It was so cold last night, and early this morning, everything was covered with a layer of frost. Spring is tomorrow, yes? Now that we’re thinking about crops, I couldn’t help but feel a pang of worry for people with fruit trees. Would the cold dip and frost hurt their crops? I absolutely love oranges, and I remember a year in which the Florida citrus crops were devastated by crops. Not sure of what year. No idea where that memory emerged from in the recesses of my mind. Hmm . . .
Things that make you go hmm . . . Which reminds me, I really need to plant a mock orange somewhere around the porch.
Yesterday I had a post planned (old story, I know), but then I realized that I had nothing to say. Hence, no post yesterday.
Actually, I did have something to say, but I just couldn’t do it. My eldest son’s birthday was this past weekend, and as a result, my kids have been ever-present on my mind. I check my email every few days, and if I really want to torture myself, I search on Alexis’s and Eamonn’s names, just on the off-chance that one of them emailed me. It’s an exercise in futility and pain.
So that’s why I didn’t write.
Anyway, today’s post features two poems by Dana Gioia (pronounced JOY-uh), the first obviously because of my latest bout with insomnia. Gioia, former chairperson of the NEA, has written five collections of poetry. You can read a complete biography on his site.
Now you hear what the house has to say.
Pipes clanking, water running in the dark,
the mortgaged walls shifting in discomfort,
and voices mounting in an endless drone
of small complaints like the sounds of a family
that year by year you’ve learned how to ignore.
But now you must listen to the things you own,
all that you’ve worked for these past years,
the murmur of property, of things in disrepair,
the moving parts about to come undone,
and twisting in the sheets remember all
the faces you could not bring yourself to love.
How many voices have escaped you until now,
the venting furnace, the floorboards underfoot,
the steady accusations of the clock
numbering the minutes no one will mark.
The terrible clarity this moment brings,
the useless insight, the unbroken dark.
And in the end, all that is really left
Is a feeling—strong and unavoidable—
That somehow we deserved something better.
That somewhere along the line things
Got fouled up. And that letter from whoever’s
In charge, which certainly would have set
Everything straight between us and the world,
Never reached us. Got lost somewhere.
Possibly mislaid in some provincial station.
Or sent by mistake to an old address
Whose new tenant put it on her dresser
With the curlers and the hairspray forgetting
To give it to the landlord to forward.
And we still wait like children who have sent
Two weeks’ allowance far away
To answer an enticing advertisement
From a crumbling, yellow magazine,
Watching through years as long as a childhood summer,
Checking the postbox with impatient faith
Even on days when mail is never brought.
“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”
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.
I really think that it doesn’t rain nearly enough around here . . . not. The only good thing about all of the rain here is listening to it at night as it falls on the tin roof.
Anyway, sorry no post yesterday. I could think of nothing to say. Corey spent the day in bed as it’s his turn to be sick. Honestly, I wonder how long we’ll swap this bug, whatever it is. He’s better today, but he was also better earlier in the week, so who knows . . .
I’m fairly certain that the header quote is a take on Marshall McLuhan’s quote, “All through his life, he swung between the ridiculous and the sublime,” which comes from his famous 1964 book, The Medium is the Message.
(Just an aside here: I cannot believe how many people online think that the word is massage, not message . . . We really need to go back to spelling tests in grade school.)
Pretty good collection today, so enjoy.
More later. Peace.
Michigan ghost apples caused by extremely cold temperatures (found here):
This reminded me of how my old dogs used to try to get on the hammock with me . . .
Friday afternoon, overcast and drizzle once again, 54 degrees.
Don’t even get me started on the presidential faux state of emergency.
During the night when I opened the door to let the dogs out, I was hit in the face with the smell of impending spring, which is miraculous considering we have horses and the accompanying smell of equine eau du poo. It almost made the sleeplessness worth it. Almost.
I began a post on Monday, picked it up again yesterday, and still haven’t finished it. So . . . should I finish or scrap it and start over? Thoughts, opinions, ideas?
Anyway, enjoy today’s collection.
I want a red hat that says this:
I want a baby elephant . . .
Why all of the reminders about my age?
The entire automotive industry was against seat belts at one time. Now, they spend all of their time trying to out do one another with more and more safety features. Go figure . . .
I cannot even begin to list the number of times this happened to me when I had to get up for work . . .
Friday afternoon, mostly cloudy and cold, 44 degrees.
I’m still not feeling together enough to string together a real blog. Yesterday, I sat at the keyboard for hours without a single original word hitting the screen. It’s very frustrating as I had told myself that once I returned to this blog, that I would post regularly. But the truth is that I can only post as regularly as the muse allows, and at the moment, the must is being suppressed by overwhelming body pain, the source of which I am uncertain.
It’s not just the morning migraines; now, it’s also my back, a source of such localized pain the likes of which I haven’t had to contend with for quite a while. Anyway, that’s what’s going on. I hope to have a real post up tomorrow, but in the meantime, I have quite a good collection of leftovers for today (in my humble opinion.
So Gillette came out with a commercial for the MeToo movement:
Never before seen error code:
Error 503 Backend is unhealthy
I have always loved Andre Braugher, most especially in “Homicide,” one of the best shows to ever be on television.
From gaymilesedgeworth (a deactivated tumblr account): One of my favorite things in Brooklyn Nine Nine is when you can tell the writers were like “You know, Andre Braugher is an extremely talented Shakespearean actor who graduated top of his class at Juilliard…..what if we took advantage of that for our sitcom”
This is a good depiction of either of my older dogs, Tillie and Bailey, every time a puppy comes near:
The San Francisco Examiner, California, April 10, 1927
A murmuration in Otmoor, London, UK (1-4-19), something I’ve always wanted to see:
In 2015, a drought in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas revealed the ruins of a 400-year-old church, Temple Santiago: