“We are unusual and tragic and alive.” ~ Dave Eggers, from A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Cy Twombly Untitled 1990 acrylic
Untitled (1990, acrylic on unknown medium)
by Cy Twombly

                   

“Sometimes she seemed like a woman without skin. She felt everything so intensely, had so little capacity to filter out pain that everyday events often seemed unbearable to her . . . Her eyes were astoundingly blue and astoundingly sharp. Nothing escaped her. She saw everything, and since most of what there is to see in the world is painful, she often lived in pain.” ~ Erica Jong, from Remembering Anne Sexton

Wednesday afternoon. Sunny and hot, 89 degrees.

So, long time, no real post. In the meantime, it went from early spring to blazing hot early summer temperatures. I guess this post is going to be a mostly good news/bad news kind of thing as so much has happened in the last week or so.

Cy Twombly Iris 1990
“Iris” (1990)
by Cy Twombly

The bad news is that last Friday my mother went to the ER because she was having bad stomach pain. Turns out she has growths inside her colon and a mass on her kidneys. Please understand my frustration in that my mother has cancelled two appointments to have a colonoscopy and to go to a liver specialist. She complains, gets appointments, feels better, cancels appointments.

I did my best not to freak over the words “mass on her kidneys.” I made her promise to call her PCP’s office to get an appointment as soon as possible and not to be put off for a month or two.

Today she saw her PCP who says that once she finishes the course of antibiotics the ER doc put her on for the diverticulitis that was causing some of the pain, then they will have to do a colonoscopy. And he’s going to find out who he should send her to for the mass on her kidneys. So I guess we are now in wait mode.

Great…………………..

“Afraid of decision, I buried my finer feelings in the depths of my heart and they died there.” ~ Mikhail Lermontov, from A Hero of Our Time

Also last week Mike closed on the house on Friday morning. They began moving on Friday afternoon. I took Olivia for Friday and Saturday nights, and it turned into Sunday night also. Their house is smaller than ours with three bedrooms and one bath but no dining room, but the hardwood floors have been refinished, and they look beautiful. The kitchen cabinets look like the originals, and they, too, have been refinished. There is a small detached garage, which is also nice.

Cy Twombly Wilder Shores of Love 1985, oil-based house paint, paint stick, coloured pencil and lead pencil on wooden panel
“Wilder Shores of Love” (1985, oil-based house paint, paint stick, coloured pencil and lead pencil on wooden panel)
by Cy Twombly

The good news is that I got to spend lots of time with Olivia. The bad news is that I was completely stressed about my mother. Then I was completely stressed by the move. And by Monday, Olivia was really out of sorts because she’s not used to being away from her parents. She’s also teething, so between the two, there was more crying and fussing than usual as she is a really happy baby, happier than any of mine ever were. It’s distressing when she gets distressed. I’ve forgotten a lot of baby interpretation.

Other good news is that my mother gave Mike and Lex a queen mattress and bed, both of which are in great shape with the mattress set looking almost new; the bad news is that my mother felt that I was the only one who could take down the old bed. Why she thought this I will never know. The bad news is that I took down the old bed while my mother complained that I would hurt my back. The good news is that I only hit my head once on the old iron bed . . .

Then, of course, there was the new bed to be put together. The bad news is that I ended up putting together this bed by myself. The worse news is that I also ended up putting the mattress and box springs onto this new bed frame by myself. I have no real idea as to how I managed to do this.

The worst news is that I was unable to move the following morning, which was not at all unexpected or surprising.

“It’s like this . . . All your life you’re yellow. Then one day you brush up against something blue, the barest touch, and voila, the rest of your life you’re green.” ~ Tess Callahan

The good news is that I had another appointment with my new pain management group, and I really like them. We are finessing my dosages on the new drugs, and I have an appointment scheduled for my Botox injections next Monday, the same day that Corey is due in port—which is good news and bad news all together.

Cy Twombly Note III 2005-7 acrylic on wood panel
“Note III” (2005-7, acrylic on wood panel)
bu Cy Twombly

In between all of this stuff I’ve had to deal with eldest son’s shenanigans. He’s watching his dad’s house for the week while the ex is in Aruba at his time share. Such a hard life. I had asked both sons if they could help Mike with the moving. Eldest son got all bent out of shape assuming I was only asking him. Brett helped me with the moving of the old mattress and box springs to the new house and moving the very old mattress and box springs from the apartment for disposal. He (Brett) was planning to help me with the assembly of new bed Sunday night, but I was just too exhausted.

While I’m stripped down to my t-shirt working with piles of washers, screws, and Allen wrenches, eldest son sticks his head in the door to see what’s going on then leaves. No assistance offered or given. Who is this child? Why does none of my DNA rear its head when needed? How does this even work? I mean, everything is score-keeping for him, as in “I helped them move on Saturday, and Brett didn’t do anything, so it’s his turn, even though I’m here, and he’s not because he’s at school.”

The logic, or complete lack of it, mystifies and stymies me. So I guess that’s bad news, eh?

“Writing, painting, singing — it cannot stop everything. Cannot halt death in its tracks. But perhaps it can make the pause between death’s footsteps sound and look and feel beautiful, can make the space of waiting a place where you can linger without as much fear. For we are all walking each other to our deaths, and the journey there between footsteps makes up our lives.” ~ Ally Condie, from  Reached

Monday night after the exercise in power-lifting a queen-sized mattress, I came home and consumed mass quantities of junk food: cheese puffs, kettle corn, a beer, some chocolate, and pretty much anything else I could shove into my mouth without the benefit of cooking. Yesterday I felt a need to scrape my tongue and cleanse my body, so I stuck to yogurt and fresh fruit.

Cy Twombly Hero and Leandro 1984 (A painting in Four Parts) Part I, 1984, oil, house paint, paint stick on canvas
“Hero and Leandro (A painting in Four Parts) Part I” (1984, oil, house paint, paint stick on canvas)
by Cy Twombly

Add to this entire bad news Monday is that I was just too exhausted to go to a poetry reading that Brett had told me about. It was open mic, and I was actually thinking of reading something, which I haven’t done in years, a reading, that is. Apparently this place has open mic night every Monday, so I’m going to try very hard to get my lazy ass there soon.

Oh, and also on the eldest son bad news-related front: He called at something like 8 in the morning to tell me that the phones had been turned off, which made no sense to me as I paid the bill last Friday. I was in an exhaustion stupor and really don’t remember what I said to him other than I would take care of it, ya da ya da ya da. Boy, if he wants something, it needs to be pronto, as in this very second, or his world is going to collapse. Must be nice to have a world in which everything runs on your schedule. I wouldn’t know about that.

Anyway, every time I sat down here to write, I just kind of zoned out because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to say. Did I want to gripe about X? Did I want to cry about Y? Better not to do anything, that is until I finally lost it and sent Corey an e-mail in which I lambasted the state of affairs on the home front, which actually made me feel better.

Today, I’m still pretty puny physically, but not in as much pain. Mostly just feeling weak, but after finishing my latest Kathy Reichs’ novel, I thought I might be able to tap out some cogent words and phrases, and so far, it seems to be working.

“There are some people who could hear you speak a thousand words, and still not understand you. And there are others who will understand—without you even speaking a word.” ~ Yasmin Mogahed

The stress and exhaustion have led to some very weird dreams. In one, my ex was trying to kill me with a butcher knife. This was while I was part of some kind of spy group that was on a mission. In this dream I stabbed someone else. Don’t like stabbing dreams. Last night I dreamed I was in a museum, and I ran into the artist whose work was being exhibited. At first I didn’t realize he was the artist, and I was going on and on about how much I loved the works, and then when I realized that he had created them, I was so embarrassed.

Cy Twombly Untitled Part VIII (a painting in 9 parts) 1988, acrylic on wood panel
“Untitled Part VIII (a painting in 9 parts)” (1988, acrylic on wood panel)
by Cy Twombly

He was cool though and handed me one of two ferret like animals that he was carrying. He asked me if I had done any art research, and I told him that I had. He offered me a ferret; I told him my dogs would say no. He was signing autographs. I got something autographed but then I had to leave because my shopping cart was missing, and it had a bunch of family antiques in it, and I had left my kids on bleachers watching a movie. Do not ask me how the two are related as I have no idea.

Oh, another thing on the good news front: Brett introduced me to a wonderful new treat: Mochi ice cream. Mochi (Japanese) is a kind of sweet glutinous rice cake. Insert ice cream and serve frozen. Oh such good thrills. Only 80 calories a piece, about the size of a small cupcake and very refreshing. I’ve had mochi filled with red bean paste and with green tea ice cream. I’m loving the green tea flavor.

So, to sum up: New beds all around, new house looking good, major changes for everyone, new refreshing treat. Conversely, worrisome news regarding my mother’s health, troublesome attitude from eldest son, and I haven’t even touched on Lex’s disposition during all of this.

Is it too soon to say that I need a vacation, mostly from myself?

All images by American artist Cy Twombly, 1928-2011

Cy Twombly, Untitled (Peony Blossom Paintings), 2007, acrylic, wax crayon, penil on wood
“Untitled (Peony Blossom Paintings)” (2007, acrylic, wax crayon, pencil on wood”
by Cy Twombly

Music by Aidan Hawken and Carina Round, “Walking Blind”

                   

The Starry Night

That does not keep me from having a terrible need of—shall I say the word—religion. Then I go out at night to paint the stars. Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother

The town does not exist
except where one black-haired tree slips
up like a drowned woman into the hot sky.
The town is silent. The night boils with eleven stars.
Oh starry starry night! This is how
I want to die.
It moves. They are all alive.
Even the moon bulges in its orange irons
to push children, like a god, from its eye.
The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars.
Oh starry starry night! This is how
I want to die:
into that rushing beast of the night,
sucked up by that great dragon, to split
from my life with no flag,
no belly,
no cry.

~ Anne Sexton

“The late evening is the time of times. Then with that unearthly beauty before one it is not hard to realise how far one has to go. To write something that will be worthy of that rising moon, that pale light.” ~ Katherine Mansfield, from Notebooks

Horse at Porth Cwyfan, Anglesey, Wales by Karen Ann Jones Telegraph Big Picture
Horse at Porth Cwyfan, Anglesey, Wales
by Karen Ann Jones, Telegraph Big Picture

                   

“As I loosen up and begin to surrender in a sleepy dreaminess I am suddenly experiencing clarity; I perhaps want to exist in a place where there is no dimension of existence.” ~ Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals Of Sylvia Plath

Friday afternoon. Sunny and cold, 40 degrees.

The strange dreams continue unabated; granted, I tend to have strange dreams most of the time, but the latest crop is intensely strange. I need to ponder them before discussing them.

A stormy day at Jökulsárlón, Iceland by Adrian Metzelaar Telegraph Big Picture
A Stormy Day at Jökulsárlón, Iceland
by Adrian Metzelaar, Telegraph Big Picture

Anyway, I awoke this morning with a migraine, which has slowly eased. The past few days I have not felt quite right, unsettled and achy. Nothing specific, but puny is the best way to describe it. I hope that I’m not getting ready to have one of those weak periods, the kind that forces me to bed for days. I really hate that.

However, taking to bed does allow me more time for reading, that is when I can concentrate. I decided against writing yesterday and sat down with a book, but then I kept finding my concentration slipping, my mind racing, and I was unable to read more than a few chapters. I ended up watching television. I don’t pretend not to watch television, but I have kind of an unwritten rule that I don’t turn the television on until after 8 p.m. Part of my reason for doing so is that my mother has the television on from the moment she awakens until the moment she falls asleep. I always told myself that I would not allow the TV to serve as my primary means of getting through my days; although immediately after Caitlin died I did nothing but watch soap operas for a year, another reason that I do not allow myself to turn on the television during the day.

“And language, drowned somewhere
at the endless bottom of senses, dictates
an underground flow of images to the tongue” ~ Boris A. Novak,  from “A Dream is Snowing”

So I’ve been thinking about the concept of false modesty. Let me explain:

We all know individuals who are self-deprecating, but only in the hopes that their assertions about their negativity will be rebuffed by the listener and replaced by a compliment. My mother used to call this fishing for compliments.

Winter Day at Beachy Head by Jackie Watson Telegraph Big Picture
Winter Day at Beachy Head, UK
by Jackie Watson, Telegraph Big Picture

I am not in this category. When I say that I think that I am X, I truly mean that I am X. I am not trying to get anyone to say, “Oh no. That’s not you. You are so Y. How can you say that?”

Corey and I were talking yesterday about my poor self-image, and he said that he just doesn’t understand how someone can live in a state of constantly chipping away at themselves. It’s hard to explain to someone who does not suffer from this, hard to make someone who is relatively self-assured understand that feelings of inadequacy are very real and not some attempt to garner compliments. In fact, I have never known how to accept compliments gracefully, so adept am I at believing only the worst of myself that to hear anything else just doesn’t seem realistic.

But the truth is that I cannot lay all of the blame for this on my mother, as much as I would like to do so. Yes, my mother has spent most of my life pointing out my flaws, patting my belly, telling me that I need to do neck exercises, etcetera ad nauseam. But, and this is a big but, I have listened to her. I did not have to listen, did I? But I did listen, and I heard, and I believed.

“—Our words, like blown kisses, are swallowed by ghosts
Along the way,
their destinations bereft
In a rub of brightness unending:
How distant everything always is,
and yet how close” ~ Charles Wright, from “Night Journal”

True story: When Olivia was just a few months old, my mother was holding her, and she looked down at this new baby, this wonderful, happy baby, and commented on her double chin, saying something along the lines of “You’ll have to watch that.”

What happened to my mother to make her so completely obsessed with the physical? Is she a product of her times, the decades in which women were valued not by what they knew but how they looked? Okay, those decades have not disappeared completely, but you know what I mean here.

Sunset at Reynisdrangar, Iceland by Phil MacDonald Telegraph Big Picture
Sunset at Reynisdrangar, Iceland
by Phil MacDonald, Telegraph Big Picture

Or is my mother’s seeming obsession with the brutal cut a result of her unhappiness in her marriage, her way of coping with a man who had affair after affair, quite probably leaving her completely insecure and wondering what was wrong with her that he could never be happy?

I have no answers to these questions. I only know that as an educated adult woman who has seen a measure of success that I should not be so self-loathing, and truly, truly, I wish that I were not. There have been periods in my life in which I was riding high, feeling quite self-assured, quite happy with the way that I looked, happy with how I was being received by people, but those periods were fleeting, completely dependent upon how much I weighed, which clothes I could wear, how my hair looked.

“I looked up at the mass of signs and stars in the night sky and laid myself open for the first time to the benign indifference of the world.” ~ Albert Camus, from The Stranger

I fear that I’m not doing a very good job of explaining what it is exactly that is bothering me. Let me back up:

When it comes to my brains, I am probably more than arrogant. I know how smart I am, and I also know in which categories I am deficient. But when it comes to the physical . . . I am still that young girl on the playground in elementary school who looked around and didn’t see anyone who looked remotely similar. Surrounded by blond, blue-eyed girls named Kim and Brooke, I felt sorely out of place.

Dusk at the Giant's Causeway, County Antrim by Dacian Tiberius Telegraph Big Picture
Dusk at the Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim
by Dacian Tiberius, Telegraph Big Picture

Some women would delight in their differences from the mainstream, and at times, I have been quite happy to have someone tell me that I am exotic looking, that they liked my looks precisely because I did not look like everyone else. But more often than not I have felt like the outsider.

Another true story: When I worked as a sales manager for that major retailer I was among a management staff that was, on the whole, quite attractive. There was the woman of Greek heritage who was gorgeous. There was the perky blond with the big chest. There was the brunette with the big beautiful eyes and ready smile. And then there was me.

“The heart, being full of blood, casts a shadow.” ~ Henry Gray, from Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body

Okay, what is it I’m saying here? Hell if I know. I only know that Corey is relentlessly frustrated by my self-denigration, that he wishes that I could like myself more. I wish that I could like myself more, too.

Lindisfarne Castle, Northumberland, UK by Richard Hayward Telegraph Big Picture
Lindisfarne Castle, Northumberland, UK
by Richard Hayward, Telegraph Big Picture

It’s no picnic being this wracked with insecurity, and in fact, I’m quite sure that this shroud of insecurity is one of the main reasons I do not do more with my writing, that I am terrified of being rejected for my words, having felt rejected for my difference for so long.

You are probably sitting there thinking to yourself, “Sheesh. Get a life already.” And you would be correct. I should be more grateful for what I have and less worried about what I feel I lack. I should focus more on the things at which I feel I excel and focus less on the skin around my neck or the flab on my upper arms.

I should do these things. I know this. But should and can are a world apart in the universe that is me, a seemingly unbreachable chasm. And I make myself tired all over when I do this.

Enough.

More later. Peace.

(All images are taken from the Telegraph’s Big Picture series)

Music by Aidan Hawken and Carina Round, “Walking Blind”

                   

I’m trying something new today: So that you can see the poem with the breaks and indents as the poet intended, I have snipped the original and inserted as two jpegs, still working out the kinks. HTML does not allow (or I don’t know how in HTML) to place indents within consecutive lines. Let me know what you think. The following poem is taken from The Poetry Foundation:

Evie Shockley part 1Evie Shockley part 2