Corey arrived home safely yesterday. No word on when he will be called back. I never thought I would wish for oil prices to skyrocket . . .
Bad night last night—too wired to sleep, and the dogs were feeding off that anxiety by announcing a need to go out pretty much once an hour. In between, I was seized with a vicious migraine, and then the ensuing body-itching from the pain medication. Today I plan to do a whole lot of nothing after spending two days cleaning a house that wasn’t really dirty, which didn’t stop me from taking the bottom of the vacuum apart to pull strings from the roller (love that my Dyson doesn’t have any belts). That’s just how I get once I go into overdrive.
Ah, the sweet, sweet joys of my life . . .
More later. Peace.
This week’s headline:
“I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” ~ Marshawn Lynch’s Super Bowl Press Conference
As Jon Stewart pointed out, Lynch was threatened with a ridiculous $500k fine if he didn’t show and a possible other fine for wearing the wrong hat, yet the NFL does little to nothing when it comes to the serious infractions, you know, like domestic violence:
“How is it that this guy is facing international drug cartel penalty money, but the owners and commissioner of the league have no obligation to address stadium financing shenanigans or concussions or domestic violence policies?” ~ Jon Stewart, “The Daily Show” (29 January 2015)
Shakespeare’s tragedies by body count:
Diagramming my life:
Dr. James Barry was a woman:
James Miranda Stuart Barry was a military surgeon in the British Army. After graduation from the University of Edinburgh Medical School, Barry served in India and Cape Town, South Africa. By the end of his career, he had risen to the rank of Inspector General in charge of military hospitals. Although Barry lived his adult life as a man, he was born a female and was named Margaret Ann Bulkley. In his travels he not only improved conditions for wounded soldiers, but also the conditions of the native inhabitants. Among his accomplishments was the first caesarean section in Africa by a British surgeon in which both the mother and child survived the operation.
Well, how could I not include this?
See this? This is not how my dogs would help:
They would either sit on the extended part of the tape measure or take the whole thing and run away . . .
Too perfect . . .
And oh how I wish so many times that I would have been able to say and do something like this:
My dreams have been filled with people and stories of late. Last night I had one of the best: I was in England, and I was at Stamford Court, where I lived as a child, and my mother was there, in the porter’s cupboard, talking, and I was roaming around, trying to figure out what had changed and what was the same, and I ran into a man who worked there and realized that he was the adult version of my best friend’s brother—from a Filipino family who also lived in the Court on the fourth floor. Brett was with me, and I was showing him things, and I turned to this guy, cannot remember name now, and said, we used to play there, pretending to be on Gilligan’s Island, and he said, “Yes we did, and I always wondered why my sister put up with you because you were so bossy.” And I replied, “I wasn’t bossy. I knew what I wanted,” and he smiled at that. As we were walking back towards the main entrance, two other men came up in monks’ cloaks, and he said that they were his partners in a drag show, and I found that delightful, and I said to Brett that we had to come back to England for a long weekend so that I could show Corey where I had lived and all of the places that I had gone as a child, and my mother wasn’t there any more, and neither was the porter, and there was a large swimming pool in the middle of where the parking lot had been, and I told someone that that was where my father had parked his white convertible when we lived there. It was a good dream, filled with happy memories, and I realize that I really should have gone back to England with my mother for a visit. It would have made her so happy, but at the same time, I know that so much has changed there that she may have hated it. Who knows.
I have to share this post from The Ugly Volvo with you. I read Goodnight Moon to Olivia every time she spends the night here. And I also read this story to all of my children when they were small. But this is one of the funniest deconstructions of this story I have ever come across. It’s long, so I’m only including the first few, but trust me, you need to click here and read it in its entirety.
All of my Issues With the “Goodnight Moon” Bedroom
I’ve read Goodnight Moon almost every night for the past two years. It’s a wonderful book which my son enjoys. Here are some of my issues with the bedroom depicted in it. 1. The Size of the Bedroom
Nice bedroom and/or place to possibly hold the 2024 Olympics
This bedroom is enormous. There is no one, I think, who has not noticed this. As someone who has lived in apartments only slightly larger than “a little toy house,” it’s mildly vexing that this bedroom is the size of a banquet hall in Downton Abbey.
2. The Little Toy house.
This little toy house would rent out for $2500 a month in Manhattan (not including utilities)This little toy house would rent out for $2500 a month in Manhattan (not including utilities)
This is not that little of a toy house. Not only could the rabbit easily fit inside the “little toy house,” the little toy house also has working electricity. Why are these rabbits so civilized? Is this some f**ked up Watership Down sequel???
3. This Just-Discovered Transcript of a Conversation Had by the Interior Decorators
The color scheme we’re going for is “exploded paint factory.”The color scheme we’re going for is “exploded paint factory.”
“So what color have we decided on for the upstairs child’s bedroom?”
“Which child’s bedroom?”
“The enormous one. The one with the expansive tomato-colored floor.”
“I was thinking for that room maybe a dark green?”
“Really? Dark green? You don’t think maybe dark green walls with a tomato-colored floor is a bit much?”
“No, it’ll look amazing. We can break up the monotony of the color with some dark green and yellow striped curtains.”
“That’s an amazing idea. On non-matching red and yellow spearhead curtain rods? Do you think a tiger skin rug would be overkill?”
“But, of course, mermaids were always terrifying. With the exception of the Little Mermaid of the Hans Christian Andersen tradition, they would take your soul. And fairies were never things that people embraced — they were unknowable, dangerous, capricious. They could cause real trouble for you.” ~ Neil Gaiman, on the Royal Mail Mythical Creatures stamps
Sunday late afternoon. Partly cloudy and mild, 55 degrees.
Today sharing Neil Gaiman‘s write-ups for the Royal Mail’s Mythical Creatures stamps, with artwork by Dave McKean. The stamps came out a few years ago, but I thought it was a nice bit of fairy tale magic for the afternoon:
If it were not for the giants, Britain would look very different. In the dawn days they feefifofummed across the land, picking up rocks and throwing them at other giants in friendly rivalry, or alone they would break mountains, crush rocks into causeways, leave henges and stone seats to mark their passing.
The giants were big, but not bright. They were outsmarted by clever boys named Jack and fell from beanstalks or were tricked to death. They died, but not all of them are dead.
The remaining giants sleep, lost in deep slow dreams, covered in earth and trees and wild grass. Some have clouds on their shoulders or long men carved on their sides. We see them from the windows of cars and tell each other that from some angles they look almost like people.
Even giants can only sleep for so long. Do not make too much noise the next time you walk in the hills.
Nobody remembers who sent the first King of Scotland a unicorn. They are long-lived creatures, after all. The Kings of Scotland were proud of owning a unicorn, and left it to run, tangle-maned and alone, across the stark highlands, an ivory flash against the heather.
And then James VI got the news from the south and he sent a maiden into the hills. She sat and waited until it came and placed its head in her lap, then she bridled it with a silver bridle and walked it, skittish and straining, to the King.
The royal procession was made all the more exciting by the presence of the fabulous beast at the head. And then they were in London, and the Tower rose before them.
The unicorn was led into its stall. It scented the animal, caged across the way, and heard it roar before it saw the golden mane, the tawny eyes. The only lion in England was caged in the Tower, beside the only unicorn. The artists placed them on each side of the crown.
Two hundred years later, the unicorn’s horn in the Tower was valued at 20,000 guineas; but now even that is lost to us.
She keeps the souls of the drowned in lobster pots that she finds on the seabed. They sing, the captive souls, and they light her way home beneath the grey Atlantic.
She had sisters once, but long ago they shed their tails and scales and stepped gingerly ashore to live with fishermen in their dry-land cottages. Now she’s lonely, and not even the souls of the dead are company.
Walk the sea’s edge in winter and you may see her, too far away, waving to you. Wave back and she will take you down to her world, deep below the waves, and show you cold wonders, and teach you the songs of the merfolk, and the lonely ways beneath the sea.
Hysterical Paroxysm because the word orgasm is baaad
Start your daughters young
Looks so comfortable
That’s a therapeutic massage he’s giving her
Because beauty should be painful
Arsenic for everything
“We all have an old knot in the heart we wish to loosen and untie.” ~ Michael Ondaatje, from The Cat’s Table
Saturday afternoon. Rainy and cold, 41 degrees.
Well, I survived my birthday. Brett and Em and I went thrifting, and we found some great buys. Our favorite thrift store is Good Mojo’s; their prices are really great, and they have happy hours. I can always find something good in their book section, and I actually found a few volumes of poetry. The best part is that you can buy a bag of books for five bucks—as many as you can fit in the bag. So in addition to the poetry, I got some plant books for Brett, a pictorial book on New Zealand, a book for Olivia, and some others. Talk about cheap thrills.
Anyway, it was enough to keep my mind off the fact that it was my birthday, and I was alone, and all of that.
I did have a nice surprise on my birthday, though. Leah in NC sent me a care package with some delicious chocolate and a book I’ve had on my to read list, so that was just lovely. I immediately tore into one of the chocolate bars. Delish.
“Some events take a lifetime to reveal their damage and influence.” ~ Michael Ondaatje, from The Cat’s Table
Corey will be home a week early, which is nice but not good. His company is continuing furloughs, and we aren’t really sure if this early week means he won’t be going back in three weeks. First they took him off his regular boat, and then they put him on another boat, and then they said he would be on this new boat until the 4th or the 11th, and then they sent everyone on this new boat home, supposedly to reboot their cycle from 28/14 to 21/21.
It’s all very disconcerting, and neither of us can handle even the idea that he might be out of work again. It’s just too much to fathom. I mean, he had just over a year with this new job, good company, good salary and benefits, and then all of a sudden, everything changes. It’s not just his company; the number three company in the industry may be selling.
It’s the suddenness of everything. We had plans, big plans for this year, and now? Who the hell knows. Even the trip to Ohio is up in the air. I’m trying to keep my worrying to myself for the time being. Corey is so very, very stressed that I can’t see adding to that in any way. I guess it’s a matter of waiting and hoping.
“I’ve met many who remain haunted by the persistent ghost of an earlier place.” ~ Michael Ondaatje, from The Cat’s Table
So I’ve been spending a lot of time recently getting the house back in order. We finally have what was the junk room cleaned out. Before he left Corey set up the single bed for Olivia, and I had ordered one of those safety rails. I remember the one that my mother had for Alexis—it was so flimsy in comparison to the newer ones, which go under the mattress the full width of the box spring. There is no way that Olivia can fall out. So far she seems to be liking her transition from the portable crib to the bed, and she’s very happy to have a room that is her own.
Now I need to get the room that was Brett’s cleaned out and set up as a guest room. I have requested that the kids come over and go through the stuff that they’ve left here. Who knows when or if that will happen, but if not, I’ll start cleaning things out myself, and woe to anyone who complains.
I have drawers and shelves full of stuff that is theirs, and they have plenty of storage in my mom’s house, so I plan to do a serious decluttering, which will make Corey very happy.
“Yet where had it come from? And was it a pleasure or a sadness, this life inside me? It was as if with its existence I was lacking something essential, like water.” ~ Michael Ondaatje, from The Cat’s Table
Yesterday I bought some silk tulips for my parents’ graves. I remembered that when my Dad was doing his European run, he brought home a bunch of tulip bulbs from Holland. Both of my parents loved tulips. The plan is for me to make two arrangements before next Saturday, which is the one-year anniversary of my mother’s death.
Don’t think that I’m not aware that this looming anniversary is also wreaking havoc on my state of mind. Couple that with my birthday, and it’s no wonder that I am feeling very, very unsettled. And too, I am going on day three of this particular migraine.
The irony is that just a few days ago I was actually thinking to myself that it was so nice how my migraines weren’t quite as intense as they used to be. I told myself that my new drug regimen must be having some kind of effect as the migraines weren’t as painful and weren’t lasting as long . . . well, this one put the lie to that theory. A couple of days ago I started to feel tight, and then yesterday early I awoke with a really bad one. I took some medicine and woke up a few hours later with just as much pain.
Today, the pain is radiating down my nose—not the inside of my nose, not my sinuses, but a line straight down my nose. Very, very strange.
“Writing this, I do not want it to end until I can understand it better, in a way that would calm me even now, all these years later.” ~ Michael Ondaatje, from The Cat’s Table
Anyway, I’m trying to stay busy, trying not to think too much—that whole concept of busy work. It reminds me of the whole Victorian attitude towards women being idle, how they were supposed to spend hours on their needlework, a truly feminine pastime. Women who concentrated on plying their needles would not spend time foolishly gallivanting (my mother’s word) about:
Sewing was, in many ways, the ultimate sign of femininity. It was sedentary and passive, and it was traditionally done by women only for the care and maintenance of the family and home. In the literature of the period the needle itself often stood for women’s “natural” place in the home, and carried powerful associations of domestic bliss and maternal devotion. ~ Beth Harris, from “Slaves of the Needle”
Can you imagine spending hour after hour on needlepoint? Not denigrating needlepoint, just denigrating it as one of the only acceptable pastimes for a woman. I mean, consider the whole idea of hysteria (look up the etymology of the word—only a female can truly be hysterical) and how women who thought too much could harm themselves, even move their internal organs out of whack. French physician Pierre Briquet claimed that a quarter of all women suffered from hysteria.
Really? One quarter? I won’t even get into that era’s treatment of female conditions as that is a topic worthy of its own post (hint: The Victorians loved their vibrators, but hated sex. Click here for an article on the history).
Rambling . . . Where was I? Oh yes, busy work . . . But I digress . . .
“. . . I would sit down, still dizzy from the day’s sun, my head full of the white churches and chalky walls, dry fields and shaggy olive trees. I would drink a sweetish syrup, gazing at the curve of the hills in front of me. They sloped gently down to the sea. The evening would grow green. On the largest of the hills, the last breeze turned the sails of a windmill. And, by a natural miracle, everyone lowered his voice. Soon there was nothing but the sky and musical words rising toward it, as if heard from a great distance. There was something fleeting and melancholy in the brief moment of dusk, perceptible not only to one man but also to a whole people. As for me, I longed to love as people long to cry. I felt that every hour I slept now would be an hour stolen from life … that is to say from those hours of undefined desire. I was tense and motionless, as I had been during those vibrant hours at the cabaret in Palma and at the cloister in San Francisco, powerless against this immense desire to hold the world between my hands.” ~ Albert Camus, from “Love of Life”
My birthday is soon. I cannot begin to tell you how much I am not looking forward to this. You would think that it would be the opposite, that I as get older, I would welcome each birthday as an accomplishment, as a mark that I am still here, and yes, I am glad that I am still here. That is not the issue. The issue is the birthday itself. You see, I have never like having a birthday; this goes back to my early 20s. There was just something so depressing about the whole thing—yet another reminder that I have not set out to do in life what I thought I would do. I have done much. I have borne four children, lost one. I have loved and lost and loved again. I have attained degrees, yet not the one that I most desire. I have published, yet not the book that I know is hidden somewhere within me. I have received awards, met some wonderful people, discussed poetry and writing with some authors I truly admire, forged friendships that have made me a better person. I have much to be thankful for and much on which I can reflect and say, with some pride, “Yes, I have done this.” So you must wonder why I am still so dissolute, still so unfulfilled. I truly don’t know. I look at my life and think of all that has yet to be done, and wonder if I will in fact ever do it. I look at my life and see so many failures, so many shortcomings, so many regrets. Yes, I can temper all of that with successes, and achievements, and milestones. I think that it is just my temperament that I will never be truly satisfied with what I have done in life. I exist on a wafer-thin plateau of hope and regret, always, always wishing that somehow I were more, that somehow I had done more, said more, written more. You must think me vain and selfish. Perhaps I am, but I don’t really think so. It is human nature to what we we don’t have. I’m not talking about people, or even things. I’m talking about . . . markers. Notches on my walking stick. I so very much do not want to be this way, yet I am. I have been so many places throughout the world, sampled cuisines, seen vistas. I have read a bounty of works, and written more words than I have record of. And yet . . . who among us can say that she or he has done everything we set out to do? Few, very few. But that doesn’t mean that we cannot still dream, does it? No, I’ll never have Dr. in front of my name, or PhD after it. More’s the pity. I have no one to blame but myself, and that is true for most things. And yet . . .
Music by Jake Owen, “We All Want what We Ain’t Got”
Nights on Planet Earth
Heaven was originally precisely that: the starry sky, dating back to the earliest Egyptian texts, which include magic spells that enable the soul to be sewn in the body of the great mother, Nut, literally “night,” like the seed of a plant, which is also a jewel and a star. The Greek Elysian fields derive from the same celestial topography: the Egyptian “Field of Rushes,” the eastern stars at dawn where the soul goes to be purified. That there is another, mirror world, a world of light, and that this world is simply the sky—and a step further, the breath of the sky, the weather, the very air—is a formative belief of great antiquity that has continued to the present day with the godhead becoming brightness itself: dios/theos (Greek); deus/divine/diana (Latin); devas (Sanskrit); daha (Arabic); day (English).
—Susan Brind Morrow, Wolves and Honey
Gravel paths on hillsides amid moon-drawn vineyards,
click of pearls upon a polished nightstand
soft as rainwater, self-minded stars, oboe music
distant as the grinding of icebergs against the hull
of the self and the soul in the darkness
chanting to the ecstatic chance of existence.
Deep is the water and long is the moonlight
inscribing addresses in quicksilver ink,
building the staircase a lover forever pauses upon.
Deep is the darkness and long is the night,
solid the water and liquid the light. How strange
that they arrive at all, nights on planet earth.
Sometimes, not often but repeatedly, the past invades my dreams in the form of a familiar neighborhood I can no longer locate,
a warren of streets lined with dark cafés and unforgettable bars, a place where I can sing by heart every song on every jukebox,
a city that feels the way the skin of an octopus looks pulse-changing from color to color, laminar and fluid and electric,
a city of shadow-draped churches, of busses on dim avenues, or riverlights, or canyonlands, but always a city, and wonderful, and lost.
Sometimes it resembles Amsterdam, students from the ballet school like fanciful gazelles shooting pool in pink tights and soft, shapeless sweaters,
or Madrid at 4AM, arguing the 18th Brumaire with angry Marxists, or Manhattan when the snowfall crowns every trash-can king of its Bowery stoop,
or Chicago, or Dublin, or some ideal city of the imagination, as in a movie you can neither remember entirely nor completely forget,
barracuda-faced men drinking sake like yakuza in a Harukami novel, women sipping champagne or arrack, the rattle of beaded curtains in the back,
the necklaces of Christmas lights reflected in raindrops on windows, the taste of peanuts and their shells crushed to powder underfoot,
always real, always elusive, always a city, and wonderful, and lost. All night I wander alone, searching in vain for the irretrievable.
In the night I will drink from a cup of ashes and yellow paint.
In the night I will gossip with the clouds and grow strong.
In the night I will cross rooftops to watch the sea tremble in a dream.
In the night I will assemble my army of golden carpenter ants.
In the night I will walk the towpath among satellites and cosmic dust.
In the night I will cry to the roots of potted plants in empty offices.
In the night I will gather the feathers of pigeons in a honey jar.
In the night I will become an infant before your flag.