“We are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from A Sketch Of The Past

Irish Roadside Panorama by Hauke Musicaloris (FCC)*

“More and more I have the sense of being present at a point of absence where crossing centuries may prove to be like crossing languages. Soundwaves. It’s the difference between one stillness and another stillness.” ~ Susan Howe, from “The Disappearance Approach”

Thursday afternoon, rainy, dropping temperatures, 75 degrees.

Thursday thoughts . . .

Not really sure that I have a lot to say today. I sit and stare at the quotes I have gathered for today’s post, hoping that some word or phrase will inspire me, but nothing happens. It’s as if words themselves have decided to take a hiatus in my brain; they do not wish to appear in cogent ways for me.

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland by City.and.color (FCC)

I had another’s doctor’s appointment yesterday, for my annual female exam, and I actually managed to get there on time. I asked the doctor doing the exam if she could take a look at my hand, which I injured the other day while trying to shoot a gun. Her response was actually quite witty: “Well, that’s not your vagina, and I’m here to look at your vagina.”

The office that I was in is set up with residents and two attending physicians, so I suppose as this particular resident was on vagina duty, she couldn’t really help with the big oozing gash on my hand unless the attending physician agreed. Ultimately, though, she looked at it as did the attending. As I had suspected, I should have gotten stitches when it happened, but it was the day after Max’s death, and I was in no shape to go anywhere or talk to anyone, so I didn’t go. As a result, the gash, which is about an inch long, isn’t really healing well. Yesterday I couldn’t touch my little finger to my thumb because of the swelling.

I was prescribed some doxycycline, but as we are more than flat broke, I cannot pick it up. Yet another case of being too poor to be healthy.

“Alone with wind. I came here
to tell you I have loved everything once.” ~ Gregory Sherl, from “How to Brave Night”

Anyway, today the wound looks better, or at least I’m telling myself that. It isn’t too uncomfortable to type, so at least there’s that.

Corey is working on a structure for the goats. Bobby looks like she’s going to give birth soon, and we are fairly certain that Ruby is pregnant as well. I really hope that she is so that we can have at least a piece of Max to hold onto.

The Church of St. Chad, Pattingham, Staffordshire, UK by Richard West (FCC)

The two female goats that we bought in Roanoke are quite a pair, mother and daughter. If they become separated by more than a few feet, the daughter, Bobby, begins to bray loudly. It’s sweet, but it also functions as an alarm. If I hear Bobby making noise, it usually means that Sylvia has come inside the kitchen door. I don’t know what it is about these goats that makes them think that they should live in the house, unless it’s that Roland is still inside with us; he is quite spoiled and has his own alarm system: if Corey leaves the room in which Roland happens to still be situated, Roland begins to bleat very loudly and then runs through the house looking for him. I’m not the only one who spoils animals . . .

The dogs have been quite good in the last few days, and I’m hoping that I’ve broken them of chasing the goats. We’re both keeping a keen eye on them while everyone is outside, and if I yell out the door at them, they all immediately stop what they’re doing. Nevertheless, we must be ever vigilant. I really cannot handle a repeat of what happened to Max, and neither can Corey.

“I find I get more and more disagreeably solitary; In fact I foresee the day when I shall have gone too far into myself that there will no longer be anything to be seen of me at all.” ~ Vita Sackville-West, from letter to Virginia Woolf

It’s supposed to rain here for the next four days, and I’m trying to talk Corey into doing some painting inside. It’s at times like these that I really wish that his brothers were closer so that they could help him with some of what needs to be done. The reality is that I could probably paint a bit, but it’s more than that: we need to move furniture and other stuff, lifting that I simply cannot do. I feel so useless.

Hadrian’s Wall, running up to the back side of Housesteads Fort, Northumberland, UK, by savagecats (FCC)

Lately I’ve been experiencing spasms in my lower back once again. I told Corey that even if my back gets bad again that there’s no way that I will ever have another back operation, not unless it’s the kind that can be done with a small incision and no long hospital stay.

Speaking of backs and mobility and such, I’ve been pondering yet again whether or not I should try to go back to work. I miss working, but more, I miss the income. However, if I did try to go back to work, my disability would cease, and then if something happened again, I would have to start the whole process once more, and it took so long with social security in the first place—two hearings, a stupid judge, two appeals, years of waiting. Honestly, I don’t know what to do.

I think of Eliot’s “Prufrock” poem: “Do I dare? Do I dare?” I really loved that poem so much, one of my all-time favorites.

“One can sometimes
touch, in the distance between two people,
a moment of another person’s endless dream.” ~ Yves Bonnefoy, from “Les Arbres” (The Trees), trans. John Naughton

And speaking of dogs and goats, Roland and Bailey continue their friendship. Roland has taken to butting Bailey’s head gently as she lays sleeping, and oddly enough, Bailey does nothing. She allows him to do whatever he wants to her, and I am quite amazed. He also licks her ears. I swear that this goat thinks that he’s a dog, and I’m uncertain as to how he’ll adjust to living outside once he’s weaned, which will be soon.

Vindolanda Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, UK by Rincewind42 (FCC)

The other day Corey and I went over to Dallas’s house to look at the horses. Dallas says that he’s going to let me pick out some horses to have over here, but he’s still claiming that Napoleon cannot come yet. I want Napoleon and Petra to be returned, but I’m trying not to pin my hopes on anything that Dallas says as we all know that what he says should be taken with a very small grain of salt.

A while back (cannot remember if I mentioned this), one of Dallas’s RVs and part of his storage burned down. He claims that someone did it during the night, which is definitely possible as his feud with his nephew continues, but there is also the possibility that Dallas was so drunk that he started  the first himself accidentally, or maybe even on purpose; however, he has no insurance, so I cannot think why he’d deliberately commit arson.

I hate that I even think these things of him.

While we were there, though, we picked a bunch of cherries from his cherry tree in the front yard. I’ve never seen such a big cherry tree. He says that he planted it when he first moved onto the property, which means that it is several decades old. I had no idea that fruit trees could survive for so long. The cherries are quite small, but tasty, and apparently, his dogs like to eat them, which is good as they all continue to look very malnourished.

“But even so, every now and then I would feel a violent stab of loneliness. The very water I drink, the very air I breathe, would feel like long, sharp needles. The pages of a book in my hands would take on the threatening metallic gleam of razor blades. I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o’clock in the morning.” ~ Haruki Murakami, from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

I suppose I did have a few things to say, surprisingly enough, although I’m not sure how much more I have in me.

Yorkshire Dales, UK by Robert Heath (FCC)

Look. The dry spell continues. My ability to string together words creatively continues to elude me. The joy that I normally find in writing these posts simply isn’t there, and I cannot seem to find that wellspring that houses my spark or my muse or whatever it is that is missing.

I would dearly love to know how to overcome this block so that once again this blog provides me with a sense of accomplishment as opposed to feeling that it is a burden that I approach reluctantly each time I try to compose. This blog has served me well for many years. I began it as an experiment, and it morphed into a way of life for me. I have very fond memories of sitting at my desk on Benjamin and rapidly writing 1,000 words without a second’s hesitation. I want that again. I need that again. And I think that I deserve to have that again in my life again.

Am I kidding myself? I truly do not know.

More later, I hope. Peace.

Feeling nostalgic for the British countryside today.*


Music by Winona Oak, “Don’t Save Me”


You Ask Me to Talk About the Interior

it was all roadside flowers & grasses
growing over the cities

was made of wilderness & sky
with God washed out of it

was the foreign prayer-word
it was a list of missing persons

was the solid bronze charging
bull on the famous street

was like the Roman method for making bees

was its taken-down carcass
& its bed of apple branches & thyme

was a new anatomy, a beaten hide,
a skeleton sweetening to glowing fluids,

& the bee born out, & the grist of them born
glistening as coins

it was anthem
was the listening,

the way a searchlight listens over a lake
it was the prayer-word out of your mouth
your thousand-noun request
it goes up up to the florescent weather

was an ivory box,

was hurdle & burn, burning through
the infinite, your overbright comet

was made of stones, made of berries & box tops & eggshells
it was like the word having reached the ear

& the words pollinated the dark, there was darkness there,
like the after-hours inside a library

~ Carolina Ebeid

 

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“The heavenly solitude, the pacifying trees, the blue night that was a good counsellor, the peace of wild animals—” ~ Colette, from Claudine and Annie

Orage vu de Petit-Croix by Thomas Bresson (FCC)

But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence . . .” ~ Antoine de Saint Exupéry, from The Little Prince

Monday afternoon, partly sunny, 82 degrees.

Well yesterday was interesting. Temperatures in Roanoke were hotter, and the AC in the truck doesn’t work; by the time we got home, my eyes were dry and hurting from the wind coming in the windows. We picked up the two female Nubian goats. They already have names: Sylvia and Roberta. Sylvia I can handle, but Roberta? Never liked that name. She’s young enough that maybe we can switch her name to Bobby. We’ll see.

Unfortunately, Sylvia had her babies prematurely, and neither survived. One died on Saturday, and the other died before we got there yesterday. Bobby is still pregnant, so we’re hoping that everything goes okay with her. The woman from whom we bought them says that she thinks it may have been a mineral deficiency. As Bobby is Sylvia’s daughter, we know that Sylvia can have successful pregnancies, so at least there’s that.

All of the animals were worked up by the time we got home. Tillie and Bailey went for each other, but luckily, Corey and I were both on hand to break it up. Roland is hoarse today, so he must have been bleating for hours, which makes me feel guilty, but we couldn’t take him with us because we thought we’d be bringing a baby goat home. At the moment, Roland thinks that he’s one of the dogs; it will be interesting once he’s bigger to see if he still acts the same way—i.e., wanting to take an afternoon nap on the couch.

“Not only rational and irrational, but even inanimate creatures have a voice, and speak loudly to men, and it is our duty to learn their language, and hearken to them.” ~ Ralph Austen, from The Spiritual Use of an Orchard or Garden of Fruit Trees

We’ve learned that the temperatures here on the ridge tend to be a bit cooler than surrounding areas. I think that it’s because we’re pretty much situated in a bowl, so we always have a good breeze. The downside is that breeze can really be a fierce wind at times. We’ve been discussing shelter issues for the outside animals, and we had talked about one of those metal buildings, but I’m afraid that if it isn’t fixed properly, the wind will just pick it up and drop it.

Thunderstorm in Victoria by Ryk Neethling (FCC)

More than once we’ve wished that we could have a barn building like the Amish. Remember that beautiful scene from the Harrison Ford movie Witness? But we’re missing one or two of the key components for such a thing: people and lumber.

Ah me . . .

Yesterday, just as we were getting ready to leave for Roanoke, Dallas showed up. I knew that he would because Corey had slipped and told him that we were going to Roanoke. I was afraid that he’d come while we were gone to try to take Sassy back, but he didn’t bring the horse trailer. Instead, he said that he was coming to fish in the ponds, which is fine, as long as he doesn’t try to take back the last horse that we have.

“I must wash myself clean with abstract thoughts, transparent as water.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre, from Nausea

I took the opportunity of having him in front of me to confront Dallas about still having Napoleon, but he claims that he still needs him for stud. Originally, he had told me that he’d only have Napoleon for two weeks, but I should know by now that he just tells you what he thinks you want to hear and that the truth rarely escapes his lips. I did tell him that Sassy is lonely as horses need the company of other horses, and I pointed out how overgrown the pasture is getting, so he ultimately agreed to bring over some more horses. We’ll just have to see, I suppose.

Storm over Cayuga by Adam Baker (FCC)

Look, I know that technically, the horses belong to him; I’m not unaware of the reality. But we take much better care of the animals that are here than he ever could, not to mention the fact that when he first brought the horses here, he said that he was giving them to me. But again, it’s the matter of him saying one thing while meaning something completely different. We’ve learned that he has a habit of taking things back when he gets mad at someone; he’s done it repeatedly with different people—he giveth and then he taketh away.

Dallas is a prime example of being both a boon and a curse. And quite frankly, we’ve had way to many curses in the last few years. I tire of them. I tire of never getting ahead, never making forward progress.

“Animals, at least, don’t experience fear until it’s upon them, immediately. But our nerve reactions can convey worry about the future, until the fear insinuates itself into the present, into everything.” ~ Sylvia Plath, from a letter to Eddie Cohen, September 11, 1950

We hit rain on the way home even though the forecast had not called for any, and then as we neared the ridge, it was apparent that there had been a big storm while we were gone. I think that’s part of the reason the dogs were so riled when we got home. Tillie is very afraid of storms, especially if no one is around to comfort her, and I think that Bailey senses that unease.

Storm by Jim Sorbie (FCC)

As we came down the drive, the trees were heavy with rain. So everything was close to the sides of the drive, almost as it was the first time that we came to the ridge, and everything was so overgrown. At least the gas company fixed the part of the drive that had washed out, but they just cut into the side of the mountain, which is essentially compacted soil, so it’s a temporary fix at best. The next big wind and rain storm will undoubtedly wash out more. It would be nice if they’d build up the embankment with rock, but unfortunately, we have no control over what they do with the drive.

I saw the big excavator that the company had parked on the side after carving more of the mountain side on the drive, and I told Corey that it’s too bad that we don’t know how to hot wire it and use it for a few days. We could scoop up some of the loose gravel that’s around the wells and dump it on the drive. Or we could dig out a hole for an in-ground pool. I’ve always wanted to drive something like an excavator—how awesome would that be? It’s an interesting fantasy.

“The sky is lowering and black, a strange blue-blackness, which makes red houses pink, and green leaves purple. Over the blowing purple trees, the sky is an iron-blue, split with forks of straw-yellow. The thunder breaks out of the sky with a crash, and rumbles away in a long, hoarse drag of sound.” ~ Amy Lowell, from “Before the Storm (III)”

This morning the dogs were doing their fierce, alert barks, and Corey looked out the window to see a bear in the pasture again. Oddly enough, Sassy didn’t seem to be afraid of it. She was at the trough and took a few steps towards the bear. I’m hoping that it’s the same bear and not another one. Knowing that one bear is nearby is unnerving enough; I’d hate to have to wonder about several.

I do wonder, though, where he or she was hibernating; I’m hoping the bear is male because a female with cubs can be very vicious when in protection mode. We haven’t really come upon any caves in our walks, but I would imagine that there have to be some around here. Here’s hoping the dogs will be enough to keep the bear from coming too close. Corey says that Llamas and Alpacas are good to have for herd protection. That’s something to think about for the future.

Thunderstorm over Nevada by Stuart Seeger (FCC)

The future is something I don’t really want to think about at the moment. We find ourselves in a precarious position yet again, and truthfully, I’m really tired of living this way, never really knowing how we’re going to survive, pay the bills. The fear of losing everything yet again never seems to be far away, and the really weird aspect of all of this is that I know that we make more money than many people around here, and trust me when I say that living on my disability is not making a lot of money.

Again, I know that if we can survive the year, that things will change, that getting started on a farm is precarious at best, but damn I’m tired of precarious. I’m tired of always worrying. I suppose I’m just tired, but who isn’t any more?

More later. Peace.


Music by Welshly Arms, “Legendary”


The Trees are Down

—and he cried with a loud voice:
Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees—
(Revelation)

They are cutting down the great plane-trees at the end of the gardens.
For days there has been the grate of the saw, the swish of the branches as they fall,
The crash of the trunks, the rustle of trodden leaves,
With the ‘Whoops’ and the ‘Whoas,’ the loud common talk, the loud common laughs of the men, above it all.
I remember one evening of a long past Spring
Turning in at a gate, getting out of a cart, and finding a large dead rat in the mud of the drive.
I remember thinking: alive or dead, a rat was a god-forsaken thing,
But at least, in May, that even a rat should be alive.
The week’s work here is as good as done. There is just one bough
   On the roped bole, in the fine grey rain,
             Green and high
             And lonely against the sky.
                   (Down now!—)
             And but for that,
             If an old dead rat
Did once, for a moment, unmake the Spring, I might never have thought of him again.
It is not for a moment the Spring is unmade to-day;
These were great trees, it was in them from root to stem:
When the men with the ‘Whoops’ and the ‘Whoas’ have carted the whole of the whispering loveliness away
Half the Spring, for me, will have gone with them.
It is going now, and my heart has been struck with the hearts of the planes;
Half my life it has beat with these, in the sun, in the rains,
             In the March wind, the May breeze,
In the great gales that came over to them across the roofs from the great seas.
             There was only a quiet rain when they were dying;
             They must have heard the sparrows flying,
And the small creeping creatures in the earth where they were lying—
             But I, all day, I heard an angel crying:
             ‘Hurt not the trees.’

~ Charlotte Mew

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

“It is the finest spring ever known—soft, hot, blue, misty.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry written c. March 1928

Friday afternoon, sunny and beautiful, 85 degrees.

First word that comes to mind (I enjoyed doing this, so it may appear here more often): scumbling (art term). Don’t know where in the recesses that was hidden.

I keep having dreams about an old friend from junior and high school: A. Steindler. I wonder why she’s visiting my dreams?

I had this sudden flash of memory whilst meandering through tumblr today: My mother used to go to a bakery inside of the old Montgomery Ward to buy Napoleon pastries for the two of us. Isn’t that odd: a bakery inside a Montgomery Ward? They were exquisitely delicious. I’m certain that my love of desserts comes from my mother raising me on all different kinds.

Today’s collection is a bit different. I found a comic by Grant Snider, who I’ve posted before, and I came across a wild story about a woman’s date with a very different kind of guy.

Enjoy.

More later Peace.


From Incidental Comics:

Wanted to share this story from the tumblr No Bad Dates, Just Good Stories. After this post, the writer was contacted by other women who had similar stories (click the link for more). Can I say once again how very,  very glad I am that I’m not part of the dating scene. Its a weird, dangerous world out there . . .

imageimageimageimage

P.S. This woman was much nicer than I would have been.

Serendipitous: As I was walking the other day, I realized that I haven’t seen many dandelions around here:

And then there’s this:

 

Sunday afternoon saudade . . .

“The longer I live, the more urgent it seems to me to endure and transcribe the whole dictation of existence up to its end, for it might just be the case that only the very last sentence contains that small and possibly inconspicuous word through which everything we had struggled to learn and everything we had failed to understand will be transformed suddenly into magnificent sense.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from a letter to Ilse Erdmann, 21 December 1913

Wordless Wednesdays . . .

The Battle of Winterfell:

Source


Music from “Game of Thrones: Winter is Here,” by Ramin Djawadi

 

Two for Tuesday: Music as the message

Image result for suicide hotline


Tuesday afternoon, partly cloudy and another beautiful spring day, 80 degrees.

Trying to make phone calls and take care of items on my to-do list, only to come up against dropped signals and uncooperative reps and . . . bleh . . . so now I’m outside in the sunshine, surrounded by the animals, getting nibbled on by insects, and my blood pressure thanks me.

This was the post that I had planned to put up last Tuesday but never got around to doing. Admittedly, I’m not a big Disturbed fan as they tend to be harder and louder than I can handle most of the time, but I came across the live version of this song, and it was just too good to pass up. Then I found the studio version, and I decided that both deserved a place.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about the role that media stars have in society, but I must acknowledge just how effective many can be when they decide to shine a light on a problem, whether that problem be hunger, or a particular disease, or natural disaster relief, what have you. I’m old enough to remember the Jerry Lewis telethons for muscular dystrophy, and I made my first charity pledge when I was around 10 as the result of watching a telethon for hurricane relief.

The causes addressed by “A Reason to Fight” are addiction and depression, which might seem like an odd pairing, but not especially. Many people become addicted to mood-altering substances as a result of depression or other mental disorders, choosing non-prescription drugs as a means of coping. And far too many individuals are lost to either or both of these afflictions each day.

I hope you enjoy either or both videos.

More later. Peace.

Music by Disturbed, “A Reason to Fight” (Official live version)

“A Reason to Fight” (Official music video)


Casa

I am not your mother, I will not be moved
by the grief or gratitude of men
who weep like orphans at my door.
I am not a church. I do not answer
prayers but I never turn them down.

Come in and kneel or sit or stand,
the burden of your weight won’t lessen
no matter the length of your admission.
Tell me anything you want, I have to listen
but don’t expect me to respond

when you tell me you have lost your job
or that your wife has found another love
or that your children took their laughter
to another town. You feel alone and empty?
Color me surprised! I didn’t notice they were gone.

Despite the row of faces pinned like medals
to my walls, I didn’t earn them.
The scratches on the wood are not my scars.
If there’s a smell of spices in the air
blame the trickery of kitchens

or your sad addiction to the yesterdays
that never keep no matter how much you believe
they will. I am not a time capsule.
I do not value pithy things like locks
of hair and milk teeth and ticket stubs

and promise rings—mere particles
of dust I’d blow out to the street if I could
sneeze. Take your high school jersey
and your woman’s wedding dress away
from me. Sentimental hoarding bothers me.

So off with you, old couch that cries
in coins as it gets dragged out to the porch.
Farewell, cold bed that breaks its bones
in protest to eviction or foreclosure or
whatever launched this grim parade

of exits. I am not a pet. I do not feel
abandonment. Sometimes I don’t even see you
come or go or stay behind. My windows
are your eyes not mine. If you should die
inside me I’ll leave it up to you to tell

the neighbors. Shut the heaters off
I do not fear the cold. I’m not the one
who shrinks into the corner of the floor
because whatever made you think
this was a home with warmth isn’t here

to sweet-talk anymore. Don’t look at me
that way, I’m not to blame. I granted
nothing to the immigrant or exile
that I didn’t give a bordercrosser or a native
born. I am not a prize or a wish come true.

I am not a fairytale castle. Though I
used to be, in some distant land inhabited
by dreamers now extinct. Who knows
what happened there? In any case, good
riddance, grotesque fantasy and mirth.

So long, wall-to-wall disguise in vulgar
suede and chintz. Take care, you fool,
and don’t forget that I am just a house,
a structure without soul for those whose
patron saints are longing and despair.

~ Rigoberto González (found on Poetry Foundation)

“. . . there was a sharp distinction between what was remembered, what was told, and what was true.” ~ Kevin Powers, from The Yellow Birds

Robert Julian Onderdonk, “Bluebonnets in Texas” (1915, oil on canvas)

“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.” ~ Patrick Rothfuss, from The Name of the Wind

Sunday afternoon, cloudy, cooler temperatures, 46 degrees.

It was cold yesterday, so cold that we actually had to turn on a few space heaters. In fact, the forecast actually called for snow flurries. All I can say is that the weather in this locale is well and truly whhackkk. Yes, that’s a word.

Frederic Matys Thursz, Untitled (Blue Field, 1961, oil and paper collaged on board)

Yep.

I’ve been on a “Game of Thrones” binge lately, watching all of the back seasons before this final season. I’ve done this before, but what I always find phenomenal about this show is how much you can miss on a first viewing, especially all of the foreshadowing. The writers are very, very good in maintaining continuity from season to season.

I came to the show after reading the first three books, so I was fully prepared to be disappointed because the move from novel to screen is haphazard at best. Stephen King is said to be disappointed with almost every screen adaptation of his work, and George R. R. Martin’s writing is particularly dense with characters, locations, languages, plots and subplots. However, the HBO series has become its own phenomenon: It’s one of those rare shows in which the casting and the execution have melded well, and in that sense, it reminds me of “The Sopranos” and “Orphan Black.”

And as most people know, the show ends with this season, but the novels continue . . . at least that’s what everyone thinks. Martin is a methodical writer, and readers are still impatiently awaiting the next book in the series, The Winds of Winter. No publication date has been set yet as Martin has admitted that the writing has been hard.

I can sympathize, George, and I only shoot for about 1200 words a day.

“you know how deceptive memory is and how coarse the real world.
Nostalgia amplifies things. The memory preserves tastes and smells and images that are of its own making, or that are not as they were in reality.” ~ Amjad Nasser, from Land of No Rain

I actually enjoyed doing Thursday’s update; it was a good writing exercise. I’m still floundering, though, attempting to find that rhythm that I’ve lost as it continues to elude me. It’s hard to explain this to people who do not like to write or for whom words are not foremost in their lives.

Paul Jenkins, “Phenomena Astral Blue (1968, oil on canvas)

That’s not a slur in any way, only an attempt to explain why my recent posts seem to be preponderantly superficial. I have so much roiling inside, so many things that I want to say, but when I start, the words sound hollow, so I stop and try to find other way to keep this blog going.

Consider: If you were an expert at landscaping, and you took your tools to a piece of land, fully prepared to create something beautiful, but once you arrived, you couldn’t remember the purpose of any tool. Or let’s say that you were a proficient bookkeeper, and you sat down with some raw data, and your computer, and you couldn’t remember how to reconcile a spreadsheet. Or what if you were a wonderful tailor, and you had a bolt of cloth and measurements, but you suddenly forgot how to pattern.

I deliberately didn’t choose painting or sculpting or composing music or any of the other traditional categories of art as anyone who dabbles in those or for whom those are a way of life already is all too familiar with the terrible periods of being unable to create. Rather, I am attempting to explain my problem to those of you for whom life is more structure and traditional, but I don’t know if my explanation only adds to the confusion.

“The years of searching in the dark for a truth that one feels but cannot express, the intense desire and the alternations of confidence and misgiving . . . are known only to him who has experienced them himself.” ~ Albert Einstein, from the Gibson Foundation Lecture, 1933

One of the reasons that I do not sleep well is that I have a very hard time turning off my brain. It’s not just mulling over the day or worrying about bills or money or the house or whatever. It’s also that I start to think about things that I want to say. More times than I can count I think that I should just get out of bed and sit down and write, but then I tell myself that if I did so, I would be useless the next day.

James McNeill Whistler, “Nocturne: Blue and Silver—Chelsea” (1871, oil on wood)

But would being useless the next day really matter in the grand scheme of things? I feel as if I’m doing myself a disservice by not writing when the so-called spirit moves me. Yet at the same time I feel guilty for wanting to eschew traditional sleep and approaches to time because there is so much of daily life with which to contend. Honestly, though, my days are still not productive in that all of my to-do list goes unattended, so the guilt and feelings of worthlessness are there no matter which path I choose.

Consider: Parkinson’s law commonly states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. But Asimov’s corollary to Parkinson states that in ten hours a day you have time to fall twice as far behind your commitments as in five hours a day. A la Parkinson, I manage to fill my days with mostly nonproductive actions, and a la Asimov’s corollary, I fall twice as far behind.

“Everything about me is unfinished, insufficient.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from a letter to Lou Salomé written c. December 1905

In doing a big of reading about eponymous laws, I came across the intriguing idea of the centipede principle, which I chose deliberately because of my great fear of those multi-legged creatures; in essence, this principle addresses overthinking, as in if a person thinks too much about something that comes naturally, then that action can be impaired.

Martiros Sarian, “Blue Flowers” (1914, oil on canvas)

The centipede principle or effect supposedly is based on a short poem written in 1871 by the Katherine Craster (go here to see the original poem), in which the centipede is asked which leg moves first and then next when he walks, and then because he is asked, he cannot walk.

English psychologist George Humphrey propounded his eponymous law about hyper-reflection in 1923, referencing the centipede tale. I also came across another reference to this centipede effect in the work of Karl Popper, who states that “if we have learnt certain movements so that they have sunk below the level of conscious control, then if we try to follow them consciously we very often interfere with them so badly that we stop them.”

In other words, do I set myself up to be unable to write because I think too much about being unable to write? Am I unable to begin the projects that I have set for myself because I think too much about whether or not I can actually accomplish these projects? I was once told that I live my life as a self-fulfilling prophecy: my behavior directly causes my predicted outcome; i.e., I don’t send my work out for publication, so I am never published.

“People who are burdened by acute misgivings about their coping capabilities suffer much distress and expend much effort in defensive action . . . they cannot get themselves to do things they find subjectively threatening even though they are objectively safe. ” ~ Albert Bandura, from Social Foundations of Thought and Action
Thomas Downing, “Blue Space” (c1954, acrylic on cotton)

I realize that this post took a turn towards psychoanalysis, but what of it? Years of therapy have conditioned me to ponder such questions about the self. That, and I have a particular penchant for eponymous laws; I find them fascinating. (If you happen to be interested in such things, Wikipedia happens to have a good listing of them from A to Z here.)

Anyway, I think that most people could do with more introspection about their thoughts and actions. Too few people today actually give deep thought to things beyond the surface (how many likes did my picture get? was I reblogged? etc.). Yet I know that I am the opposite: I think too much. I consider too much. And in so doing, I paralyze myself. I wish that I could say that I am motivated by strength, but the truth is that I am motivated by fear. And truly, I hate that most about myself.

But unlike many who are motivated by fear, I do not cloak that fear with bombast or sanctimony, only to project that fear outward and punish those who seem weaker or more vulnerable. Instead, I project inward, causing harm mostly to my psyche. Regardless, someone is always damaged in the end.

More later. Peace.


Music by Sarah McLachlan, “Hold On”


A Secret Life

Why you need to have one
is not much more mysterious than
why you don’t say what you think
at the birth of an ugly baby.
Or, you’ve just made love
and feel you’d rather have been
in a dark booth where your partner
was nodding, whispering yes, yes,
you’re brilliant. The secret life
begins early, is kept alive
by all that’s unpopular
in you, all that you know
a Baptist, say, or some other
accountant would object to.
It becomes what you’d most protect
if the government said you can protect
one thing, all else is ours.
When you write late at night
it’s like a small fire
in a clearing, it’s what
radiates and what can hurt
if you get too close to it.
It’s why your silence is a kind of truth.
Even when you speak to your best friend,
the one who’ll never betray you,
you always leave out one thing;
a secret life is that important.

~ Stephen Dunn