“Words carry oceans on their small backs.” ~ Lidia Yuknavitch, The Chronology of Water

Sunset on the New River by Jo Munday fcc
Sunset on the New River
by Jo Munday (FCC)

                      

“What do you know about yourself? What are your stories? The ones you tell yourself, and the ones told by others . . . I suppose the truth is that we begin more than once; we begin many times. Over and over we start our own tales, compose our own stories, whether our lives are short or long. Until at last all our beginnings come down to just one end, and the tale of who we are is done.” ~ Cameron Dokey, from Before Midnight

Monday early evening. Partly cloudy, extremely humid and hot, 87 degrees.

Part of a comment in my spam folder: your broadcast offered shiny transparent idea. I like that: shiny, transparent idea. Probably the best compilation of words I’ve seen in days, and of course, not mine.

Stream, New River nukeit1 fcc
Stream Feeding the New River
by nukeit1 (FCC)

Spam comments are sometimes worth perusing, if only to find the nuggets above. I’m not making fun of the broken English comments. After all, if someone is speaking broken English, that means he or she speaks another language. How many of us English-speaking Americans can say the same?

Anyway, I don’t promise this will be a lucid post. I’m coming off my second night of insomnia. I have no idea as to what has caused this latest bout, but it’s a serious one. The dogs are snoring, Corey is snoring, I’m thinking about tile.

Let me explain: Corey has decided that we’re going ahead with the bathroom renovation in the next few days. I agree that it’s time. Unfortunately, as I’ve mentioned before, it has to be a total gut to see what water damage we have, which means tile, faucets, tub, sink/vanity, toilet, tile . . . The idea of doing this doesn’t scare me. What scares me is making sure we’ve budgeted for every possible scenario.

Too many numbers, measurements, and finishes are roiling about in my brain; hence, the inability to shut it off and go to sleep.

“The mind is constantly trying to figure out what page it’s on in the story of itself. Close the book. Burn the bookmark. End of story. Now the dancing begins.” ~ Ikko Narasaki

So at three in the morning I had a sudden realization that the tub we had agreed on wouldn’t work because it was a drop in without a skirt. Drop-in means we would have to build a supporting frame and create an attractive skirt. I kid you not, I got on the computer at 3 in the morning to research the difference between drop-in tubs and tubs that come with an apron or skirt.

Down by the New River by Jo Munday FCC
Down by the New River
by Jo Munday (FCC)

Then I realized that the original tile configuration I had come up with was going to be too expensive, so back to the pages and pages of tile choices. This is what happens when you have OCD—every detail becomes a challenge. If only I approached my writing with the same verve. No. I save that for tile.

In between the dashes to the computer, I would try to determine which medicine I could add to my nighttime meds that might induce sleep without putting me into a coma. Somewhere around 4:30 a.m. I drank a shot of Kahlua and cream. Whatever.

“Living with one’s passions amounts to living with one’s sufferings, which are the counterpoise, the corrective, the balance, and the price. When a man has learned—and not on paper—how to remain alone with his suffering, how to overcome his longing to flee, the illusion that others may share, then he has little left to learn.” ~ Albert Camus, from Notebooks, 1942-1951

Finally a made myself leave the computer, set a short playlist of soft music, and planted myself in bed. Perhaps sleep . . . no, not sleep as a particular song on playlist began to take my mind someplace I really didn’t want to go, back to my early 20’s, driving up a mountain road with friends in tow, going to New River. I think Dicky Betts was on the radio. I was never a Southern rock aficionado, but I had select favorites, especially the songs with girls’ names: “Amy,” “Melissa,” and “Allison.”

New River Gorge Bridge from Beneath by amanderson2 fcc
New River Gorge Bridge from Beneath
by amanderson2 (FCC)

The playlist I had selected was mostly bluegrass, and I remembered another time, with my ex, when we used to listen to a bluegrass program on the radio every Sunday night. The radio. A little clock radio with the added bonus of a cassette tape player. Big deal once upon a time.

Then it all came back, fast, an oncoming onslaught that I could not have predicted and that I could not temper with a different set of memories from a different point in time. I don’t speak highly of my ex, and there are reasons, but to deny that we had some magic once would just be unfair to both of us. Mostly the magic was in the early days when we were poor students surviving each month on less money than you can imagine.

Poverty makes you creative. You rely on friends, free things (like New River and the Cascades), and mix tapes as the soundtrack to your days. There were cookouts, big pots of stew, a bottle of wine that had to last two weeks.

“Something aches at the very core of me, something ancient and deep and stronger than words: the filament that joins each of us to the root of existence, that ancient thing unfurling and resisting and grappling, desperately for a foothold, a way to stay here, breathe, keep going.” ~ Lauren Oliver, Delirium

I have been poor a few different times in my life. It’s not a preferred state. And I know that it is easy to romanticize the past, to forget all of the horrible exchanges of bitter words and all of the resultant tears. Time allows those things to soften, and if you are really lucky, allows you to forget most of the bad. I’ve never been good at the forgetting thing.

But last night, or rather, early this morning, as I watched the room change from dark to light, as I listened to the birds, I remembered riding up a mountain in a really raggedy Toyota. I remember singing along to bluegrass and sipping cheap cold beer from a can.

Kaymoor Trail Stream, New River urbanwoodchuck fcc
Kaymoor Trail Stream, New River
by urbanwoodchuck (FCC)

I had everything in front of me, bad and good. The kids, the careers, the friends, and the lovers. Corey wasn’t anywhere near my orbit because he was too busy growing up in Ohio. All of the possibilities were still there. All of the dreams were still waiting to be dusted on the wind. All of the words had yet to leave my brain.

My writing back then was so maudlin, so juvenile . . . hearts, flowers, love. No depth. No strength. I hadn’t seen even half of what life would deal me; how could I possibly write about it?

“I need words that mean more than they mean, words not just with height and width, but depth and weight and, and other dimensions that I cannot even name.” ~ Lois McMaster Bujold

So while the world outside was moving minute by minute into the future, I was lost somewhere in the past, somewhere on a narrow mountain road, and life was like a juicy ripe peach, there for the taking. I’m fairly certain we were at the Narrows, New River.

Between the Rails jronaldlee FCC
Between the Rails
by jronaldlee (FCC)

The air was so clean that you could smell the green. The water that pooled around my bare feet was clear enough to see the pebbles on the bottom. Occasionally, the train passed by, a grey line among the green, a sound among the natural silence. Those were the days long before parasailers and kayakers and whitewater rafting groups. Fewer people, more nature. It was a good day. We stayed for hours until the sun began to set behind the mountain, and a chill crept into the air.

But this is why I was left so damned melancholy: I will never have those days again. I am closer to my last chapter than one written in my beginning. Yet I remember feeling everything so acutely, embracing life so completely, inhaling the very essence of the day.

Words are beginning to fail me now. I fear that I my writing is broaching on the clichéd. But for a few hours between dawn and daylight, I was there, and it was richer than anything I have glimpsed with my tired eyes in too long, and I fell asleep with a dull ache in my heart and a very tired soul.

More later. Peace.

All images are used under creative commons license.

Music by Mindy Smith and Matthew Perryman Jones, “Anymore of This”

                    

The Heart Under Your Heart

New River Gorge Bridge at Fayette Station Gary Hartley
New River Gorge Bridge at Fayette Station
by Gary Hartley (creative commons)

Who gives his heart away too easily must have a heart
under his heart.
~ James Richardson

The heart under your heart
is not the one you share
so readily so full of pleasantry
& tenderness
it is a single blackberry
at the heart of a bramble
or else some larger fruit
heavy the size of a fist
it is full of things
you have never shared with me
broken engagements bruises
& baking dishes
the scars on top of scars
of sixteen thousand pinpricks
the melody you want so much to carry
& always fear black fear
or so I imagine you have never shown me
& how could I expect you to
I also have a heart beneath my heart
perhaps you have seen or guessed
it is a beach at night
where the waves lap & the wind hisses
over a bank of thin
translucent orange & yellow jingle shells
on the far side of the harbor
the lighthouse beacon
shivers across the black water
& someone stands there waiting

~ Craig Arnold

Happy Sunday . . .

Kind of a just to say day . . .

                   

Music by The Band Perry, “Done’

                    

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

~ William Carlos Williams

“That’s what the ocean is. Those waves are peaks. The stars are lights in houses and on streets. The earth reflects the sky and the sky meets the earth and, every now and then, if we’re lucky, we have a chance to see how small we are.” ~ Ally Condie, from Reached

Andre Derain - 1905 - The Seine at Chatou
“The Seine at Chatou” (1905, oil on canvas)
by André Derain

                   

“Once in a while it vanishes—in the sense that I become deaf to beauty for a week or two or three. This coming and going of the inner life—because this is what it is—is a curse and a blessing. I don’t need to explain why it’s a curse. A blessing because it brings about a movement, an energy which, when it peaks, creates a poem. Or a moment of happiness.” ~ Adam Zagajewski, from 2004 interview with Poets & Writers

Saturday afternoon. Cloudy and still relatively cool, 77 degrees.

Andre Derain Effect of Sun on the Water, London 190 oil on canvas
“Effect of Sunlight on Water, London” (1906, oil on canvas)
by André Derain

As I was standing in the middle of the backyard at 6 a.m., several things occurred to me at once:

  • I only went to bed two hours ago
  • It’s very, very bright out here
  • Something, or a lot of somethings are biting my ankles
  • I really like the fact that the captain on “Grimm” speaks French
  • My French is dated as I still use the formal vous as opposed to the familiar tu
  • My brain is working at warp speed
  • Does this mean that I should forego sleep most of the time so that I can be ultra alert at odd hours?

Perhaps this lull in which I have been mired is finally receding, or perhaps the puppy’s internal alarm clock is going to be the death of me.

“Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness, and truth presupposes error. It is these mingled opposites which people our life, which make it pungent, intoxicating.” ~ Louis Aragon, from Paris Peasant

Yesterday, quite by accident, I came upon a singer/songwriter I absolutely love—Jimmy LaFave. Years ago, I heard the song “Never is a Moment” on a local radio station. I called the station to find out who the singer was, and the DJ identified LaFave. Of course, that was before YouTube and easy internet searches that allow you to plug in a few words from the lyrics, and presto! Song.

Andre Derain Big Ben 1906
“Big Ben” (1906, oil on canvas)
by André Derain

Anyway, I was never able to find a copy of the song . . . until yesterday, when I found it without looking for it. Serendipity. Anyway, as soon as the first few bars played, I was taken back to that day when I first heard it, and I have to say, it still moves me. And then after a little digging I came across another version of the song by Italian singer Zucchero Fornaciari, and I found that I love that version too. Good stuff.

So here’s to discoveries we weren’t looking for. Here’s to memories we had forgotten. Here’s to unpolished gems finding their way to the top of the pile. Here’s to my being way too excited over a song.

“All of us are trapped in our skins and drowning in gravity. Physics is unforgiving. Nature is predatory. We do not walk through a passive landscape.” ~ Richard Siken, in an interview with Legacy Russell

So here are some other random thoughts:

  • Last night I dreamed that I was again being bullied, this time by some women with whom my ex used to work at the medical school
Andre Derain Red Sails 1906
“Red Sails” (1906, oil on canvas)
by André Derain
  • In real life, they were a biting bunch of harpies, so why are they haunting my dreams
  • In real life, I was never the victim of bullying, a little name-calling,
  • I think I actually had these dreams this morning after I was finally able to go to sleep
  • That burst of energy to which I referred in section one? Gone, completely gone
  • I would kill for some Oreos
  • The crack in the bathroom floor tile has expanded. Not good, she remarked, apropos of nothing . . .
  • I always, always misspell apropos the first time that I type it

“That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every mistake, every word, all of it.” ~ Joan Didion, from Slouching Towards Bethlehem

I have eaten all of my Chimes Ginger Chews. Considering I had over a pound of them, that’s a lot of Chimes Ginger Chews. Hmm . . . can I make an entire post out of my love for Chimes Ginger Chews? Probably. It it something worth doing? Definitely not.

Other things . . .

  • I notice things like the expanding crack in the bathroom floor in the middle of the night

    Andre Derain - Waterloo Bridge, 1906
    “Waterloo Bridge” (1906, oil on canvas)
    by André Derain
  • In so doing, I engage my mind in things about which I need to worry, thereby making peaceful sleep improbable
  • Hence, I dream of bullies
  • Instead of Oreos, I just ate two of my red bean Mochis, at 80 calories each, I suppose that’s not too awfully caloric, definitely less than a sleeve of O-r-e-os.
  • I happened to look at my reflection as I was walking past the bathroom mirror, and I noticed that my hair is as long as it was in high school, but not by choice
  • I’ve been debating whether to suck it up and try to go back to my former hairdresser or to take a chance on someone new
  • I’ve been debating this for well over a year, which is why my hair is way too long and unmanageable
  • By the time I make a decision, my hair may have reached my bum

“She did not wish to remember; it troubled her when people tried to disturb her loneliness; she wished to be alone. She wished for nothing else in the world.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from The Voyage Out

So in the wee hours of the morning I took a hot shower in an attempt to calm my body and perhaps wash away whatever was making me itch. It worked for a while, but I just realized that I’m scratching again. I don’t know if this is a nervous tic, a response to medication, or merely fatigue, but it’s annoying. I mean, I’m a picker (not of the nose), but of scabs and wounds. I do not allow my body to heal completely before I start to worry a wound, which is why the bottom of my left foot has yet to heal.

Andre-Derain-Charing-Cross-Bridge 1906
“Charing Cross Bridge” (1906, oil on canvas)
by André Derain

After the doctor excised the corn core, he said that the surrounding hardened tissue should resolve itself, and perhaps it would have if I had left it alone, but I didn’t, and I mention this only because as I was walking back from the kitchen, I hit my foot on something, and now I am blinking back involuntary tears of pain.

In the 90’s when I agreed to be a test patient for a subcutaneous birth control system called Norplant, I would find myself playing with the tiny silicon capsules that lay beneath my skin. I don’t believe they still offer this form of birth control because so many women were affected adversely, but it was a slow-release medication, and the intent was that you wouldn’t have to think about birth control for the entire time Norplant was in your body.

I had all kinds of horrible side effects and had to have the system removed, but while it was there, it presented me with a unique toy: something that felt like toothpicks beneath my skin.

Why do I tell you this? I have no idea. I only know that my foot is throbbing, and my back is itching just beyond my reach, and I have finally reached the absolute nadir of my adrenaline.

More later. Peace.

To appease my heightened senses, I have chosen images by French Fauvist André Derain (1880-1954).

Music by Jimmy LaFave, “Never is a Moment”

and Zucchero Fornaciari, “Never is a Moment”

                   

R S Thomas The Untamed