taking the boys to see Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit.

Islandsk landskap by nordon dot org cc
Islandsk landskap
by nordon.org (CC)

A special thank you to Leah in NC whose package of birthday chocolates arrived today, feeding my addiction, so bad but so good. Thanks for remembering my birthday even though I would rather forget it.

Oh yes, back to the year older thing and the application: Doctoral programs are very competitive, which makes me ask myself the question, the pertinent question—is this the program that I want, or is it the program to which I am applying because of the tuition assistance. For people like use tuition assistance is a very big deal, but I had really wanted to do my doctoral research on Polish poets, specifically Wislawa Szymborska. I’m not sure if GW’s program would encompass that.

The whole thing is so very confusing. The only thing that I know for certain is that I want to work on my doctorate; I have wanted this since I was in my 20’s and the desire has never gone away, which is saying something. I want this so much that I am willing to prepare for the GREs, and I really loathe standardized tests as I never do well on them.

Perhaps I can still be a gopher for Peter Jackson and fetch his tea . . .

“The thing is to understand myself: the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die. That is what I now recognize as the most important thing.” ~ Søren Kierkegaard

I don’t know if you know this, but I really try not to repeat my quotes, music, or images, which means that sometimes I have to search on key words in my posts past. I did that today to double-check on one of the quotes, and a post from two years ago popped up in which I was talking about seeing Alexis’s friend Jennifer in the hospital. I mention this only because I was so certain in that post that Jennifer would not have long to live. Thankfully, I and so many others were wrong. She is still happily around today, raising her son. It’s nice to be wrong about something like that.

Svartifoss Cascade, Iceland by Victor Montol CC
Svartifoss Cascade, Iceland
by Victor Montol (CC)

I heard from my s-in-law Helma a few days ago. Apparently when I mailed her Christmas Card in which I included a letter, I omitted a digit in the zip code, so she didn’t get the card until a few days ago. I’m just glad that she got it at all. She is having a very hard time with Patrick’s death. I really wish that she wasn’t an ocean away so that we could sit down over coffee and just talk. It hurts to know she’s hurting, but at least she has all of her family nearby.

I find that’s the problem with most of the women with whom I am close emotionally—physical distance, as in too much of it. That’s partially another reason I would like to be back in school, to meet new people, have some outside stimulation beyond these cracked-paint walls.

“Once there was
a ceramicist who cast vessels on the scale
of human beings. Asked why he punctured each
one by striking the soft clay with a two-by-four,
he answered, ‘To let the darkness out.’” ~ Laura-Gray Street, from “Phosphenes and Entopics”

I found a new site for poetry: The Fishouse, which is a site that promotes the oral tradition of poetry by posting recordings of poets reading their work. They showcase emerging poets, which they define as those with fewer than two published books at the time of submitting. According to the About page, “From the Fishouse takes its name, and the spelling of “Fishouse,” from the writing cabin of the late Lawrence Sargent Hall. Hall renovated the former codfish-drying shack and wrote in the space for 50 years.”

See. My idea to have a writing shack is not unique. Space is important. Ambiance is important.

Old Shed in Iceland-XL by Trey Ratcliff Stuck in Customs
Old Shed in Iceland
by Trey Ratcliff, Stuck in Customs

At this moment, I am sitting at my desk, which is tucked away in the corner of our bedroom behind the door. Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful to have this space, which in our house, is a premium. But it’s dark and cramped, and I cannot help but feel that I might be more inspired if I could hear the birds outside or at least have natural light pouring in the windows.

Oh, what am I going on about? We’re just lucky to be able to pay for my health insurance (which is finally up to date and reinstated), and I’m whining about not having a room of my own.

“All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?” ~ Jalal al-Din Rumi

So let me leave you with this thought: When is the last time you breathed? Not the automatic respirations that your body does on its own, completely separate from your will or thought. Not that kind of breathing. But the kind during which you pause and then inhale deeply and slowly through your nose (or mouth if you’re asthmatic), then exhale just as slowly. The breath measured, counted, and in so doing, given meaning.

Dyrholaey, Iceland by Martino! FCC
Dyrholaey, Iceland
by Martino! (FCC)

Bet it’s been longer than you thought, hasn’t it? I know it was for me.

I came upon something, probably on tumblr, that posed that same question, and it made me pause. I couldn’t remember the last time I made breathing active, the last time I paid attention to my lungs expanding and contracting, to the way the air moved into my nose, to the sound that ensued. And I have to admit, it felt good, really good to breathe, not because the opposite would be terrible, but because the act itself was affirming. And for me, that’s saying quite a lot.

Grace in small things.

More later. Peace.

Music by Trespassers William, “Vapour Trail”

                    

The Soul

It disappeared.
It reappeared
as chimney smoke
that burnt through carcasses
of swallows stilled,
and that it portrayed no will
was why I followed that smoke
with this pair of eyes.
It was that it didn’t need
or require my belief
that I leant upon it
as a tired worker
upon
a gate.

~ Katie Ford

“The air alive, | memory lifts her head and I nearly | disappear.” ~ Anne Michaels, from “Skin Divers”

Yajuro Takashima Mangetsu 1963
Mangetsu 満月 (1963)
by Yajuro Takashima

                   

My birthday present to myself: I spent two hours doing a practice Literature in English GRE subject sample test. I am woefully unprepared to take the GREs, so I suppose it’s a good thing that I found out today I’ve missed the deadline for submitting applications to the doctoral program at GW.

Ah me. Instead of rambling on and on about something that is bothering me, I’m going to post a lovely poem by Anne Michaels, which I found on  What the Camera Sees on blogspot. Please click here to see the post.

Skin Divers

Under the big-top
of stars, cows drift
from enclosures, bellies brushing
the high grass, ready for their heavy
festivities. Lowland gleams like mica
in the rain. Starlight
soaks our shoes.
The seaweed field begs, the same
burlap field that in winter cracks with frost,
is splashed by the black brush
of crows. Frozen sparklers of Queen Anne’s lace.

Because the moon feels loved, she lets our eyes
follow her across the field, stepping
from her clothes, strewn silk
glinting in furrows. Feeling loved, the moon loves
to be looked at, swimming
all night across the river.

She calls through screens,
she fingers a white slip in the night hallway,
reaches across the table for a glass.
She holds the dream fort.
Like the moon, I want to touch places
just by looking. To tell
new things at three in the morning, when we’re
awake with rain or any sadness, or slendering through
reeds of sleep, surfacing to skin. In this room
where so much has happened, where love
is the clink of buttons as your shirt slides
to the floor, the rolling sound of loose change;
a book half open, clothes
half open. Again we feel
how transparent the envelope
of the body, pushed through the door
of the world. To read what’s inside
we hold each other
up to the light. We hold
the ones we love or long
to be free of, carry them
into every night field, sit with them
while cows slow as ships
barely move in the distance.
Rain dripping from the awning of stars.

Waterworn, the body remembers
like a floodplain, sentiment-laden,
reclaims itself with every tide.
Memory terraces, soft as green deltas.
Or reefs and cordilleras –
gathering the world to bone.

The moon touches everything
into meaning, under her blind fingers,
then returns us to cerulean
aluminum dawns. Night,
a road pointing east.
her sister, memory, browses the closet
for clothes carrying someone’s shape.
She wipes her hands on an apron
stained with childhood, familiar smells
in her hair; rattles pots and pans
in the circadian kitchen.
While in the bedroom of a night field,
the moon undresses; her abandoned peignoir
floats forever down.

Memory drags possessions out on the lawn,
moves slowly through wet grass, weighed down
by moments caught in her night net, in the glistening
ether of her skirt. The air alive,
memory lifts her head and I nearly
disappear. You lift your head, a look I feel
everywhere, a tongue of a glance,
and love’s this dark field, our shadow web
of voices, the carbon-papter purple
rainy dark. Memory’s heavy with the jewellery
of rain, her skirt heavy with beads of mercury
congealing to ice on embroidered branches –
as she walks we hear the clacking surf
of those beautiful bones. Already love
so far beyond the body, reached only
by way of the body. Time is the alembic
that turns what we know
into mystery. Into air,
into the purple stain of sweetness.
Laburnum, wild iris, birch forest so thick
it glows at night, smells that reach us
everywhere; the alchemy that keeps us
happy on the ground, even if our arms embrace
nothing, nothing: the withdrawing
trochee of birds. We’ll never achieve escape
velocity, might as well sink into wet
firmament, learn to stay under,
breathing through our skin.
In silver lamella, in rivers
the colour of rain. Under water, under sky;
with transparent ancient wings.

Tonight the moon traipses in bare feet,
silk stockings left behind
like pieces of river.

Our legs and arms, summer-steeped
slapped damp
with mud and weeds.

We roll over the edge into the deep field,
rise from under rain,
from our shapes in wet grass.
Night swimmers, skin divers.

~ Anne Michaels

                   

Music by Shawn Colvin (with Alison Krauss), “Shotgun Down The Avalanche”

Here, now . . .

mozambique-indigo-bay-island-resort-hammock-7201
Indigo Bay Resort, Mozambique

                   

Ohhhhh, would that it were.

Since I have no words today, I thought I’d offer up an image of pure bliss so that we can all pause and say, “Yep. I like it. A lot. A whole lot.”

More later. Peace.

Beautiful music by L’Altra, “Favorite Flavor” (from Telepathic)

What is it in us that lives in the past and longs for the future, or lives in the future and longs for the past?” ~ Mark Strand. from “No Words Can Describe It”

Started a post today, but didn’t get very far with it, so I decided to post the following (reblogged from Dreaming in the Deep South:

A Poem For Sunday

Lightleaf

                   

Fiction

I think of the innocent lives
Of people in novels who know they’ll die
But not that the novel will end. How different they are
From us. Here, the moon stares dumbly down,
Through scattered clouds, onto the sleeping town,
And the wind rounds up the fallen leaves,
And somebody—namely me—deep in his chair,
Riffles the pages left, knowing there’s not
Much time for the man and woman in the rented room,
For the red light over the door, for the iris
Tossing its shadow against the wall; not much time
For the soldiers under the trees that line
The river, for the wounded being hauled away
To the cities of the interior where they will stay;
The war that raged for years will come to a close,
And so will everything else, except for a presence
Hard to define, a trace, like the scent of grass
After a night of rain or the remains of a voice
That lets us know without spelling it out
Not to despair; if the end is come, it too will pass.

~ Mark Strand

 

“Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world.” ~ Virginia Woolf

Sometimes, it only takes a song, a smile, an umbrella as a microphone . . .

Welcome Home Flashmob:

Trafalgar Square: “Hey Jude”

“All the hardest, coldest people you meet were once as soft as water. And that’s the tragedy of living. ” ~ Iain Thomas, from I Wrote This For You

Ice-Castle-Brent-Christensen1
Ice Castle, Silverthorne, Colorado
by Brent Christensen

                   

“I, too, seem to be a connoisseur of rain, but it does not fill me with joy; it allows me to steep myself in a solitude I nurse like a vice I’ve refused to vanquish.” ~ Julia Glass, from Three Junes

Friday afternoon. Sunny, low 40’s. No snow . . .

So we had wet snow and rain last night. Absolutely nothing stuck, but we had delayed openings and closings anyway. This area is totally unprepared for any kind of winter weather, so accustomed to mild winters devoid of white. In response, I thought I’d post something I’ve been saving: images of real life ice castles.

Last night I had the weirdest dreams, and consequently, I woke up mad at Corey. Don’t you hate it when a dream causes a waking reaction? The gist of it was that Corey was flirting with a woman, and he thought it harmless, but I was offended, and it escalated from there. In between, Elliot, formerly of Law & Order SVU showed up because I found to women buried in the sand. I ran into an old friend of mine who made me the best mixed drink I had ever had, and oh yes, I won the lottery, twice. I was an uber millionaire, and I was planning to hand out money right and left to relatives.

Ice Castle image2 from Huffington Post
Silverthorne Ice Castle
by Ryan Davis via Huffington Post

Also in this same dream sequence there were aliens, three to be precise. I had packed up my car to go somewhere (it was my old Trooper Izzie), and I was carrying a strange assortment of goods, including some kind of taser especially for the aliens that I carried. They were supposed to awaken in 12 hours, but woke up 9 hours early. I was fighting all three as the people who were traveling with me were running about inefficiently. Then I went to the Navy exchange to replenish my supplied, but I couldn’t find a charger for my phone, which I needed because I could communicate with base back on earth via Twitter, and I also needed some kind of battery charger for my vehicle.

I ended up going to an auto store to buy things, and I picked out a pickaxe for a weapon, but it was too heavy. I didn’t buy the generator because it was $450, but I bought a car charger for $40 and a portable lantern so that I could see in the dark to kill the aliens

Very, very, very strange. Perhaps I should not have watched “American Horror Story before going to sleep.” The insomnia and headache didn’t help. I saw something on my tumblr dash about a supposed Japanese legend that says that if you can’t sleep at night, it’s because you’re awake in someone else’s dream. I couldn’t find anything to confirm that statement, but I found it intriguing.

“Your head’s like mine, like all our heads; big enough to contain every god and devil there ever was. Big enough to hold the weight of oceans and the turning stars . . . But what do we choose to keep in this miraculous cabinet? Little broken things, sad trinkets that we play with over and over. The world turns our key and we play the same little tune again and again and we think that tune’s all we are.” ~ Grant Morrison

Today began late as I got to sleep late, even though I really needed to contact people early. We’re trying to get my health insurance reinstated so that I can get my prescriptions, but in the meantime, I’m trying to get samples of my antidepressant from the doctor’s office so that I don’t have a full-blown crash. All of the maneuvering is causing incredible stress, and I really want to hide under the covers until it all goes away.

On top of everything else, I’m having computer problems. I couldn’t get my Yahoo mail to work, and I keep getting redirected on various sites. I cleaned up all of my unnecessary files and made sure my malware was active, but I’m just not in the mood for a persnickety computer. I did a little research, and apparently, other people have been having Yahoo issues. I found a site that offered a couple of fixes, and one worked, so that’s taken care of for now, but it slowed up my ability to deal with Human Resources.

Silverthorne Ice Castlevia Huffington Post
Silverthorne Ice Castle
by Ryan Davis via Huffington Post

Add to this growing pile of crappiness the fact that my birthday is coming up next week, which I hate, and I realized as I was doing dishes today that I still haven’t done the paperwork to try to get a life insurance policy, which I really need to do before my birthday, as it’s one of those landmark ones that causes my available rates to go up. I don’t know how they arrive at these numbers, but I find the whole thing mystifying. So far I’ve been turned down by any mainstream insurance providers because of my health, and for some reason, I have it in my head that I need to have a hefty policy so that my family is not left in debt. Go figure.

“It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard, she said, is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.” ~ Shauna Niequist, from “Bittersweet”

I was really hoping for snow so that I could take some new pictures. I haven’t shot anything (with my camera) in quite a while. Brett, who has changed his mind about sitting out this semester, was thinking about taking a digital photography course, but he changed his mind, which is a bit disappointing because I was hoping to pick up some tips from him. The problem is that art classes are so limited at ODU, and art majors are always fighting for spots, so Brett didn’t want to take a spot that an art major may have needed.

Silverthorne Ice Castlevia Huffington Post
Silverthorne Ice Castle
by Ryan Davis via Huffington Post

He does have a very cool semester awaiting him. I had suggested taking no physics and no math, just things he was genuinely interested in, so he’s taking an advanced poetry workshop (so jealous), a Harlem Renaissance lit class, a film class, and an art class. Personally, I think that having a semester in which he does only what he wants instead of what he has to take will really help him to get grounded again. I had anticipated that he would be a bit out of sorts when the semester began and he wasn’t going to class.

He’s still planning to go to New Zealand, just postponing until May.

Can I tell you a secret? The other day, I started filling out an application on the GW website for the doctoral program in English. Haven’t finished it yet because I got scared. Maybe this weekend I’ll be able to finish it.

“Which one of us has never felt, walking through the twilight or writing down a date from his past, that he has lost something infinite?” ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Just remembered another strange detail about my dream sequence: I was putting this money into a counting machine to verify that I had won the lottery, and I kept messing up, inserting paper money when the machine was counting silver and vice versa. I had 10 pieces of silver shaped like forks which were worth one thousand dollars each. How does my mind work when I’m asleep? How do I end up in these places with these people doing these things?

Ice-Castle-Brent-Christensen4 as found on inhabitat dot com
Ice Castle, Silverthorne, Colorado
as found on inhabitat.com

I mean, wouldn’t it be great if I dreamt that I was walking through an ice castle? But no, I’m walking around a store looking for an adapter. Am I boring even in my dreams? Sheesh.

My response to the stress of the last few days and the bad sleep of the last few nights is to want to go into the bathroom and chop at my hair with scissors. Fortunately (or not, depending upon how you view it), my head hurts too much to stand in the fluorescent light long enough to do anything. But just another thought here: what genius (and you know it had to be a man because no woman would willing subject other women to this) decided that fluorescent lighting would be best used in the bathroom?

If I ever get to design my dream bathroom it will have block glass in the window, a moonlight above the bathtub, which will be jetted, naturally, and nary one tube bulb will be in sight.

“You’ve got forever; and somehow you can’t do much with it. You’ve got forever; and it’s a mile wide and an inch deep and full of alligators.” ~ Jim Thompson

I need to confirm with HR that I still get most of my tuition paid for, but I don’t want to hit them with that until I’ve resolved this health insurance fiasco. I’m not really certain what possessed me to begin the application; I just found myself looking up the program and then clicking on the complete application link. Perhaps clicking on links might be the death of me. It’s far too easy.

Silverthorne Ice Castle via Huffington Post Ryan Davis
Silverthorne Ice Castle
by Ran Davis via Huffington Post

Jon Stewart was talking about that last night, how the White House petition website had such a low requirement for petitions to garner a response, beginning at 5,000 signatures, now at 100,000 signature. Hell, Gangnam Style has over one billion hits on YouTube, so how could the White House not imagine that people with nothing better to do would sign bizarre petitions, like requesting secession from the union?

Anyway, my point is that I was just talking about being linked in and what it’s done to us, and then I have this epiphany that my life now is just jumping from one link to the next, kind of like exploring the world the easy way. That’s a good thing, isn’t it? I mean, fear is what compels most of us to withhold, to stay put, to refrain from attempting things, but a wired world tends to push that fear from the forefront of our minds, allowing us to jump into things we would never have thought about a decade ago.

There be dragons, and there be alligators, but the water is fine . . .

Hope you enjoy the music and images.

More later. Peace.

(For the full story on the concept behind the ice castles and how the structures are made, click here.)

Music by Lindsey Stirling (filmed at Silverthorne Ice Castle), “Crystallize”

                   

Textbook Statistics

On average, 5 people are born every second and 1.78 die.
So we’re ahead by 3.22, which is good, I think.

The average person will spend two weeks in his life
waiting for the traffic light to change.

Pubescent girls wait two to four years
for the tender lumps under their nipples to grow.

So the average adult has over 1,460 dreams a year,
laughs 15 times a day. Children, 385 more times.

So the average male adult mates 2,580 times with five different people
but falls in love only twice in his life—possibly

with the same person. Seventy-nine long years for each of us,
awakened to love in our twenties, so more or less

thirty years to love our two lovers each. And if, in a lifetime,
one walks a total of 13,640 miles by increments,

Where are you headed, traveler?
is a valid philosophical question to pose to a man, I think, along with

Why does the blood in your veins travel endlessly?
on account of those red cells flowing night and day

through the traffic of the blood vessels, which if laid out
in a straight line would be over 90,000 miles long.

The great Nile River in Egypt is 4,180 miles long.
The great circle of the earth’s equator is 24,903 miles.

Dividing this green earth among all of us
gives a hundred square feet of living space to each,

but our brains take only one square foot of it,
along with the 29 bones of the skull, so

if you look outside your window with your mind only,
why do you hear the housefly hum middle octave, key of F?

If you listen to the cat on the rug by the fire with
the 32 muscles in your ear, you will hear

100 different vocal sounds. Listen to the dog
wishing for your love: 10 different sounds.

If you think loneliness is beyond calculation,
think of the mole digging a tunnel underground

ninety-eight miles long to China
in one single night. If you think beauty escapes you

or your entire genealogical tree, consider the slug
with its four uneven noses, or the chameleon shifting colors

under an arbitrary light. Think of the deepest point
in the deepest ocean, the Marianas Trench in the Pacific,

do you think anyone’s sadness can be deeper? In 1681,
the last dodo bird died. In the 16th century,

Queen Elizabeth suffered from a fear of roses.
Anne Boleyn had six fingers. People fall in love

twice. The human heart beats 3 billion times — only — in a lifetime.
If you attempt to count all the stars in the galaxy, one

every second, it’ll take 3 thousand years, if you’re lucky.
As owls are the only birds that can see the color blue

the ocean is bluish, along with the sky and the eyes
of that boy who died alone by that little unnamed river

in your dreams one blue night of the war
of one of your lives. (Do you remember which one?)

Duration of World War 1: four years, 3 months, 14 days.
Duration of an equatorial sunset: 128 seconds, 142 tops.

A neuron’s impulse takes 1/1000 of a second,
a morning’s commute from Prospect Expressway

to the Brooklyn Bridge, about 90 minutes,
forty-five without traffic.

Time it takes for a flower to wilt after it’s cut from the stem: five days.
Time left our sun before it runs out of light: five billion years.

Hence the number of happy citizens under the red glow
of that sun: maybe 50% of us, 50% on good days, tops.

Number who are sad: maybe 70% on the good days—
especially on the good days. (The first emotion’s more intense, I think,

when caught up with the second.) So children grow faster in the summer,
their bright blue bodies expanding. The ocean, after all, is blue

which is why the sky now outside your window is bluish
expanding with the white of something beautiful, like clouds.

Fact: The world is a beautiful place—once in a while.
Another fact: We fall in love twice. Maybe more, if we’re lucky.

~ Arkaye Kierulf