“Yesterday I had conviction; it has gone today.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from diary entry dated 2 November 1929


Friday Leftovers . . .

I made a major mistake today: I took Brett and Em to Jerry’s for school art supplies this afternoon and failed to pay attention to the clock. Stupid, stupid, me. Rush hour on a Friday with snow makes for a perilous combination in my part of the world. We just spent almost and hour and 45 minutes trying to get home from Providence Road, something that normally takes 20 minutes or so. This area is insane when it snows. At least Tillie and I might get some good snow time in tomorrow.

Hampton Roads Gridlock
Photo via pilotonline.com

I need a hot toddy.

P. S. Happy Birthday, Virginia Woolf.

Music by Lotte Kestner, “Falling Snow”


Driving to Town Late to Mail a Letter

It is a cold and snowy night. The main street is deserted.
The only things moving are swirls of snow.
As I lift the mailbox door, I feel its cold iron.
There is a privacy I love in this snowy night.
Driving around, I will waste more time.

~ Robert Bly

“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
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”