It must be love . . .

I think that I am in love with the Curious History website. I find myself wanting to reblog almost everything that they post . . .

Hmm . . . things that make you go hmm . . .

Flying Fish

Flying fish (Exocoetidae) can be seen jumping out of warm ocean waters worldwide. Their streamlined torpedo shape helps them gather enough underwater speed to break the surface, and their large, wing-like pectoral fins get them airborne.

There are about 40 known species of flying fish. Beyond their useful pectoral fins, all have unevenly forked tails, with the lower lobe longer than the upper lobe. Many species have enlarged pelvic fins as well and are known as four-winged flying fish.

The process of taking flight, or gliding, begins by gaining great velocity underwater, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) per hour. Angling upward, the four-winged flying fish breaks the surface and begins to taxi by rapidly beating its tail while it is still beneath the surface. It then takes to the air, sometimes reaching heights over 4 feet (1.2 meters) and gliding long distances, up to 655 feet (200 meters). Once it nears the surface again, it can flap its tail and taxi without fully returning to the water. Capable of continuing its flight in such a manner, flying fish have been recorded stretching out their flights with consecutive glides spanning distances up to 1,312 feet (400 meters).

sources 1, 2

 

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“August has passed, and yet summer continues by force to grow days. They sprout secretly between the chapters of the year, covertly included between its pages.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer, from Tree of Codes

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Waves White on Blue Series No II paren August 1988 acrylic on card
“Waves White on Blue Series No. II (August 1988)” (acrylic on card)
By Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

                   

Two for Tuesday: August Reflections

(c) Emerson Mayes; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
“River Wharf, August 1995” (oil on canvas)
by Emerson Mayes

                     

AUGUST MEDITATIONS
I

If a man in his forties
is still drawing seas and dovecotes
if in his thought is reflected
a sun more transparent,
more lucid than the sun of reality,
if the word ‘Amorgos’ is not just
the mask of a fleeting, adolescent memory,
then between the poem of desire
and the poem of necessity
real loss is panting.

II

Prologues have been consumed.
They cannot always substitute the topic.
He must decide whether he can
hold on to this absolute idea
even if he has ceased to believe in its power.
It is a question of faith from now on.

III

Successive metamorphoses of paradise.
The eye tries to interpret the enigma of beauty
while Delos is slowly emerging on the horizon.
Summer feels like an eternity.
The poem begins to invent itself
at the moment when the man turns his face to the light.

(The moment when imagination
freed from the specific sensation of blazing light
vertically rises in the sky.)

IV

Not one sail on the horizon
tearing the canvas apart.
The image of a tree
with its wind-swept boughs scavenging the ground
is not a part of the scenery today.
Yet, the old lady creeping uphill on her knees
tightly holding Her icon is.

V

The man is walking on the beach alone.
He is still touched by the melodious whisper of the waves,
the way the water is persistently lulling the rock to sleep.
Nature around him
(cedars, rotten fishing boats, shingles)
has a melancholic, unaffected brightness.
If he were to die at this moment
he would want to be here
in this place where he has been.
Even for a while.
For now.

~ Haris Vlavianós

                   

David Burliuk Roses with Blue Background, 1960
“Roses with Blue Background” (1960)
by David Burliuk

A Lecture on Aphids

She plucks my sleeve.
“Young man,” she says, “you need to spray.
You have aphids on your roses.”

In a dark serge coat and a pill box hat
by god it’s my third grade Sunday school teacher,
shrunken but still stern, the town’s
most successful corporate attorney’s mother.
She doesn’t remember me. I holster
my secateurs, smile publicly,
and reply, “Ma’am,

did you know a female aphid is born
carrying fertile eggs? Come look.
There may be five or six generations
cheek by jowl on this “Peace” bud.
Don’t they remind you
of refugees
crowding the deck of a tramp steamer?
Look through my hand lens—
they’re translucent. You can see their dark innards
like kidneys in aspic.

Yes, ma’am, they are full-time inebriates,
and unashamed of their nakedness.
But isn’t there something wild and uplifting
about their complete indifference to the human prospect?”

And then I do something wicked. “Ma’am,” I say,
“I love aphids!” And I squeeze
a few dozen from the nearest bud
and eat them.

After the old woman scuttles away
I feel ill
and sit down to consider
what comes next. You see,
aphids
aren’t sweet
as I had always imagined.
Even though rose wine is their only food,
aphids
are bitter.

~ Charles Goodrich

                    

Music by Fleet Foxes, a new discovery, “Helplessness Blues”

“I said that if it doesn’t involve any work, I’ll do it.” ~ Robert Bly, on being named Minnesota’s first Poet Laureate

Igor Shipilin Blossoms in a Vase
“Blossoms in a Vase” (nd)
by Igor Shipilin

                    

“It is my heart that’s late,
it is my song that’s flown.” ~ Stanley Kunitz, from “Touch Me”

I promise that I have not abandoned this blog. We’re in the crunch time with the bathroom renovation. It’s coming along well, but as it’s just the two of us, and I have to work, shall we say, not speedily, it’s taking an inordinate amount of time. The good thing is that not being here is really making me ache to get back to writing.

Thanks for sticking with me. Soon . . .

Brahms

It must be that my early friendship with defeat
Has given me affection for the month of August.
The potato fields belong to early night.

So many times as a boy I sat in the dirt
Among dry cornstalks that gave assurances
Every hour that Francis has his ear to the night.

Columbus’s letters tell us that we will receive
The gifts that mariners all receive at the end—
Memories of gold and a grave in the sand.

The shadow of a friend’s hand gives us
Promises similar to those we received from
The light under the door as our mother came near.

Each of us is a Jacob weeping for Joseph.
We are the sparrow that flies through the warrior’s
Hall and back out into the falling snow.

I don’t know why these images should please me
So much; an angel said: “In the last moment before night
Brahms will show you how loyal the notes are.”

~ Robert Bly

                    

Music by Johannes Brahms, Waltz in A Flat Major, Opus 39, #15, performed by pianist Pablo Cintron

“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

“I dwell in possibility” ~ Emily Dickinson

sunset-splash-canada by Rob Leslie, Nat Geo

                   

Photo of the Day: Splash Effect, British Columbia

Photograph by Rob Leslie submitted to National Geographic Your Shot

This unedited image was taken at the moment a rock was thrown into the water using a tripod mounted in the Pacific Ocean during a winter sunset in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada.

                   

Corey’s ship got into port this morning. More later . . .

Music by Adeline, “Fine Beyond Compare”

And just for fun, I thought I’d add this link to The Secret Door, which is pretty cool. The sweet shop in England was my best trip so far. Don’t forget to move around inside wherever you are taken.

The Secret Door

The Secret Door is presented by Safestyle UK

“In the morning, you tear up the pages of your fever, but every word naturally leads you back to its color, its night.” ~ Edmond Jabès, from The Book of Questions II, trans. Rosmarie Waldrop

Pasea Sailing by crlbvi fcc
Pasea Sailing by crlbvi (FCC)

                   

“That’s what the world is, after all: an endless battle of contrasting memories.” ~ Haruki Murakami, from 1Q84

Saturday afternoon. Partly cloudy, 51 degrees.

I should finish my cleaning, but I don’t want to. Last night I had really horrible dreams, two involving bad things happening to dogs. In one dream I had a puppy (not one of my real ones) who was attacked by a pit bull owned by a neighbor. The neighbor didn’t stop the attack and told me not to make such a big deal out of it, and I was vacillating between heartbreak and seething anger at the dog’s owner. My puppy was mauled and bloody and looking at me with such unbelievable hurt in his eyes. There was blood everywhere

Sailing on Cayuga Lake by solarnu FCC
Sailing on Cayuga Lake by solarnu (FCC)

In the second dog dream I had taken one of my dogs to work with me at the big department store where I used to be a manager. The store manager brought his puppy to work also. Both dogs managed to get outside, and this one woman who was leaning against the building kicked the puppy. I saw it happen through the glass and went to rescue the puppy, but then I got lost inside the store, and I was also trying to page the manager to let him know, but I couldn’t remember how to work the paging system, and my dog was lost, too.

The only good part was when I was looking at the night sky in my dream and I saw a meteor, and I was trying to point it out so that everyone could see how beautiful it was.

I woke up with a headache again.

“There are as many worlds as there are kinds of days, and as an opal changes its colors and its fire to match the nature of a day, so do I.” ~ John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Corey is due in port on the 25th now. Apparently they’ve hit some bad weather and aren’t making good time. It will be so good to see him. Tillie will be ecstatic, and she’ll probably lie and say that no one has paid any attention to her, no one has played with her, her life has been bereft. Dogs do lie you know, especially when it comes to treats.

Sailing Across the Blue Ocean by eyesplash mikul FCC
Sailing Across the Blue Ocean by eyesplash mikul (FCC)

Anyway, I think they’re supposed to be in port for a few days, so I hope we actually get to spend a bit of time together. One time the captain didn’t change to in-port watches, so Corey spent most of his time sleeping and going back and forth to the ship. We’ll just have to see. Of course, now that he’s almost here I’m going into panic mode and thinking about doing stupid things like cleaning the ceiling fans. This always happens. I have to force myself to use restraint so that my back isn’t acting up when he arrives.

I’ll try to sate my OCD need to clean with scrubbing the floors and normal stuff. Brett will help because dusting and vacuuming are his household chores. Eamonn will not help because he’s not even here. Lucky for him, his father took him to Florida for a fishing trip for his birthday. I won’t even get started on how blatantly my ex shows favoritism among his children. What’s the point? Nothing will change.

“Off I go, rummaging about in books for sayings which please me.” ~ Michel de Montaigne

Yesterday, Brett, Em, and I went to a new thrift store in downtown Norfolk. It’s a great place for books, so I was thrilled. What was especially nice was that they have a bag policy, as in for $4 you can fill a bag with books. I brought in one of my shopping bags and asked if I could use it, and the woman in charge said yes, but since it was a bigger bag she would have to charge me $5. Then when I checked out she said that I hadn’t filled my bag, so she only charged me $4. Such cheap thrills.

Sailing in the Bahamas by Skinnede Mink FCC
Sailing in the Bahamas by SkinnedMink (FCC)

Truth is I could have filled the bag twice, but my arms were tired, as was my back from sitting on the floor to look at the bottom shelves. I have absolutely no shame when it comes to searching for books: I will bend, stoop, pull things off shelves, whatever it takes. I found an old HBJ English grammar book and an old encyclopedia, which I grabbed just because they were in great shape. Then I got several board books for Olivia, and about seven hard bound books for myself. I also found this odd-looking mariner’s head mug that was carved out of wood, and the handle is a whale. It’s really wild looking, so I bought it for Corey.

We decided that we’ll have to go back there during their Happy Hour as everything except furniture is 50 percent off. The store uses its profits for abused and neglected children, so all-in-all, it’s a great find for a great cause. Now with the influx of new reading material, I can stop fretting because my reading pile was down to just five books.

Then we went to the international market where we all picked out our various favorites from around the world. I’ll have to take Corey there as he can get squid and stuff like that.

“Unless I write a few sentences here from time to time I shall, as they say, forget the use of my pen.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry dated 13 May 1931

Another thing that I need to take care of before Corey gets home is the pile on the left side of my desk. I’ve been doing bills and correspondence, and I need to organize because I’ve just thrown everything into a pile. Of course, the pile is nothing like the pile that used to exist on my old dining room table when I was with my ex.

sailboat-tiarescott fcc
Asail on a Wooden Boat by tiarescott (FCC)

I have never liked going through mail, junk mail, flyers, bills, so I used to just grab everything out of the mailbox and then throw it on the table, which of course, was problematic with my ex. It was also during a time in which I was dealing with my grief via a shopping addiction, so the mail represented real life, and who wants that? However, that being said, did the ex ever take it upon himself to remedy the situation by opening and sorting? Enough said on that.

My ex showed up in a dream a few nights ago, and I know that it’s because I’m torqued out of shape about the Florida trip. It just wouldn’t occur to this man that perhaps his youngest son would like to go on a fishing trip out of state. The only compensation is that Brett just had his NYC trip, during which he had a great time. I suppose we must take our pleasures where we can get them and not rely on others to provide them for us.

Still torqued, though. Bâtard grandes.

Anyway, I saw a beautiful picture of a sailboat on my tumblr dash, which is what prompted my image theme for today. I haven’t been on a sailboat in years; I travel the water vicariously through my love.

More later. Peace.

Music by Sara Jackson-Holman, “Freight Train”

                   

Flour and Ash

“Make flour into dough,” she answers,
“and fire will turn it into food.
Ash is the final abstraction of matter.
You can just brush it away.”

She tacks a sheet of paper to the wall,
dips her hand in a palette of flour and ash,
applies the fine soft powders with a fingertip,
highlighting in chalk and graphite,
blending, blurring with her thumb.
Today she is working in seven shades of gray.

Outside the door, day lilies
in the high flush of summer-
about-to-be-fall. Her garden burns
red and yellow in the dry August air
and is not consumed.

Inside, on the studio wall, a heavy
particulate smoke
thickens and rises. Footsteps grime the snow.
The about-to-be-dead line up on the ramp
with their boxy suitcases,
ashen shoes.

When I get too close she yanks me back.
She hovers over her creation
though she too has a mind
to brush against that world
and wipe it out.

~ Chana Bloch

“No one know what causes an outer landscape to become an inner one.” ~ Margaret Atwood

Dawn with Fishermen of Inle Lake, Myanmarby Chris Martin (National Geographic)
Dawn with Fishermen of Inle Lake, Myanmar
by Chris Martin (National Geographic)

                   

“why do you live in your body like you will be given another? as if it were temporary. you starve it, you let anyone touch it, you berate it. tell it that should be completely different. you tug at your soft flesh, wish it thinner, wish it gone. you fall in love with those who praise the way it sighs under their hands, but who praises the way it holds up your weight, even when you are falling apart?” ~ Warsan Shire, “Praise the Soft Belly”

Tuesday evening. Cloudy, high 50’s.

I woke up saying this sentence: “Tyler, I want a tin of bears and Oreos.” Don’t ask me what it means because I have no idea, but I was actually singing it as opposed to just saying it. I have such a very strange dream life.

Olivia, who is over today, is currently napping. I expect her to wake up any minute now, especially because I just sat down to write. I kept postponing, thinking that she would wake up, until finally I decided to hell with it. I’ll just start writing and see what happens.

Across the Mist on Inle Lake by Zara Bowmar Nat Geo
Across the Mist on Inle Lake
by Zara Bowmar (National Geographic)

I called my mom to let her know that Olivia was over here, and she came over for a visit. As my mother was holding Olivia, she was remarking on how fat she is (she isn’t). I won’t even delve into how upset that made me, but I just kept my mouth shut. Olivia is too young for the words to stick, but as I said to Corey after my mom left, is it any wonder I am the way that I am. Corey’s response was that she starts young.

Understatement.

“There is a theory of crying that tears are the body’s way of
releasing excess elements from the brain. There is a theory of
dreaming that each one serves to mend something torn, like
cells of new skin lining up to cover a hole.” ~ Lisa Olstein, from “That Magnificent Part the Chorus Does about Tragedy”

So I finally finished the taxes and Brett’s FAFSA, at least for now. I still need to do Eamonn’s taxes, but those will be a piece of cake after what I just went through. I had to do an amended return for Eamonn because last year I somehow claimed him as a dependent on our return (legitimate as he was still in school full time), but when I did his return I forgot and gave him one exemption. The IRS sent him a letter saying that he needed to do an amended return. I have to say the 1040x is a stupid, overly complicated form, and I went through all of these steps to get the same amount that I had pretty much calculated in my head.

Traditional Fisherman on Inle Lake by Zara Bowmar Nat Geo
Traditional Fisherman on Inle Lake
by Zara Bowmar (National Geographic)

And that interminable wait to speak to an IRS person? She told me that she didn’t know a lot about the 1040x, but it sounded like I had it right. Then she offered to transfer me to someone who was an expert in that form, at which point I was told that the wait would be at least 15 minutes, this after being on the phone for 59 minutes, 54 of those on hold.

No thank you.

“Word by word, the language of women so often begins with a whisper.” ~ Terry Tempest Williams, from When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice

Thursday evening. Cloudy and cold, 47 degrees.

Spear Fisherman Rowing Boat with his Leg, Myanmar Inle Lake by Sean Caffrey Nat Geo
Spear Fisherman Rowing Boat with his Leg
Myanmar Inle Lake
by Sean Caffrey (National Geographic)

By the time Olivia left on Tuesday, I had run out of things to say, so I never got back to this post. Yesterday, I was bedridden, nauseous, dizzy and weak. Too tired to read, even, better last night, but Corey and I stayed up until 5 a.m. watching season 2 of “Walking Dead.” It’s a highly addictive show, and we’re trying to finish season 2 and the beginning of season 3 before he is scheduled to ship out on February 16.

We’re in countdown mode again. He decided to sign on for half a hitch (45 days) since none of the companies in which he is interested have openings at the moment. Perhaps something will become available once he finishes this hitch. Neither of us are terribly excited about him going back, but we want to make sure we don’t get caught up in a domino effect again with our bills, and this is the best way to ensure that does not happen.

I think that I was in denial about it, telling him that I was fine with him going, and then I realized that I wasn’t fine, but there really isn’t anything that can be done. I just have to try to keep things together for six weeks or so. I think I can do that, should be able to do that, don’t know if I can do that . . .

“Into what waters do we fall
when we leave, if time does not exist?
What is the depth of heaven?” ~ Manuel Ulacia, from “The Stone at the Bottom”

Corey has spent the last five days cleaning fish. During his last trip he caught lots of fish, red snapper and other kinds with which I am unfamiliar. They were all frozen whole in garbage bags. So he finally decided to clean and fillet them. We had fresh fish twice in the last week. Not complaining. Everyone in the family loves fish. My dad used to cook fish all of the time, fried, baked, however, but he did not often fillet it, which meant fish bones. If there is a bone, I will find it.

Spear Fisherman on Inle Lake by Cuong Do Nat Geo
Spear Fisherman on Inla Lake
by Cuong Do (National Geographic)

I am reminded of something funny that my father used to do. If anyone was choking on a fish bone, he would pat their head in a circular motion. Apparently it’s some kind of Filipino wives’ tale: patting the head clears the fish bone. I can attest that it does not work. Actually, now that I think of it, I think he was pulling my leg . . .

So during this massive cleaning Corey has taught Brett how to clean fish, something he’s been wanting to learn. Eamonn, who knows how already, decided that he did not want to participate in the cleaning. Go figure.

Anyway, now that we’re in countdown mode, it seems that Corey is trying to get all kinds of things done before next week. We’re going to try to go to the movies one more time before he leaves. I had wanted to see Anna Karenina, with Keira Knightly, but I don’t think that it came to any theaters in this area, and if it did, it’s long gone. I think we’re going to see Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, perhaps this weekend.

“Why am I afraid, I who am not afraid? Why must I pretend to scorn in order to pity? Why must I hide myself in self-contempt in order to understand? Why must I be so ashamed of my strength, so proud of my weakness?” ~ Eugene O’Neill from The Great God Brown

I’m very worried about Brett. He is unhappy with one of his classes and seems set on not going. I was really hoping that this semester would be a break for him, only classes he likes, 12 easy credits.

Sunset on Inle Lake by Chinmay Vasavada Nat Geo
Sunset on Inle Lake
by Chinmay Vasvada (National Geographic)

He’s distressed because he had originally signed up for a film class and then at the last minute changed it to a short story class. Now he hates the short story class and wishes that he were in the film class, especially because a friend of his is telling him what a great class it is.

Signing up for classes is often a crap shoot. If you don’t know someone who has taken the class or someone who knows the professor, you don’t know what you’re getting. I had more than my share of crap classes, but there’s really nothing you can do about it once you’re past that drop/add deadline, which he is.

What is worrying me is how focused he is on his perceived mistake. I know that I dwell, but he is completely fixated, to the point of obsessing over what could have been. I so wish that none of my children had inherited the family propensity for depression, but alas, was not to be. All of them, to one degree or another, suffer. But I’ve been doing this dance with Brett since high school, and at times, I feel so utterly helpless and useless that I just want to put my fist through a wall.

“So, now I shall talk every night. To myself. To the moon. I shall walk, as I did tonight, jealous of my loneliness, in the blue-silver of the cold moon, shining brilliantly on the drifts of fresh-fallen snow, with the myriad sparkles. I talk to myself and look at the dark trees, blessedly neutral. So much easier than facing people, than having to look happy, invulnerable, clever. With masks down, I walk, talking to the moon, to the neutral impersonal force that does not hear, but merely accepting my being. And does not smite me down.” ~ Sylvia Plath, from “Cambridge Notes”

How does the depressed aid the depressed? How does one who is herself in a free fall pause long enough to prop up one for whom she feels completely responsible?

Depression goes hand-in-hand with low self-esteem. One causes the other, and it is hard to say which is the precursor and which is the result. My youngest son suffers terribly from a sense that he is not good enough, that he cannot get it right, whatever it may be. And because I carry around enough guilt for a monastery full of self-flagellating monks, I fear that I have caused him to feel less than worthy somehow.

Sunset at Inle Lake, Myanmar by Joseph Cressman Nat Geo
Sunset at Inle Lake, Myanmar
by Joseph Cressman (National Geographic)

Depression and low self-esteem are a sharp knife, and the cuts may be invisible, but they are still there, and I hate that I know about the cuts but can do nothing to help them heal.

I am distressed that he has taken a dislike to this class so soon in the semester, and I don’t want him to take any action that may hurt his overall GPA. Yet at the same time I want him to do what will best help him as regards his mental state. I fear that the planned trip to New Zealand will not come soon enough, and I fear that it will come and he will go and not come back.

Why is life always so damned hard, even when it isn’t?

Enough.

More later. Peace.

(All images from National Geographic Sense of Place are of local fishermen in Myanmar (Burma):  The fish population in Inle Lake has dwindled as a result of overfishing, environmental waste, and invasive non-native species, and fishermen such as those in the pictures above are turning away from their trades, sustaining themselves instead by demonstrating traditional fishing methods to tourists. Local fishermen use tall nets to trap fish and then use spears to catch them. They are known for practicing a distinctive rowing style that involves standing at the stern on one leg and wrapping the other leg around the oar. The reeds and floating plants covering the lake make it difficult to see above them while sitting. Standing provides the rower with a view beyond the reeds and frees their hands for fishing. However, the leg rowing style is only practiced by the men. wikipedia)

Music by Tindersticks, “Sweet Memory”

                   

Admonitions to a Special Person

Watch out for power,
for its avalanche can bury you,
snow, snow, snow, smothering your mountain.

Watch out for hate,
it can open its mouth and you’ll fling yourself out
to eat off your leg, an instant leper.

Watch out for friends,
because when you betray them,
as you will,
they will bury their heads in the toilet
and flush themselves away.

Watch out for intellect,
because it knows so much it knows nothing
and leaves you hanging upside down,
mouthing knowledge as your heart
falls out of your mouth.

Watch out for games, the actor’s part,
the speech planned, known, given,
for they will give you away
and you will stand like a naked little boy,
pissing on your own child-bed.

Watch out for love
(unless it is true,
and every part of you says yes including the toes),
it will wrap you up like a mummy,
and your scream won’t be heard
and none of your running will end.

Love? Be it man. Be it woman.
It must be a wave you want to glide in on,
give your body to it, give your laugh to it,
give, when the gravelly sand takes you,
your tears to the land. To love another is something
like prayer and can’t be planned, you just fall
into its arms because your belief undoes your disbelief.

Special person,
if I were you I’d pay no attention
to admonitions from me,
made somewhat out of your words
and somewhat out of mine.
A collaboration.
I do not believe a word I have said,
except some, except I think of you like a young tree
with pasted-on leaves and know you’ll root
and the real green thing will come.

Let go. Let go.
Oh special person,
possible leaves,
this typewriter likes you on the way to them,
but wants to break crystal glasses
in celebration,
for you,
when the dark crust is thrown off
and you float all around
like a happened balloon.

~ Anne Sexton