No matter how bad my day has been, the 22 minutes that comprise Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” always manage to make me laugh out loud. To wit, last night’s epic segment entitled “How I Meteored Your Motherland,” on dash cams in Russian cars . . .
“Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.” ~ Frank Herbert, from Dune
Tuesday afternoon. Rainy and mild, 59 degrees.
And so we do the Tidewater temperature bounce: 34 degrees, 59 degrees, 31 degrees, 67 degrees. Is it any wonder we are a population of incubating sinus problems?
Just above my left temple is a pain akin to having been bruised by a hammer. I can’t tell if it’s leftover migraine or incipient sinus headache, which makes figuring out which med to take more trouble than it’s worth. I sat on the edge of the bed with my hot coffee cup pressed against my head, trying to figure this out, and finally took nothing more than ibuprofen because I was giving myself more of a headache over trying to figure out the headache than the possible medicine could have relieved.
Still with me?
Last night I dreamed that my high school friend Sarah was a soothsayer, and she had read in the cards that within 24 hours everyone who was playing video games would die. We were trying to figure out how to let everyone know without causing widespread panic. Can you just imagine? An impossible task. One thing though—she had the most amazing long grey hair, the white-grey, not the steel grey, and I was so envious.
“All we can do on this earth is step into the future with a sense of the many people behind us, the living and the dead, as if we carried our bodies like amphorae filled with sunbeams into each new day” ~ Morton Marcus, from “All We Can Do”
Yesterday I went to Lex’s apartment after dropping off Brett on campus, stayed for a bit and then brought Olivia home with me. We hadn’t seen her in a week, and I was going through bebe withdrawal. Eamonn had called in sick to work, so Olivia got to see her uncle and her Granddaddy, two of her favorite people. She is babbling a lot, saying ma ma, but it doesn’t seem to be associated with anything, just babbling, which is natural.
I remember when Caitlin was in the hospital, she had begun to say something that sounded like ma, and she was the same age that Olivia is now. Funny the things you remember out of nowhere.
Anyway, we had fun eating strained squash and fruit, and she is doing all kind of gesture imitations, which is funny to watch. But while we’re watching Olivia, Tillie is watching us, especially Corey, as if to say, “Hey! What about me?” Such a funny dog.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if poetry—poetry in the broadest sense, in the sense of a world filled with metaphor, rhyme, and recurring patterns, shapes, and designs—is how the world works. The world isn’t logical; it’s a song.” ~ David Byrne
By the way, I’ve been meaning to say greetings and thanks to my newest followers. Recently, I topped 100 followers without even realizing it. Always glad to hear from new people, and remember, if you would prefer to comment via e-mail, that’s fine too.
Let’s see . . . what else?
I haven’t started on my new meds yet mostly because one of them was on back-order at my pharmacy, and I want to start the new regimen with everything. That makes the most sense because I want to be able to tell if they are working collectively and to see if there are any unwanted side effects I may not be able to tolerate. Anyway, I found the one medicine at a CVS near the house and had the script transferred there, so I’ll probably start everything tomorrow; although I’d prefer to start on a Sunday as one of he meds is a patch that needs to be changed every seven days, and I know myself—I forget too easily, so I need a memorable day of the week, you know, like Sunday.
My, I am running on today, aren’t I?
One of my new meds is a sumatriptan shot that I can give myself when my migraines are severe. I had tried this medicine years ago, and it made me very nauseous; however, that being said, the new doctor gave me a shot while I was in his office (because I had a headache, of course), and told me to take a phenergan with the shot for the nausea. The shot worked on the headache, but left me feeling a bit dizzy/woozy. I guess I’ll have to wait to see if this is an avenue in which the nausea is worth the pain relief.
“I am looking into your dark centers where I see myself reflected, standing close to the edge, as though I might at any moment take in my breath and dive down.” ~ Deborah Abbott, from “All Day at Work”
I watched the last episode in season 3 of “Downton Abbey” last night, and boy was it heartbreaking. I really hate it when I have made an investment in a show, and it ends up breaking my heart. Corey is going to take seasons 1 and 2 with him when he leaves. I have the boxed sets. He likes period pieces as much as I do. In fact, one of the first movies that we watched together was Sense and Sensibility, the one with Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman. Such a beautiful version.
Don’t really know what the above paragraph has to do with anything, but I was thinking about it, so there it is.
Other than the usual weird dreams last night, I also wrote a poem. However, I did not wake up after composing this poem, so I did not record it. Consequently, I remember nothing of it other than it was there. I know that it was short with short lines, a la Charles Bukowski, but I don’t remember anything else, which is so very frustrating. I know that I liked it, and I think that it had something to do with gravity, which may have come from thinking about Copernicus’s birthday today (somehow that connects in my brain).
I hate when my mind does this to me.
“Without even intending it, there is that little shiver of a moment in time preserved in the crystal cabinet of the mind. A little shiver of eternal space. That’s what I was looking for.” ~ Alan Ginsberg
I’m all alone in the house now, listening to The Secret Sisters. Corey has gone to do errands; Eamonn is at a concert, and Brett as at school. Just me and the dogs, and the dogs are barking at everything and nothing, and Alfie’s bark is the exact pitch that makes my eyes hurt when I have a headache, so all in all, it’s simply fantastic. The only thing missing is the sound of a chain saw or leaf blower.
Actually, just a few minutes ago while I was sitting here daydreaming, I was listening to the wind whip the wind chimes into a frenetic ballad, and I noticed the sound of a jumbo jet passing overhead. When you live in an area filled with the sounds of fighter jets and jumbo jets, it is very easy not to hear them any more. Anyway, so paying attention to these random sounds I remembered a scene in “The Walking Dead” in which one of the characters says that she would love to hear the sound of an airplane passing overhead because in this post-apocalyptic world populated by zombies and survivors it’s so quiet.
And this leads me to ponder: Would I really like to live in an old farmhouse on a piece of land somewhere, far from everyone else. I think that I would, but then would I miss the sounds? I wouldn’t miss the loud trucks and the sirens, but I would miss the sound of the train in the middle of the night, and the sounds of a fog horn on the bay.
I think that I know what I want, and I think that what I want is different from this, but actually, I don’t really know. Do I? Do any of us?
More later. Peace.
Music by The Secret Sisters, “Tomorrow Will be Kinder”
The Lucky Ones
stuck in the rain on the freeway, 6:15 p.m.,
these are the lucky ones, these are the
dutifully employed, most with their radios on as loud
as possible as they try not to think or remember.
this is our new civilization: as men
once lived in trees and caves now they live
in their automobiles and on freeways as
the local news is heard again and again while
we shift from first gear to second and back to first.
there’s a poor fellow stalled in the fast lane ahead, hood
up, he’s standing against the freeway fence
a newspaper over his head in the rain.
the other cars force their way around his car, pull out into
the next lane in front of cars determined to shut them off.
in the lane to my right a driver is being followed by a
police car with blinking red and blue lights – he surely
can’t be speeding as
suddenly the rain comes down in a giant wash and all the
cars stop and
even with the windows up I can smell somebody’s clutch
I just hope it’s not mine as
the wall of water diminishes and we go back into first
gear; we are all still
a long way from home as I memorize
the silhouette of the car in front of me and the shape of the
driver’s head or
I can see of it above the headrest while
his bumper sticker asks me
HAVE YOU HUGGED YOUR KID TODAY?
suddenly I have an urge to scream
as another wall of water comes down and the
man on the radio announces that there will be a 70 percent
chance of showers tomorrow night
“When you feel perpetually unmotivated, you start questioning your existence in an unhealthy way; everything becomes a pseudo intellectual question you have no interest in responding whatsoever. This whole process becomes your very skin and it does not merely affect you; it actually defines you. So, you see yourself as a shadowy figure unworthy of developing interest, unworthy of wondering about the world—profoundly unworthy in every sense and deeply absent in your very presence.” ~ Ingmar Bergman
Sunday, early evening. Partly cloudy and cold, 35 degrees.
No snow. Not a drop. No galumphing for Tillie, and no snow photos for me. Oh well . . .
So I’ve been thinking about clouds, not in a scientific way but in a philosophical way. Let me explain:
When we look up at clouds in the sky, they seem to be buffeted along by the wind, without having any momentum of their own. They bump into other clouds along the way, sometimes just touching the sides, sometimes merging, sometimes completely obscuring. Clouds can be massive puffs (cumulus), multilayered (stratus), or wisps (cirrus), and all of the variations in between.
Now I know that in truth, clouds are propelled and formed by many factors: wind, gravity, moisture content, solar heating, etcetera. Yes, I know all about low level and upper level winds, jet streams, and all of that, but I’m keeping it basic as an extended metaphor for my life.
I realized that I am very much like a cloud: My life has moved along many paths, some of my choosing and others due to circumstance. Often I have felt as if I have had no say in the directions I seem to be traversing. Along the way, I meet people, some who seem to swallow me with their big personalities, and others who I tend to overshadow because consuming them is easy, and then there are the people who I meet in passing who may or may not leave me with any sort of lasting impression.
“After the cups of tea, coffee, public conversations . . . I want to sit down with someone and talk with utter directness, want to talk to all the lost history like that deserving lover.” ~ Michael Ondaatje, from Running in the Family
Now if all of that sounds like some kind of new age bullshit, well, what can I say? I’m certain that I’m not the first person to have used this metaphor for life, nor will I be the last. I can only say that it occurred to me this morning as my consciousness was coming into waking, and I decided to go with it.
As children, we put our heads on our arms as we recline in the grass, and we look up at the clouds and try to make out shapes—bunny rabbits, cats, dogs. As adults, sometimes we see other things in the shapes—an arrow, a mass like a mushroom cloud, Richard Nixon (okay, maybe that one is just me). When do the innocuous shapes we see as children morph into things more reminiscent of our waking nightmares?
I couldn’t tell you. I only know that at various point in my life I have been content to be bounced around by the winds, landing wherever and whenever. I suppose it’s part of the overall adventure. But at other times I have felt indignant at having so little power to control my path, which reminds me of a particularly crass simile that I have heard many times: It’s like pissing into the wind.
Fate. It’s tricky, and sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad, and sometimes it’s somewhere in the middle.
“I go, we go. On the way we keep a log-book, the book of the abyss and the shores. Everyone does. My books are thus like life and history, heterogenous chapters in a single vast book whose ending I will never know.” ~ Hélène Cixous
I know. Pretty flaky, and I couldn’t really tell you where any of this came from. Just thinking about life, my life in particular, life in general, and the fact that no one really has control, no matter how much they may think they do.
Presbyterians believe in predestination, as in the idea that when someone is born, his or her life is already planned out, from start to finish, as willed by god. I always found that concept incredibly troubling. John Calvin contended that some people are born already condemned to eternal damnation, while others are slated for salvation. Think about this for just a moment: No matter what you do, you are damned if that is what god decided for you before you took your first breath.
I remember learning about this concept when I was about 10 or 11, and even then, it really bothered me. If one holds to predestination, then why try? I mean, if you have a run of bad luck at one point, is that god shaking the omnipotent finger at you, saying, “Tough luck. But this is your road, and you can’t do anything about it”? And if so, should you just give up because, well, what the hell? What’s the point?
“You know, maybe this is how your concerto ends. I mean, not a big end with trumpets and violin. Maybe this is the finish, just like that suddenly. Not sad, not happy, just a small room with a lamp, abed,a child sleeps, and tons of loneliness.” ~ Eran Kolirin, from The Band’s Visit
My awakening cloud metaphor stayed with me even as I read an article in Rolling Stone about Aaron Swartz (The Brilliant Life & Tragic Death of Aaron Swartz). You may not know the name, but Swartz was a brilliant Internet pioneer, helping to develop RSS and reddit, and he committed suicide in January of this year. Swartz was being charged with theft for downloading documents from the JSTOR system of MIT. JSTOR is an online repository of articles for which colleges and universities pay access.
Swartz, who was a child prodigy, was also plagued by personal demons, including depression and a sense of isolation. What does this have to do with what I’ve been saying? A lot.
Swartz, even though he could create code like others brew coffee, wanted to be a writer. He often felt as if he had no control over the direction his life was taking him. That he committed suicide is sad for all of the obvious reasons, but also because society lost a bright star, one who contributed to much but felt as if he had contributed nothing. When he died, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, wrote that Swartz was “blazing across the dark sky of ordinary people, broken systems, a shining force for good, a maker of things.”
What touched me about this story was how this genius man-boy was so self-doubting, so insular, so afraid, yet others saw him as this fierce fighter for access to information.
We never see ourselves as others see us.
“The time of departure is not mine to choose; I must find my way alone in this darkness. With the shadow of the moon at my side, I search for traces of wildlife in the white snow.” ~ Wilhelm Müller, from “Good Night”
I have spent so much of my life drifting aimlessly, it seems, yet you tell me otherwise. I have spent so many years lost, but not really.
I have had the pleasure and pain of encountering kindred spirits and malevolent spirits, all of whom have helped to build me up and chip away at my soul. I have merged, dissolved, grown layers and lost parts along the way.
I have been soldiered on by winds that were warm and comforting, and I have been tossed about without any ability to tether myself to something solid. If have felt spun, blown, thrown, carried, cajoled and heaved. I have lost my way and in being lost, have found other paths.
All of this is to say that in this third act of my life, I am older, wiser, and still thrashing about completely without a clue.
Just before waking, a woman in my dream said this to me: “Century, century, 25.” I had no idea what it meant, which is to say, business as usual. And all of this brings to mind that completely sardonic Yiddish proverb: “Men tracht und Gott lacht.” (Man plans and god laughs).
More later. Peace.
(All images are by British artist William Ascroft, who drew hundreds of pastel sketches following the eruption of the Krakatao volcano on a small island in Indonesia.)
Music by Mikky Ekko, “Feels Like the End”
His parents would sit alone together
on the blue divan in the small living room
listening to Dvorak’s piano quintet.
They would sit there in their old age,
side by side, quite still, backs rigid, hands
in their laps, and look straight ahead
at the yellow light of the phonograph
that seemed as distant as a lamplit
window seen across the plains late at night.
They would sit quietly as something dense
and radiant swirled around them, something
like the dust storms of the thirties that began
by smearing the sky green with doom
but afterwards drenched the air with an amber
glow and then vanished, leaving profiles
of children on pillows and a pale gauze
over mantles and table tops. But it was
the memory of dust that encircled them now
and made them smile faintly and raise
or bow their heads as they spoke about
the farm in twilight with piano music
spiraling out across red roads and fields
of maize, bread lines in the city, women
and men lining main street like mannequins,
and then the war, the white frame rent house,
and the homecoming, the homecoming,
the homecoming, and afterwards, green lawns
and a new piano with its mahogany gleam
like pond ice at dawn, and now alone
in the house in the vanishing neighborhood,
the slow mornings of coffee and newspapers
and evenings of music and scattered bits
of talk like leaves suddenly fallen before
one notices the new season. And they would sit
there alone and soon he would reach across
and lift her hand as if it were the last unbroken
leaf and he would hold her hand in his hand
for a long time and they would look far off
into the music of their lives as they sat alone
together in the room in the house in Kansas.
“And that time, once so speedy and impatient, is now extremely slow in passing in certain hours of the afternoon, especially at the onset of winter, after the equinox when evening falls treacherously and the lights you weren’t expecting are switched on in the village . . .” ~ Antonio Tabucchi
Saturday, early evening. Rainy and cold, 38 degrees.
I’m baaaaack . . . Did you miss me?
So snow is in the forecast around here. Yesterday it was 60 degrees and beautiful. Of course it’s going to snow. What else would it do here? Secretly, Tillie and I are hoping for snow so that she can go galumphing, and I can take some pictures.
I know that I copped out this past week, but truly, I just couldn’t do it. I hope that I gave you a few chuckles and a bit of food for thought in my interim posts. I don’t know if I had a mild case of the flu (I did get my flu shot this year), or if it was an episode of fibromyalgia, but I was completely out of it, stuck in bed, no energy, alternating between chills and being too warm, an overall ague (love that word). Anyway, I’m on the mend, as if Brett, who was prescribed Tamiflu, and Corey and Eamonn seem to have escaped.
Speaking of Corey, he won’t be leaving until the end of the month. Apparently, the ship blew something (water pump?) while they were in the Azores, and now everything has been bumped by a couple of weeks. I’m mostly glad because we get to keep Corey a bit longer, but I had already gotten myself mentally prepared for him to leave, so now I need to adjust my thinking. Corey is bummed because he was ready and had set up the finances for the six weeks that he would be gone; now he has to adjust all of those scheduled payments.
Can’t win for losing, I suppose.
“Look / maybe this is the place we’ve been / waiting for, maybe this place / is the day, inside us, inside each / corpuscle, the day, that day, everyday is / inside, my body, your body, everyday is / this thread” ~ Nick Flynn, from “Haiku (Failed)”
Yesterday I had an appointment with the neurologist in the new pain management group. I had told Corey pre-appointment that if this doctor wasn’t any different from the last one I saw in December, that I would have to find a new practice because I was very underwhelmed by doctor a who did nothing more than prescribe things.
Turns out doctor b is wonderful, truly wonderful, and I am so glad. I finally have someone who will pay attention to all parts of the equation, who has come up with a plan of action to change my treatment. And most wonderful of all is that he consulted with me instead of talking at me, which is, as you probably already know, a rarity for a physician.
He is tackling my combined chronic pain and migraines in an aggressive way, and I have Botox injections for my migraines scheduled for March. Best of all, I never have to back to doctor a, who had foisted me off on his partners, which means that I never have to go back to the Portsmouth office, another thing for which I am grateful. I really couldn’t tell you just why I am so anti-Portsmouth except that it’s kind of a local thing, which is stupid, so I don’t really have a reason other than I really hate to go through the Portsmouth tunnels (either one) because they are sooo narrow and dark, and my claustrophobia really kicks in.
“Life is the farce we all have to lead.” ~ Arthur Rimbaud
I sat down to write hours ago, but then became distracted in trying to find attributions for my images, which are all by Italian artist Federica Galli, who died in 2009. I was able to find lost of images of her work, but very few had titles or years of creation, both of which I like to include whenever I insert works of art with my posts.
Anyway, hours later, I finally found the information on all of the images that I had chosen, but had found that I had sort of run out of steam, so I decided to have a hot shower and a cup of tea and then to try again. So shower, tea, biscotti (110 calories), not back again. Since I haven’t written anything in several days, I thought that I’d add some random observations from the past few weeks.
Here they are:
Are there actually people out there who still listen to what Dick Cheney has to say? Why?
RNC Chair Reince Priebus (what kind of name is that) thinks that Republicans just need to smile more when delivering their message, which he does not believe needs to be changed. Smile? Really? This will fix what ails you?
Convicted pedophile and self-proclaimed prophet of the LDS Warren Jeffs just looks like a pedophile, know what I mean?
The pope is resigning. Conspiracy buffs proceed to salivate.
The people on the ill-fated cruise ship that lost power deserve a lot more than $500 after being given red bags in which to, er, empty their bodily waste. The embarrassment alone is worth at least $1,000.
No one remembers what Marco Rubio said in his SoU rebuttal because of the whole sweating thing.
The minimum wage should be raised. If you disagree, try to live on $9 an hour for one month, and then get back to me.
“So many things I had thought forgotten Return to my mind with strange pain: —Like letters that arrived addressed to someone Who left the house so many years ago.” ~ Philip Larkin, from “Why Did I Dream of You Last Night”
I’ve decided once again that Valentine’s Day is a stupid holiday, and I kind of wish that I hadn’t bought everyone cards.
Life is too short . . .
to drink cheap coffee
not to enjoy good chocolate
not to have at least five types of tea on the shelf at any given time
to wait for the right time to see other parts of the world
to hate your hair and not do something about it
not to spring for a good cable package, one that includes BBC America, AMC, and Sundance
to think that pedicures are luxury and not a necessity
to eschew playing in the snow
to pretend that cookies aren’t a food staple
not to read poetry
to spend time with people you don’t really like (this one is from a roommate I had in college, and I appreciate it more as I get older)
“Every life is inexplicable, I kept telling myself. No matter how many facts are told, no matter how many details are given, the essential thing resists telling.” ~ Paul Auster
And some random thoughts, just because:
Carson and the Dowager Duchess are my favorite characters on “Downton Abbey”
I keep telling myself that I could design/sew if I just had a sewing machine. This is nonsense, of course.
My dreams never included zombies until I started watching “The Walking Dead.” I blame Corey for this.
Apparently many insects are a good source of protein and have no fat. Knowing this still does not make me want to try scorpions on a stick. However, if the zombie apocalypse does rear its ugly head, I promise to rethink this.
Costco is selling emergency ration packages, anything from three days worth of food to weeks worth. Are their marketing people watching “The Walking Dead”?
Is it weird that I really want to own a good shredder?
And a sword?
In the last few years, I have reduced my news sources to “The Daily Show” and tumblr, and I am still probably more informed than most people in the U.S.
If I subscribe to NetFlix, I may never have to leave the house again . . .
That’s all for now.
More later. Peace.
Music by Birdy, “Just a Game”
Two trees stand in the snow,
tired of the light, the sky
heads home—nothing nearby
where the gloom makes its abode.
And behind those trees,
houses tower in the dark.
Now you hear someone speak,
now the dogs begin to bark
The round, beloved moonlight
lamp appears in the house.
When again the light goes out
A gaping wound remains in sight.
What a small life to know
and so much nothingness nearby.
Tired of the light, the sky
has given everything to the snow.
The two trees dance with grace,
bend their heads and nod.
Clouds race across the sod
of the world’s silent face.
~ Robert Walser
(Revised version (w. restored rhyme scheme) of Daniele Pantano’s translation)
“When you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” ~ George Washington Carver
I did not know this . . .
(found on my tumblr dash and added a few more)
George Washington Carver (1864(?)-1943):
Laid out the reason for organic farming 37 years before the man credited with articulating it did so. Organic farming, if practiced universally now, could slow or stop climate change by locking carbon in the soil, keeping it out of the atmosphere.
Envisioned the end of the petroleum industry and anticipated a movement towards replacing all petroleum products (hydrocarbons) with products from plants (carbohydrates).
Promoted an overhaul of standard educational curricula to teaching everyone to know the life around them and how to interact with it for benefit both to us and to all life.
Envisioned the Spirit speaking through all of nature which, absorbed by enough people, can reconcile all the conflict between religion and science which he considered totally unnecessary.
Saw war as entirely about resources, and scorned it as lack of vision in fixing the world by constantly improving soil so everyone is fed and happy.
Was a genuinely spiritually enlightened soul with a true love for all humanity.
Declined an invitation to work for a salary of more than $100,000 a year (almost a million today) to continue his research on behalf of his countrymen.