“We all need mantras, I guess—stories we tell ourselves to keep us going.” ~ Lauren Oliver, from Pandemonium

Toddler in front of Manchester ruins by Shirley Baker*

“There is a beauty in the world, though it’s harsher than we expect it to be.” ~ Michael Cunningham, from The Hours

Thursday afternoon, mostly cloudy and warm, 76 degrees.

Dallas showed up a few hours ago with the horse trailer again. At least Corey was home this time. Dallas is determined to take my horse Napoleon over to his place to stud some mares that are in heat. He also wants to take Sassy to try to impregnate her. The last time he showed up to do this, I almost hit him over the head with a heavy object. The man is infuriating when he’s been drinking.

Boy pushing child in door swing

He’s out there ordering Corey around, doing the same thing that he did to me, telling Corey to be very quiet, even as he yells. Dallas is oblivious to the irony. Neither horse is cooperating, which I find oddly amusing, but I know that Corey must be frustrated.

Apparently, though, they’ve finally gotten Napoleon into the trailer but have given up on Sassy, who isn’t having anything to do with Dallas and his trailer; with any luck, Dallas will be departing soon. The banging and yelling have made the dogs and me nervous. I actually had plans to take the dogs for a walk, but I was definitely not going out there while all of that chaos was going on, only to be called into the fray, regardless of my plans

Neither my nerves nor my patience could have taken it. With any luck, I still might be able to get a walk in. We’ll just have to see, I suppose, but of course, I’m writing now, so it’s doubtful that I’ll actually make it outside. (I really need to manage my time better, or perhaps, it’s my mind. Who knows . . .)

“Still, there are times i am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.” ~ Jhumpa Lahiri, from “The Third and Final Continent”

Just a week ago Corey and I were talking about how everything in Norfolk would already be in bloom, but everything around here was still bare, and then suddenly, we woke up, and there was green grass, and blossoms on some trees, and bulbs coming up everywhere. It’s finally spring on the ridge.

Children playing in ruins

One of the reasons that I had wanted to get a walk in was to explore just what was in bloom in the various nooks and crannies everywhere. Perhaps next year I’ll have been able to get various bulbs in the ground and more bushes planted that I want: peonies, day lilies, tulips, mock orange, wisteria, Carolina jasmine, wisteria, maybe even a couple of flowering crabapple  and blossoming cherry trees. That would be nice. I miss the huge blooms on my peony plants, and I had fully intended to dig them up to transplant, but as with most things involved in the move, it just didn’t happen. In fact, we’re still realizing exactly how much we’re missing from our belongings that didn’t make it here. Odd.

So I hear the tractor pulling out and Dallas yelling over the engine, as if anyone could even figure out what he’s talking about now. Sorry. I know that I should be kinder, should be nicer, should be less judgmental.

I’m not. Sorry. Not really.

“. . . the ones who dance
As though they’re burying
Memory—one last time—
Beneath them.” ~ Tracy K. Smith, from “Duende”

And by the way, it appears that Maddy is going into heat sooner than anticipated.  I told Corey that we need to buy some diapers to put on her because I definitely to not want her impregnated; I remember that my mother used to keep this diaper thing that she would put on the Yorkies when they went into heat. My life just keeps getting more and more interesting. So now the hunt it on for affordable spaying. Anyone have any ideas?

Young toddler with old bicycle wheel, Manchester UK, 1964

Unfortunately, I realized that Maddy’s condition means that her sisters from the litter, those currently still residing with Dallas, must be going into heat as well, and he is completely irresponsible about such things; witness the two recent litters of puppies he now has in residence. I would really like to steal some of his females and have them spayed and then return them. He’d never notice.

If wishes were fishes . . .

Sleep sucked last night, and I kept having dreams that were filled with strange images and food. I even woke up and wrote down the details of one particular dream because it unnerved me so much. So I dreamed about chicken and dumplings, BBQ, the old townhouse in Alexandria, my former sister-in-law, and my ex. Needless to say it was all jumbled and disturbing, and I awoke feeling like I’d run a marathon, that is if I’d ever run a marathon, or could run a marathon, or would run a marathon (I’ve seen how people look at the finish line; no thank you).

Note: I began this post yesterday afternoon, and then got distracted as usual, that and the whole Dallas interruption; but I’ve decided to finish it today because . . . things . . . why not?

“But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?” ~ Anthony Doerr, from All the Light We Cannot See

Friday afternoon, rain and cooler, 64 degrees.

So, another bad night. Migraine today. Storms outside and inside, I guess. I’m supposed to call some rep about getting the new migraine medication Aimovig with assistance, but the key words here are supposed to and call—easier said than done. I never ever ever thought that I’d miss having a working phone. Is it possible to get a phone to make outgoing calls only, as in no one can call in and bother you? You get to call on your time, when it’s convenient for you?

Someone should invent that . . .

Little girl with a pushcar frame, Manchester, UK, 1969

So I’m committed to finishing this post. Just as I’ve committed myself to doing the taxes this weekend . . . yep, have to do that. I’ve also made a pact with Corey that I’m going to get back to my piano. I’ve cleaned and dusted it, and I’ve been doing scales and exercises to get my fingers back into shape. I’ve made a promise to myself that I’ll practice 30 minutes a day until I get back into shape, and then an hour a day to get back to Chopin and Beethoven.

I think that it’s a good plan. Now it’s a matter of staying focused.

Now that the weather is warmer, I have so many goals: piano playing, writing, house organizing, furniture refinishing. I can do this, I tell myself, even as internally I begin to panic. I know. It makes no sense. I’ve set the goals. I’ve made the to do list. No one else has done this for me. No one is making me do any of this . . . but it’s that old battle of feeling that I’m not meeting expectations.

Whose? Don’t ask me. I truly don’t know.

“We spend our life trying to bring together in the same instant a ray of sunshine and a free bench.” ~ Samuel Beckett, from Texts for Nothing

I’ve been exploring YouTube again, looking for new artists, renditions with which I am unfamiliar. I like YouTube, but hate the ads that pop up at the most inopportune times. I mean, I realize that those ads are the method by which people on that channel makes a lot of their income, but still, I wish that it was more like the original days of the channel, when you could listen for hours without an ad. Of course, if I were willing to pay for premium, I would have to deal with ads.

Boy with a cricket bat outside a terraced house in Manchester, UK

Not going to be doing that any time soon, even if I did have the money. I mean, it’s the principle . . . at least, that’s what I tell myself . . . Ah, the inequities of life, such small problems that dart into our lives like pesky mosquitoes. At least I have a computer on which I can view the channel. I have electricity, water, a roof over my head. I need to remind myself of these things when I’m feeling pitiful about my current plight.

We may not have a fully-stocked larder, but we aren’t starving. We don’t have to live in a cage, or a processing room filled with desperate people. We don’t have to pick through garbage piles looking for the odd thing that might be turned into coin in order to purchase a meal for our children. This world is so full of want and need, and when I think about it, it just about destroys my soul.

I probably should stop now before I go on a full-blown rant about the haves and the have-nots and how very and truly warped our society is, right down to its very bones.

More later. Peace.

*All images are by photographer Shirley Baker, who is well known for her stark images of working-class people living in the inner-city neighborhoods of Salford and Manchester, UK. Taken between 1961 and 1981, Baker frequently focused her lens on the children in these neighborhoods. For a good biography go here. unfortunately I was not always able to find an accurate caption citing exact date and location.

Music by The Sweeplings, “Carry Me Home”


Necessities (two sections)
1.
A map of the world. Not the one in the atlas,
but the one in our heads, the one we keep coloring in.
With the blue thread of the river by which we grew up.
The green smear of the woods we first made love in.
The yellow city we thought was our future.
The red highways not traveled, the green ones
with their missed exits, the black side roads
which took us where we had not meant to go.
The high peaks, recorded by relatives,
though we prefer certain unmarked elevations,
the private alps no one knows we have climbed.
The careful boundaries we draw and erase.
And always, around the edges,
the opaque wash of blue, concealing
the dropoff they have stepped into before us,
singly mapless not looking back.

5.
Even now, the old things first things,
which taught us language. Things of day and of night.
Irrational lightning, fickle clouds, the incorruptible moon.
Fire as revolution, grass as the heir
to all revolutions. Snow
as the alphabet of the dead, subtle, undeciphered.
The river as what we wish it to be.
Trees in their humanness, animals in their otherness.
Summits. Chasms. Clearings.
And stars, which gave us the word distance,
so we could name our deepest sadness.

~  Lisel Mueller

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“Of pain you could wish only one thing: that it should stop. Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain. In the face of pain there are no heroes.” ~ George Orwell, from 1984

One of the Mule Women of Melilla by David Ramos/Getty Images (The Guardian)
“Among the personal objects inside a 2100-year-old Chinese tomb,
archaeologists found nine acupuncture needles,
four gold and five silver.
Long before knowing why,
ancient doctors knew that pain
must be fought with pain” ~ Luljeta Lleshanaku, from “Acupuncture” (Trans. Ani Gjika)

Friday evening, absolutely beautiful day and evening, 60 degrees.

Got the spring cleaning  bug today. Deep cleaned for hours, and now I can’t move. Seriously. My back is spazzing, and I have shooting pains going down my right leg. The back/leg pain hasn’t been this bad in years . . . but my house is getting clean.

Hooray?

In my head, I can relate to those poor women called porteadoras, or mule women, the ones who are paid a pittance to carry heavy bales of goods across the border between the Spanish enclave of Melilla and Morocco for merchants. I cannot even imagine what that must be like.

Anyway, good thing I have an appointment with a pain management doctor in only seven . . . weeks. Yep—weeks. Nothing is ever easy around here. Absolutely  nothing.

More later when I can sit in this chair without cringing.

Peace.


Selections from “Mythologies”

XV.

If you were a painter, you’d paint the wind
Green. It would shake the boughs of the honey locust trees.

It would chase the leaves across the continent.
It would scatter their crumbs in a twist of swirling snow.

It would be colorless and green at the same time,
The wind that aligns the pond and the cloud,

The wind that is everywhere, in constant motion,
As buoyant as Ariel and as scornful of gross Caliban,

The wind that holds up the fly ball, drives it back
Into fair territory, causes it to drift within reach

Of the right-fielder, who waves off the second baseman,
Until a last gust lifts the ball over both their heads

And it lands safely for the double that ends the game
In extra innings, costing our team the pennant.

XIX.

If we were painters we’d favor vibrant stripes,
Primary colors, flat surfaces, a lot of white

Remaining on the canvas. If we were composers
We’d take the music of exotic jungles with us

When we visit the vast vacant tundra. “If I were
Rich enough,” vowed the philanthropist, “I’d move

To a magnolia mansion and spend my days
Translating modern literature into ancient Greek.”

Great plans, distant vistas, a rearguard action
To sabotage the present—and here we’ve all assembled,

At the antiseptic airport, with haunted looks on our faces.
Occasional eye contact between man with tan and woman in white.

“You look like your voice,” she says, breaking the silence.
The rest of us know where we’re going, but we don’t know when.

~ David Lehman


Music by The Corrs, “Everybody Hurts”

“For to stay is to be nowhere at all.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from Duino Elegies: The First Elegy

Rainer Maria Rilke (Wikimedia Commons)

Two for Tuesday: Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

Tuesday afternoon, partly cloudy, 48 degrees.

Not two poems today, but prose by the prolific German-language poets. Rilke was born in Prague in what was at that time called the Austro-Hungarian empire. His earlier work  evokes a sense of romanticism, but after two life-changing trips to Russia, Rilke’s work evolved into what would become his predominant approach to writing: [these trips provided hims with] “poetic material and inspiration essential to his developing philosophy of existential materialism and art as religion” (Poetry Foundation).

Throughout his life, Rilke interacted with key artists of the period, including Tolstoy, Pasternak, and Rodin, for whom Rilke worked as secretary (1905-06).  Although best known for his German language work, Rilke’s ouevre included 400 poems written in  French. Additionally, he was a prodigious letter writer, especially to the significant women in his life, and many of his letters reflect the poet’s continual search for meaning through art and his desire to determine poet’s overarching role in society.

In 1912, Rilke began writing Duino Elegies, so called because Rilke began the collection while visiting Duino Castle on the Italian Adriatic coast. The collection, considered to be his magnum opus, took him ten years to write. Rilke, who suffered from health problems his entire life, including stifling depression, died of leukemia in 1926.

Go here or here for more information on the poet and his work. The selections below are from Rilke’s only novel, which was considered to be semi-autobiographical, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1910).


From “Fears”

All the lost fears are here again.

The fear that a small woolen thread sticking out of the hem of my blanket may be hard, hard and sharp as a steel needle; the fear that this little button on my night-shirt may be bigger than my head, bigger and heavier; the fear that the breadcrumpbwhich just dropped off my bed may turn into glass, and shatter when it hits the floor, and the sickening worry that when it does, everything will be broken, for ever; the fear that the ragged edge of a letter which was torn open may be something forbidden, which no one out to see, something indescribably precious, for which no place in the room is safe enough; the fear that if I fell asleep I might swallow the piece of coal lying in front of the stove; the fear that some number may begin to grow in my brain until there is no more room for it inside me; the fear that I may be lying on granite, on gray granite; the fear that I may start screaming, and people will come running to y door ad finally force it open, the fear that I might betray myself and tell everything I drea, and the fear that I might not be able to say anything because everything is unsayable,—and the other fears . . . the fears.

From “For the Sake of a Single Poem”

. . . Ah poems amount to so little when you write then too early in your life. You ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness for a whole lifetime, and a long one if possible, and then, at the very end, you might perhaps be able to write ten good lines For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences. For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and Things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly, and know the gesture which small flowers make when they open in the morning. You must be able to think back to streets in unknown neighborhoods, to unexpected encounters, and to partings you had long seen coming; to days of childhood whose mystery is still unexplained, to parents whom you had to hurt when they brought in a joy and you didn’t pick it up (it was a joy meant for somebody else—); to childhood illnesses that began so strangely with so many profound and difficult transformations, to days in quiet, restrained rooms and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas to nights of travel that rushed along high overhead and went flying with all the stars,—and it is still not enough to be able to think of all that. You must have memories of many nights of love, each one different from all the others, memories of women screaming in labor, and of light, pale, sleeping girls who have just given birth and are closing again. But you must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open window and the scattered noises. And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no  longer to be distinguished from ourselves—only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them.


Music by The National, “Heavenfaced”

“Everything is infected with brightness, throbbing with it, and she prays for dark the way a wanderer lost in the desert prays for water. The world is every bit as barren of darkness as a desert is of water. There is no dark in the shuttered room, no dark behind her eyelids.” ~ Michael Cunningham, from The Hours


My Migraine Brain

Monday evening, cloudy, 55 degrees.

April Fool! I wish . . .

Years ago I created an image that I called “My Migraine Brain.” Of course, that image is on a hard drive somewhere in the house, so I had to resort to google and a little bit of adjustment. Anyway, this is what’s going on with me today. Fiercely. And not in that good way.

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

Today’s Self-Portrait: Lots of Movement that Gets Me Nowhere

“Can we really conquer chaos so easily? If that were so, I should be able to prune the pandemonium of my own soul into something neat and tidy rather than this maze of wants and needs and misgivings that has me forever feeling as if I cannot fit into the landscape of things.” ~ Libba Bray, from The Far Sweet Thing

Friday afternoon, overcast but mild, 66 degrees.

I’m in one of those moods. Yep. Could it be day five of this unending migraine? Awaking each morning at 4 a.m. for no particular reason and being unable to go back to sleep? Eating stale tortilla chips and salsa because I’m craving salt and now I have incredible heartburn? The fact that I’ve been trying to write Tuesday’s post for 4 days and can’t get past the poem?  Continuing/unending issues with just trying to live our lives?

All of it? None of it?

Whatever . . .


Oh, the good old days . . . kind of . . . you know, Spanish flu deaths, diseases, sexism, racism, rampant poverty, fascism . . . no, wait . . . yep, that whole making us great again thing . . .

Harrisburg Telegraph, Pennsylvania, June 26, 1913

Found on irisharchaelogy’s tumblr:

From Ultrafacts.com (love this one):

Many of these old trees were dying or had died and, despite their age, were destined for a meeting with a chainsaw. Tingle, however, saw potential in the old trees and over time transformed many of them into remarkable works of art. They are located in Orr Park, Montevallo, AL (Fact Source)

This one reminds me of how Paramount’s mountain logo faded to the mountain in Raiders of the Lost Ark:

I love drinks with paper umbrellas; it’s like Hawaiian Punch:

From anxietyproblem’s tumblr:


Music by Lauren Daigle, “You Say”

“I’ve always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept, all the little monsters closed up in a steamer trunk at the foot of the bed.” ~ David Benioff, from City of Thieves


“I have started to dream profusely day and night. The blood is circulating again. I write in my head.” ~ Anaïs Nin, from Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary; 1939-1947

Sunday afternoon, partly cloudy, 54 degrees.

Last night was a real bugger. The dogs wanted to go out frequently; it seems like it was every five minutes. Around 7 a.m., I took half a sleeping pill and tried to get a few hours. This afternoon,  I’m zombie-fied.

Let me back up. Last night, Corey came home with a breeding pair of miniature Nubian goats. We’ve been talking about starting with the goat thing, and yesterday afternoon, he was really at loose ends, so I told him to go buy some goats. Problem solved.

When he got home, we had some pretty strange reactions from the various animals: Sassy the horse began snorting, tossing her head and generally acting unhappy. She’s never done that before; I wonder if she has some antipathy towards goats. All of the dogs wanted to see what was in the truck, and when they were put in the house, Maddy scratched at the door and whined like mad to get out. During the night, Bailey kept wanting to go outside, and when I opened the door, she would immediately turn left and head down the side yard. I didn’t follow her, but I assumed that she was going towards the chicken run, which is where Corey had put the goats last night so that they would be safe. Then Bailey would come back inside and whine at me.

Over and over and over. So annoying, and I was very not amused. And then I realized that I was mindlessly looking out the window and only to see the very dense dark that surrounds the property at night fade as dawn began to appear. (It is lovely, however, that from the side living room windows we can watch the sun set over the ridge, and from the side window of the spare bedroom we can see the sun rise.)

I was not greeting the dawn on purpose as anyone who knows me can attest that morning and I are not on the best of terms. I am even less amused today as my head feels like it’s in a vise, and my hands hurt like crazy (I’m currently out of my eggshell membrane).

“Even when
I sleep I dream I can’t sleep and I’m standing there looking
down at them, the night pouring from my hands.” ~ Emily Berry, from “Arlene and Esme”

Today Corey has the goats out in the yard, both of them on long leads so that they don’t bolt. The end of the yard before the dropoff was apparently a goat pasture as there is still a small goat shed down there. Unfortunately, that’s one part of the yard in which the fence hasn’t been repaired, so we cannot put them there as of yet, hence the leads. I am ambivalent about that far pasture, though. I mean, what about bears and coyotes?

I know. That whole worrying thing.

Apparently, the guy from whom Corey bought the goats kept them on long leads and moved them around his property each day. It’s not an ideal solution, but I suppose that it will work for us temporarily. However, the goats need to have room to move freely, preferably in areas that are overgrown.

As soon as I saw the pair last night I immediately named the female Daisy, but I haven’t figured out who the male is yet. Daisy is quite gentle with a very pretty face, which might be an odd thing to say about a goat. She is black with sable markings. The male is mostly white with black markings and a pair of beautiful horns.

The only thing about goats that I don’t like are their pupils: horizontal. Weird and kind of freaky. I probably feel that way because too many horror movies use goat imagery for demons, and that’s stuck in my head somehow. But Daisy is the farthest thing from demonic looking, and she is very sweet-natured. I still have to work on the male.

“It’s good to fall asleep here. I lie on my back and don’t know if I’m asleep or awake. Some books I’ve read pass by like old sailing ships on their way to the Bermuda triangle to vanish without trace . . .” ~ Tomas Tranströmer, from “How the Late Autumn Night Novel Begins”

Yesterday was Eamonn’s birthday. I sent him a text, which was much harder than it needed to be. The phone situation around here is no better, and frankly, I’m at my wit’s end over it. I need to call some doctors and pharmacies, and I simply cannot get a freaking signal that will last more than 15 seconds, which is why I didn’t even attempt to call Eamonn and chose to text instead.

I realized later in the afternoon that yesterday was probably at the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Norfolk, something that Eamonn, Alexis, and their father have traditionally made a point to attend. I’ve never been to the parade, nor have I wanted to—too much noise and way too many drunk people on a Saturday morning.

I plan to write Eamonn later today to see how his birthday went and if he did anything besides the parade. It goes without saying (so I’ll say it) that I really miss seeing him, especially on his birthday, something I would have normally made him a special meal for, at the very least.

“I can still see the dark
blur at the edges. I don’t sleep anymore, my head is full
of this insomniac light.” ~ Emily Berry, from “Arlene and Esme”

At the moment, the house is quiet as most of the dogs are outside with Corey. Tink is the only one inside, and she’s deep into her afternoon nap. She has gotten too big to sleep in my lap while I type, but that didn’t stop her from trying to do so yesterday afternoon. Neither of us were comfortable, so I moved her to the couch, and she immediately fell back to sleep. She’s really grown so much since we first got her, and Freddy has really grown. We’re certain that he will end up being our largest dog, but he’s still a little scaredy-cat over pretty much everything, and he doesn’t realize that he isn’t small any more. At least he isn’t afraid of towels any more.

Anyway, I’m enjoying the quiet, but I’m chilly. We’re trying not to build any more fires, but the last few nights have been quite chilly. I always get cold when I’m not feeling great, and at the moment my legs, my fingers, and my nose are cold. The legs I can cover, but what do you do about a cold nose when you’re sitting in the house? And as for the fingers? I mean, I can’t really put on gloves and hope to type with any accuracy.

I have no plans to go for a walk today; I just don’t have the energy or the inclination. It’s already going on 3:30. It took a bit to find today’s poem and song, so I’m already behind before I even start. I don’t think that I’ve ever posted anything by this particular poet or performer before, so that’s new.

The only good news is that I think that I’ll be able to post the pictures that I took the other day. When I sat Corey down yesterday to help me with the problem I was having with importing, I showed him what I had been trying to do, and of course the first time that I tried, I was able to import a photo without any problems.

I really hate it when he gets that told-you-so, smug grin on his face . . .

“It was that sort of sleep in which you wake every hour and think to yourself that you have not been sleeping at all; you can remember dreams that are like reflections, daytime thinking slightly warped.” ~ Kim Stanley Robinson, from Icehenge

I realize that this post isn’t incredibly engaging or revelatory (you wouldn’t believe how many times I just misspelled that word, and for the life of me couldn’t figure out why: relevatory is not a word, dumbass). Blame the brain fog and the cold nose and fingers.

I was tempted to skip posting entirely, but if I did that, then there would be the recriminations and regrets and general bashing of my otherwise solid self-image, and we wouldn’t want that, huh?

So let’s see . . . goats, insomnia, spelling errors, cold body parts, dogs, kids . . . Anything else? The daffodils are blooming. Hooray. Exciting podcasts? More of “Case Files” (out of Australia) and “Root of Evil” (the Hodel/Black Dahlia legacy). YouTube videos? Not really. Skincare discoveries? No? Well, damn. Boring as usual.

More later. Peace.


Music by WILLN’T, “Four O’clock in the Morning”


Winter Insomnia

How many winter mornings waking wrongly
at three or four
my mind the only luminosity
in the darkened house . . .
my wife richly breathes
her eyes turned deeply in
on dreams.

I am alert at once
and think of the cat
coasting on its muscles
from closet shelf to bureau
grave and all-seeing
caring not at all.

The face…..the faces
waiting
toward ponds
empty-handed and with tenderness
hoping the hourly day might melt and flow.
One could reach out,
there might be a daily salvation

Out the windows slowly
a dull light is covering the
world without end:
snow patches and mud ruts,
the neighbor warming up
his car.
The world refuses
to bless
or to be blessed.

~ Richard Tillinghast

 

“Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.” ~ Jane Hirshfield, from “Tree”

Neverland by Hannes Flo, (FCC)

“My life is a crystal teardrop. There are snowflakes falling in the teardrop and little figures trudging around in slow motion. If I were to look into the teardrop for the next million years, I might never find out who the people are, and what they are doing.” ~ Joan Baez, as found in Joan Didion’s “Where the Kissing Never Stops”

Friday afternoon, snow and rain, cold, 39 degrees.

During the night when I was letting the dogs out, I looked out to see snow covering the ground, which was a surprise. The weather forecast did not call for snow, only more rain. Corey and I agree that the weather here is actually quite depressing. I can only hope that as the weather gets warmer that we are finally able to dry out around here. The mud is overwhelming, as is the near constant rain.

So we lost internet Wednesday night, right as I was watching that new documentary on HBO about Michael Jackson, Finding Neverland. It’s actually quite disturbing as it features two men who were childhood victims of abuse at Jackson’s hands. Truthfully, I’m surprised that they were able to make it. I know that Jackson’s estate sues people all of the time. Nevertheless, it’s more than time that these victims were able to tell their stories.

Anyway, I can’t believe the nerve of some companies, wanting to be paid for their services as opposed to offering them for free. I remember reading something sometime ago about how Tesla wanted electricity to be free, and someone who wanted the internet to be free. Such radical ideas: actually giving the public something that they can use as opposed to making a profit.

Hmm……..Things that make you go hmm……

“I hear two sibilants—here silk,
the snowstorm outside. Beating soul
and breathing blood. We both got what
we wanted” ~ Marina Tsvetaeva, from “Playacting” (Trans. Christopher Whyte)

I decided to be proactive for a change, and rather than wait for the internet to become available again, I decided to go ahead and write some posts on Microsoft Word until we can get it restored on Monday. Then I’ll just post and backdate, which I know is cheating, but hey, when you’re me, and you never know what day it is, does it really matter?

So no podcasts for me for a bit, so I’ve been listening to some of my old music playlists. I made the mistake of putting on an old country playlist while I was taking a bath, and boy, some of those songs are just heartbreaking. For example, there was Blaine Larsen’s, “How Do You Get so Lonely,” which is about a boy who commits suicide, and then there was “Alyssa Lies,” which is about child abuse.

Boy, I know how to put together a playlist that makes you want to cut your wrists with a rusty razor blade—that was a Kathleen saying, or maybe it was a Gail saying. Can’t remember. But those two women were big friends of mine once upon a time.

“I’m tired of my life, my clothes, the things I say. I’m hacking away at the surface, as at some kind of gray ice, trying to break through to what is underneath or I am dead. I can feel the surface trembling—it seems ready to give but it never does..” ~ James Salter, from a letter to Robert Phelps (July 6, 1969-70)

Yesterday, I wrote a letter to another long-time friend of mine, the woman who taught me piano for almost eight years. I always looked up to her, and when she got melanoma years ago, I was so afraid that she would succumb to it, but fortunately, she didn’t, and she went on to have a son by a man who later betrayed her big time.

She was such a classy, talented woman, and oddly enough, she’s the one who made me love Bach, who I had always eschewed before she started teaching me. I was intimidated by Bach—too many notes on the page, as it were, but I learned to master his Two-Part Inventions, and went on to the Three-Part Inventions before I stopped.

I really miss playing, but my piano is in terrible shape. I hope that one day I can find a decent used piano to purchase. Corey’s parents had a beautiful piano in their basement that I always coveted, but then his brother threw out the keys that had come loose, and they got rid of the piano. I miss learning new pieces. I mean, I could teach myself, but there is something special about learning from someone who really knows music. God I loved to play the piano, and I was relatively good at it. I wasn’t one of those naturals who can sit down at a keyboard and just play what they hear in their brains, nor could I ever master changing keys on my own.

I went to school with a couple of people like that, incredibly talented both of them. The one who played the cello died of AIDS during the height of the epidemic, and the other, who played any instrument she touched, ended up having a major tragedy in her life that she never recovered from.

“My wound existed before me;
I was born to embody it.” ~ Joë Bousquet, from “Traduit du silence”

Which just proves that no one is immune from life’s travails, regardless of talent, and here I am still, even when I never imagined being this old, never thought that I would make it this far, and I still feel mediocre every single day of my life. I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching for months now, trying to figure out why I can’t be happy. Honestly, I still don’t have an answer, and my inability to find one just makes me madder and madder at myself.

Granted, the last few years have been majorly stressful, and that I even made it out in sort of one piece still amazes me. I remember years ago, after I lost Caitlin, and I went to that first psychiatrist (who I loathed), and he told me that losing a child is ranked as the second or third biggest stressor in life, with being in a concentration camp ranking as first. How did people even survive that when they were finally liberated? How did they not hate everyone and everything?

Anyway, I had a point, which was that other life stressors include moving, starting a new job, and getting married. I got married (the first time), moved to Blacksburg, and started graduate school and teaching composition all within two weeks of each other.
I supposed I’ve never been one to do things half way. It’s all or nothing. Or maybe, it’s everything or nothing. Who knows.

“All I can hear now is the sound of my own heart, opening and closing, opening and closing, opening.” ~ Margaret Atwood, from The Handmaid’s Tale

But getting back to the idea of being happy: I know that only I can control my happiness. I’m not naïve enough to think that someone else can make me happy. No matter how much Corey loves and cares for me, he cannot control what is inside of me, nor does he try to.

There is such a feeling of deep regret within me, regret, and guilt, and a sense of being incredibly ungrateful.

Let me explain: I have wanted to live in the mountains, on my own property, for as long as I can remember, ever since the first time I drove into Blacksburg to visit Paul. I knew in that instant that my soul belonged in the mountains. So here I am, surrounded by everything I ever wanted, land, an incredible vista, animals, yet somehow, it’s not enough.

No. Let me back that up. It’s not that it’s not enough; it’s that there is such a large hole in my heart that I’m having a hard time allowing myself to be filled with the splendor with which I am surrounded. Aside from the mud, this place is everything. But I don’t have my kids, and I no longer have a home in Norfolk. I wasn’t able to keep my parents’ home in the family, and I know that many people are not able to do this, but I feel like such a failure because of that, and because I wanted my kids to have the opportunity to have it someday. And more than that, I want my kids.

It’s coloring everything, and I hate it more than I can say, so maybe I should stop trying to say anything more at the moment.

More later. Peace.


Music by Ruelle, “Slip Away”

 


Rebus

You work with what you are given,
the red clay of grief,
the black clay of stubbornness going on after.
Clay that tastes of care or carelessness,
clay that smells of the bottoms of rivers or dust.

Each thought is a life you have lived or failed to live,
each word is a dish you have eaten or left on the table.
There are honeys so bitter
no one would willingly choose to take them.
The clay takes them: honey of weariness, honey of vanity,
honey of cruelty, fear.

This rebus—slip and stubbornness,
bottom of river, my own consumed life—
when will I learn to read it
plainly, slowly, uncolored by hope or desire?
Not to understand it, only to see.

As water given sugar sweetens, given salt grows salty,
we become our choices.
Each yes, each no continues,
this one a ladder, that one an anvil or cup.

The ladder leans into its darkness.
The anvil leans into its silence.
The cup sits empty.

How can I enter this question the clay has asked?

~ Jane Hirshfield (found on Poetry Foundation)